Main Dishes

Balsamic Pot Roast

3 lbs beef chuck roast, boneless 
Garlic salt & pepper seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 fresh sage leaves (or a sprinkle of powdered sage)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup red wine
1/3 cup GOOD balsamic vinegar
1, 14.5oz can beef broth
3 tbsp corn starch
Salt & Pepper
Baby carrots, about a bag
2 medium potatoes, cut into mouth sized pieces

While I prefer to cook my pot roast in a crock pot, I do think it's essential to sear the meat first.  I usually to do this part the night before.  Sprinkle garlic salt & pepper seasoning all over the meat.  Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet.  When nice and hot, sear the roast on all sides - couple of minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and place in the bowl of your slow cooker.  Top with the sliced onion, chopped garlic and balsamic vinegar. I took a piece of cheesecloth and placed all the herbs in it, tied it up with kitchen string and placed it into the pot - this way you don't need to fish all the herbs out later.  Cover pot and put in fridge overnight.  

In the morning, add the red wine and beef broth.  Cover and turn slow cooker on low and cook for 6 hours.  Add the carrots & potatoes, turn the slow cooker up to high heat and cook for another 3-4 hours.  Once everything is done to your desired tenderness, pour the liquid into a large measuring cup.  Let it settle, then skim off the fat.  Add about half of it to a bowl and mix in the corn starch until it's nice and smooth.  Add the other half of the liquid to a medium saucepan and turn it on medium-high heat and bring to a slow boil.  Add the cornstarch liquid to the saucepan and stir to combine.  Heat until it gets hot and thickens up a bit.  Once you've got the thickness you prefer, turn off heat and pour the gravy/sauce back into the crock pot over the top of meat and veggies.  Serve hot.  

*If you want to shorten the cook time for this, cook it on high for 6-7 hours.  Steam the carrots until tender, and microwave your potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces and add them and the carrots to the pot.  While the veggies are cooking you can work on the sauce.* 

Pasta with Spinach & Chicken

3 cups uncooked rigatoni

2 chicken breasts, cooked & cubed (about 3 1/2 cups)

1 cup chopped onion

1, 14oz can Italian style diced tomatoes, with juice

1, 10oz package frozen spinach, thawed & drained

1, 8oz container onion & chive cream cheese

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1 tsp garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375, and spray an 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray.  Cover the bottom of a small saute pan with olive oil and saute onion on medium-low heat until translucent, then remove from heat and set aside in a large glass bowl.  Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling water, cook the rigatoni until cooked but slightly firm.  Drain and add to the bowl with the onions.

Add the chicken, diced tomatoes, spinach, cream cheese, cottage cheese, garlic, salt & pepper to the onion and rigatoni and stir well to combine.  Dump it all into the baking dish and top with the shredded mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then removed foil and bake for another 15 minutes.  

Island Pork Tenderloin (adapted from Gourmet Cookbook)

For spice rub:
2 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ - 2 ½ lbs total) trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil

For Glaze:
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp Tabasco

Stir the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork.  Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Brown pork, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes total.  Remove from heat, but leave pork in skillet.

Stir together brown sugar, garlic and Tabasco in a small bowl.  Pat the mixture on top of the pork.  Place skillet in the oven at 350.  Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes.  

Easy Chicken & Biscuits (serves about 6)

2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts cooked & shredded
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
1 cup vegetable stock
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup water mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp pepper
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups diced carrots, canned or frozen
6 biscuits - click here for recipe

Cook your chicken breasts, shred or cut into chunks, and set aside.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium-high heat.  Add the flour, whisk well to combine and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the vegetable stock and whisk vigorously making sure to not leave any clumps and mixture is nice and smooth.  Add the chicken stock and whisk vigorously again.  Let the mixture begin to bubble then begin to whisk constantly again, making sure the mixture is smooth.  Add the water mixed with cornstarch, and whisk well to combine.  Add the thyme, onion powder, sage, parsley, salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Turn heat down to medium and let it simmer and thicken for about 20-30 minutes.  Add your shredded chicken, peas and carrots and stir to combine.  Put your biscuit mixture together and pop them in the oven while the chicken gravy mixture is warming through.  When your biscuits are ready, split them in half and place on your plate and top with your chicken gravy mixture.  Serve with cranberry sauce & enjoy!

Cheesy Bread Sticks
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast (or 1 1/2  packages) 
3 1/4 cups flour
3 oz warm water (3/8 cup) 
1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
1 1/2 tsp salt

3 1/2 tbsp sugar
3 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup +  2 tbsp water

1 stick of butter
2-4 tsp chopped garlic
Shredded mozzarella, 4 + cups  
  • Dissolve yeast in warm water, and let stand 4-5 minutes. 
  • Place all dry ingredients (flour, dry milk, sugar, and salt) in mixer bowl.  Using a dough hook, blend on low speed for approximately 2 minutes.
  • Add oil and blend on low speed for 2 minutes.
  • Add water.  Mix on low speed for 1 minute.
  • Add dissolved yeast and mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
  • Knead dough on medium speed for 8 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Spread dough out onto a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Place in a warm area to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.  You want it to be about doubled in size.
  • Melt butter together with the chopped garlic.  With a pastry brush, brush the butter and garlic all over the dough GENEROUSLY.  You want it to have a good amount of butter and garlic.  When I worked in the kitchen, we sometimes didn't have fresh garlic so I'd use powdered garlic instead.  If you use powdered garlic add a generous amount to the butter, or to your preference.
  • Layer the cheese on top of the butter mixture, again GENEROUSLY!  You want a lot of cheese, because it is cheesy bread sticks afterall!  Rule of thumb for me - add enough cheese so that you don't see any dough peeking through.  The amount of cheese will vary based on your preferences.  
  • Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  Check after 10 minutes and turn tray around.  Watch closely for the next 10 minutes because you don't want the cheese to get too browned.....well, at least I don't!
  • Remove from oven and wait a couple of minutes before cutting.  I cut tray into thirds, and then into strips.  Serve with warmed pizza or spaghetti sauce.  Serves 4-6.

Taco Casserole

1 lb ground beef
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cumin
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained 
1, 14.75 oz can of corn, drained
1 1/2 cups salsa  
3 cups Doritos, crushed (I like to use their taco or enchilada chips)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a 11 x 7 pan with cooking spray.  In a large skillet, cook beef until no longer pink and drain off any excess fat.  Add the chili powder & cumin and stir until well combined.  Add 1 cup of salsa and the beans, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  

Spread crushed chips into bottom of baking dish.  Layer the beef on top of the chips, then sprinkle the corn over the beef.  Spread the corn on top of the meat.  Spread the sour cream over the corn.  Add the remaining salsa on top of the sour cream and then sprinkle on the scallions.  Top with the cheddar cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.    

Goat Cheese & Apple Stuffed Chicken

4 skinless chicken breasts 
4 oz good quality goat cheese
1 apple - peeled, cored & diced
1 egg
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2/3 cup white wine (I used Reisling because it's sweeter, but you can also use apple juice or cider instead)
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
Sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
Salt & Pepper

Sauce:  Bring the wine, chicken stock, sugar & rosemary to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.  In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water until smooth, then whisk it in to the sauce to thicken it a little.  Add a dash of salt and pepper, stir then set aside until it's time to serve.

Place the chicken breasts in between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, and pound them out until they are about 1/4" thick.  Season with salt & pepper.  In another bowl, mix together the apple and goat cheese.  Divide the cheese mixture between the 4 pieces of chicken, spreading it on just one 1/2 of each piece.  Fold the other 1/2 of each piece of chicken over, pressing the edges together to form a pocket.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil until hot.  In another bowl whisk the egg, and place the 1/2 cup bread crumbs on a plate.  Dip each piece of chicken into the egg to coat each side, then dredge each piece of chicken in the bread crumbs to coat each side.  Place the chicken into the skillet, and cook until browned all over and juices run clear (about 8-10 minutes on each side).  While it's cooking you can turn the sauce back on low heat, stirring to get it warmed through.  When chicken is done, serve it with a drizzle of the sauce on top.

Parmesan & Dill Encrusted Haddock

4 Haddock fillets 
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
4 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
4 tbsp chopped fresh dill (more if you like)
2 tbsp melted butter
1 lemon, quartered

Preheat oven to 375, and spray a large baking dish with cooking spray (the size of your baking dish will depend on the size of your fish).  Pour milk into a large container, and place the haddock into the milk and turn to coat.  Add the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and dill to a large plate and mix it all together.  Take the each piece of haddock and dredge it in the Parmesan mixture and turn to evenly coat each side, pressing firmly.  

Place each haddock fillet in the baking dish.  Take a quarter of the lemon and squeeze the juice over the top of each fillet - a quarter of the lemon per each fillet.  Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave and sprinkle it evenly on top of each fillet.  Place baking dish in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Little B's Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef 
1/2 lb ground veal 
1/2 lb ground pork
3/4 cup minced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
1 tbsp grated horseradish
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 eggs beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/4 ketchup

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl, add all ingredients and combine gently.  Grease (or spray with cooking spray) a 9x5 loaf pan & gently shape meat and put in to pan.  Top with glaze (see below).  Bacon on top is yummy too.  Cook for about an hour, or until fully cooked through.  Let set for 10 minutes after removing from oven before cutting.

For glaze:  combine 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp hot sauce, 1/4 tsp Worcestshire sauce, 1 tbsp butter, and 1/8 cup brown sugar in small sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Little B's Chili (serves 6-8)

3 lbs ground beef (or venison, which I substitute often)
1 large onion, diced 
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp cumin 
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne (sometimes I add 2 chopped jalapeno peppers instead of using cayenne)
1 tsp soy sauce
3 1/2 cups plain tomato sauce or marinara sauce
1/2 cup beer, any kind/brand
1/2 cup water
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or whatever kind of beans your prefer, sometimes I use black beans)

In a large skillet, break up the beef and cook until cooked through.  Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in large saucepan, and add the onion & pepper.  Saute until softened, about 10 minutes, then add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes.  When the meat is cooked, drain off the fat then add all of it to the onion mixture.  Stir in the chili powder, cocoa, cumin, parsley, salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaves and soy sauce.  Add the the beans, tomato sauce, beer and water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hrs.  Stir every 1/2 hr, and feel free to add more spices and/or liquid to suite your preferences.  To serve, top with shredded cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.

Red Pepper Bisque

15 large red peppers
1 large onion, diced 
1/2 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter
6 cups chicken stock
2 quarts of half & half
1/2 cup dry sherry
3/4 cup honey
salt & pepper to taste

The first step is to roast the red peppers.  You can do this on a grill, or by placing the peppers directly on gas burners on the stove top.  Since I don't have a gas stove top, I tend to roast the peppers on the grill or in the oven.  If you do it in the oven, place the peppers on a baking sheet and bake in oven set at 350 for about 45 minutes, turning once in a while until all sides are charred.  Remove from oven and place peppers in brown paper bag for 15 minutes, then remove from bag and peel and cut the peppers.  In a food processor, pulse peppers until pureed.  You may need to do this in batches.  

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the flour, stirring to make a roux, and cook for about a minute.  Turn up the heat to medium-high, and whisk in the chicken stock.  Next stir in the 1/2 & 1/2, sherry, honey and pepper puree.  Bring to simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

*NOTE - for a little kick I like to add a dash or two of red pepper flakes.  Also, you can use jarred roasted red peppers that you buy at the store, and it will taste the same. 

Turkey Pesto Sandwich

1 Torta Roll, or any other soft yet chewy roll
Turkey breast, either roasted or from the deli & cut 1/4" thick

2 slices Provolone cheese

1 tbsp pesto, homemade is best - Click here for the recipe

1 tbsp good mayonnaise

In a small bowl mix together the pesto and mayonnaise.  Cut the roll in half and slather the pesto mayonnaise on both sides of the roll evenly.  On the bottom half of the roll place your turkey, then top it with both slices of Provolone cheese.  Place the just the bottom half of the sandwich (without the top) into the oven and broil on low just until the cheese melts then remove from oven.  Place the top of the roll onto the the sandwich and cut in half.  Enjoy!

Venison Stew

2 packages of venison stew meat (about 2 l
15 oz can tomato sauce 
2-3 carrots
2 large potatoes (I used Russet, but red potatoes would work also)
1 clove garlic or 1-2 tsp chopped garlic
1 onion chopped (or adjust amount to your preference)
1 cup red wine
2-3 capfuls of Gravy Master
3 cups water
2 bay leafs
Salt & Pepper to taste
¼ - ½ cup flour for dredging meat

Combine flour with seasoning (I used garlic salt & pepper, but use whatever you want & any amount you think is good).  Dredge (evenly coat) venison meat in flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Pour enough oil into a large pan (use the pan you plan to cook the stew in) to nicely coat bottom and let it heat up (med-high heat).  Once pan is hot, start searing the venison – will probably have to do in 2-3 batches.  Once nicely brown on one side, flip meat over and do the other side until evenly browned.  Remove meat from pan and set aside (if you have to do more than one batch, you will probably have to add more oil).

Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté until softened (about 5 min.) then add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 min.  The pan will have meat bits stuck to the bottom – be sure to stir these up while sautéing the onions (it will add to the overall flavor).  Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour over sautéed onions and cook another few minutes while stirring.  Add the wine and continue stirring while it cooks/thickens for about 2 minutes.  Next add the sauce and stir until well combined/smooth.  Next add the water & stir to combine.  Let this cook for a couple of minutes so it has a chance to thicken a little.  Add the meat back into pot, and give it a good stir.  Add the Gravy Master – start with 2 capfuls and if you think it’s not “brown enough” add another.  Add in the bay leafs and salt & pepper to taste.  Let it come to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and let it simmer for about 2 hours. Stir every 20-30 minutes making sure to scrape bottom of pan so nothing is burning on the bottom. 

After about 2 hrs add sliced carrots and potatoes (cut into bite size pieces).  Cook another 1-1½ hrs, or until carrots and potatoes are cooked to your desired doneness.  

Little B's Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
  (about 6 servings)

3 cups macaroni/elbow noodles, cooked al dente & drained 
1, 8oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
10 slices American cheese (I prefer to use the thick slices, white or orange)
2 cups milk
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
2 tbsp flour
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water until it's almost done, then drain and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium-high heat.  Add the flour and whisk together to make a roux (this will be the base for your cheese sauce), and cook for 1 minute.  Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking constantly to make sure it's nice and smooth - it should start to thicken after a few minutes.  Start adding the cheeses, one kind at a time.  Continue whisking and allow the cheese to melt before adding the next cheese.  Once all the cheese is added and melted, the sauce should be at about a medium thickness - not too thick but not too watery either.  If it's too thick you can add a little more milk until you reach your desired consistency.  If it's too runny, you can add more cheese until it thickens up a bit - when this happens to me I generally end up adding more American cheese, but you can add which ever type you want or have. 

Add the macaroni to the baking dish, then pour the cheese sauce evenly over top.  Give it a little stir to make sure the sauce is well combined with the macaroni.  Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and add the seasoned bread crumbs to it, stirring with a fork until well combined/crumbly.  Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over top of the macaroni, and place baking dish in the oven.  Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until cheese sauce is bubbly and top is slightly browned.  Serve immediately.  

New England Corn Chowder

4 strips bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped 
1 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley
2 large cans creamed corn
2 large cans whole corn
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream or ½ & ½
Salt and pepper to taste
6 drops tobasco sauce, or to taste
4 cups chicken stock
2 large potatoes, cooked and diced
¼ cup flour mixed well into a little chicken stock to make a “paste”

Saute the bacon, onion and celery together slowly until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add cooked potatoes and the flour mix, and let simmer another 15 minutes or until thickened.  Serves about 8.

Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers

1lb ground beef
1 clove garlic 
4 green onions chopped
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp jalapeno, chopped
¾ cup tomato sauce
½ cup corn
½ cup bread crumbs
4 large bell peppers
1 large tomato

Cut off tops of peppers and place in pot of boiling water with salt.  Cover and let boil for 5 minutes, then remove from water.  In a skillet sauté the beef, garlic, onion, chili powder, jalapenos and green onions.  Drain off the grease and add the tomato, corn, tomato sauce and the bread crumbs.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Stuff the peppers with meat mixture and sprinkle with cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese and bake covered for 45 minutes at 350.  Uncover for the last 10 minutes.  

Chicken & Kale Soup (adapted from Eating Well)

2 boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
8 cups kale, chopped or sliced thin
20 oz chicken stock
1 cup of a dry white wine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Add olive oil to a medium saucepan heat on medium low.  Add onion, garlic and rosemary and cook for about 2 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the wine, cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine is almost evaporated.  Add the chicken broth, chicken and kale and simmer for about 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the water, cornstarch and Dijon together until smooth.  Add it to the soup and stir well to combine.  Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then turn off heat.  Season with salt & pepper.  Makes 3 servings.

Sun Dried Tomato Chicken (serves 6-7)

12 boneless & skinless chicken tenders
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup onion, chopped 
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken then add them to the pan.  Cook chicken until done, about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan, cover and set aside.  

Add the butter to the pan along with the onion and garlic, and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add the sun dried tomatoes, and stir well.  Add the flour, and with a whisk stir everything together to for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock & wine, whisking constantly until smooth.  Add cream and continue to whisk for a couple minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.  Add the basil & stir to combine, then add the chicken back to the pan.  Spoon sauce over chicken, and let it set for a couple of minutes to warm through before serving.  

Sloppy Joes

1 lb ground venison or beef 
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped

In large skillet add a little olive oil to coat pan. Sauté the chopped onion and pepper until onions are translucent. Add meat and cook over medium heat until no longer pink, and drain off any excess fat. Stir in ketchup, tomato puree, water, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder and salt. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat and simmers for about 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings. 

Vermont Minestrone

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
1/4 garlic, chopped 
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
3/4 cup green peppers, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup zucchini, sliced
1 cup kale, chopped
4 cups water
12 oz diced tomatoes
1 cup plain tomato sauce
1, 15 oz can garbanzo beans
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil then add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and simmer for 1 hour.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a few croutons on top.

Note:  If you like noodles in your soup, you can add 1 cup of uncooked elbow noodles after it's simmered for an hour, and let it cook another 10 minutes before serving.

Perfect Meatballs

1 lb ground beef 
½ lb ground pork
½ lb ground veal
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp chopped garlic
1tbsp chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried parsley)
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried basil)
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
¾ cup warm water

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.  Add all ingredients to a large bowl.  Combine gently with your hands (or fork if you prefer).  Form into 2-inch meatballs and place on cookie sheet.  Place in oven and cook for 20-30 min.  After 20 minutes cut into a meatball to see if they are cooked thru (it’s OK if they are slightly pink in the middle because they will continue to cook a little when you take them out).  

Broccoli Chicken Divan

10 oz package frozen chopped broccoli, cooked & drained 
2 chicken breasts, cooked & cut into bite size pieces
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of broccoli soup
1/2 cup milk 
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 425. In 5x7 baking dish arrange cooked broccoli. Add a layer of cooked chicken. Mix soup and milk together and pour over cooked chicken. Sprinkle with cheese. Combine melted butter with bread crumbs and sprinkle over cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serves 4.

Chicken Chili  (adapted from Ina Garten)

2 large onions, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 yellow pepper, cut up into chunks
1 orange pepper, cut up into chunks
1 red pepper, cut up into chunks
2 tbsp+ chili powder
2 tsp+ cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
2 (28 oz) cans pureed tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
4 chicken breasts
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained (can use kidney beans instead)
Shredded Cheddar cheese for topping

Coat the chicken with garlic pepper salt.  Cook in pan on stove top, or roast in oven until cooked thru. Let cool enough so that you can pull it apart/shred it (you can cut into cubes if you like instead) and set aside.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and salt and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato puree and basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes stirring every now and then. Add chicken and simmer for another 1/2 hr. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with cheddar cheese and serve.  Serves 6-8.

Leo's Chicken Wings 

7-8 lbs fresh chicken wings (cut in 1/2 and slice off tips)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp honey
2/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
garlic salt

Put all wings in roasting pan (big pan, a 9x13 is not big enough) and sprinkle with garlic salt. Combine all ingredients for sauce in a bowl and whisk together. Pour over wings and toss together until well coated. Let set overnight in fridge, or for at least 4 hours. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours stirring about every 15 minutes. Then turn oven up to 425 to brown the wings up and thicken the sauce. Be sure to stir every 8-10
minutes to avoid burning.

 Cabbage with Kielbasa & Beans

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb pre-cooked lean turkey sausage (such as kielbasa), sliced
1 lb cabbage, cored and sliced into thin shreds (about 6 cups)
2 small onions, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tablespoons course ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Heat the butter and oil in a lidded 5-quart pot over medium-high heat; add the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer the sausage to a bowl and set aside.  Add the cabbage, onion, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, salt, black pepper, and bay leaves to the pot and cook until the cabbage starts to soften (about 5 minutes), then turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and cook until tender (about 30 to 40 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Stir in the sausage and beans, and cook a couple minutes to warm.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Chicken Enchilada Pie

1, 15 oz can of tomato puree
1 & ¼ tablespoons of chili powder
½ tbsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 15 oz can black beans
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese
8 tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup scallions, chopped

In a large bowl whisk together the first five ingredients.  Spray a pie plate with cooking spray, then spread ½ a cup of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.  Lay 3 tortillas on top of the sauce, then spread the chicken evenly over the tortillas.  Next spread ½ of the beans and ½ of the Monterey Jack cheese on top of the chicken.  Place 3 more tortillas and spread another ½ cup of the sauce and layer on the rest of the chicken, beans and Monterey Jack cheese.  Top with the last 2 tortillas and the remainder of the sauce.  Place in oven and cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Spread the cheddar cheese on top and bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle the green onions on top.  

Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

2 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt & pepper seasoning
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1, 14oz can tomatoes & green chilies
32 oz chicken stock
2 cups hot water
3 tbsp tomato paste
1, 15oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
3 tbsp cornmeal mixed with a little water
Olive oil 
Salt & Pepper

Combine the chili powder, cumin, and garlic salt seasoning in a small bowl.  Sprinkle a little on the chicken, then cook your chicken until no longer pink in the middle - I just put a little olive oil in a pan and cooked it on the stove top, or you can cook it on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes.  Once the chicken is cooked, shred it with two forks and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium-low heat.  Add your onion, green peppers and red peppers and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the tomatoes & green chilies, chicken, chicken stock, tomato paste, water and black beans.  Stir to combine, then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  Add the cornmeal mixed with water, stir and simmer for another 30 minutes.  Taste and add more seasoning to adjust to your preferences if needed .  Cover and turn off heat and let it set for 15 minutes.  Would be yummy to serve with the following garnishes:  Tortilla strips, diced red onion, sour cream, grated Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro or avocado.

Turkey Cranberry Panini 

Good Artisan Bread (click here for recipe), sliced medium thickness
Turkey, roasted is preferred 
Blue Cheese crumbles 
Cranberry Chutney (click here for recipe), or regular cranberry sauce
Arugula or green leaf lettuce, optional

Turn on your panini maker to get hot while you are putting the sandwiches together.  Spread one piece of bread with the cranberry chutney, and the other piece with the mayonnaise.  Place your turkey on top of the chutney, then sprinkle on a layer of blue cheese. Add the lettuce (if using), then place the 2nd piece of bread on top.  Place on the panini maker and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese starts to melt and the bread is a nice golden brown.   

Linguine al Tonno

1, 28 oz can San Marzano peeled tomatoes, pureed in food processor
1, 6 oz can tomato paste
1, 5 oz can tuna packed in oil
½ onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic chopped (about 1 tsp)
¼ cup red wine
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried Italian seasoning
Pinch salt & pepper, or to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
Heat olive oil on medium-low heat in bottom of medium saucepan.  Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and sauté for two more minutes.  Add the can of tuna, with the oil, to the pan and stir while breaking up the tuna.  Let this sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the pureed tomatoes to the saucepan along with the tomato paste, wine, sugar, Italian seasonings and salt & pepper.  Stir to combine.
Simmer on medium-low heat for about an hour, then turn down to low until you are ready to eat. You can keep it on low heat for a couple hours if you like – sometimes when I make sauce I will turn it off after it’s simmered on medium-low for an hour and let it come to room temp, then turn it back on low later for 1-2 hours.  Serve with linguine or whatever kind of pasta you prefer.

Eggplant Parmesan

2 large eggplants 
3 cups tomato sauce (homemade or bought is fine – I like to make a meat sauce with mushrooms in it for this dish)
8 oz sliced mozzarella
2 eggs
2-4 cups (start with 2 and add more if needed) of seasoned breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and coat each pan with olive oil (it’s easier if you spread it around with your fingers).  Peel and slice eggplant about a ¼ inch thick.  In a small bowl whisk together the eggs with about a tablespoon of water.  Pour 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs on a plate and set aside.  You will dip all the eggplant in the egg mixture and then dredge in the bread crumbs and set each piece onto the baking sheets.  Once you’ve finished this process you will need to drizzle a little olive oil on top of each piece of eggplant.  Place in oven and cook for about a ½ hour, turning each slice of eggplant after 15 minutes.  The eggplant should be a nice golden brown, so increase your cooking time if need be.
Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Spoon about a ½ cup of sauce onto the bottom of the pan, then add one layer of the cooked eggplant.  Top the eggplant sauce and then the sliced mozzarella, and repeat process with more eggplant/sauce/cheese (mine is usually 3-4 layers high, depending on the deepness of the dish I’m using).  The last layer will be just the eggplant topped with sauce, then sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top, and end with a layer of the shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 for about a ½ hour or until hot and bubbly.

Tender Pulled Pork

4-5 pound Boston butt
1 onion – sliced
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 cups Dr. Pepper

Combine the cayenne pepper, dry mustard and brown sugar together in a small bowl and stir to combine.  Rub spice mix all over the pork and refrigerate overnight. 
Place sliced onion in the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the pork on top, fat side down. Pour apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and Dr. Pepper over top. Cover and cook 2 hours on high and then 6 hours on low, or until meat is tender and pulls apart using two forks. Check meat every so often and turn about half way through.
Remove pork from slow cooker and place into a large bowl.  Using 2 forks pull pork apart. Discard any bones and excess fat. Once pork is completely pulled, add your desired amount of BBQ sauce of your choice and mix to combine – I added a little of the cooking liquid to keep it moist and just a touch of BBQ sauce. When we were ready to eat we added more BBQ sauce on top on the pork.

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken adapted from

2 slices bacon, cooked & crumbled 
3 jalapeños, chopped (remove seeds for milder)
3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
4 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar jack
2 tbsp chopped scallions
8 thin sliced skinless chicken breast cutlets
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh pepper
olive oil non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 450° & spray a large baking 
dish with non-stick spray. Wash and dry chicken cutlets, season with salt and pepper.  Combine cream cheese, cheddar, scallions, jalapeño and bacon crumbles in a medium bowl.
Lay chicken cutlets on a working surface and spread 2 tbsp of cream cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out.  Place breadcrumbs in a bowl; in a second bowl combine olive oil with salt and pepper.

Dip chicken in oil, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, lightly spray the top of the chicken with oil spray. 
Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Serves 4 (2 per person).

Spinach & Sausage Lasagna

9 oz package of no boil lasagna noodles
5-6 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
1/2 cup sauted sliced mushrooms 
1 lb hot sausage (or sweet Italian), crumbled and cooked through
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 Parmesan cheese, + some to sprinkle on top
2 packages sliced mozzarella cheese
1, 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning mix
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375, and spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Warm your sauce at medium heat, until hot.  Add the sauted mushrooms and cooked sausage and let simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.  In a large bowl add the ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic, spinach, Italian seasoning and nutmeg and stir until well combined.

Spoon about 1 cup+ of the sauce into the bottom of the baking dish (we like our lasagna extra saucy, so I might use a little more than a cup here, measurements here can be adjusted to your own preferences). Layer the no boil noodles over the sauce, leaving about a 1/2 inch space on all sides to allow for the noodles to expand while cooking.  Layer on top of the noodles 1/2 of the cheese mixture and spread even to the sides of the dish, and top with the sliced mozzarella.  Add another layer of noodles in the opposite direction of your first layer, then top with another 1 cup+ of sauce.  Gently spread remaining cheese mixture over sauce, then add another layer of sliced mozzarella.  Add the last layer of no boil noodles (again alternating the direction of the noodles), and spoon 1 cup+ of the remaining sauce over the noodles.  

Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for about 50 minutes in preheated oven.  Remove the foil and continue baking until hot and bubbly, about another 15-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cover with foil, and let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Chinese Style Chicken (serves 4)

3 chicken breasts 
1 heaping cup of cornstarch
2-3 eggs, beaten
1/4 or so of canola oil

Preheat your oven to 325, and pour the oil into a large skillet or saucepan and turn to medium-high to get it hot.  Put the cornstarch into a medium sized bowl, and beat your eggs in another medium sized bowl.  Cut your chicken into bite size pieces, then dredge them in the cornstarch.  After dredging the chicken in the cornstarch, transfer it to the eggs and make sure each piece of chicken is coated with the beaten egg.  Then into the HOT oil - you want to cook it in the oil just until it's nice and brown on both sides (maybe 2-3 minutes on each side).  

Line a cookie sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Once all the chicken is nice a brown from the frying, place it on the cookie sheet pan.  Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through and it's nice and crispy.  Remove from oven and place all the chicken into a large bowl, then pour your sauce of choice all over and toss to combine.  ENJOY!


Sauerkraut Pork

2 1/2 pork roast
1, 10oz can cream of mushroom soup
1/2-1lb sauerkraut (amount depends on how much you like) - fresh is best, but use whatever you can find
1 cup water
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350, and spray a 11x7 baking dish or roasting pan with cooking spray.  Dump the sauerkraut, mushroom soup and water into the pan and stir to combine.  Rinse your pork roast and pat it dry, then season with salt & pepper on all sides (I also sprinkled a little onion and garlic powder on it).  Place pork in pan and pop it in the oven.  Cook for about 45-60 minutes, or until pork is completely cooked.  Feel free to spoon some of the sauerkraut mixture over top of the pork every occasionally while it's cooking to keep the pork moist.

Pizza Casserole

1/2 a box of bow tie pasta, cooked until al dente and drained
1, 26 oz jar spaghetti sauce (use homemade sauce if you have it) 
1/2 of a large onion, chopped 
2 tsp chopped garlic 
1 tsp oregano
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 lb cooked ham, cut into cubes
1 container of sliced mushrooms, whatever kind you prefer (I use baby Portabella)
2, 8 oz bags shredded mozzarella
sliced pepperoni - amount to use is up to you
grated Parmesan cheese - amount to use is up to you

Crumble up the sausage in a medium sized pan, and add the onion,garlic and oregano.  Cook until the juices run clear.

Spray an 8 x 11 pan with cooking spray, and preheat the oven to 375.  Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of sauce.  On top of the sauce add 1/3 of the pasta, 1/3 of the sauce, 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella, sprinkle a little of the Parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella, add the sausage mixture, and then add 1/2 of the package of mushrooms.  For the next layer, add 1/2 of the remaining pasta, 1/2 of the remaining sauce, 1/2 of the remaining mozzarella, sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese, add the ham and the rest of the mushrooms.  For the final layer add the rest of the pasta, all of the remaining sauce, the rest of the mozzarella cheese, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese and cover the top completely with a layer of pepperoni.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let it set for 5-10 minutes before serving.   

Chicken with Pesto

4 chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
3/4 - 1 cup pesto (I use my homemade basil pesto. Click here for the recipe)
Fresh or sliced mozzarella 
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  In the bottom of the baking dish spread a little less than 1/2 of the pesto all around.  Lay the chicken breasts on top of the pesto, then generously spoon the remaining pesto on top of each piece of chicken.  

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from and top the chicken with the mozzarella cheese (if you are using fresh mozzarella, just break it up and place it over the top of each chicken breast).  Place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Black Beans

1 large sweet potato, rinsed and patted dry
1/3 cup black beans, rinsed 
small amount of sliced cheddar cheese, low-fat if possible
just a dab of butter
olive oil
1 tbsp sour cream
salt & pepper to taste 

Take your sweet potato and cut a slit in it, then rub a little olive oil over the skin.  You can either bake it in the oven until soft, or microwave it for about 10 minutes.  Once it's soft, take it and cut it in half (you will only be using 1/2 of the sweet potato, so the other 1/2 can be used for tomorrow's lunch or save it for something else).

I take a small knife and kind of "score" the sweet potato, just to break it up a little.  Then I spread just a tiny amount of butter on the inside of the sweet potato.  Top with the black beans, and then layer just a little bit of cheddar cheese of top of the beans (I almost always have a block of cheddar cheese in the fridge, so I'll cut just a small amount from the block and layer it on the beans).  Lastly, spread the sour cream all over the top, trying to cover as much as possible.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Since I usually make this for lunch to bring to work, I will reheat it in the microwave before eating so the cheese melts.  If I'm preparing this and eating it right away, I would cover the whole thing with a lid so the cheese has time to melt or pop it back into the microwave for 30-40 seconds until the cheese melts.    

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

1 tbsp butter 
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 apples, peeled & cored and cut into chunks
2 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled with seeds removed and cut into chunks
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 cup half & half
1 tsp salt
1/4 pepper
1/2 tsp coriander 
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat, then add the diced onions.  Cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally. 

Add the cut squash, apples, coriander, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cider, water, 1/2 & 1/2 and chicken stock to the pot.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook on medium-low for about 45 minutes or until squash and apples are soft.  Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree it until almost smooth (you can use a food processor if you don't have an immersion blender).  After it's blended you may want to add more water or stock to get the consistency you prefer - I added another 3/4 cup of water.  The soup should be thick, but you can thin it out if that's how you like it. 

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce  (serves 4)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil 
1 package mushrooms, sliced (button or portabella)
1/4 cup white wine 
1/2 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp butter 

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter and add the mushrooms.  Cook for 2 minutes then add the white wine, and saute on medium-low heat until wine has evaporated.  Once mushrooms are done, remove from heat and set aside.  

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium-high.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, then add to skillet.  Saute chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes, turning one time.  Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.  Add the chicken broth, cream, oregano, cooked mushrooms and mustard to the pan and whisk to combine.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.  

Alice Springs Chicken (knockoff from Outback Steakhouse)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Garlic salt & pepper blend 

¼ cup Dijon mustard

¼ cup honey

1 tbsp regular yellow mustard

1 tbsp spicy brown mustard

¼ tsp onion powder

6 slices bacon

1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Season the chicken with the garlic salt & pepper blend on both sides and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Place the bacon in a medium sized skillet and cook until crisp, then remove from heat and set aside.  While the bacon is cooking, place your chicken on the grill and cook for about 4 minutes on each side (you can of course skip the grill & just cook it in a pan on the stove top, I just like the flavor the grill gives it).  Remove the chicken from the heat and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 11x9 baking dish with cooking spray. 

In a small bowl mix together the Dijon, honey, yellow mustard, brown mustard and onion powder until well blended.  Spoon about 1/3 of the honey mustard mixture over the bottom of your baking dish.  Place the chicken in the baking dish, then spoon the rest of the honey mustard mixture on top of the chicken.  Layer on top of the chicken the mushrooms, the bacon (I tore each slice of bacon up then divided it evenly), and the cheese (1/4 cup of each cheese on top of each piece of chicken). 

Cover baking dish with tin foil, but give it a little “tent” in the middle.  Place in oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes (depends on how thick your chicken is).  Make sure chicken is cooked completely and cheese is melted.  

 Orange Marmalade Roasted Pork Loin

4 lb pork loin
Garlic salt & pepper seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp stone ground mustard

Preheat oven to 375.  In a small bowl add the marmalade and both types of mustard, mix to combine and set aside.  Add the olive oil to a large oven safe cast iron skillet and heat on medium-high.  Rinse and pat dry the pork loin, and seasoning generously with the garlic salt & pepper seasoning on all sides.  Place loin in hot pan and sear on all sides, couple minutes each side, then remove from heat.  Add the garlic and rosemary to the pan, brush a little of the marmalade mixture on the pork, then place pan in oven.  Roast for about an hour, or until a meat thermometer reads 140.  During the last 15 minutes of the roasting time baste the pork with the marmalade mixture every 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, tent the pan with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. 
 Hawaiian Lettuce Wraps

Romain Lettuce Leaves, rinsed and dried 
6 slices of thin deli ham
2 slices of provolone cheese
Dijon mustard
Pineapple, chunks cut in half

Lay out the lettuce so it's nice and flat.  Spread a small amount of Dijon all over the lettuce.  Layer on the ham, cheese and pineapple.  Roll up tight & enjoy!

Pesto Bean Soup (adapted from Food Network magazine)
Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2/3 cup celery, finely chopped
2 cans cannellini beans, drained
1 cup water
3 tbsp pesto (click here & scroll down for my basil pesto recipe)
2 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
2/3 cup ham, diced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a medium/large saucepan, and add the garlic, celery and red pepper flakes.  Saute on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the beans and water, and simmers for about 15 minutes or until it begins to thicken.  Add the pesto and chicken stock, stirring to combine, and cook for 15 minutes.  Add the roasted red peppers and ham, salt & pepper to taste, and simmer for another 15 minutes before serving.  Serves 4. 

Mini Corn Dog Muffins (makes 36 mini muffins)

6 hot dogs (whichever kind is your preference - we use natural casing dogs) 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal 
½ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350, and spray your mini muffin tins with cooking spray.  In a medium skillet on medium heat, brown the hot dogs for about 5-8 minutes (just until they start browning, you don't want them to be burnt or for the skin to be too tough).  Remove from heat and cut each hot dog into 6 pieces.  

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients for the corn muffin mixture.  Add the egg, milk and vegetable oil and stir until just combined.  Fill each cup in the muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Place and press one piece of hot dog into the center of each muffin cup.  Cook for 10 minutes at 350, then increase heat to 400 and cook another 3-5 minutes - you want them to be nicely browned, but not burnt, so watch them closely.  Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing from trays.  Serve with your favorite hot dog condiments. 

Caramelized Onion, Bacon & Brie Grilled Cheese

Nice thick slices of bread, 1/4-1/2" thick (click here for my homemade sandwich bread)
Brie Cheese
1/2 a medium sized onion, sliced thin
Sweet & Spicy Bacon (click here for recipe), 2 pieces roughly chopped

In a saute pan melt about a tablespoon of butter.  Add the onion and saute on low until translucent and a nice golden brown (this could take about a 1/2 hour).  When done, remove the onion from the heat and set aside.  Preheat oven to 425, and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place a few tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and soften/slightly melt it in the microwave - you want it nice and soft to spread on the bread.  I had a circle/wheel of brie already on hand, so I just cut it in half lengthwise then trimmed off the rind. 

Spread the butter on one side of two pieces of bread.  Place the circle of brie on the un-buttered side of one piece of bread, then top with top with the caramelized onion and bacon.  Place the other piece of bread on top, un-buttered side down.  Place sandwich on baking sheet and cook for about 8-10 minutes (or until nice a golden brown on the underside), then flip the sandwich and cook another 5-8 minutes.  You want both sides to be a nice dark golden brown and for the cheese to be melted & gooey.  *This recipe is for one large sandwich, so you will need to increase quantities to make more sandwiches.*  

Sweet & Savory Pork Chops

4-6 bone-in pork chops 
1 can or bottle of beer (the darker the better, but I wouldn't use black beer)
1/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch

Drizzle about a tbsp of olive oil onto the bottom of a large skillet and heat on medium-high heat.  Season both sides of the meat with salt & pepper (or your favorite seasoning salt - I use a garlic salt & pepper mix).  Sear the meat in the hot skillet on both sides until nice a brown (couple minutes each side).  

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the beer, ketchup, sugar, mustard, and garlic.  Pour over pork and turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes.  Take about a 1/4 cup of the liquid from the pan and pour it in a small bowl.  Whisk in the cornstarch until smooth, then add it to the skillet.  Stir it around real good so it's evenly distributed.  Cook for a few more minutes and it should thicken up to make a nice sauce. 

Thin Crust Pesto Pizza

Tortillas (one tortilla serves one person, so use/make as many as you need)
Fresh mozzarella (of course you can use already shredded mozzarella, but fresh is best)
Pesto (if making just one pizza, you'll need 1-2 tbsp of pesto)
Chicken, cooked and in bite size pieces
Roasted Red Peppers

Preheat oven to 400.  Place a wire rack over top of a cookie sheet.  Place a tortilla on the wire rack, then spread the pesto over the top of the tortilla.  Spread bits of the fresh mozzarella over top of the pesto (you do not need to cover all the pesto with the cheese).   Spread the chicken, broccoli and roasted red peppers over top of the cheese - as much or as little as you want.  Place in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.  YUM!

Strawberry Avocado Sandwich

2-4 strawberries

1/2 avocado
1 thick slice raisin bread (of course you can use any bread you want)
balsamic vinegar
goat cheese

Toast the bread and spread a tiny amount of butter on it (optional).  Take half the avocado and slice it up.  Lay the avocado slices on the bread.  Cut the strawberries into quarters and lay them on top of the avocado.  Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar lightly over all the strawberries (just a few drops over each strawberry piece).  Top with goat cheese - you don't need a ton, a little goes a long way.  I popped mine into the oven under the broiler set on low for a couple of minutes, but really you could probably skip this step and it would still be delicious!

 Pork Loin with Spicy Apricot Glaze

2 lbs pork loin
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup apricot jam
1/3 cup water
1 tsp powdered chipotle chile pepper
2 tbs olive oil

Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Rinse the pork and pat it dry.  Season with salt & pepper generously on all sides.  Place pork in skillet and brown, turning occasionally, about 4-5 minutes total.  Remove from heat, but leave pork in skillet.

Stir together the apricot jam and chile powder.  Spoon mixture on top of the pork.  Place skillet in the oven at 350.  Roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of the tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 25 minutes.  Let pork stand in skillet, loosely covered with foil for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Chickpea & Butternut Squash Salad
 (serves 2)

Garlic infused olive oil
1 small butternut squash - peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt & Pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp real maple syrup
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Dash of red pepper flakes - how much you add depends on how spicy you like it
Dash of salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray.  Place cubed squash on cookie sheet and toss with a good drizzle of the garlic infused olive oil (1-2 tbsp).  Season generously with salt & pepper.  Roast in oven for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally so the squash browns evenly.  Remove from oven and let pan set while you put together the vinaigrette.

In a small bowl, add the whisk together the maple syrup, orange juice, vinegar and red pepper flakes.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Add the olive oil slowly while whisking constantly until well combined.  Place the squash in a medium bowl.  Add the chickpeas and thyme and stir to combine.  Add some dressing, as much or as little as you want, and toss to combine.  Top salad with the goat cheese.

Chicken & Rice Casserole (serves 6-8)

3 cups brown rice, cooked
2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded (or cut into bite size pieces)
1, 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
1, 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 cup corn (frozen or canned works)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar + more to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350.  Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir well to combine.  Spray a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray and pour in the chicken mixture.  Top with about a 1/2 cup of extra shredded cheddar cheese.  Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until nice and hot.  Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

Apple Stuffed Pork Loin

Garlic salt & pepper seasoning
2 lbs pork loin  2 tbsp butter
1 green apple - peeled, cored & chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider 
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/8 tsp ground sage (or tsp fresh chopped)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup stuffing bread crumbs OR cornbread
1/4 c + 1 tbsp apple cider
Salt & Pepper to taste
Kitchen string

Rinse the pork loin and pat it dry.  Cut a slit all along the side, lengthwise, and season all sides with the garlic salt & pepper seasoning.  

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and saute the onion and apple until softened (about 10 minutes).  Add the 1/4 cup of apple cider, mustard, sage, ginger and salt & pepper to taste.  Stir to combine and simmer another 5 minutes, or until most of the cider evaporates.  Remove from heat, add your stuffing and remaining 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp more of the apple cider.  Stir to combine.  Taste and season with more salt & pepper if needed.  Place stuffing inside the pork loin, and secure with kitchen string (I used 3 pieces, wrapping each end and the middle).  

My husband cooked this on the grill for about an hour, or until the internal temp was 160.  Then he removed it and covered it for 10 minutes before cutting.  However, you can also do this in the oven - cook at 350 for about a half hour or until internal temp is 150-160, then remove & cover for 10 minutes before cutting.

Little B's Turkey Burger

1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tbsp softened or melted (but not hot) coconut oil (you could probably leave this out but they may not turn out to be so moist)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Add everything to a large glass bowl and mix gently to thoroughly combine.  Form into patties - I got 5 burger patties from this.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Cook until cooked through in the middle (about 5-7 minutes each side).  Serve on a bun with your favorite toppings, or try the blackberry preserves mixed with ketchup & topped with goat cheese (no bun) like me, or just get creative!

*NOTE:  My husband cooked these on the grill for me.  He was worried that they would fall apart because they are very delicate, so he put them on greased tin foil to start off on the grill.  Once they cooked a few minutes on one side, he flipped them over and onto the grill without the tin foil and finished cooking them there.

Roasted Beet Sandwich

2 beets, scrubbed clean and both ends cut off
Olive Oil 

Salt & Pepper

Thick slice (or two if you don't want an open faced sandwich) of really good bread, artisan bread is perfect for this or maybe ciabatta bread
Goat Cheese
Maple Syrup (real is best!)

To roast the beets:  Preheat oven to 400 and place beets on lined baking sheet.  Drizzle each beet with olive oil and turn to coat the beets.  Season with salt and pepper and cover with aluminum foil.  Cook for about an hour, or until tender when pierced with a knife or fork.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Peel skin off before slicing.

For the sandwich:  Toast your bread, then top with about 2 tablespoons of goat cheese.  Place you lettuce on top of the goat cheese then top that with your sliced beets.  Drizzle a small amount of syrup over the beets (I really just used a tiny amount) and season with salt and pepper.  YUM! 

Butternut Squash & Spinach Quinoa (serves about 4)

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked & mashed butternut squash (add a tsp butter when mashing)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
5 oz fresh spinach

Add the olive oil to a large pan and heat on medium.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, stir and saute one minute.  Add the spinach and cook until wilted down, about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked quinoa and butternut squash to a medium sized bowl and stir well to combine.  Add the onion and spinach mixture and stir well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Alfredo (adapted from

1/2 medium onion, chopped 

1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup roasted red pepper, or 1 whole roasted red pepper
1/2 cup half & half
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 lb linguine 
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a small saucepan, then add the onion.  Saute until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and saute another 2 minutes.  Add the Italian seasoning, half & half, goat cheese and salt & pepper to taste.  Stir until cheese is melted, then reduce to low heat.   Add the roasted red pepper and the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.  Using an immersion blender, pulse the mixture until pureed (or you can pour this into a food processor and puree it that way).  Taste and add more seasonings if necessary.  Pour over your pasta of choice and serve hot.  Makes 2 servings.


Easy Creamy Chicken

2 large chicken breasts, each cut in half to make 4 pieces
1 cup heavy cream 
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning (can substitute parsley - 1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh chopped) 
1/2 tsp salt
couple dashes of cayenne pepper (this is really to taste - if you like it spicy, add more)
2 tbsp butter

Combine the garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and mix to combine.  Coat all sides of the chicken with the seasoning mix.  Melt one tbsp of butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat.  Once butter is melted and pan is hot, place your chicken in the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, then turn the chicken over and cook another five minutes, or until juices run clear and they are cooked through.  Add the remaining tbsp of butter and the heavy cream, mixing to combine.  Turn heat to medium-low and let the chicken simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.  Serves 3-4, depending on how large the chicken breasts are.  

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

1 medium-sized cauliflower head, stem removed & cut into 1-2" pieces 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/2 tsp onion powder 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded   
1 egg, slightly beaten

Place a cookie sheet upside-down, or a pizza stone, in the oven and preheat it at 450.  Take the cauliflower and place it in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it turns into tiny pieces/crumbles (should look powdery/fluffy).  Pour into microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3 minutes.  Place a cloth kitchen towel on the counter and pour & spread the cooked cauliflower bits onto the towel and let cool a couple of minutes.  When cool enough to handle, gather the cauliflower into the middle of the towel, then fold the towel up (like a tootsie roll wrapper).  You want to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the towel - so you really want to wring the heck out of it for a considerable amount of time (like 5 minutes or until no more drops of water are visible).

Place the cauliflower back into the bowl and add the salt, italian seasoning, garlic & onion powder, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Stir well to combine.  Add the egg and stir to incorporate it into the mixture.  Take a piece of tin foil and spray it well with cooking spray.  Dump the cauliflower mixture onto the tin foil and shape it into a ball of dough, then spread it out in whatever shape you want for your pizza (square or round) until it's about 1/4" thick.  Take the tin foil with your cauliflower crust on it and place it in the oven onto the already hot pan or pizza stone.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and the edges start looking crispy.  Remove the tin foil with the cauliflower crust from the oven and add your toppings - sauce, cheese and whatever toppings you like (I did caramelized onions & mushrooms).  Place pizza back into oven for another 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.  Remove and let cool for 2 minutes before slicing. 


  1. Do you ever take recipe suggestions to try out?

  2. Not yet, but I'm always willing to try something new :)

  3. Chicken Alfredo bake
    (serves 2+toddler with leftovers)

    2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1 jar of Bertolli tomato Rosa Alfredo sauce (our favorite)
    1 cup mozzarella cheese
    ½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
    1 package frozen tortellini
    Italian seasoning
    Ground red pepper (optional for a slight kick or not)

    Cut chicken breasts in half and season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper.
    Combine ½ jar of alfredo sauce with mozz cheese and breadcrumbs in a zip locks bag or large bowl.
    Add chicken to mixture and coat thoroughly. Once covered transfer to a pre greased baking dish pouring remaining mix on top of chicken.
    Cook chicken at 375 for about 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from over, cover with foil and let rest for about five minutes.
    While chicken is cooking/resting, cook tortellini according to package directions, the kind we buy usually takes about 3-4 minutes from frozen to cooked.
    Toss cooked tortellini with remaining alfredo sauce.
    Serve chicken on bed of tortellini garnished with a sprinkle of parsley for color and parmesan cheese, if desired.

  4. I just want to say thank you for all of these wonderful recipes. I used to work for state department until I became disabled and picked up recipes in different countries. I love to cook as well. This is what I do to keep myself sane now. I am just enjoying your recipes immensely. So is my husband and youngest son who is back home for a visit. Thanks again, Sheri

  5. Hi Sheri! I am glad to hear you and your family are enjoying my recipes - thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Cooking is therapeutic and relaxing for me, and it's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels that way. Hope you will enjoy more of my recipes in the future ☺