Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Chicken with Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes and Gnocchi


I saw a recipe recently that reminded me I had spinach and sundried tomatoes in the freezer.  Then I saw another recipe entirely for another chicken dish that I can't find.  But I remembered one ingredient in that dish and happened to have purchased it.  I decided to make up my own recipe for this dish and it turned out soooo good.   John's no fan of spinach but he ate every bite and told me "It isn't bad!"  

By the way, I dislike recipe titles that include the bulk of your ingredients but I am not creative enough today to figure out a better name for this recipe.  

The recipe I'm sharing will feed three.  Just double ingredients to feed more folks.

Chicken With Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes and Gnocchi

1 chicken breast

1/4 cup Italian dressing 

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes (NOT in oil)

Cook on low heat in slow cooker until chicken is done.


5 ounces baby spinach (mine was frozen fresh)

1 tsp. garlic

half of a 7.5-ounce container of cream cheese with chives and onions

1/2 cup of half and half

I cooked this on medium for about an hour since my spinach was frozen, then mixed well.  If you need to thin the sauce add more half and half or some of your pasta cooking water.   Then add:

1/2 of a 1-pound package of Gnocchi, cooked and drained.  

Heat through and serve.  This serves three generous servings.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Chicken Shawarma


I've been trying Chicken Shawarma recipes for years and finally created a recipe we absolutely love.  John complimented me on it multiple times tonight as we ate and again after.  I wish I'd followed my inclination and taken a picture of my plate because it came together as a pretty meal once it was plated up.

I had put Chicken Shawarma on our menu plan for the warmer months because it can be grilled or cooked on the stovetop.  Tonight I baked it in the oven which worked very well.  

To arrive at this recipe, I sat down and read several and then combined similar elements.  Then I read through all the recipes and determined what I had on hand and what sounded good to me.  I made up a combination of spices that were well-balanced.  I plan to make this mixture up in bulk and keep it on hand for ease in preparing this dish.

You'll note that ground cloves and ground coriander are included.  I highly recommend you use both ingredients.  The cloves add depth and the coriander is almost floral and balances out the cloves nicely. I no longer had ground coriander on hand, but I did have whole coriander seeds which I crushed and used.

Not all Shawarma recipes include yogurt.  I have tried recipes that do and recipes that don't.  I think the yogurt helps hold moisture in the chicken and keeps the spice mixture on the meat.  

For tonight's meal I cut the chicken into strips but you can leave the pieces whole if you'd like.  I knew I was going to cook mine in the oven this evening.

Do give it a try.  I'll share serving suggestions with the recipe.

Chicken Shawarma

Serves 4.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (you could also use boneless skinless thighs)

1/2 cup thick Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. of each:  Turmeric, Garlic, Paprika, ground Coriander, Cumin

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Juice of half a lemon

1 whole onion cut into thin strips

Olive oil

Warm pitas

Combine the yogurt, spices, seasoning, and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Add chicken and coat well.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

On a foil-lined sheet pan, pour enough olive oil to coat the foil.  Top with the onion slices and then lay chicken over the top of the onions.  I spread any remaining yogurt mixture over the top of this, too.

Bake at 425F for about 15 minutes.  Pour off any accumulated watery juices in the bottom of the pan and return to the oven to cook for another 10 minutes.*remember this was for sliced strips of meat, not whole pieces.  Use a thermometer to ensure meat is at a safe temperature if cooking whole pieces.

Serve meat and cooked onions in a warm pita. 

Serving suggestion: Rice Pilaf, Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad, Pickled Red Onion, Warm Pita.   We topped our meat with pickled onions too.  This was so very good.

Rice Pilaf simply means rice cooked with other ingredients.  I made my own, you can buy boxed mixes.  You could also substitute Couscous.  

Friday, March 8, 2024

Good Dinners Fast: Chicken and Pasta Soup

It was pouring rain Tuesday, and I was chilly.  I had a menu made for the week, but I wanted soup...and yet, it being so near spring, I didn't want an old-fashioned super hearty sort of soup.  I wanted something just a bit lighter and different.

This is the recipe I made up as I went.  It was so good!  John told me repeatedly how much he liked it.  It was the perfect sort of soup for an almost but not quite spring day.

Chicken and Pasta Soup

1 large chicken breast, cut into chunks

1 small to medium onion, chopped

1 large stalk celery, cut into small pieces

1 medium carrot grated (This is the way John prefers it.  You can slice it if you like.)

Olive oil

Garlic (about 1 teaspoon minced)

1/2 teaspoon each: lemon pepper, onion powder, salt and pepper

6 cups chicken broth

2 cups pasta (I used whole wheat rotini)

1 cup whole milk

2-3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tbsps. butter

1 cup white wine

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven to medium high.  Add in chicken and after cooking for 3 or 4 minutes, add in onion, celery and carrot.  Allow to cook for five minutes more.  Add garlic and cook about another minute.

Add broth and seasonings and bring to a gentle rolling boil.  Lower heat, cover and let bubble gently for about 20 minutes.  Uncover and turn up heat to medium high.  Add uncooked pasta and cook until past is tender about 9 minutes.  Add wine and butter.  Mix cornstarch with milk and add to soup, stirring and heating until broth thickens slightly.  

Good Dinners Fast: Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

The original recipe for this dish is at the website Julia's Album.   Like most cooks, I altered the recipe slightly to accommodate what I had on hand.  This was very good and my take on it was not so far off the original that the flavors would have been altered.  If you're looking for 'something different' and chicken is on the menu, I think this recipe is a great one to try.

The recipe as it was written in the original looks complicated and has a long list of ingredients.  Honestly, it's not a hard recipe to make. Even with me cutting up my own chicken breasts and shredding mozzarella, I daresay the meal was on the table in around 30 minutes.  If you use the cut of chicken she lists and pre-shredded mozzarella, I think you can beat my time.

Julia's Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

8-ounces Penne Pasta (I used a whole wheat rotini)

water recommended for pasta

1 teaspoon salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ounces sun dried tomatoes (I sliced mine prior to cooking them)

2 tbsps. Olive oil

1 pound chicken breast tenderloins (I used diced chicken breast)

1/2 tsp. salt (I increased this amount)

1/2 tsp. Paprika (also increased this one)

1 cup Half and Half

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (Do not use fresh mozzarella.  You want the aged mozzarella)

1 tbsp. basil (I used 1/2 tsp of dried basil)

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

salt to taste

Bring water to boil.  Add pasta, cook until al dente.  If you drain, be sure to reserve some of the pasta water.

Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large frying pan.  Add garlic and tomatoes and cook gently, stirring often for about 1 minute.  Do not let your garlic burn!  Remove from pan and set aside.

Increase heat to high.  Add 2 tbsps. more oil if needed.  Toss chicken with seasonings.  Add to pan and cook for 1 minute on each side.  Remove from heat. (I cooked mine a little lower heat and a little longer, until the outer pink had turned white).  

Add Sun-Dried tomato and garlic mixture.  Also add the half and half and mozzarella. My alteration here: I added 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese I made earlier this week.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Immediately reduce heat to simmer. Stir gently until cheese melts.  If sauce seems a little too thick, add pasta water a little at a time until it reaches the consistency you desire.  Add seasonings and pasta and toss well.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Leftover Makeover: Al Pastor Tacos from Pork Chops


I baked pork chops last week and we ended up with two whole chops as leftovers since Caleb refused to eat the night, we had them.  I contemplated what I might do: make a stir fry dish, make fried rice...all sounded good, but I wanted something different.  I came up with the idea of trying to recreate a sauce packet I'd bought on clearance a few months ago that was absolutely delicious.  It was a Mexican sauce with a citrus base.  We'd used chicken with the sauce, but the packet had called for chunks of pork.

Here's my take on that sauce packet meal.

Tacos al Pastor

2 cups chopped cooked pork (you can use butt or shoulder meat or tenderloin in place of the chops)

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 tsps. minced garlic

half a packet of taco seasoning mix (about 1tablespoon)

Juice drained from a 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits (about 3/4 cup)

1 cup pineapple tidbits

olive oil

Heat olive oil in skillet and cook onion over medium heat for 3 minutes or until just soft.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute at most.  Add meat, taco seasoning and the pineapple juice.  Stir until meat is well coated then lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 5 minutes or so.  Add pineapple tidbits and hat through.

I served this meat mixture on tortillas (soft tacos) with finely shredded red and green cabbage, a drizzle of Ranch dressing (using more of the leftovers in the fridge), and shredded cheddar cheese.  My family all exclaimed over how good these tacos were and told me to remember this recipe!  I love when I throw random things in a skillet and the family raves over them.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Slow Cooker Apple Butter


Apple Butter

8 large apples, pared, cored and quartered then diced or sliced

1/8 tsp salt

1 tsp. orange peel

1 cup of apple cider or water

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3 tsps. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp each of allspice, nutmeg, cloves

2 tbsps. lemon juice

 I decided to use my crockpot to make the apple butter.  The original recipe calls for making apple sauce (using an additional 1/4 cup liquid).  I skipped this step and just dumped everything into the crockpot.   

I started my crock on low and when this proved to be too slow, I moved the heat up to High for four or five hours, then reduced it to Low once more and allowed all of this to cook for about 20 hours total.   

My crockpot runs a little hot in one area, so I was careful to stir frequently.  I also smashed apples as they were tender enough to break up.  

The next morning, I allowed this to cool for about an hour, then put the apple mixture into my blender and blended on low until it was smooth.  If you do this be sure to remove the center of the lid to allow steam to escape.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Barbecue Meatballs


I've seen Ruth Ann Zimmerman make Cheddar Meatballs and they look so good every time I see one of her photos.  I thought they were Barbecue Cheddar Meatballs...So that's the recipe I went looking for online.  Then I looked at her recipe.  Two different things.  However, by that point, I'd gotten my mouth fixed, as we say in the South, for some Barbecue Cheddar Meatballs.  So I pursued that recipe instead.  

Of course, I didn't follow that recipe either.  You know me.  I always just use another recipe as a jumping off point.  What I ended up doing was making my usual meatball mixtures. I followed Ruth Ann's recipe only in the matter of what size to make the meatballs.  These are not tiny meatballs.  Think tennis balls.  1/2 cup meat mixture per meatball.  Then I looked at the sauce on Six Sisters website on their version and decided that I wanted to do that, but again, not exactly.  I added my own spin there as well.

What we ended up with was a really good supper entree.  It was comforting and cozy, the exact sort of thing you'd want to eat on a cold brisk autumn day, or even one that was warm but just looked dreary out the window. 

Here's what I'd change in the future. I shredded cheese to put in the meatballs.  It literally just disappeared.  Perhaps the flavor was there but the bit of melty cheese I was looking for wasn't.  In future I think I'd be prone to dicing into fine cubes and mixing it in that way.  Or skipping it altogether and perhaps serve it with some shredded cheese on top.  Shredded mixed with the meat mixture seemed a waste of effort and an additional cost in my opinion. I'll include that in the recipe as I made it that way the first time, but just know this is my opinion.

The leftovers of this were really good, too, by the way and improved in the reheating process.  Do give this one a try!

Barbecued Cheddar Meatballs

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

2 cloves finely minced garlic

1 egg

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

salt and pepper 

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 


1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

1/4 cup brown sugar (NOT packed)

1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 375F.  Mix all the meatball ingredients except cheese.  Once the egg and all is well incorporated then add cheddar if using.  Form mixture into large meatballs.  Ruth Ann's recipe said 1/2 cups. I guesstimated and formed roughly tennis ball sized meatballs.  I think I ended up with a dozen meatballs total.    Place in baking pan.

Mix sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs.  Bake until baked through, roughly 30-40 minutes.  This is not the way the Six Sisters recipe reads.  They combine sauce ingredients and pour over top after the meatballs are done.  I did things my way and really appreciated the caramelization of the tomatoes and Barbecue sauce over the meat.

These meatballs can be served over grits, mashed potatoes or rice.  I think they'd make a terrific meatball sub, too.  I'm going to try them served that way one day soon.  On a butter toasted hoagie bun, topped with Cheddar and put under the broiler. Gosh that would be good!

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