Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

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It’s finally soup season! Making homemade soup instead of cracking open a can is a cooking investment worth your time. One of my favorite soups is minestrone. I love the simplicity of it. It’s basically a tomato-based broth with a few veggies, some pasta, and maybe some ground meat. So, when I came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis from The Food Network, I had to try it. She makes awesome Italian dishes so I knew this one would not fail me. I was intrigued that instead of pasta she uses canned white cannellini beans. No pasta?! Most of the time you want to use dried beans for the most flavor so I was a little skeptical whether this soup would be tasty enough, but this soup recipe did not disappoint. Because the beans are canned, making this soup was super fast for a comforting homemade weeknight soup. No need to soak your beans over night.

Prep your ingredients. Dice up an onion, carrot, and celery. I like my celery and carrots in heartier pieces, so I sliced mine. If you want more veggies, feel free to add more. This is a very flexible soup. Next, mince some garlic. Measure out some tomato paste. Gather your canned ingredients. Have some grated Parmesan nearby.

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

Take a large saucepan or Dutch oven and saute your veggies. Be sure to add salt and pepper.

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

After the veggies are soft, throw in your ground beef and cook until there’s no more pink. The ground beef below needs more cooking time.

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

Add your tomato paste and then the rest of your ingredients.

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

It’s starting to look like soup! And it really smells good too. Here it is bubbling away.

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

Let it simmer for about 30 minutes while you go do something fun. Not that cooking isn’t fun, but maybe there’s an episode of House Hunters you’ve been meaning to watch. So I hear.

When it’s ready, ladle it into soup bowls and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

And that’s it. Super simple, and economical too. It makes great leftovers plus it freezes well. It’s so much better than what you’d find in a can and is worth the slight amount of effort that goes into it. It tasted like I spent hours on it. It’s a win-win!

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

Beef and Cannellini Bean Minestrone

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 1 large carrot peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 celery rib trimmed and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounces canned cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, add the oil and heat over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrot and celery and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to high and add the ground beef and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the beef is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and mix to combine. Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

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I’m sort of picky about the meat and seafood I buy. You won’t find me buying the $1.99 pound of “ground beef” (is that a thing?!). But I do look at the relative prices to see what is more affordable than others. Right now, it seems that shrimp is cheaper than most fish and because we are trying to incorporate more seafood in our diet, I’ve been trending towards shrimp. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to shrimp so I can’t eat it, but that doesn’t mean I can make it.

I found a tasty recipe on Simply Recipes that would not be offensive to my picky eater. The only thing he’d have to surgically remove from his plate are the tiny bits of green onion. Someday he’ll eat them.

You will probably have most of the ingredients on hand: soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. First prepare the marinade. I’m happy to say you don’t have to do this hours ahead of time. It’s quick.

Mix together all those ingredients I mentioned above and marinate it while you make some rice.

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

I marinaded the shrimp for about 15 minutes. That seemed to work. Grabbed my wok to feel fancy, but any skillet or saute pan will work. Heat the oil and then use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp from the bowl and into your hot pan. This will make a mess, but such is life. Cook it for about a minute.

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

Add half of those onions the younger boy will pick out and keep cooking this until the shrimp are pink and no longer raw. This really goes fast, about 2 minutes. You might want to flip them over half way through.

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

Set the shrimp aside on a plate and then throw in the marinade from the bowl to make your sauce. Cook it up until it’s thick and syrupy. Pour over your shrimp and coat it all up. Scoop some onto a bed of hot rice and sprinkle some green onions on it to make it pretty. And that’s it. Super fast and not so hard to make. A really good week night dish.

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

Because I couldn’t taste it myself, I interrogated the boys like their life depended on it. They said it was good. Seriously. Tell me more. They liked how it was sweet, but not too spicy (from the ginger, I suppose). The sesame flavor was not too overpowering. The younger boy admired the lack of vegetables (and that I served this meal with a side of berries). Sounds like a win-win make again!

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

Ginger Garlic Sesame Shrimp

Servings 3

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 pound 16-20 count shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 green onions sliced on the diagonal
  • cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Then, whisk in the olive oil, sesame oil, minced garlic, and grated ginger. Place the shrimp in the bowl with the marinade. Toss to coat with the marinade and chill for about 15 minutes.
  • Cook rice to your preferred method.
  • Heat cooking oil in a large wok or skillet on high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, almost smoking, use a slotted spoon to move the shrimp from the marinade into the hot pan. It will splatter so be careful. Stir fry for a minute.
  • Add half of the sliced green onions. Continue to stir fry. Turn the shrimp over after a minute. Cook for another minute until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through.
  • Remove shrimp from pan and transfer to a serving bowl. Place the remaining marinade in the hot wok or pan. Simmer until it has reduced to a syrup.
  • Pour the sauce over the shrimp. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the shrimp with remaining green onions. Serve over hot rice.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

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I’ll get to the point. We love tacos and fajitas. So much so that I came to the conclusion that we needed another Taco Tuesday, but let’s say on a Friday. I decided mix it up a bit and make these tasty fajita steak rice bowls, which feature juicy slices of homemade fajita-seasoned skirt steak along side sliced onions and peppers over rice. I promise the effort is worth the reward. What am I saying?! You’ll find this recipe is a quick and satisfying meal. This recipe comes from The Recipe Critic and will not disappoint.

First, bring out all your ingredients, which are your seasonings, olive oil, limes, soy sauce, skirt steak (try to pull it out an hour ahead of time because meat cooks more evenly when it’s at room temperature), peppers (any color you want), some butter, and rice (brown or white, your choice).

Go cook some rice.

Next, make the fajita seasoning. A lot of stuff (seven!) goes into this, but that’s where all the flavor. Please do that skip the chipotle chili pepper powder, which you can find among all the other spices at the grocery store. I hate buying spices that I never use again, but you can use this instead of your regular chili powder. It’s worth the purchase.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

Mix it up, spoon out some for your veggies, and put the rest aside for the marinade.

Time for the marinade. You don’t have to marinate the meat for hours. Love it. If you’re like me, you usually forget to marinate ahead of time. Not a problem here. In a gallon size zip-top bag, add olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and the fajita seasoning. Throw your steak in the mag, close the bag, and squish the bag around to coat the steak. Let it hang out on your counter while you slice and cook up the peppers and onion. BTW, you can use any color of bell pepper. Any type of onion too. I used yellow and red peppers with red onions.

Now you’re going to cook your onions. I used an iron cast skillet because it makes a nice crust on the steak and it makes me feel fancy (which is super important when cooking as it boosts your confidence level), but any skillet works. After you’ve softened the onion a bit, add your peppers and reserved fajita seasoning. Give it a stir. I don’t like overcooked, soft peppers so I only cooked them for about 4 minutes. These are perfect.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

Transfer them to a plate and set them aside.

Next is the steak. I did sort of make a mess, but that’s okay. Melt some butter in the skillet and gently place it in the pan so you don’t splatter the butter like I did.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

Sear the steak for about 4 minutes on each side. When you think it’s ready, take our your trusty instant thermometer. Wait, you don’t have one? You need to buy one (and no, I’m not making any money from this recommendation). It’s perfect when making sure your meat isn’t raw. Ick. I like mine around medium rare, which is about 145F. If you want it medium, cook until 160F. Let’s not discuss any other acceptable level of rareness.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

When the steak is cooked, transfer it to a cutting board and slice it as thin as you like. Fill a bowl up with hot, cooked rice. Throw on your steak and veggies. Add any toppings you like. Cilantro is a must in our family. We also added spicy pickled carrots and avocado. Yum.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

This is a make again. Two thumbs up. This meal pleases everyone because it’s both adult and kid friendly. The perfectly seasoned steak is flavorful without being too spicy. You can customize the bowl to however you want. My picky eater skipped everything but the rice and steak while throwing some cheese on top. Perfect! There’s no wrong way to make your bowl. Because I tend to low carb it, I skipped the rice and put it on a bed of kale (yes, I’m weird that way), but cabbage would have worked too.

Go make this. Please and thank you.

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

Chipotle Steak Rice Bowls

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak
  • 2 medium bell peppers any color
  • 1 medium onion any type
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups rice
  • your favorite toppings

Instructions
 

  • About an hour before cooking, place the steak on the counter so it comes up to room temperature.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chipotle chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons for the vegetables.
  • In a large zip-top bag, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and the remainder of the fajita seasonings. Add the steak, seal the bag, and press the bag to coat the marinade onto steak. Set it aside on the counter while you prepare the vegetables.
  • Remove the onion skin and slice into thin strips. Core the bell peppers to remove the seeds and thinly slice.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12" cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. Add the bell peppers and sprinkle with the reserved 1 1/2 teaspoons of fajita seasoning. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer and set aside on a plate.
  • Melt butter on the same skillet and sear the steak. Allow to sear for 3 to 4 minutes (or more depending on how done you like your steak) on each side. Internal steak temperature should be 145F for medium rare or 160F for medium. Transfer steak to a cutting board and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into thin strips.
  • Fill bowls with rice. Top with steak, onions, peppers, and your favorite toppings.

Cuban Baked Chicken with Sweet Peppers and Yellow Rice

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I recently read an amazing book called Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. It’s a beautiful story told from the perspectives of two women. There’s also a lot of discussion of food. On the first night, Marisal, one of the women, eats lechón asado, which is pork marinated in a mojo sauce (sour oranges with seasonings such as oregano, garlic, and cumin), served with black beans, rice, and maduros (fried sweet plantains). It sounds amazing. I would love to make it some day, but I heard that the authentic way is to roast a whole pig all day. I think I’ll find an easier recipe.

Cuban Baked Chicken has Cuban influences, but is not traditionally Cuban. It’s a variation of pollo con arroz and includes peppers, cumin, turmeric, and peas, ingredients you’d find in many Cuban dishes. I changed up the recipe found on Food Network because I’m just that way. More important, this dish cures the recent casserole cravings going through my household.

Pull all your ingredients together: chicken, salt/pepper, olive oil, an onion, yellow and red bell peppers, turmeric, cumin, rice, chicken broth, and peas. I like to measure everything out so all I have to do is dump it into a dutch oven or skillet.

Cuban Chicken

The original recipe calls for a whole chicken cut in 8 pieces, but I find that using my favorite cut of meat, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, tastier. Cook the chicken for about 8 minutes each side. Mine fell apart, which I think made it better. Just be sure it’s nicely browned before you set it aside.

Cook in stages: first the onion for a few minutes, add garlic for another minute, add the peppers for a few minutes, and then add your spices and rice. Stir until well coated. Pour in the broth and bring it to a boil. Throw in your browned chicken and transfer the whole thing to the oven at 375F for about 25 minutes.

Cuban Chicken

Because everything is cooking all by itself and is a complete meal, go do something fun in the meantime.

When it’s done, pull it out of the oven (of course), fluff up the rice, and add some peas.

Cuban Chicken

Scoop it onto a plate and top with cilantro to make it look pretty. Dinner is served!

Cuban Chicken

This is comfort food at its best. Pieces of juicy chicken with seasoned rice that is perfectly tender. Just enough veggies as not to distract. The cumin really comes through and I love the color of turmeric. This is definitely a make again.

Cuban Chicken

Cuban Baked Chicken with Sweet Peppers and Yellow Rice

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper seeded, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • cilantro for granish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pat the chicken dry. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof dutch oven pan or deep skillet, with a lid, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until well browned, about 8 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  • Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the peppers and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir until the rice is coated. Pour in the broth, and stir to distribute the rice evenly. Increase the heat to high and boil until liquid begins to be absorbed into the rice, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken to the rice. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the rice is tender and chicken cooks through, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and uncover. Fluff the rice and stir in the peas. Cover and let sit to warm the peas, about 5 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

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.