Archive of ‘Main Dishes’ category

Al Pastor Pork Tacos with Piña Colada Slaw

I don’t know when putting coleslaw on top of my tacos became a thing at my house. Maybe it was an attempt to add veggies to the meal without being obvious? I really don’t know. But what I do know is that the taco/slaw combo is delicious and perfect for good summer eating. I love making a spicy taco then topping it with a slightly sweet, cooling coleslaw. The perfect combo. No, wait. Chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect combo but this one is close behind. I bet right about now you are wondering what Al Pastor means. Al Pastor is the process of slow cooking pork with dried chilis and pineapple juice. How simple is that? Plus, you can impress people by calling simple pork tacos Al Pastor. Are you impressed? Let’s kick off our Sunday shoes and put on our Taco Tuesday hats on Monday. Not confusing at all!
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Our tropical ingredient line up:

From Top Left: Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, a spice mixture of salt, chili pepper and dried oregano, lime, pineapple juice (try not to mix it with your coconut water and drink all of it), cilantro, tortillas, and pork shoulder.

We begin with our spicy rub for the pork! The colorful spice mixture is combined with our garlic. I’m a sucker for that deep chili powder color.

We take our dainty, not used to getting dirty paws and rub the mixture all over the pork. Let this sit for awhile. It will be worth it.

We pour our chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, pineapple juice, and lime juice on top of the pork. This pork is treated with the utmost respect and is slow cooked. It’s the right thing to do. You could throw this in your slow cooker and forget about it until dinner! Let’s shred that sucker!

Our ingredient line up for the coleslaw is as follows:

From Top Left: Coconut cream, sugar or honey, lime, greek yogurt, red onion, pineapple, and broc slaw because you know I love it!

Just take a whisk and combine the coconut milk, yogurt, lime juice, sugar/honey, and a pinch of salt. Coconut milk is not created equal unfortunately. I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream in a can. It’s incredibly thick and doesn’t have added sugars like other milks so be warned. You don’t want the added sugars and make this a dessert coleslaw. Yuck! Not to be graphic but look at that thick, creaminess!

We pour the coconut milk dressing over the slaw and mix. Taste for seasoning! The tacos are spicy but if you need more spice, save the cooking liquid and skim the fat. Dunk your shredded pork back into the liquid. I love this taco. All I need is a beach to eat it on! Feel me? Happy taco making!

Almond Apricot Chicken Salad

Chicken salad. It’s been around since before our parents were parents and their parents were parents. It’s constantly being reinvented into many different delicious combinations. Tarragon, apples, pecans, curry, and mayo-less are just a few of the newer renditions of the classic. Chicken salad appeals to the old and young; older people are reminded of their childhood, eating it between 2 slices of Wonderbread. Younger foodies are appealed by it’s inexpensive price tag and it’s endless options. I, for one, love chicken salad. I like to make a batch on Sunday and enjoy it for the next couple of days. I like it on toast, with crackers and apples, in lettuce wraps, and sometimes, straight out of the bowl with a fork (when no one is looking). (more…)

I was at a party a few months back and someone brought chicken salad as a snack. I couldn’t get over how genius and refreshingly vintage that was. For my house warming party last weekend, I decided to add it to my repertoire. I am always looking for new pairings for my beloved chicken salad and when I get the chance, I like to add fresh fruit. Apricots add a pleasant sweet note, while the almonds add a crunch and the dill is a good reminder it’s Summer. This salad is great with chips, in a lettuce wrap, or on your favorite sandwich bread. In this recipe, I show what kind of chicken I used but really use whatever you like. Rotisserie chicken is a great foundation for a stellar chicken salad!

Let’s check out our exhaustive ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Sliced almonds, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, crushed garlic (fresh or jarred), cubed or shredded chicken, red onion, sugar, fresh apricots (have you tried these?), fresh dill, and white wine vinegar (not pictured but always in our hearts?).

This recipe might be hard for you. Just have patience with it. Ok, ready? Throw everything into a large mixing bowl and, um, mix! Taste for seasoning. A bit of salt and pepper are key here.

Chicken salad is light, easy, and great for the hot summer months (when are those coming, again?) I need to go rest after this tiresome and long post. Happy salad making!

Brie Mac and Cheese with Figs

Remember that time I told you that I absolutely love pasta dishes here? Well, I wasn’t kidding. Mac and cheese is a dear favorite of mine but sometimes, it needs a face lift. (more…)

 The cheddar original is always fun but I enjoy feeling like an adult sometimes. And we all know eating figs and brie cheese means we are adults! Figs are in season right now and are delicious raw, stuffed, or made into an elegant sauce for pork, chicken or even a burger topped with goat cheese. I thought this would be semi-vintage and a change of pace to serve as an appetizer.

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: elbow macaroni (duh!), onion, fig, butter, balsamic, milk, white wine, nutmeg, flour, brie, gruyere, and parmesan.

We begin with our onions and figs. Cook the onions until golden brown then add the precious figs. Meanwhile, your pasta should be cooking to just below al dente. You can also be horrible at multi-tasking like me and forget about your pasta, as the boiling water overflows onto your cook top. Which ever works for you!

Add the wine and reduce. Keep that wine around; it will be lovely with the mac and cheese later on. Finish with the balsamic vinegar. Look at that dark color! This is simply elegant!

We make our bechamel sauce (milk sauce), season, and add our cheeses. Taste for seasoning and by taste, I mean a few spoonfuls. You can never be too careful. Add your cute macaroni. I was having a party (your invite totally got lost), and thought serving mac and cheese in a portion friendly muffin tin would be more appealing and casual. Just fill up the holes and top with the onions and figs.

Bake until hot and bubbly! This is all cheese and it’s glorious!

Perfection. I’m sorry if that fig weirds you out. They’re delicious. Happy mac and cheese making!

Quesadilla Cubans

Pickles and mustard. Mustard and pickles. What if I told you these two ingredients are my favorite part of a Cuban sandwich? Would you give a light little chuckle but then secretly roll your eyes and judge me? I understand if you would. But in all seriousness, without those ingredients, a Cuban wouldn’t be special at all. It’s the magic of making the two kinds of pork and swiss cheese work together. The pickle and mustard cut through all of that richness making you beg for another irresistible bite.

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Along with my pickle and mustard rant, I also think it’s important to have a flavorful shredded pork. Too many Cubans have I wasted due to pre-made, unseasoned pork. A good Cuban is all team work with not one element in the spotlight (except for the pickles and mustard). I used a pork tenderloin for the pictures but the recipe is for a pork shoulder. It’s a more authentic cut of pork but I was lazy and didn’t feel like driving to the store when I had a perfectly good tenderloin at home. I will post my cooking notes for the tenderloin at the bottom. Ok, ready? Go team!
Let’s check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: flour tortillas, limes, pork tenderloin trying to look like pork shoulder, yellow mustard, cilantro, garlic, swiss cheese, orange juice, pickles, dried oregano, and deli ham.

We first start with la marinade. Put your cilantro, orange juice, limes, garlic, oregano, and a dash of salt in a blender. That’s right, we are blending our limes with their rinds on! I told you this was going to be flavorful! Blend until pureed.

Now, we take half of that marinade and pour it over the pork. Turn it a few times to coat then leave it alone. It needs to marinate for a while. How fresh does that look? We then slow cook our pork (hello crock pot!) so it will be fork tender and easy to shred.

Do you know what comes next? We shred! Take a sample! Take two! You’re the cook and I think you deserve it!

Let’s assemble our quesadillas! Take a tortilla, schmear some mustard on it. Use yellow or spicy brown mustard. This is NOT the time for dijon. Feel me? Then scatter your pickles on top of the mustard. Then place your cooked deli meat on top (I know I didn’t show that step. Forgive me?). Take a healthy handful of that delicious shredded pork and put on top of the ham. Then, add your swiss. Lastly, schmear more mustard on another tortilla and place on top.

If you have a panini press, then this is the time to break it out. If you don’t, just heat up a skillet with some butter. Place your quesadilla in the skillet once heated and then top with another pan. After a few minutes, take the top pan off and turn over your quesadilla for even cooking. Once golden brown and the cheese is melted, remove from heat, cut and serve! This has all the yummy components of a Cuban sandwich but in fun quesadilla form! Happy ‘dilla making!

For the pork tenderloin: I made sure the silver skin was off (it won’t cook down but be tough and chewy). I cooked the tenderloin in a dutch oven at 200 degrees for about 3-4 hours. Then shred. The meat can be somewhat dry so add a little bit of the cooking liquid if it’s too dry for you.

Roasted Veggie Sandwich with Goat Cheese

So I had this for dinner last night and was going to post about it later in the week. After my first bite, I knew I had to post it today! Last night was a rare occasion wherein I only had to cook for myself! The possibilities! Why is it that when our men are away, us women cook vegetarian food? Or that’s how it is in my house at least. I don’t always need meat in my meal but Chris is a ravishing beast without it so I try to always include it. I will, however, make this sandwich for him later on and I bet prosciutto or bacon would be a lovely addition. This sandwich doesn’t have to be vegetarian but the veggies are definitely the attention getters here. (more…)

I cut up a variety of vegetables, all the same size, tossed them with extra virgin olive oil, fresh thyme, salt and pepper and roasted them in a 425 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. Have you roasted onions before? You’re welcome. I also used eggplant, red bell pepper, summer squash, zucchini, and mushrooms (gotta love CSAs!). I then made a salsa verde with 2 kinds of basil and crumbled some goat cheese. You can use any type of bread or roll for this but the ciabatta roll takes the cake. I split it open, spread the salsa verde on the bottom half (be liberal! You want this to be dripping!) and goat cheese on the top. Add hot veggies, top with the other half of the roll and cut on a diagonal. So many flavors that all seamlessly work together. You won’t be upset when you’re told to finish your vegetables!

Sorry for the lack of pictures. My lighting wasn’t the greatest (thanks summer evening storms!) and I was too hungry to have patience. We are only humans, right? Happy sandwich making!

Thai Marinated Chicken with a Mango Slaw

Something really weird has been happening to me as of late. I’m bored with everything I cook! I don’t even repeat recipes, like ever, and I still feel bored. Maybe it’s time for me to spread my little culinary wings and try something incredibly new. Whenever I feel home cook’s block, I try to look for something Asian. Asian flavors are the perfect balance of sweet and salty, savory and spicy. Plus, it makes me use ingredients I don’t normally run to day to day. I went through a stir-fry craze a few months back; eating it once to twice a week. It wore out its welcome real fast and I haven’t returned to the world of high heat skillets and soy sauce combos. (more…)

As I was menu planning for this week, I was desperately looking for some inspiration to get me out of my rut. I found this recipe and boy, did the wheels start turning. The recommended side for this dish is a mango slaw, made with fresh mangoes, red peppers, and cashews. I didn’t have fresh mangoes so I had to whip up my own mango slaw. Once I get my slippery hands on some mangoes, I might revisit that side dish. One thing to note, my husband absolutely despises eating any meat with their bones still in (now you can see how I get bored!). So instead of the chicken legs, I used chicken tenderloins and cooked them, in a skillet, over medium high heat for a few minutes. For the lovely marinade recipe, simply go here. Whichever cut of chicken you prefer, this Thai marinated chicken and mango slaw combo will brighten the darkest of bored eating days. Enjoy!

 

Here’s our ingredient line up for our mango slaw:

From Left to Right: fresh limes, thawed mango (I only had frozen for snacking, of course!), green onions, cilantro, mint, rice vinegar, mayo (just a tad), mango chutney, and crunchy broccoli slaw. Let’s take a minute and admire these outrageous colors. Thank you and continue.

Our dressing for the coleslaw comes first! In a bowl, whisk lime juice, rice vinegar, mayo, mango chutney, and a little bit of salt and pepper. We are looking for a few things here so give it a taste! This dressing can end up being pretty sweet so adjust according to your tastes. Add more of whatever you think the dressing needs. Also, if the dressing is too thick for you, add a bit more lime juice until it becomes the consistency you want. I would have a picture for you but to be honest, I couldn’t find a pretty picture of the white, clumpy (because of the yummy chutney) dressing. Moving on…

In a larger bowl, throw in your broccoli slaw, diced mango, chopped cilantro and mint, sliced green onions, and as many dashes of red pepper flake you can stand. Sweet and spicy, anyone? I should note that I am completely obsessed with broccoli slaw! But, if you want to substitute with the beloved cabbage combo, be my guest!

Pour the dressing over the bowl of slaw and mix thoroughly. Season with a pinch of salt. Although this recipe is for chicken, this slaw would go lovely with some grilled fish or pork as well.

I also ate this chicken with a sweet Thai chili sauce but totally missed the chance for a Sriracha take over. We are trying to watch our carbs so we ate this by itself. But I really wanted to eat this scrumptiousness stuffed in a warm tortilla. Could you do me a favor? Please, please, please eat this as a taco! A Thai taco! Do you really want anything else for dinner? Happy dinner making!

Antipasti Pasta Salad

How was your 4th of July? Mine surprisingly wasn’t hot and sticky but cool and crisp. I had a small shindig with family and of course, TONS of food (hence my post today). I know we are all coming off the carb loading train but in case you have another cookout or gathering soon, here is a fun spin on pasta salad. As you will learn, I love pasta. I love it hot with a meaty wine tomato sauce doused over it. I love it cold with a tangy, creamy dressing and all sorts of goodies cut up (dill pickles, anyone?). I also like to take a favorite and make it into something totally different and new. Aside from pasta, my favorite snack is antipasti. In case you were wondering, antipasti is an Italian appetizer of cured meats, cheeses, and marinated veggies. It’s a brilliant snack (or dinner), especially for hot summers. I combine my favorite aspects of a good pasta salad with the vinegary, saltiness of salami, mozzarella, and marinated artichokes. This pasta is perfect for a cookout or just a night in, hanging with friends. Either way, enjoy this sophisticated take on a barbecue classic.

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And our ingredient line up is:

From Top to Bottom: red wine vinegar, cooked to al dente penne pasta, dried oregano, fresh parsley, soppressata, mayo, garlic, greek yogurt, buffalo mozzarella, red onion, anchovies, and last but not least, marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers. Whew!

I know that seems like a lot of ingredients but the good news is most of them are being thrown into the blender to make our luscious sauce! We put into the blender our red wine vinegar, dried oregano, mayo, garlic, greek yogurt, and anchovies. Add a pinch of salt and a bigger pinch of black pepper. We are using a lot of vinegary and salty ingredients so make sure you don’t over season! Blend until nice and smooth. Taste the sauce once blended and figure out what you need to add. We are all about modifications here.

Blending our ingredients is the majority of the work needed for this recipe. But get those stirring arms ready because that’s what stands between us and this delicious pasta salad!
Put your pasta in a bowl (or be lazy and keep it in the pot you cooked it in) and pour the sauce over it. It’s best to add the sauce when the pasta is still warm so it can soak up all of the yummy flavors of the sauce. I try to be self aware and transparent so I apologize for the picture below. I’m still learning! You get the drift!

Once the sauce and pasta have cooled a little bit, add your mix ins! Choose your favorite antipasti ingredients, dice them, then just throw them in! I chose buffalo mozzarella (provolone would be fun), soppressata, marinated artichokes and roasted bell peppers, and fresh red onion. Toss until combined. Taste again for seasoning!

I had some left over and ate it straight from the bowl the next day (see, I am being transparent). Like most things. it’s even better the next day! What are some of your favorite pasta salad combos?

Roasted Salmon with Dill Salsa Verde

I would apologize for the carby overload this week but in reality, I think you should be thanking me. I’ve given you a reason to eat carbs, unabashedly, and in the most marvelous way possible. Alas, it’s summer time and although we binge eat at our cookouts, we also have to play it cool. When it’s super hot outside, I like to do minimal cooking possible. “Throwing together” is more my pace when I’m sweating just from walking 2 steps from my car to my house. I also love a yummy sauce that doesn’t need to be reduced over the stove; just a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and we’re in business! But really, eating light can be a great and rather delicious idea. And what better season to do it in? The herbs are plentiful, the veggies are crisp, the fruits are juicier than ever.

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I use salmon for this dinner but I think any white, mild fish would taste just as great! I season my salmon with salt and pepper and I roast it at 275 for about 20ish minutes. Meanwhile, I take a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, parsley, dill, juice of half a lemon, one tablespoon of chopped capers, and one clove of minced garlic and throw it into a mixing bowl. Can you predict what comes next? We mix! This is our dill salsa verde and it’s fresh, herbacious, and the right amount of garlicky. If you were expecting the salsa verde you get at Mexican restaurants, I apologize for that disappointment. But this Mediterranean version is great to try this summer on fish, chicken, pork, or, why not, steak! Get creative with the herbs too!

Old Faithful Cheeseburger

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It was a Friday night and as usual, all four of us kids were huddled around the televison. Every friday, we would grab blankets and our favorite snacks in anticipation of watching our favorite TV shows. Depending on the season, my mom would either make buttery popcorn for us to enjoy or cheesy parmesan pumpkin seeds but tonight was different. We didn’t see any delicious snacks coming our way any time soon so we just settled for those wax candies that look like soda bottles. Then it happened. My father came through the front door and the house was immediately filled with the familiar aroma of the double arches. My dad brought us cheeseburgers from McDonald’s! They were special in that instead of being doused in ketchup and mustard, they were plain. I never had a plain one before and as I opened my snack deprived mouth, the pure flavors of beef and cheese were on my tongue. No distractions, just delightfully simple. Cheeseburgers are one of my favorite meals to this day and yes, I have come very far from McDonald’s finest. To me, it’s extremely important to have a flavorful patty that if need be, could be eaten without any condiment and still be delicious. So add on your favorite toppings or not, but enjoy my rendition of the classic.

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Let’s start with our ingredients!


From Left to Right: fresh thyme, dried oregano, garlic, hamburger buns, ground beef, hot sauce, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, and american cheese.

We put the ground beef, dried oregano, hot sauce, dijon, and worcestershire sauce in a
mixing bowl. Then, we mince our garlic and thyme and add those into the bowl as well. If you use dried thyme, use about 1/2 a teaspoon. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper!

Instead of using our pretty paws to mix these ingredients up, we will use a fork! A fork is working triple duty: mixing the ingredients, keeping our meat fluffy (not dense), and saving our manicures (not mine, yours?). Either way, use the fork until everything is mixed. I forgot to season until the last minute. Forgive me?

Now, we make 4 meatballs, using all of the meat. From these meatballs, you can make patties, whatever thickness you want. I like thin burgers so I do this extra step. If you like them thick, you are more than welcome to skip this step. We lay them on a surface, evenly spaced apart.

Cover the meat with plastic wrap and grab a heavy, cylindrical object i.e. a rolling pin or a Christmas wine bottle. We use the heavy object to roll the meat to about 1/4 inch patties. They ain’t perfect, but they are good.

Heat up a skillet to medium high heat with a tad bit of olive oil. Season both sides of the patties with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, add the patties. Since they are so thin, they only need about 2 minutes per side to cook. Also, you might need 2 spatulas to flip them. After they are flipped, immediately add your cheese of choice so it gets nice and melted!

Here comes the fun part! If you do 1 patty cheeseburgers, then this recipe serves 4. If you want to do the double decker I show in my pictures, then this recipe serves 2. Just place cheeseburgers on your bun of choice and enjoy the juicy, cheesy goodness of a classic cheeseburger! Cook these up for 4th of July or any other night of the week! They definitely satisfy any good burger craving.

Roasted Lemony Garlic Shrimp

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My husband is “allergic” to shrimp. We have constant arguments around if he’s allergic or just being a big baby. He says he feels funny after eating it sometimes and other times, he’s perfectly fine. The reason I argue his allergy with him is because I LOVE shrimp and I LOVE cooking it. But I rarely do since he doesn’t feel comfortable eating it. Shrimp is great in the summer; you can barbecue it or serve it as a cocktail. I love roasting it with herbs, spices, citrus, and of course, butter. I try to make this whenever we have people over or if we are going to a potluck, just so I can get my fill. The choices for the shrimp are wonderfully endless but let’s start with the basics. Shall we?

Shrimp is laid on a sheet pan. We pulse lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt, and most importantly, cold butter in a food processor until combined. The delectable butter is spread over the shrimp and roasted until just pink.

This shrimp is best if the shells are off, it’s more appealing eating depending on your dining setting and the flavors get into the shrimp more. But they are still delicious and fun to eat with the shells, too. Just a little more work. Last time, I promise, please do something with those buttery, garlicky, lemony juices. Please and thank you!

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