Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

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Where do I begin? Recently, one particular boy says I never make casseroles. He’s right, but I was surprised because casseroles are sort of old school. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with that. I started searching for an easy casserole recipe when I stumbled on this one from the Kitchn. Easy it is, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected. This casserole is more of a stew that I ended up serving over rice, not something the original recipe suggests to do. In the end, I think that I’ll need to make a real casserole another day. In the meantime, you’ll enjoy this meal because it’s really easy to prepare, makes plenty of leftovers, and tastes even better the next day.

I changed a few things. I cooked my own chicken thighs and chopped them up rather than buy a rotisserie chicken to shred. I also dumped everything into the casserole pan rather than use a bowl. Saves you from washing yet another item.

Season your chicken thighs with salt and pepper, and cook it up in a heated skillet for about 6 minutes each side. Set it aside and let it cool before you chop it up into bite-sized pieces. You don’t want to burn your hands. In the meantime, dump chopped onion, black beans, canned corn, diced tomatoes, and green chiles in your casserole pan. Throw in a bunch of seasonings: chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and salt. Chop up your cooled chicken and add it to the pan.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Mix it all up and pour a cup of chicken broth over it. Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes until it’s thickened. Yeah, right. This is where the recipe went south. It NEVER thickened. Not even a bit. I suppose the idea was for the liquid to condense, but that didn’t happen. Once I realized this, I quickly made some rice. You can get these quick rice packages that cook in 2 minutes in the microwave. It’s not instant rice! You’re just heating up fully cooked rice. I always have a few on hand for times like these.

While zapping your rice in the microwave, sprinkle a ton of shredded cheese and stick it back in the oven for 5 minutes (not the 10 minutes the recipe states). Let it cool for 15 minutes. Maybe now it’ll thicken? Nope. I think it’s so you don’t burn your tongue.

Serve it over rice garnished with green onions and cilantro.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Not what I expected and frankly, I was disappointed. This wasn’t a casserole at all. It’s a stew! It tasted good, but not fantastic. Whatever. I wasn’t going to let it go to waste so I covered the pan with foil and stuck it in the fridge for another day.

The next day we had salmon for dinner, but the day after that, I pulled out the “casserole” and exclaimed that it was leftovers night. And guess what? It tasted amazing. The flavors infused into something quite special, almost like enchiladas. Not sure if it’s a make again for us, but I think you’ll enjoy it.

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 large white onion diced
  • 14.5 ounces canned black beans drained and rinsed
  • 14.5 ounces canned corn kernels drained
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces diced green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425F.
  • In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in the skillet for about 6 minutes on each side, until it's browned and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
  • In a 9×13-inch baking dish add white onion, black beans, corn kernels, diced tomatoes and their juices, and diced green chiles (do not drain). Next add chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin, and kosher salt.
  • Chop cooled chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the baking dish. Stir to combine. Pour in chicken broth.
  • Bake until the mixture is heated through, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice scallions and coarsely chop fresh cilantro.
  • Sprinkle the casserole with 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese and bake until melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the scallions and cilantro before serving. Serve over rice.

Pressure Cooker Mongolian Beef (and Stuff)

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Hi everyone! I took a little break from blogging for various reasons. Cooking dinner relaxes me and is something I do nearly every day, but sometimes I get in a rut, which is what happened in July. I started making the standard “I don’t feel like trying,” meals, which are still really good. For example:

Spaghetti with “homemade” sauce. Saute a pound of ground beef with chopped onions and garlic, pepper and salt, and dried herbs (oregano, basil, and a tiny bit of mint…secret ingredient alert!). Add two jars of spaghetti sauce and simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better. And there you have at least 3-4 servings of sauce that you can use for any pasta, ravioli, or tortellini.

Tried and true recipes, many that our featured on my blog. I make make Stroganoff at least once a month. Super easy dishes like Ham and Cheese Pie. Delicious comfort food like Meatloaf.

Taco Tuesday. Sometimes I get creative, like Slow Cooker Carnitas, which makes a ton of leftovers that are good to freeze. Lately I’ve been lazy. Grab a pound of ground beef and a taco seasoning packet. Beef tacos without any effort. It’s totally cheating and I don’t care.

My grocery store has marinated chicken, beef, and pork. I love the idea of convenient food that is not frozen or processed. These marinated packages are super easy and tasty. It’s also easy to make your own marinade. Just mix up a few ingredients and marinate for a couple of hours. One of my favorites is Balsamic Chicken.

I also made this really easy Pressure Cooker Mongolian Beef from Pressure Cooking Today. It’s just as good, if not better, than takeout, and simple to make. And for some strange reason, we rarely have leftovers.

Grab your ingredients.

Mongolian Beef

Season a couple pounds of flank steak that you’d sliced up with salt and pepper. Brown it in your Instant Pot (go buy one if you haven’t already). Make sure you don’t put all of it in at once or you’ll end up with a lot of liquid and the meat isn’t browned at all. Make this in batches! When the beef is browned, set aside.

Throw in some garlic and saute. Throw in some more goodies: soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and ginger. You can’t go wrong with these ingredients. They are magical to anything they touch. Cook that for a bit.

Add your beef and pressure cook everything for 12 minutes. You’re almost done.

Mongolian Beef

You want to make sure there’s a yummy sauce so you’ll combine cornstarch and a little water, and add that to everything in the pot. Stir it up until it’s boiling and thickened. Add some sliced green onions too.

Mongolian Beef

Done. Oh, make sure you have some rice handy. Can it get any easier than that? No.

Mongolian Beef
Mongolian Beef

Pressure Cooker Mongolian Beef

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds flank steak cut into 1/4" strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 green onions sliced into 1" pieces

Instructions
 

  • Season beef with salt and pepper. Put oil in the cooking pot and select saute. When oil begins to sizzle, brown meat in batches until all meat is browned – do not crowd. Transfer meat to a plate when browned.
  • Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and ginger. Stir to combine.
  • Add browned beef and any accumulated juices. Select High Pressure. Set timer for 12 minutes.
  • When beep sounds turn pressure cooker off and use a quick pressure release. When valve drops carefully remove the lid.
  • Combine the cornstarch and 3 tablespoons water, whisking until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to the sauce in the pot stirring constantly. Select Simmer and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Stir in green onions.

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

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Shrimp is a really quick protein to cook so it’s ideal when you want to make a fast weekday meal for dinner. Although not as inexpensive as ground beef or chicken thighs, it’s cheaper than beef right now and a fresh alternative when you want to change it up.

I found this recipe on the Food Network and is guaranteed not to fail. Just don’t step away from the skillet. First off, gather your ingredients. I purchased shrimp that were already peeled and deveined, without the tails. I hate cleaning shrimp and frankly, I do a terrible job at it so I buy them ready to go. Worth every penny. Thinly slice up an onion. Drain and rinse your canned beans. Measure out the rest of your ingredients.

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Start out by cooking your onions until they are soft and a little brown.

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Stir in your seasonings and garlic. Cook until the garlic is soft and fragrant, just about a minute.

Add the tomatoes and boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for a couple minutes. You’ll notice that the sauce is a bit thicker, which is what you want.

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Add the shrimp and beans.

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Watch your shrimp! It’ll take only about 2-3 minutes until they start to turn pink. You don’t want them fully cooked yet. You’re not done. Stir in your spinach (which your kid will pick out with the deftness of a surgeon, but hey, you tried!). Cook for another couple of minutes. Your spinach will be wilted, but a bit green, and your shrimp are completely cooked.

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Remove the pan from the heat, pile on some feta on top, and cover the skillet for another couple of minutes while the cheese is warm. Now you’re done!

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Your family will be impressed at how fancy this looks. Ooh! Shrimp! But what they will really like is how tasty it is. This recipe uses only a half a pound of shrimp so another opportunity for you to stretch your dollars by using beans, which add a creaminess that is out of this world. The salty feta on top finishes it off. Enjoy!

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Shrimp, White Bean, and Feta Skillet

Servings 3

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces large shrimp peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 14 ounces cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach packed, about 2 1/2 ounces
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to turn brown in some spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute.
  • Pour in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp just start to turn orange, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is just wilted and bright green, and the shrimp are cooked through and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the feta over top. Cover until the cheese is warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Turkey Meatloaf

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Hello summer! Before it gets too hot, let’s use the oven one more time for a tasty meal: meatloaf!

I remember dreading meatloaf growing up. It was exactly what it sounded. A loaf of dense, heavy, plain, icky meat. Since then, I discovered that we weren’t making it right. You just can’t throw a couple pounds of ground beef in a loaf pan, throw some oats or white bread pieces in it, pour some ketchup on top, and call it good. I have learned from the mistakes of others and understand how to make meatloaf more than a scary nostalgic dish. Meatloaf can be delicious. I promise.

Ina Garten is one of my favorite chefs. Not only is she funny and personable, all of her recipes are amazing. This one is no exception. Her Turkey Meatloaf recipe is out of this world. I didn’t change a thing. My only complaint is that it takes over an hour to make, but it’s worth the wait. I do provide some tips on how to decrease the cooking time so read on.

Gather your ingredients.

Turkey Meatloaf

Preheat your oven. Chop up an onion, mince some fresh thyme and sage (please use fresh!), and grate some garlic. Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet, and add your onions, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Cook it until the onions are a bit soft. Add the garlic, cook for another minute, and then add the tomato paste and cook that for another minute. I really think that adding tomato paste adds a ton of flavor. Throw in some Worcestershire sauce. That adds a bunch of flavor too. Turn off the skillet and let this cool a bit so you don’t burn your hands later.

Turkey Meatloaf

In a bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and broth. I like this combination more than using plain bread. The broth will prevent a dry meatloaf. Next, add your ground turkey (I prefer ground turkey with dark meat rather than ground white turkey), eggs, more salt and pepper, and your cooled onion mixture. The next part is messy. I can never manage to combine it with a spoon so just get your hands in there and mix it up until it’s just combined. The more your work the meatloaf, the tougher it’ll be, but you do want the ingredients well distributed.

Instead of using a loaf pan, form a loaf on a foil-lined baking sheet. Making multiple smaller loaves or mini loaves in cupcake tins will work too and cut down on the cooking time. Just make sure the meatloaf 165 degrees F in the center before calling it done. For this large meatloaf, cook it for at least an hour. This is a good time to watch some TV or catch up on your reading.

When it’s 165 degrees F in the center, pull it out and let it rest a bit. If you don’t wait, the slices will fall apart when you slice it. Enjoy with your favorite veggie and starch (maybe some green beans and mashed potatoes!). I put it on a bed of beans and rice. Sorry, but I had that in the fridge and wanted to use it up. I know, weird combination, but go with it. No one seemed to complain.

Turkey Meatloaf

So here’s the scoop. Yes, summer is approaching, but this meatloaf reminds me of Thanksgiving. The secret ingredients are the fresh thyme and sage. Mixing it with ground turkey is just like turkey dressing. Sometimes you just need something special and comforting before the heat pours in.

Turkey Meatloaf

Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, thyme, sage, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring to incorporate. Stir in the Worcestershire. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Add the panko to a large mixing bowl and pour over the chicken broth so the breadcrumbs soak up the liquid. Add the turkey, eggs, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the cooled onion mixture and mix well with your hands until well combined. Form the mixture into a 10-by-5-inch loaf on the foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Put the meatloaf in the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf reads 165 degrees F, at least 1 hour. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Indian-Spiced Pepper Steak

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We eat a lot of chicken and I’m trying to cook more fish, but every once in a while we want a steak. We’re sort of crazy when it comes to grilling steaks. It’s raining outside. We grill steaks. It’s 105 degrees out. We grill steaks. The wind is blowing a million miles an hour. We grill steaks.

I always make a simple rub of freshly ground black pepper, seasoned salt, onion powder, and garlic powder, which I liberally rub it into the meat. But steaks are pretty expensive these days so I decided to look for a less expensive cut of beef and make something completely different.

I came across a recipe from Rachael Ray that was posted on the Food Network web site called Indian-Spiced Pepper Steak. It did not remind me of Indian food as she claimed, but I was intrigued that you toasted the seasonings, which is commonly found in Indian food preparations. It’s an extra step. Is it worth it? We shall see. And as usual, I changed the recipe, which included an adult beverage. I do have to say that the vodka mule looked refreshing, but I skipped it or we would have never had dinner.

Grab all your ingredients. Grate your ginger and garlic. Slice your veggies and skirt steak, which is a little cheaper than a New York or rib eye steak. Slicing the beef early concerns me because I don’t want overcooked meat, but it’s all good and helps you make a quick meal. Also, while this is all going on, make a pot of rice.

In a small skillet, add your seeds: coriander, cumin, and mustard. Toss in your peppercorns. I know it’s a lot of ingredients you don’t use often, but once you make this dish, you’ll want to make it again and you’ll have those spices on hand. After adding these items to the skillet, toast them for about a minute. You should be able to smell them and they are wonderful. Place them in a spice mill and grind. I have a NutriBullet so I use that instead. You can also use a spare coffee grinder. If you aren’t able to grind your spices, you can use already ground spices and skip this step. Combine your toasted (or not) spices with chili powder, garam masala, and turmeric.

Cooking happens quickly. I heated up my large cast iron skillet, but you can use any type of skillet. Just make sure it’s hot because you want to brown the beef so it’s a little crisp, which takes about 2 minutes on each side. Season it with salt, and set it aside on a plate. Next, cook your onions and peppers for about 3 minutes. Add your ginger and garlic. Cook it about a minute. Add the beef back in and toss in your spices. Mix that up and add some apple cider vinegar for acidity.

Indian-Spiced Pepper Steak

And that’s it. You’re done. Overall, I think this is an easy, quick weeknight meal. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients and some prep work, but it turns out that it’s really worth toasting the spices for a more intense flavor. The beef is super tender and the final addition of vinegar elevates the flavors in an unexpected way. Don’t skip this step. Serve with hot rice and enjoy.

Indian-Spiced Pepper Steak
Indian-Spiced Pepper Steak

Indian-Spiced Pepper Steak

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/4 pounds skirt steak
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1-2 Serrano or jalapeno peppers optional
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • canola oil
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
  • cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • Pat meat dry and thinly slice the meat into strips against the grain of the meat.
  • Add seeds and peppercorns to a small skillet over medium heat and toast a minute until fragrant. Place in spice mill and grind. You can use ground spices instead and skip the toasting step. Combine with chili powder, garam masala and turmeric.
  • Peel and slice red onion. Seed and thinly slice bell pepper. Optional: Thinly slice or chop the fresh Serrano or jalapeno peppers. Seed if you prefer milder food or leave seeds in for extra spicy. Grate or mince ginger and garlic.
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and cook beef in single layer to brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Season with salt and remove to platter. Add another tablespoon of oil, and add onions and peppers, toss, and cook for 3 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, and toss a minute more. Add beef back to pan, sprinkle in spice blend, toss to combine with peppers, and add apple cider vinegar. Garnish beef with cilantro. Serve beef with rice.

Ham and Cheese Pie

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This recipe is embarrassingly simple. It’s like I’m cheating when I make it. If you don’t feel like cooking, make this. All you need is a cutting board, a bowl, and a pie pan. And a box of Bisquick. There. I admitted it.

Here’s the simple formula. You need 1 1/2 cups of cooked meat with 1 1/4 cups of shredded cheese. I prefer ham and Swiss cheese, but you can easily substitute your favorite meat and cheese combination like ground beef and cheddar, cubed chicken and jack, and so on.

Grab your ingredients. Dice up some ham. Shred some cheese. Chop up some some onion. Throw this in a pie plate.

Ham and Cheese Pie

In a bowl, mix up your Bisquick mix, milk, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Pour this into the pie pan.

Ham and Cheese Pie

I’m blushing as I write this. This is barely cooking.

Stick it in the oven at 400F for about 35 minutes until barely browned. And that’s it.

Ham and Cheese Pie

This doesn’t sound very exciting, but sometimes you just want to use what you have in your pantry and call it done. Did I mention it’s delicious and you will make this over and over again?

Ham and Cheese Pie
Ham and Cheese Pie

Ham and Cheese Pie

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups ham steak diced
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup red onions chopped
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle ham, cheese, and onions in the pie plate
  • Stir Bisquick mix, milk, salt, pepper, and eggs until blended. Pour into the pie plate.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes.

Chicken Stir Fry Noodles

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Noodles are a big hit around here so I’ve been looking for quick and easy noodle bowls. I came across this recipe from eatwell101 that I thought I would try. They claimed you can pull this dish together in 15 minutes. Right. First off, I have to say that this meal was absolutely delicious, but in no way or form does it take 15 minutes to make. Boiling the water and cooking the noodles alone takes more than 15 minutes so I have no idea how they think 15 minutes is enough time. Ok, enough of my complaining. At least it’s super simple to make. Read on. I was up for the challenge, just to prove them wrong.

I got the water started for the noodles. I didn’t time it, but boiling water easily took 7-10 minutes. Cooking the noodles took 12 minutes. How is this a 15 minute meal? Ok, again, I’ll quit my whining.

The original recipe uses chicken breasts, which are leaner, but I typically use thighs. Cheaper and better tasting. Cut them into chunks and pan fry them until barely brown.

Chicken Stir Fry Noodles

Because I was determined to make this in 15 minutes, while the chicken was cooking, I quickly minced a few garlic cloves, shredded a carrot, and chopped up some broccoli. I should have julienned the carrots, but no time for that nonsense!

Once the chicken was half done, I threw in the garlic and carrots. Yikes! I need to make the sauce! I quickly mixed together ginger (which I had to grate…seriously people?), brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and the kitchen sink. Maybe I should have made the sauce first, but I was following the order of the ingredients. Yes, yes, I should have read the directions first, but I was in a hurry!

During the last 2 minutes of boiling your noodles, throw your chopped up broccoli into the boiling pot of water and let it cook. Drain, and add the pasta and broccoli to the skillet with the chicken. Pour the sauce over and then stir it together until everything’s well mixed.

Chicken Stir Fry Noodles

Whew. It’s done. For such a simple dish, I was exhausted as if I had just completed round 1 of Chopped. Again, how did they make this in 15 minutes?! But I have to say using spaghetti made the dish easy. The sauce was a perfect blend of salty/spicy/sweet. It could have used more broccoli, but I stole a few to dip in ranch. My bad. Best of all, the boys loved it. It’s a make again. Just plan on taking 30 minutes and try to be more zen about it than I was.

Chicken Stir Fry Noodles
Chicken Stir Fry Noodles

Chicken Stir Fry Noodles

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces spaghetti noodles
  • 1 pound skinless.. boneless chicken thighs cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot julienned or shredded
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • fresh chopped green onions for garnish

Sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot with boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Add the broccoli florets the last 2 minutes of cooking and let them cook with pasta until tender. Drain the noodles and broccoli, and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, red pepper, and black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a medium-sized skillet and cook chicken in an even layer over medium heat, turning from time to time for 2 or 3 minutes, until slightly golden. Stir in the garlic, and carrots, and cook for a minute more, until cooked through but not overdone.
  • Transfer the cooked spaghetti and broccoli to the skillet, and pour the sauce on top and toss until fully incorporated. Reheat for a couple of minutes and serve the chicken stir fry noodles, garnished with green onions.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

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We have a favorite Chinese restaurant in town called Fat’s that makes this amazing Cantonese steamed fish. I wanted to try making it at home. It’s a little out of my comfort zone because I don’t have much experience steaming anything, but how hard could it be? People steam stuff all the time. It’s not like I’m making a souffle or macarons. Actually, let’s not speak of the time I tried making macarons. They turned out chewy. Enough said.

Some people use bamboo steam baskets, but I decided to go with an old-fashioned metal steam basket like the kind my mom used to use to make that awful mushy steamed broccoli she’d serve for dinner. Let’s not speak of that either.

Let’s prep the ingredients. Grate some fresh ginger. Slice up some green onion. Rough chop the cilantro. Set aside a bit of green onion and cilantro for garnish. Measure out the soy sauce, salt, sugar, and vegetable oil. Grab some hot water.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Mix together soy sauce, salt, sugar, and hot water. Set aside. Now comes the fun part. Grab a wok and add a couple inches of water. It doesn’t need to be precise, but the water level needs to be below your steamer. When you stick your steamer in the wok, if there’s water in the steamer, you’ve got too much water.

Salt and pepper your fish. I chose tilapia because it was on sale and I’m all about the sales. Once your water is boiling, place the fish in the steam basket.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Cover and steam it until the fish is cooked. Mine looked like this and took about 9 minutes.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Time to make the sauce. I poured out the water from the wok, wiped it dry, and heated it up with vegetable oil. Cooked the ginger, added the white parts of the green onion, cooked it some more, added the rest of the green onions and cilantro. Everything smells pretty good at this point.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

But wait! There’s more! Add the soy sauce mixture you made earlier. and bring it to a simmer. When everything looks a bit wilted, you’re done.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Pour it over the fish and throw some green onions and cilantro on top to make it look pretty.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

It’s not fancy. It’s just good food. I love how the ginger made it spicy and the soy sauce made it salty. The touch of sugar made it a bit sweet and the fish was moist unlike when you roast it in the oven or fry it in a pan. Definitely a make again.

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Cantonese Steamed Fish

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons ginger
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
  • 1 1/4 pounds white fish
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions
 

  • Grate ginger. Slice green onions at an angle and separate the green and white parts. Rough chop cilantro. Save some green onion and cilantro for garnish, and then set the rest aside.
  • Combine the light soy sauce, salt, sugar, and hot water in a small bowl, and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside.
  • Prepare your steaming set up in a wok by filling the wok with 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Place a metal steam basket in the wok.
  • Rinse fish and then season with salt and pepper. Carefully place it on the steamer basket, and adjust the heat to medium. The water should be at a slow boil and generates a good amount of steam.
  • Depending on the size and thickness of the fish, cover and steam for 7-10 minutes until cooked through. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • To make the sauce, heat a wok or small saucepan to medium high heat, and add vegetable oil. Add ginger, and fry for 1 minute. Add the white parts of the green onion and cook for 30 seconds.Then add rest of the green onion and cilantro. The mixture should be sizzling.
  • Add the soy sauce mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until the scallions and cilantro are just wilted, about 30 seconds. Pour mixture over fish. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

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Pasta is one of the ultimate comfort foods that you can make in so many different ways. I like to make a big batch of meat sauce and freeze it for future spaghetti dinners. Or make a bunch of meatballs (Ina Garten’s are the best) and freeze those to serve with jarred sauce and noodles. Along those lines, Cheesy Beef and Macaroni is a delicious and easy weeknight pasta dinner that everyone will love. It’s definitely not fancy. This one skillet dish makes plenty so you can freeze some for another night or just have some leftovers for lunch. This recipe comes from the Kitchn, but I changed it a bit. First off, I split the recipe. You are welcomed to make the full recipe, but I have no idea how it would fit in the 12-inch skillet that the recipe specifies. In fact, I used a 12-inch skillet and it barely all fit.

Gather all your ingredients. You need to chop up a few veggies: red pepper, carrots, and onions. Mince a few cloves of garlic. Grab ground beef, olive oil, a can of crushed tomatoes, and a bottle of Worcestershire sauce. Measure out your herbs and spices. Shred some cheese or buy it prepackaged. Pretty basic stuff.

Brown the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, drain the fat, and set it aside. A lot of recipes, including this one, don’t have you season the meat, but I think it’s a really important step. Salt brings out the flavor in meat. Use about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat. Throw in a little pepper to balance it out. I’ve found that if you season early on, you probably don’t need to add more salt later.

Add some oil and throw in your veggies and garlic. You’ll cook those until they are slightly soft for about 5 minutes. By the way, this is a sneaky way to add some veggies to your meal.

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Put the beef back into the skillet and add your herbs, spices, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 cups of water. Let that come to a simmer.

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Once it’s simmering, add the pasta. I love this kind of meal because it doesn’t require you to boil the pasta separately. Oh, and let me remind you that I halved recipe and the ingredients are as close to the top as they should get. How ginormous was their skillet?!

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Cook until the pasta is tender, which is about 10 minutes.

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Throw some cheese on top and let it melt. I used a cup of cheese. At the time I thought I could have used more because I was expecting this dish to be more cheesy like mac and cheese, but the amount of cheese was perfect.

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

And that’s it! Like I said, not fancy, but a little fancier than your typical spaghetti and red sauce. Super comforting and delicious. Really easy to make in no time. You only use one skillet so clean-up is quick. Win-win.

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Cheesy Beef and Macaroni

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red, yellow, orange, or green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups dried elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Instructions
 

  • Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Crumble and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set beef aside.
  • Wipe out the skillet. Heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper, carrots, onion, and garlic. Cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Return the beef to the skillet. Add the basil, oregano, tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and 2 cups of water. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Increase the heat to high and let come to a simmer.
  • Add elbow macaroni, stir, and cover the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, for 8 to 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and black pepper as necessary.
  • Sprinkle the cheese on top. Cover the skillet and cook until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Serve from the skillet.

Crunchy Fish Tacos

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Tacos are amazing. It’s a perfect little meal with all the food groups. A crunchy corn shell or maybe a soft flour tortilla. Spicy chicken. Flavorful pork. Bold beef. Roasted peppers. Red salsa. Creamy guacamole. Cotija cheese. My mouth’s watering.

I’ve been wanting to try new taco recipes, but sometimes the endless number of ingredients are hard to find. The preparation takes hours and requires skills that I just don’t have. I nearly gave up until I found this amazing recipe for fish tacos. It was completely out of my comfort zone, but everyone needs to start somewhere. And I just read something about failing is part of the process of success so I’m going to go to my happy Zen place and make these tacos. It’s good for the soul.

Fish comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. You have your traditional white fish, such as cod or mahi mahi, that works really well in tacos, but this recipe is more exotic. Instead, you use a rare small orange fish only found in the farmed waters of Pepperidge. I thought I would have to special order it because I couldn’t find it at my fish market, but I just wasn’t looking in the right place. It’s next to impossible to buy fresh so I purchased a well-sealed bag and made the best of it. I was skeptical, but pleased at the same time. The fish comes ready with seasonings such as salt, pepper, cheese, paprika, and onion powder. Preparation is easier when all the ingredients are already baked in. No poblanos to roast. No corn to mill. No special sauces to make from the tears of unicorns.

Fortunately, you can use any type of tortilla for this taco. I chose a crunchy white corn taco shell.

Oh, before I continue, you might not want to make this around small children who tend to sneak a piece of fish or two. They need to be patient and wait for dinner. Go feed them a cookie instead.

Open your taco shells. I like how they aren’t broken. Briefly heat them up in the microwave.

Crunchy Fish Tacos

Carefully open the bag and gently measure out 1/2 cup of fish, taking care not to break the fish or disrupt the seasonings.

Crunchy Fish Tacos

Next, place the fish into the taco shell, being mindful not to spill outside of the shell.

Crunchy Fish Tacos

That’s it. So simple! The crunchy texture with the salty cheese blends together beautifully with the crispy corn shell. I can’t believe I didn’t make this sooner. Enjoy! And don’t forget to follow me for more recipes!

Crunchy Fish Tacos

Crunchy Fish Tacos

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 4 crunchy shells
  • 2 cups fish
  • Condiments to your liking

Instructions
 

  • Microwave your taco shells briefly, about 30 seconds.
  • Take a taco shell. Measure out 1/2 cup of fish. Pour into shell. Repeat until you've made 4 tacos.
  • Top with your favorite condiments. Enjoy!