Category Archives: Main Dishes

Thai green curry chicken

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This was my first experiment with Thai cooking. My master’s adviser is from Thailand and she brings us Thai food occasionally and it is always delicious. So I decided I wanted to give it a whirl. So I found some recipes online, and of course did it my own way anyways.
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Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans coconut milk
1/2 cup cilantro
1 hot pepper (I used serrano)
Lemongrass
Gingerroot
Garlic
Cumin
Limes/lime juice
1-2 cups vegetables of choice
Glass noodles

I had garlic already, and all the other ingredients added up to less than $20. (The bouillon and lettuce don’t count). It also makes a LOT of food, so that’s a total steal versus going to an ethnic restaurant.

Step 1: Get all the sauce ingredients ready: 2 tbsp diced garlic, 1 diced pepper, 1/4 can coconut milk, 2 inches sliced ginger, 1/4 cup diced lemongrass, 1/2 an onion, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp lime juice, salt & pepper.  Put all the curry ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Step 2: Put 2 tbsp oil in a large pan, and add the curry paste. Apparently this releases the oils and flavors (?) Add the rest of the can of coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Dice the chicken while the curry simmers.

Step 4: Add the chicken chunks to the curry.

Step 5: Cut the vegetables you want to use into bite sized pieces. I decided to use green beans and orange bell peppers. Add those to the pan and simmer 5-10 minutes.

Step 6: Boil the noodles or rice you want to serve with the chicken. I had some oriental rice noodles I purchased earlier.

Step 7: Put rice or noodles in a bowl and add chicken curry. Enjoy!

Obviously, you can make many variations. Add whatever vegetables you like, more or less of certain spices, more peppers if you want it spicy.

Stuffed pepper casserole

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If you’ve been following along, you know I love stuffed pepper. You also know I love my crock pot. Stuffed peppers in the crock pot tend to come out a little mushy, so I decided to try making a casserole instead of leaving the peppers whole. They get cut into tiny pieces when you eat it anyways right?
Ingredients:
4 large red bell peppers
1.5 lb ground beef
1.5 cups rice
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 can tomato sauce
Garlic, italian spices, pepper, salt
Step 1: First cut the peppers into small chunks and line the crock pot.

Step 2: Then add the chicken broth to the rice and cook, following directions for the type of rice you use… the chicken broth just gives it more flavor, if you’re watching your sodium you can omit it.

Step 3: While that’s cooking, brown the ground beef.

Step 4: Then mix the rice, sauce and beef together. Pour over the peppers. I actually added 1/2 a chopped onion to the beef to give it more flavor. Season with whatever spices you like.

Step 5: Cook on low for 1 -2 hours and enjoy!

Goat cheese lasagna

 

Well, as December is chock-full of holidays and I spend half of it at home, I did not do much cooking past the 20th. It’s nice to be at home where someone else cooks for me and does the dishes. Like a restaurant, but with more love and fighting.

Anyhow, it’s 2012 now, time for some more creative kitchen adventures. I’m sure I will have plenty of old standbys like tacos and ramen noodles, but there are also some recipes on my mind I’d like to try soon. Plus, I’ve resolved to eat healthier and exercise more because the holiday weight gain really snuck up on me this year. So hopefully you will see lots of salads, soups and veggies.

Since I have not yet made anything spectacular, today I will post the last meal of 2011 that I made, goat cheese lasagna! This stuff is amazingly delicious, and terribly detrimental to the health of anyone kidney-stone-prone. But I had goat cheese and I love the stuff, so I went ahead and made it anyways as an end-of-the-year treat.

Ingredients:
Lasagna noodles
Pasta sauce
Ground beef
Goat cheese
Ricotta or cottage cheese

Step 1: Boil a large pot of water. Add the noodles once fully boiling and boil for 7-9 minutes. Once al dente, drain.

Step 2: While water is boiling, brown about 1 pound ground beef and drain excess grease. If you want, you can combine the meat and sauce in a bowl.

Step 3: Mix the cheeses together well in a separate bowl.

Step 4: In a baking pan or crock pot, layer the noodles, cheese, sauce and meat. Bake at 375 for 1 hour, or on high for 4-5 hours. You can also sprinkle some mozarella on top.

Then just sit back and enjoy! The salty tang of the goat cheese is phenomenal. I’d recommend adding a layer of spinach in there to healthify it and add extra nutrients.

Stuffed peppers

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Stuffed peppers have become known as my signature dish among certain people. I made them once, my friend fell in love and shared them with his family, who also loved them. Through trial and error, I have perfected the recipe and learned that shortcuts are usually not worth sacrificing taste!
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The typical stuffed pepper is made with a green bell pepper and stuffed with a combination of meat, rice, and spices. I like using the red ones so much better because they are sweeter. As always, there is plenty of room for experimentation, and they can easily be made vegetarian. I made some yellow ones stuffed with a combination of quinoa, carrots, brown sugar, celery and raisins that were quite delicious.
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However, this is “the” recipe for my famous peppers. Perhaps I shouldn’t share, but they are so good I feel everyone should have a chance to make and try them!
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The most recent batch I made was a dozen for myself and my friend’s family. If you are only making 2 or 4, the recipe can easily be pared down, just cut amounts by 1/4 or whatever you need.
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Ingredients:

12 red bell peppers (ok, 2 were yellow)
~1.5 pounds ground beef
~2 cups rice
2 cups chicken broth or 2 bouillon cubes
1 packet onion soup mix
1 large can (24 oz?) tomato sauce or 3-4 smaller ones
Nature’s Seasons

Step 1: Boil the rice in the chicken broth. This gives the rice extra flavor and saltiness.
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Step 2: Brown the ground beef. Put it in a pan and cook over medium heat until there is no more pink. Drain the excess grease.
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Step 3: In a large bowl, mix the cooked meat, the cooked rice, the seasonings and the sauce. (Honestly, I could just eat this mixture itself with a spoon!)
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Step 4: Cut the tops off the peppers and pull out the white rinds and seeds.
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Step 5: Stuff the mixture into the peppers.
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Step 6: Bake at 350 for at least 1 hour. Be sure to add some water to the pan so they don’t dry out or burn. You can rinse the tomato sauce can and use that for extra flavor. Depending on how tender you want your peppers to be, you can leave them in a little longer or shorter. You can also add some shredded cheese on top during the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
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You will know they are ready when the skin is soft to the touch and wrinkled, and the tops are nicely browned. You can also cook these on high in a crock pot for 1-2 hours, they will just not develop the crispy brown top. Enjoy!
They also reheat great for lunch or dinner the next day!

 

Hungarian Chicken Paprikush

 

This is in my top 5 favorite meals of all time!

A Hungarian (or maybe Slovak?) recipe handed down from my grandmother and mother. It is simple to make, just a few ingredients. It does take a bit of time and some labor-intensive steps, however the end product is so worth it!

Finished Chicken Paprikush

The noodles can of course be bought, but making your own noodles is well worth the effort. They taste so much better than any store bought noodles ever could.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Water
  • Sour cream
  • Flour
  • Paprika
  • Salt & pepper
For this I used 4 chicken leg quarters, because dark meat gives the soup a richer flavor. You can use white, dark, or a mixture of both. Put the chicken in a pot and cover it with water plus a little bit extra. Maybe a gallon and a half of water.
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Boil for at least 2 hours or until chicken is no longer pink at all. Take the chicken out and pull all the meat off the bone. Throw the bones, skin, fat, and any other non-edible parts away and return the meat to the pot. I did this step the night before and refrigerated it until the next day but you can also just continue right into the next step.
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The second step is creating what I think is called a “zapraska”.
This is how you mix in the sour cream without it curdling. The sour cream should be left out at room temperature. Mix about 1 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp. flour (omit the flour if you want watery soup) in a separate bowl. Then slowly add soup to it while mixing continuously.
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The soup will slowly warm up the sour cream. Continue adding and mixing well until it is warm. Then you add the zapraska to the main soup bowl and mix it all together. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
And now for the fun part! You get to make your own noodles. Trust me, it is super duper easy. Honestly, cleaning up afterwards probably takes longer than making them.
Noodles:
  • Eggs
  • Flour
The ratio will depend on how many noodles you need to make. I only needed a small amount, so I used 6 eggs and approximately 1 cup of flour.  You will also need a noodle maker, we call it a “shusher’. I don’t know what it actually is called. If you don’t have one of those, you can always drop the dough with a spoon into the water; this will create larger dumpling like noodles.
Scramble the eggs in a large bowl. Mix the eggs and flour together a little bit at a time. Keep adding flour until it has a doughy consistency. A spoon left in it should basically be able to stand upright.
Get a big pot of water to a rolling boil. Then pour the dough into the top basket of the shusher. Push it back and forth so the dough drips through into the boiling water.
Make sure to stir a few times throughout so that the noodles don’t all stick together. Keep going until all the batter is used up. Drain the noodles completely.
These will be the sweetest, saltiest, most eggy and delicious noodles you may ever have had! Put some into a bowl, and pour the soup and chicken on top. You can add some extra paprika or salt to taste.

 

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Baked Potato Soup

As stated previously, cold weather is made for soups and stews. But you can only throw meat, vegetables, and some kind of stock together so many different ways. Sometimes I need a soup of a different texture.

Given that the days of grilling and baked potatoes are slowly fading, I decided to make the soup adaptation of baked potatoes. It is creamy, cheesy, thick and filling. Not to mention it is relatively cheap to make (especially if you skip adding the bacon, but I wouldn’t recommend it).

The way I made it, you will make the mashed potato base, and then both thin and thicken it with the broth and dairy and add-ins.

For soup base:

  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • 3 cups of chicken broth or 3 bouillon cubes (for vegetarian use veggie broth)
  • Approximately 12 oz cheese (I used marbled cheddar and colby jack)
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Soup additions/toppings:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon
  • Handful of chives
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 block cream cheese

Step 1: Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into quarters and add to 3 cups chicken broth. Either boil for 1 hour, or put on hot in a slow cooker for 4 hours. Then liquefy the cooked potatoes in a blender and put into a soup pot on the stove. Add the cheese and cream cheese and put on low.

Step 2: While the soup simmers, combine the milk, chives, bacon, garlic, onion and the rest of the cream cheese in a blender. Liquefy all of the ingredients, and then add to the soup pot.

Once the soup simmers and begins to thicken, taste the soup and adjust to your liking. Then if you want to be all fancy, you can serve it with a sprinkle of cheese and bacon, a dollop of sour cream and a piece or two of chives.

At-home stir fry, no take out required

 

One of my favorite super-cheap, super-flexible meals is stir fry. As a lover of all things salty, soy sauce in particular, stir frys are always a staple. You can use virtually any kind of rice, veggies, and/or meats.

This is what I had left in my freezer/cabinets:

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup white rice
1 cooked steak (not sure what cut)
1 pint mushrooms
1/2 bag frozen edamame
Soy sauce
Garlic salt

While the edamame and rice were boiling (follow directions on box or bag) I put the veggies and mushrooms into a frying pan with about 4 tbsp. soy sauce.

I cut the steak into small chunks, and added that to the pan. Once the rice and edamame were done, I put all the ingredients in together with some more soy sauce and a healthy sprinkle of garlic salt.

After eating my fill, I had at least 3 meals left over to put in the fridge for the rest of the week.
A lesson I learned from this: don’t put oregano in it. I tried to get fancy with the spices, but then it tasted less chinese-inspired and more like messed-up pasta.