chicken legs on the grill

Chicken Legs on the Grill

Again I am cooking on the grill! Today, some BBQ chicken legs. So many people seem to migrate to white meat whenever eating any type of poultry, but I prefer dark meat. It’s moist, tender and has more flavor, IMHO. Why chicken legs, not drumsticks or thighs? Both drumsticks and thighs are fine. This recipe works with all parts of the leg because we cook to an internal temperature, not a specific time. I decided to cook whole legs – drumstick with thigh attached because they’re a healthy portion. These are sometimes referred to as chicken quarters. Pick whichever piece

Pork tenderloin

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

In the world of cooking meat, the tenderloin is not only one of the most tender cuts, but also lean and healthy. The only problem with pork is that, since it’s so lean, it’s easy to over-cook (such a fine line between tasty, tender meat and shoe leather). For years I struggled using various ingredients and this technique and that. Finally, it came down to having a good marinade and a careful cooking technique. Marinade for grilled pork tenderloin The inspiration for this marinade starts at allrecipes.com, but I revised it many times to make it my own. You may

Chinese Chicken on a Stick

Chinese Chicken on a Stick

Sometimes, the appetizers on a restaurant menu are the most appealing to me. Chinese-American restaurants, especially. I love the egg rolls, wontons and soups. And I especially love chicken on a stick, sometimes called teriyaki chicken or chicken satay. They have a taste I cannot resist! You’ll find that special taste at most every mall food court. I count the guy handing out free teriyaki chicken samples as one of my closest friends. Chicken on a stick is also a common menu item at some summertime state fairs. Perfect walk-around-while-eating food! At home, the only walk required is to the

Baked Pineapple Salmon on a plate

Baked Pineapple Salmon

Time for another salmon recipe. This, a wonderful discovery featuring an unusual taste accent and sauce for seafood. In this house, we default to lemon as the typical accompaniment for our salmon. But, I was in a “mood,” wanting to play outside the lines. So, my mind lighted on . . . pineapple? With salmon? Yes! I was firmly entrenched in a “Damn the torpedoes!” moment. So, carpe diem! I seized the day. HUGE surprise! This Baked Pineapple Salmon worked out amazingly well. It’s so affirming to try something unusual and have it work. It’s currently tied with our other

Burrito Pie

Burrito Pie

Burrito Pie is perfect for Cinco de Mayo (or any other day) I’m posting this in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, Tuesday, May 5, but really, Burrito Pie is one of those meals that works year-round. I make both meat and vegetarian versions to suit individual preferences, so you can take these recipes and adjust as preferred. How is Burrito Pie different from a regular burrito? Besides combining two disparate words (i.e. Burrito + Pie), there isn’t much difference. A burrito is a dish in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine consisting of a flour tortilla wrapped into a sealed tubular shape

Homemade Egg Rolls

Homemade Egg Rolls

Easier than you think As I shared before, I took a Chinese cooking class a long time ago. It was a very casual type of class generously offered by my employer as a quality of life enhancer. My co-workers and I learned how to make stir-fries and other delicious dishes. The most useful thing I learned was how to make homemade egg rolls. Making egg rolls may seem intimidating at first – the filling, the rolling, the stir frying – but it’s actually quite easy. And homemade egg rolls are incredibly delicious and easy to customize to your personal preferences.

mississippi chicken

Mississippi Chicken (Crock Pot Meal)

This is a recipe that a friend told me about, saying “you’ve gotta try Mississippi Chicken” – she was right! Its one of those oh-so-easy meals thanks to a trusty crockpot, a couple of seasoning packets (au jus and ranch dressing) and butter. The author at thecountrycook.net, uses boneless skinless chicken breasts. I also made them with boneless, skinless thighs and had great results so don’t get too hung up on specific cuts of meat. As long as it’s boneless and skinless, you will be fine. The recipe calls for peperoncini peppers, the whole kind, but the first time I

Jambalaya

Simplified Jambalaya

When you say “Jambalaya” most people will smile and say they love it. But a lot of people don’t make it. Why? Perhaps because it sounds exotic and the ingredients are sometimes hard to find. Andouille sausage, for instance. Not widely available. So, many years ago, I set out to make my own easy version of Jambalaya using readily-available ingredients. I call it: (What else?) “Simplified Jambalaya” just to keep the purists from reacting to non-traditional ingredients. LOL. Jambalaya traditionally has 3 different meats: sausage, seafood, and chicken or pork. I use chicken, so we can check that box. For

ratatouile

Ratatouille

If you like plant-based meals, here is a veritable vegetable feast! This Ratatouille (adapted from allrecipes.com) is as colorful as its name and so flavorful you might lose sight of its incredible health benefits. One thing about planning this dish is vegetable size. Ideally, the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash would all be about the same diameter. But, in the real world, almost impossible. Eggplants are big. I mean, like, watermelon big (Well, not that big, but they do get large). Ratatouille is a beautiful vegetarian delight. Combine eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini with red pepper and a light sauce

Puff pastry

Chicken (or Turkey) in Puff Pastry

I make this meal year-round, but it’s especially useful when you’ve got a bunch of leftover turkey. I adapted this recipe from Pepperidge Farm years ago. The original calls for cooking halved chicken breasts and then wrapping each in a piece of puff pastry. After making this many times, I found that I preferred using cooked shredded meat. Not only is it easier to assemble in the pastry, but it’s also much easier to eat. The fact that shredded meat can be plentiful after Thanksgiving or from any poultry meal makes it a huge bonus! No one’s going to call

Pot pie

Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie

There’s one thing almost guaranteed after Thanksgiving: leftovers. Turkey sandwiches are very popular in my house. B-u-u-t, that gets old. So, I turn to turkey pot pie. I got this recipe years ago from a co-worker, and I think it was originally adapted from campbells.com, due to its use of canned soup. Pot pie has a somewhat checkered history; evoking those days of beer can pyramids and dry, tasteless frozen TV dinners. But this recipe redeems the humble pot pie, especially when home cooked. It’s a great way to use a bunch of leftover turkey – any poultry will work

pepper steak with noodles

Pepper Steak – Instant Pot or Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Pepper Steak is a classic dish that warms you through and through on a chilly evening.  It is often described as “Chinese American” but it feels mostly American to me. I guess soy sauce as an ingredient qualifies it as a little Chinese? Either way, Pepper Steak is simple and satisfying.  I’ve made this many times in a slow cooker and recently adapted the recipe for Instant Pot use, for even faster and more convenient preparation. How to make Instant Pot Pepper Steak To start, cut the beef into strips. The recipe calls for sirloin,

meatloaf

Old Fashioned Meatloaf

It’s a classic Meatloaf is a classic meal that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention these days. Did it go out of style? Not in my kitchen. I’m feeding carnivores and meatloaf delivers the goods. Meatloaf is easy to prep ahead In the old days, when I was feeding a family of four and working full-time, I would prepare the meatloaf mixture the evening before and stick it in the fridge. The next morning, I would place it in the oven and pre-set the timer to start cooking before I got home. That way, I could concentrate on

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

Vegetarian Pasta Sauce

No meat should not mean no taste When I started to move toward more plant-based meals, I knew pasta sauce would be an issue. Who doesn’t love a big old plate of spaghetti? Wonderful stuff. But vegetarian pasta sauce? Hmm. At a restaurant this typically means just a tomato (marinara) sauce to coat your noodles. Tastes great, but that’s a meal of 100% simple carbs. That will not satisfy an appetite, unless you’re training for the Iron Man. What goes into this Vegetarian Pasta Sauce I wanted a better solution. My sauce had to be tomato-based, it needed protein and

Stuffed Peppers

Jack O’ Lantern Stuffed Peppers

Halloween meals should be fun Halloween is almost here and while costumes and candy distribution get top priority, don’t forget to have fun at meal time! I make stuffed peppers every year, and love to carve Jack O’ Lantern faces into each pepper. It takes only a few extra minutes and turns an everyday meal into a Halloween treat. Spooky good! How to make stuffed peppers For a meal as iconic as stuffed peppers, I turn to a trusted source: Betty Crocker. Betty tells us to make our stuffing from one pound of ground beef, one cup of rice, a

Beef Stew

Bloody Mary Beef Stew

This classic beef stew can be made in a Crockpot or Instant Pot to produce a delicious, warming stew for a cool weather meal.

caprese chicken

Caprese Chicken

This one-pot meal can be ready in under 30 minutes! Perfect for busy weeknights!

Meatballs

Freezer Meatballs

Meatballs are pretty easy to make – so quick! But, there’s a way to launch your meatball dinners into hyperdrive by freezing them. Yes, you can freeze them (gives you chills, amirite?). Now you know the secret to the poetically named: Freezer Meatballs recipe. And, here’s another plus: You can please everyone at the dinner table by making these morsels for carnivores and keep a portion of the sauce meatless for those who prefer it. How to prepare the meatballs The recipe is pretty straightforward with simple seasonings that complement a variety of sauces. The proportions are suitable for 1

Pancakes from scratch

Breakfast for Dinner

Pancakes are a great meal anytime When schedules are crunched and there’s hardly time to think, much less plan a meal, don’t forget about breakfast. For dinner, I mean. And pancakes? Well, let’s face it: EVERYBODY loves pancakes. Oh wait – no pancake mix in the pantry? Worry not, pancakes are super-simple to make from scratch! How to make pancakes from scratch This recipe comes from allrecipes.com and uses staple ingredients, which I always have on hand. Flour, baking powder, milk and egg. A little butter, salt and sugar. What could be easier? It takes minutes to mix together and

kebabs

Sweet and Sour Pork Kabobs

(Also known as “Kebabs”) For the love of Chinese takeout The first formal cooking class I took (aside from Junior High Home Economics) was for Chinese cooking. It was the 1980’s and I worked at a hospital that offered sports leagues and enrichment classes to employees. What fun! My co-workers and I, all lovers of Chinese take-out, signed up to learn how to make it ourselves, and we had a blast. But the real winners were the guys playing basketball in the same building. They worked in various departments of the hospital, and felt comfortable showing up at the door

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Juicy Lucy (Stuffed Burger)

Have you ever heard of a “Juicy Lucy”? No? In that case, I will consider this my public service message for the day. What’s a Juicy Lucy? A Juicy Lucy is a stuffed burger with cheese inside the patty instead of on top resulting in a melted core of cheese. Cool, hey? Two bars in Minneapolis claim to be the inventor of the burger, though other bars and restaurants have their own interpretations. One, “Matt’s Bar, where I had my first JL (and not my last) ” uses a different spelling: “Jucy Lucy.” Cooking the cheese in the burger gives

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Grilled Pizza!

Make it vegetarian OR meatlovers grilled pizza! Pizza is America’s favorite food, according to a survey by the California Pizza Kitchen. (I’m sure they were COMPLETELY unbiased, LOL). But it is summer, and we love to grill. So can we combine these two loves? Yes, we CAN! Grilled Pizza! How to grill pizza Grilled pizza is essentially just a technique to get used to, particularly for the crust. Once you have that figured out, the rest is easy. The pizza can then be customized with whatever ingredients are preferred. Please note: I do all my grilling on a gas grill.

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Quinoa with Broccoli and Parmesan

Only 3 ingredients needed This is one of my “go to” dishes, any time of year. It takes a mere 3 ingredients and only minutes to assemble. With two of those ingredients being quinoa and broccoli, this dish packs a punch of superfood action covered in one swell foop! AND it’s truly delicious! Quinoa: a whole grain that is gluten free Since May is coming to a close I wanted to be sure to mention that it is Celiac Awareness month. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage to the small intestine.

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Cheesy Brat Stew

A solution for leftover brats Since Memorial Day is upon us, I thought I would post this recipe just in case you’re about to throw some sausages on the grill, and are worried about having leftovers. This brat stew is so yummy, you might want to cook up some extra on purpose! The recipe is meant for bratwurst or Polish sausage, but really almost any sausage will work. When I made this recently I used 4 bratwursts and 2 Italian sausages – naturally, because that’s what was in the fridge! This is a really old recipe I can’t give you

Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

Bright and fresh flavors If you are looking for a salad that is bursting with bright, fresh flavors, look no more! This “Middle Earth” delight has a simple vinaigrette dressing that, through some alchemy, “pops” the flavors of the tomatoes and cucumber; “crunches up” the taste of romaine lettuce; and smooths the palate with feta and chickpeas. Kalamata olives provide the “Ta dah!” moment with an exclamation point of piquancy. I absolutely love the flavors and textures of this. Transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean! What ingredients are needed? This recipe comes from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, from America’s

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork – Instant Pot

Includes Dry Rub Recipe for Chicken or Pork Memorial Day is coming and you’re probably planning to grill, but if the weather is sketchy or more meal choices are desirable, pulled pork is an excellent and easy choice. Plus, you can make it in your Instant Pot, which frees up other cooking methods for additional menu items. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, just use this rub. Then, slow-cook your meat in the crockpot (at least 6, up to 12, hours on low). Dry Rub First, the dry rub. A couple of years ago, I started using dry rub

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Easy Stuffed Sweet Potato

Stuff a sweet potato with leftovers So, do you have a few leftovers from Cinco de Mayo?  Try using them to make a stuffed sweet potato. Whenever I make my Brown Rice and Bean Bake , I love eating the leftovers, but sometimes I like a little variety for it.  Of course, you can go with the classic Burrito Bowl: lettuce or spinach with tomatoes, maybe a little sweet potato and avocado, a scoop of the warmed-up Brown Rice and Bean Bake, and you are good to go! Need more? Add cheese! More still? Thrown on some salsa! You get

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Vegetarian Crunch Wrap

Here is something a little different for your menu—a Vegetarian Crunch Wrap! Pick your ingredients This Crunch Wrap is similar to the menu item at a Mexican fast food location near you. But if you make this at home, you have control over exactly what is going into your wrap.  I have made these with seasoned ground beef, as well as with Salsa Chicken, to rave reviews, but wanted to make a vegetarian version for myself.  It took me a couple of tries to get what I wanted, and I can tell you that for me, the key ingredient was

salsa chicken

Salsa Chicken

Instant Pot or Oven This coming weekend will be Cinco de Mayo, so what better time to discuss some Mexican-inspired dishes? I’m going to start with Salsa Chicken because it is a simple way to prepare your chicken to use as the basis for many other dishes. I have prepared this in both an oven and Instant Pot and both work great. So no matter what cooking method you prefer, this is guaranteed to be an easy way to prepare an ingredient for the carnivores coming to your Cinco de Mayo party.  How to make Salsa Chicken First, start with