Category Archives: Dinner Dishes

Back to School Make Ahead Dinners: 5 to Keep You Alive

With the school year starting back up, so many of us will soon be thrown into that business of the after-school hustle. So who can’t use a few easy tricks to getting meals on the table a little faster. Some weeks I am a pre-chopper and other times I am a pre-cooker. All of these meals are meals that you can make on the weekend, or whenever you have time, and then they reheat well when it’s time serve them. The other great thing about these dishes is that because the stand up to re-heating you can easily pack them for lunch, or bring to a pot luck. I hope you enjoy these.

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Goat Cheese Enchiladas

Goat Cheese Enchiladas are a sophisticated Mexican meal that are definitely suitable for entertaining. A delicious combination of goat cheese and green chiles give this traditional comfort food a little glam power.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Cobb Hand Pies

Chicken Cobb Hand Pies are my favorite salad tucked inside a pastry crust. Who wouldn’t love that? I love a good sandwich with a side salad, and this pocket sammy is amped up because it’s stuffed inside of dough!

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers
Chicken Stuffed Peppers

Chicken Stuffed Peppers are a healthier version of the traditional pork and beef stuffed favorite, but just as tender and moist. These reheat really well, so make a batch or two and send them for lunch too.

 

 

 

 

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Veggie filled Chili

Chili what more do I need to say? OK, a little more would be good. This is a fabulous veggie chili that holds its own filled with spices that with keep your mouth begging for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditional Meatballs
Traditional Meatballs

Traditional Meatballs are one of my tests of a good Italian restaurant. I am super picky to say the least about meatballs, as most Italians are. These are a classic recipe with my favorite homemade marinara to boot!

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus Make Ahead Meal: Pesto Chicken. Sorry no photo for this one, but it’s super simple! Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread 1/2 cup of pesto on the bottom of the pan. Top with 2 cups of pre-cooked chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken. Spread the chicken with another 1/2 cup of pesto and top with 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese shredded (I used white cheddar). Bake for 15 minutes until bubbly and hot all the way through. Serve this over pasta or brown rice.

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Mushroom and Spinach Risotto

With the last remnants of winter hanging by a thread, I will succumb with one final post to the Gods of Comfort Food. Yes, as we all bid a fond farewell to cold weather veggies I thought I would share one of my favorites that I don’t get to make all that often anymore (my kids are not fans of mushrooms). This recipe although time consuming can be made ahead and re-purposed into a second meal or appetizer, which makes it so much more appealing in my eyes. So this might not be one of those recipes that you make on the fly, but may be the perfect capstone to a Sunday evening family meal.

As we’re trying to eat a bit more meatless, I noticed that the Wynn Las Vegas has revamped their menus to include vegan and vegetarian recipes at each of their eateries. What better way to get a little bit of Vegas at home?  Ok, so maybe it’s not the same, but I started with my classic mushroom risotto (one of the dishes on the Wynn’s menu), and then I decided to add some fresh spinach for a bit of texture and freshness.

Shopping List:

  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup of red onions, diced
  • 2 cups of your favorite mushrooms, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 cup of baby spinach torn into bite sized pieces
  •  1 cup of Arborrio rice
  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese

Instructions:

1. In a medium saute pan on medium heat melt the butter and olive oil together. Once melted toss in the smashed garlic and onions. Lower the temperature to low and stir the onions and garlic occasionally for about 20-30 minutes until the onions are nice and caramelized.

2. Remove the onions from the pan at this point and add the chopped mushrooms to the same pan to cook over medium heat until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms to the onion mixture and then toast the rice in the same pan for about 2 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and add 1 cup of stock and stir the rice occasionally for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this process of one cup of liquid every ten minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is chewy.

4. Finally, add the cream cheese, the spinach, and the mushroom and onion mixture into the rice. Stir it all so that the cheese is evenly distributed.  Serve with a few sliced almonds on top and Viola!

Serves: 4 entree portions

Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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With weather across the country dangerously cold, I thought I’d share one of my favorite comfort food recipes. I love to order Chicken Pot Pie at restaurants in the winter because it always seems to satisfy that creamy and crunchy fix I am looking for, but I am always left longing for more of the soupiness that is inside the pastry crust. I developed this dairy free version to fill that void.

This is a pretty simple recipe that can be whipped up on the fly with a grocery store rotisserie chicken if you like. You can even serve this over pasta or rice instead of with the pie crust on the side.

Shopping List:
4 cups Chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons flour, preferably Wondra
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups total Diced carrots and celery
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 chicken breast, shredded about 1 cup
pie dough, optional

Instructions:
1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat melt the butter and then add the flour. Whisk together to make a smooth paste and let the flour cook to a tan color. This is your roux.
2. Slowly whisk in the mustard, wine and chicken stock, or if you prefer vegetable stock.
3. Toss in your veggies, and let them simmer at a low temperature until they are cooked to your liking (5-10 minutes).
4. Then add the precooked chicken and warm it throughout.
5. To serve top with lemon zest and a lemon wedge, and a piece of baked pie crust or French bread.
Enjoy!
Serves: 4

Double Duty Meal #2: Lemon-Mustard Chicken and Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

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We eat a lot of chicken around here. As you might guess if you are a frequent visitor to my blog. Chicken, in my opinion, is a perfect double duty food element.

You can easily whip up a big batch of chicken on the weekend, and stock pile it in the fridge for quick fix meals later in the week. My favorites are to use it in a soup, a salad or a pasta dish. It is so versatile that all you need to do to reinvent it is to mix the chicken with some new flavors.

I’ve come into a pretty good routine in the past year of cooking meals that do double duty.  So, here’s another of my favorites.

 

Shopping List:

CHICKEN MARINADE:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts

 

Instructions:

1. Mix together the marinade in a ziptop bag and place the chicken inside. Make sure that all sides of the chicken is covered before you leave it to do it’s thing in the refrigerator. Marinate it between 1-3 hours, longer than this will cause the chicken to become mushy.

2. Drain the chicken and either grill it on a hot grill for 6-7 minutes per side or cook it  in a saute pan on medium high heat for the same amount of time. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan as the chicken will steam, rather than caramelize.

3. Save 1 1/2 chicken breasts to shred for the salad below.

 

Israeli Couscous Spa Salad
Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

For the second dish of the week you will need the items below. Check out the original posting of this recipe here.

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (see above)

1 cup uncooked Israeli Couscous (or other small pasta)

1 apple diced

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup dried cranberries

4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles (hey: by all means if you hate blue cheese a good substitute is feta here, or you could leave it out altogether)

1/2 loosely packed basil

1/3 cup olive oil

Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups

P1070235One of my biggest daily challenges is to try to get a healthy meal on the table that the whole family will enjoy, while still shuttling kids to their afterschool activities. But often after working and then doing homework with the kids and driving them to their stuff, I succumb and just throw together some pasta and sauce or end up ordering takeout. I know it’s a bad habit.

Sometimes I will actually plan out the meals for the week on Sunday, and then head to the grocery store, and then chop up some of those fruits and veggies so they are ready to go. That of course is always the plan, but often the weekend fun and busy week gets in the way of my best laid plans. Continue reading Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups

A Party? In a Bowl? Why yes, thank you! (A Super Bowl Party Appetizer Wrap-Up)

As many of you know I love to entertain, mostly because I love to make mini-foods. But really because I enjoy hanging out with friends while celebrating something special. So, it’s been a pretty long tradition–ok so it’s only been 4 or 5 years, but what ‘evs–of hosting a small group of friends for a Super Bowl Viewing Party.

Normally, I will make a couple of heartier dishes and ask the other families to lighten the load by bringing a dish to share. Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl Go To Party Faves!

Nothing like a hot dip to get the party started, yeah? P1050450Baked Green Chile Artichoke Dip
Simply fresh flavors make this one pop.

P1050799Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
You’ve got to have something for the kiddos, too.

Pizza Pop 'ems
Pizza Pop ’ems

Pizza Pop ’ems
And, who doesn’t love bacon? P1040448

Bacon Carmelized Onion Pinwheels
Ok, maybe the vegetarian doesn’t love bacon? Real men do eat quiche.P1030196

Spinach and Feta Quiches

I really don’t care who wins, FYI.

A Healthier Side of Chili

P1060572It’s been ages since I’ve updated this blog!   And of course with my New Year’s Resolution of a healthier lifestyle just a flash-in-the-pan behind me, I can’t forget how much I’ve ignored my readers this past year. I apologize and hope that you will all be satiated with a delectable dish for a cold winter’s night–Chili.

Ok, so it’s not all that cold this afternoon in Southern California, but I’m banking on the fact that our weather will flip-flop back to its fogginess in a few days anyway.  And who doesn’t love to whip up a bowl of chili after a busy day at work? Yes, in just 30 minutes or less!

I know most people think of chili as something that simmers away all day, and there are certainly some great slow cooking recipes out there that work magic, but so many of them have you prep way too much before you turn on the machine. I hate that! I mean, really, who wants to get up earlier just to get dinner going before you head out for the day? My kind of slow cooking is really dumping it all in and letting it all work its own magic….ok I’ll admit it–slow cooking is for my way too hectic days where I know I will be too lazy to cook at the end, and I want to avoid going the fast food route.

So if you are craving a little chili, but don’t want to waste your slow cooker day (mine is Wednesday, btw) give this recipe a try. I think you’ll really enjoy the fresh flavors and the added vegetables that give it a slight sweetness.

Shopping List:

1 pound ground beef, I prefer 7-15 % fat organic

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 medium zucchini, quartered and diced

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1-28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon of chili powder

2 teaspoons of cumin

2 teaspoons of ancho chili powder

salt to taste

Suggested toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, red onion, black olives, radishes, tortilla chips, corn chips…ok, so basically anything you like.

Instructions:

1. In a large sauté pan, sauté on medium-high heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the garlic until the garlic begins to brown.

2. Add the ground beef to the pan and brown it for approximately 5 minutes until it is mostly cooked. A little pink is still ok, since you will continue cooking it from this point.

3. Push the meat to the edges of the pan, and add the zucchini and corn to the center, and then let it cook for 5-7 minutes until the meat and vegetables are nicely caramelized.

4. Reduce the heat on the pan and begin to season dish with the cumin, the chili powders and the tomatoes. Let this simmer at low for another 5-7 minutes. Then taste it! You might want to add some salt or of course your favorite hot sauce. Now it’s ready to enjoy with any (or none) of those yummy toppings.

Serves: 4-6