The art of stuffing shouldn’t be reserved just for holidays. Stuffed foods let you combine different textures and flavors in every bite. They offer a unique presentation with one food acting as the dish for serving the other ingredients.
Stuffed mushrooms or peppers are probably some of the most common along with a basic sandwich or burger. One of my favorites is clam chowder being served in a bread bowl.
Stuffed foods appear in almost every culture. The options of ‘food inside of food’ is virtually limitless. Any food that can be wrapped around other foods such as large leaves, pasta or pizza dough can also make amazing delicacies.
Basic rice isn’t quite so basic when its shaped and stuffed. These rice and potato balls are a meal all in one …. rice, potatoes, chicken & cheese.
Rice & Potato Balls
In a food processor, place cooked potatoes & (cooked) rice; process for a few seconds then add salt & pepper to taste. Add parmesan & beaten egg; process a few more seconds. Do NOT over process or the mixture will turn into paste. This can also be done with a mixer if you wish. Set aside.
To a large saucepan, add ground chicken & cook for 5 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Add onions & garlic; cook for 5-8 minutes or until onions are soft. Add spices & cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add the cilantro & set meat aside to cool.
Have a bowl of cold water nearby. Handling with moistened hands, take a small amount of potato/rice mixture & shape it into a round ball. Hold the ball in one hand & hollow it with the thumb of the other hand. Fill with some chicken filling & close opening. Lay filled balls on a large tray as they are made & flatten slightly.
Place flour in a dish, beaten egg in another & the panko crumbs on a flat plate.
Preheat oven to 350 F. & line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll each ball into the flour then dip into the egg & finally coat with panko bread crumbs. Place on baking tray, lightly spray with cooking oil & bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
If you prefer, heat a combo of oil & butter in a skillet & pan fry balls instead. Alternately they could be deep fried as well.
Although rice takes top priority at our house, noodles (pasta) are always a staple nevertheless. Some years ago, we started using the ‘no yolks’ version of egg noodles.
Like many old world pasta products, there is a history. In 1976, Robert Strom created NO YOLKS. They would become the world’s first no-cholesterol egg noodle. They are made with Durum wheat semolina, corn flour, egg whites and have no problem cooking up firm and fluffy.
In Canada, they are the top selling noodle and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. In this recipe, I have paired them with my favorite Chia Chicken Meatballs. Does it get more healthy than that?!
No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs
In a small bowl, mix together chia seeds & water; let stand for about 20 minutes. In a large bowl, combine remaining meatball ingredients. When chia gel is ready, add to meat mixture. Using your hands, combine ingredients well. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & lightly coat with baking spray. Scoop into 50 meatballs; place on baking sheet & bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely if you are choosing to freeze half for a later meal. Set aside the amount you are using for this meal.
Sauce / Noodles
In a saucepan, melt margarine; saute zucchini & green onion until tender. Sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Add milk/broth & cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, cook no-yolk noodles as directed on package in salted boiling water to which 1 Tbsp of olive oil has been added. Drain.
In the pot you cooked the noodles, combine noodles with sauce & meatballs. Fold together & serve topped with some parmigano-reggiano if you wish.
Pizza al taglio (Italian for pizza ‘by the cut’) is a variety of pizza baked in large rectangular trays and generally sold by weight with prices marked per kilogram or per 100 grams. This type of pizza was invented in Rome, Italy.
Roman pizza al taglio came into existence in the 1960’s. These large slabs of pizza are generally thicker and softer. The main emphasis being not so much upon the visual aspect of the pizza, rather the taste and convenience of the process being the priority. The rectangular pizza shape makes it easier to cut and divide the pizza to the buyer’s desire.
Years ago, growing up on a farm, pizza was not a usual meal for our family. This was until my mother acquired a nice, little, glossy covered recipe book put out by Fleischmann’s Yeast Company. Among numerous good recipes it contained one for PIZZA! My mother baked bread every week so she had yeast baking down to a science.
I really don’t recall what it was topped with, just that it was sooo…… good! Brion and I refrain from ‘ordering’ pizza very often. Not because we don’t like it but rather just the opposite — we love it. The only problem is the calorie count is just too high. That being said, it doesn’t stop me from making a homemade version from time to time.
Today I used the crust recipe from that Fleischmann’s book and a copycat filling from Boston Pizza’s BBQ Chicken pizza. Yum!
BBQ Chicken Pizza al taglio
Measure into bowl, 1 cup lukewarm water. Stir in 1 tsp sugar; sprinkle with the pkg of yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, THEN stir well. Add 1 tsp salt & 1/4 cup oil; stir in 1 1/2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in additional 1 1/4 cups flour. Turn out dough on a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth & elastic. Place in a greased bowl; brush top with melted butter. Cover. Let rise in a warm place free from draft until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Toppings / Sauce
In a skillet, saute onion, red & green pepper & mushrooms in a small amount of butter. Shred mozzarella & cheddar cheeses. Chop cooked chicken. To BBQ sauce add water to make sauce consistency.
Preheat oven to 400 F. When dough is doubled in bulk, punch down. Press into a 16 x 12 x 1" baking pan. Spread BBQ sauce & water mixture over crust. Top with sauteed vegetables, chicken, mozzarella & cheddar cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden & cheese is melted.
I realize lasagna and healthy eating hardly fit in the same sentence but — There are numerous ways to make great tasting lasagna that can fit into just about any meal plan with lower fat cheese, lean meats, nutritious vegetables and unique sauces.
The problem, (I guess it’s how you look at it), with lasagna is that it is often overloaded with so much cheese and fatty meat that you’re almost drinking pools of grease with every bite. An all-time winter comfort food, lasagna has so many things going for it. Not only can it feed a crowd, it can be made ahead of time, frozen or reheated.
In doing one of my favorite things which I call ‘recipe development’, I’ve tried to come up with a lasagna that could check all the boxes of ‘healthy’ ingredients. By using lean turkey or chicken, fresh mushrooms and spinach you add flavor, protein and fiber as well as cutting calories and fat. It may seem a tiny bit drier but the flavor is great!
'Healthy' Chicken Lasagna
Boil lasagna noodles 12-14 minutes in salted water with a few drops of oil. Drain.
In a large skillet, cook chicken, mushrooms,onion & garlic for 5 minutes. Add spinach, basil, oregano, thyme & pasta sauce; cook another 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in salt, pepper & all but 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese. In a bowl, combine eggs & cottage cheese; blend well.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Assemble ingredients in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan as follows: Place a small amount of meat sauce on bottom, layer with 4 noodles, 1/3 of meat sauce, half of the cottage cheese, handful of Nacho cheese, 4 more noodles, another 1/3 meat sauce, remaining half of cottage cheese, last 4 noodles, last 1/3 of meat sauce, top with the rest of Nacho cheese & sprinkle with 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese. Done!!
Bake, covered for 50 minutes; uncover & bake another 10 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.
One of the most interesting facets of the culinary revolution is our growing fascination with culinary history. It seems the more I learn about the ethnic melting pot that makes up our dinner table, the more curious I become about regional cuisines and the origin of specific dishes.
Stuffed peppers probably go further back than the 1890’s. Many cuisines around the world have a traditional stuffed pepper that has been passed down for generations. Here’s a few I found interesting: Denmark: Fyldte Peberfrugter – Bell pepper stuffed with bulgur, mushrooms and kale Hungary: Toltott Paprika – Bell pepper stuffed with ground meat, rice and paprika. Served with sour cream. India: Bharawn Shimla Mirch – Bell pepper stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes Korea: Gochu Jeon – Chili peppers stuffed with tofu Mexico: Chili Rellenos – Poblano pepper stuffed with carnitas meat, kielbasa and topped with cheddar cheese Phillippines: Pandak na tao pinalamanan peppers – – Bell peppers stuffed with shrimp, pork and water chestnuts Romania: Ardei Umpluti – Bell peppers stuffed with pork and rice and served in a creamy sour cream sauce Spain: Pimientos Rellenos de Arroz con Salsa de Tomatoes – Bell pepper stuffed with Valencia or arborio rice and saffron, then cooked in a tomato sauce Tunisia: Fil Fil Mashsi – Bell pepper stuffed with lamb, rice and sprinkled with nutmeg, saffron and cardamom United States & Canada: Classic Stuffed Peppers – Bell pepper stuffed with ground beef, rice and cooked in a tomato sauce
The recipe today, pairs flavorful bacon risotto with colorful sweet bell peppers. The fact that they can be frozen for up to 6 months sure makes for an easy meal on a busy day.
Peppers Stuffed with Bacon Risotto
In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Lay on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings in saucepan; set aside. Cook onion & mushrooms in drippings until tender; add rice, cook & stir 2 minutes more. Carefully stir in broth; bring to boiling & reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in bacon & peas. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Stir in cheese. If desired, season with salt & pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut large peppers in half lengthwise. Remove membranes & seeds. Spoon risotto mixture into peppers. Place in a shallow baking dish. Cover with foil; bake, covered, for 30-45 minutes or until heated through. If desired sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve with heated zesty pasta sauce.
- Can be chilled for up to 12 hours then baked for 50-55 minutes.
- Can be frozen for up to 6 months then baked (frozen), covered, about 1 hour or until heated through.
Nothing says fall better than Oktoberfest, a tradition dating back to 1810 in Munich, Germany. Originally a celebration of the marriage of the King of Bavaria and Princess Therese. Everybody had so much fun that it was resolved to repeat the celebration, which has been done, every year since.
Beer enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Munich for Oktoberfest, where they feast on everything from steins of beer to plates of sauerkraut, bratwurst, cabbage rolls, sausage and wiener schnitzel. Bavarian music fills the air to promote the fun atmosphere of Oktoberfest.
While the true celebration has to be experienced in Munich, there are actually some great Canadian events that try to duplicate the festivities without having to travel abroad. In different parts of the country this is a fun and social sampling event featuring many local craft and authentic Bavarian breweries as well as authentic food, Oktoberfest music, dancers, games, etc..
Even if it is a little hard to admit summer has ended and fall is officially here, Oktoberfest seems like a great little celebration to ease into the coming winter months.
I came across this recipe for CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE QUICHE. From the reviews I read it sounded pretty good so I thought it was worth a try. It seems to fit the occasion I think.
Corned Beef & Cabbage Quiche
In a large skillet, melt butter; add onion, cabbage & garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add water, cover & cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover & cook until liquid evaporates & cabbage begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes longer. It is important to get the liquid out of the cabbage or it will cause quiche to become watery.
Stir in corned beef; remove pan from heat & allow to cool for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, caraway seeds, salt & pepper until blended.
Spread half of cabbage mixture in pie crust. Top with half of the Swiss cheese; repeat layers. Slowly pour egg mixture over ingredients in pie shell. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until quiche is puffed & golden. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing to serve.
- This quiche is nice baked 'galette' style or using a springform pan instead of a regular pie pan.
- Recipe inspired by busycooks.about.com
One of the supper dishes I remember my mother teaching me how to make was scalloped potatoes. The recipe read something like this:
- Wash, pare and slice potatoes. Put a layer in a buttered baking dish, season with salt and pepper.
- Dredge lightly with flour, dot with small pieces of butter; repeat until dish is almost full.
- Add hot milk until it comes almost to the top layer.
- Cover with buttered crumbs. Bake until soft, about 1 hour. A little chopped onion is an improvement.
Gratins are very popular in Germany. Potato & brussel sprouts gratin is a typical dish during fall and winter season. There are numerous variations such as adding ham or combining it with other vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, peas and carrots. You could also add an egg to the cream if you like.
I always enjoy looking through mom’s ‘vintage’ recipes. I notice there were definitely lots of casseroles — no wonder they still hold appeal for me. Brion is not big on brussel sprouts but I’m going to incorporate this German specialty into our supper meal and see how it goes?!
Potato & Brussel Sprouts Gratin
Clean brussel sprouts, cut in half. Peel potatoes, cut about the size of your brussel sprouts. Boil potatoes & brussel sprouts for about 10 minutes in salted water.
In a skillet, add a small amount of butter & fry onions with ground beef. Combine cheese with 1/2 & 1/2 cream, (add some milk if needed) & spices to your taste.
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a 9" buttered casserole dish, layer potato/brussel sprout combo & ground beef. Then pour cream/cheese mixture carefully over all. Combine bread crumbs with Parmesan cheese & sprinkle top of casserole. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven & sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Serve.
I was interested to know a little more about this idea of ‘food on a stick’. It seems its a fairly wide spread way of eating food. In Indonesia there are many forms of chicken satay and of course the shish kebab originating from Turkey. It all comes from a culture that has been around since before the 1840’s.
The North American classic ‘corn dog’ was patent in 1929. The patent cited that it was for a ‘combined dipping, cooking and article holding apparatus’ and was intended for ‘impaling foods such as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced fruit, etc., on a stick, covering them in a batter and deep frying it’.
This food on a stick phenomenon has grown greatly over the past 20 years or more. It has become some sort of extreme ‘sport’ on a stick. For entrepreneurs, its whatever I can put on a stick that nobody’s done before. I was reading an article that listed 83 different possibilities!
Here’s a couple of ideas I found interesting to try. TURKEY MEATBALL BREADSTICKS and BACON WRAPPED MUSHROOMS ON A STICK.
Turkey Meatball Breadsticks/ Bacon Mushroom Kebabs
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
In a large bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil & salt. Allow to become frothy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough forms a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise about 1 hour in a warm, draft-free place. While bread sticks are rising, prepare turkey meatballs.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper & garlic. Form into 36 - 1" diameter meatballs. When dough is ready, turn out onto a floured surface. Press or roll into a 12 x 8" rectangle. Cut into twelve strips about 1-inch wide x 8-inches long.
Starting with one bread stick, thread dough then a meatball, repeating process with 2 more meatballs alternating dough-meatball, ending with dough. Make sure to spread dough & meatballs away from each other by about 1/4", so the meatballs bake through & the dough has room to expand.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir together garlic powder & melted butter. Brush bread stick dough ONLY with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven & sprinkle each skewer with 1-2 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese. Place back in oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve while hot with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
Soak skewers 30 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap each mushroom with a bacon strip & thread 4 on each skewer. Grill on medium heat until bacon is done, about 10-15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.
The key components needed when preparing a baked pasta meal lies in selecting a good durum wheat pasta, tossed through a rich, creamy sauce with the addition of proper seasonings and the right cheeses.
Baked spaghetti is more accommodating to busy schedules than stove top pastas. Part of the charm of a baked pasta dish is being able to assemble it completely and refrigerate until time to bake. The results will be good but not great. You are better off making the components ahead of time — saute the vegetables, cook (meat) sauce, combine the cheeses, boil the pasta and then combine everything just before baking.
Oven baked pasta has a long history with many variations. Ingredients will vary depending on regional traditions and approaches. A few things that always work for me are; choosing a good durum or egg pasta, cook it al dente, season each element of the dish, be generous with the sauce but go easy on the cheese and if you choose to use a crumb topping, make your own and keep it coarse.
Today’s BAKED SPAGHETTI with MEAT SAUCE recipe is a very simple one I used many years ago in the restaurant industry. It was put out by the Campbell’s soup company and worked well in the commercial setting. It can be changed up with beef, pork or chicken, all with good results.
Oven Baked Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Very filling as well as satisfying.
In a large pot, cook spaghetti in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain & set aside. In a medium skillet, brown meat with onion, green pepper, garlic & spices.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Add soups & water to skillet & stir. Combine pasta with 'meat sauce' mixture, mixing well.
Spread mixture into a 9 x 9-inch baking dish; top with shredded cheddar & sprinkle Parmesan over all. Bake for 20-25 minutes & serve.
No matter how many times my mother served our family chicken it was always incredibly good. My parents were ‘dry land’ farmers so mixed farming was truly a necessity. Success was totally dependent on ‘Mother Nature’ when it comes to grain crops. Although my folks raised chickens, pigs and cattle, the kind of meat we ate the most was chicken. The reason being, whatever brought the best price when taken to market was raised for the family income.
Today we have so many spices, fruits and vegetables to enhance the meals we make. Its hard to imagine being able to cook so well without them as my mother did. SAVORY PESTO CHICKEN BREAST requires minimal ingredients and preparation but the flavor is great.
Today, March 28th was the birth date of my mother. She was taken from us far to early, as she passed away in 1978 at the age of 60. Our mother had the patience of a saint, always making sacrifices, putting my siblings and I up front and center while living her life with courage and compassion. She was strong willed and had a sense of self confidence in all that she did. She was very loyal to my Dad and a very devoted mother.
AS WE HONOR MY MOTHER TODAY, WE HOLD ON TO THOSE PRECIOUS MEMORIES THAT WILL NEVER FADE FROM OUR MINDS.
Savory Pesto Chicken Breast
A nice savory entree.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine stuffing ingredients. Place chicken in a heavy freezer wrap bag. Pound breasts until about 1/4" thickness.
Mound stuffing on flattened breasts & fold over, tucking in ends. Place a small amount of stuffing on bottom of baking dish & lay breasts on top. Any extra stuffing can be placed around & on top of chicken as well.
Cover with foil & bake 15 minutes. Remove foil & continue to bake another 15 minutes or until chicken tests done.