Monday, June 23, 2014

Italian Stuffed Peppers

In March, as most of you may know, we sold our house and moved into a rental while we build a new home.  My current kitchen is much smaller than my last.  I have most of my kitchen items still in storage tubs and our food storage is very, very limited!  I try hard to cook down to bare cupboards before making a shopping trip.  Consequently, I am working on making creative meals using what I have on hand.  Tonight, I had a pound of ground beef and several bell peppers so I decided to make stuffed peppers.  Instead of rice, I used a 1/2 lb of acini de Pepe which is a small granular pasta.  

I also had 3 nice size tomatoes from the local farmers market, Taylor's so I opted to make a fresh tomato sauce, but you could just as easily use a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce.  The fresh sauce only takes 10 minutes to prep and 30 minutes of cook time! 

Fresh Tomato Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
3 lg tomatoes, rough chopped
1 med onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste


Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan.  Add remaining ingredients, stir, over and let cook over low for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, give the ingredients a slight mash to blend together.

Italian Stuffed Peppers:


4 bell peppers, any color
1/2 lb acini de Pepe, short cook time, cooled
1 lb ground beef
1 sm onion, diced
1 cup Parmesean-Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp oregano
1 to garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut tops off bell peppers; remove seeds and membranes. Place peppers upright in 8-inch square baking dish, cutting thin slice off bottoms of peppers to stabilize.  Chop up the edible portions of the bell pepper top.  Combine the bell pepper with the ground beef, onion, Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, and spices in bowl.

Add the tomato sauce and gently fold into the mixture.

Spoon beef mixture evenly into peppers.  Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Uncover baking dish; add a 1/4 of the cheddar cheese ti each pepper and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  You will have plenty of filling if you want to fill more peppers or cook separately for another meal.  


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shrimp & Summer Vegetables

It's summertime!!!  The time when the farm stands are full of beautiful fruit and vegetables.  Fresh veggies are quick and easy options for dinner.  This particular recipe is from the Pioneer Woman.  It is her 10 minute shrimp stir-fry.  The cook time is 10 minutes, but the prep time is about 30 minutes.  It is still under an hour which is great! It is a light nutritious meal that doesn't heat up the kitchen which makes me happy! Plus, it is a low mess factor which makes my husband happy when it is time to clean up :-). Hope you give this simple recipe a try, my shrimp loving family gives it two thumbs up!!

Ingredients list is:

1-2 lbs shrimp, deveined & shelled
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp oil (I used sesame oil)
2 tbsp butter
2 zucchini, chopped
2-3 corn ears, strip kernels & discard cobs
2/3 cup red cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt & pepper to taste
Basil, chiffanod
Parmesean-Reggiano cheese
Lemon juice

Heat oil & butter in large skillet over medium heat.

Toss in shrimp and garlic. Sauté for 3-5 minutes until the shrimp are opaque. Remove the shrimp to a plate. Turn up the heat to med-hi and cook the zucchini for about 4 minutes.  Move it around frequently to avoid over browning an burning.  Add the corn and sauté for 1-2 minutes until everything starts softening up.

The cherry tomatoes are added along with salt and pepper to your family's taste.  Cook 1-2 minutes before adding the shrimp back to the skillet.  Stir everything together and let for 2 more minutes. 

Remove from heat and serve over rice.  Garnish with fresh basil, Parmesean cheese and a squeeze of lemon.  Enjoy this fresh taste of summer!!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

A couple of days ago, I visited a new butcher shop, Moody's Meats.  They just opened in my neighborhood.  Recently, we have had an influx of small shops offering locally grown food which has been just awesome!  It is great to have more choices than the local mega-mart!    It reminds me of my childhood and riding around with my grandparents on a Saturday morning shopping trip.  We would stop at the butcher, the baker and the donut maker :-) There was also usually a trip to the farmers market.  The stop at the grocery store was just for non-food items.  My grandfather would let Nana out of the car and then we hit the ice cream stand for a treat while she was shopping.  Ahhhhhh, those were the days!  

Back in the present day, I purchased some ground beef (see my last entry), a pork loin that will be Saturday's supper and 4 boneless pork chops.  They have a great fresh meat and deli case along with  a freezer case.  They will also have local seasonal produce.  With the chops, I made a simple and quick Parmesan crusted chop.  It is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. The total time was 45 minutes, but only 20 minutes of hands on activity.  

Seriously, how beautiful do those chops look!

After seasoning the chops on both sides, I set up an assembly line of Parmesan, beaten egg and italian bread crumbs and took the chops through the steps.

I then covered a skillet with about a 1/4 inch of sesame oil and put it over medium heat.  When the oil was heated, I pan fried the chops for 6-8 minutes per side.  While the chops were frying, I preheated the oven to 250*F.

When the chops had a nice crust on both sides, I transferred them to a foil lined baking sheet and placed in the oven for 20 minutes.  After baking, I let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.  This keeps the chop very moist!  My sides were peas and waffled hash brown potatoes!!

Giada's Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops:
(Adapted from the Food Network)

4 boneless pork chops
1-2 cups Parmesan, shredded
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups italian bread crumbs
6-8 tbsp oil
Salt & pepper for seasoning

Preheat the oven to 250*F.  Salt and pepper the chops on both sides.  Create an assembly line in the order of Parmesan, eggs and bread crumbs.  Dredge the chops through each ingredient.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Pan fry the chops for 6-8 minutes per side.  Place fried chops on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Let the chops rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mexican Night: Beef & Bean Burritos

It's hard to believe it has been almost 2 months since my last post!  I've been cooking and snapping photos along the way, but have not had time the post at night.  My life seems to have been reduced to going to work and toting my kids from some activity or another.  As much as we run, I try to make dinner at home.  It's healthier, less expensive and gives us the time to share our day with one another. Don't think I'm not sorely tempted to go through a drive-thru or call up the pizza delivery guy!  

Last night, I made a really easy beef and bean burrito recipe.  I garnished it with fresh guacamole and queso.  This meal was done in about 45 minutes! The guacamole is a recipe from the Deen brothers and comes together in less than 10 minutes.  The queso is just Velvetta queso cheese melted with a can of rotel diced tomatoes which takes 5 minutes.  

Beef & Bean Burritos:


1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinse
1/2 cup water
1 cup tomatillo verde sauce or adobo sauce
2 cups brown rice, cooked 
8 tortillas
Shredded cheese
Lettuce, shredded
1 tomato, diced
1/2 vidalia onion, diced
Guacamole, sour cream, queso & salsa for garnish


Cook rice per package directions, set aside. Brown beef over medium heat.  Drain excess grease.  Add minced garlic to beef and cook 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.  Cook an additional minute.  Add the drained and rinsed beans, water and verde sauce.  Simmer over low heat for 6-8 minutes.  Gently some of the beans and fold in the rice, cooking for 5 minutes to warm through.  Heat each tortilla on a warm griddle or skillet for 15 seconds or so per side. Fill the tortilla with 1/3 cup of the beef and bean mixture along with some shredded cheese.  Wrap and garnish.  Enjoy!!