Apricot Lemon Chicken Breast w/ Couscous

The flavors of the meal hint of Moroccan cuisine to me. It wasn’t until Brion & I visited Morocco on a holiday one year, that I realized how many of their spices appealed to me.

Moroccan cuisine is very refined because of its interactions and exchanges with other cultures and nations over the centuries. Its dishes are layered with sweet and spicy, earthy and bright flavors that reflect the vast array of spices available in their local markets.

Often referred to as the national dish of Morocco, couscous is made of tiny balls of wheat semolina, steamed so they’re are soft and fluffy. Subtle cumin and ginger spices add an exotic flavor to it.

Pairing apricot and lemon flavors with the chicken breast and serving it over couscous makes this simple meal quite special.

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Apricot Lemon Chicken Breast w/ Couscous
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Instructions
Chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Beat egg & water slightly. Stir together baking mix, lemon pepper & garlic powder. Pound chicken breasts gently to achieve uniform thickness. Dip chicken into egg mixture, then coat with baking mix mixture. Place on baking sheet & drizzle with melted butter.
  3. Bake uncovered 20 minutes; turn chicken. Bake about 10 minutes longer until no longer pink inside. While chicken is baking prepare couscous & sauce.
Couscous
  1. In a saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil; add green onion, cumin, ginger & garlic. Cook & stir for about 3 minutes until green onion is softened.
  2. Add honey. Heat & stir for about 30 seconds until green onion is coated. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add couscous & second amount of oil. Stir. Cover & remove from heat. Allow to stand for 5 minutes without lifting lid. Fluff with a fork & stir in remaining 3 ingredients.
Apricot Lemon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine sauce ingredients, stirring occasionally, until warm.
To Serve
  1. Place couscous on a serving platter. Top with chicken breasts & drizzle with apricot lemon sauce. Serve.

German Lasagna

Classic German staples come together in this lasagna to make a very unique version of the classic dish.

There are six main ingredients in this recipe. The first is spaetzle, the German equivalent of pasta. The second is onion. By caramelizing the diced pieces you turn it into little velvety pieces of heaven that add incredible depth and sweetness to the dish. Third is Bratwurst, a fresh link sausage characterized by its many different spices and seasonings. Fourth is sauerkraut, bratwurst’s classic sidekick. Fifth is bacon and the crowning touch and grand finale is the Emmentaler cheese.

I would like to talk a bit more about spaetzle which, in my opinion, elevates this lasagna to a whole new level. Compared to traditional pasta dough, spaetzle is softer and quite moist.

Native to Germany, ‘spaetzle’ is made all over the world now, having a different name in each country. The lines have become blurred between what is a spaetzle and what is something else.

The dough is quite basic, made from flour, eggs, water and salt. Although these little ‘dumplings’ can be eaten with almost anything, I thought they added something real special to this German lasagna.

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German Lasagna
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Keyword German Lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Spaetzle
Sauce
Caramelized Onions
Cottage Cheese
Additional Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, German
Keyword German Lasagna
Servings
Ingredients
Spaetzle
Sauce
Caramelized Onions
Cottage Cheese
Additional Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Spaetzle
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with salt & make a well in the center. Add eggs to the well & whisk the flour into the eggs. Gradually whisk in the water until a very thick batter forms. Cover with a damp cloth & allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place spaetzle dough maker above the pot with the water. Load with dough & slide back & forth or press to squeeze the dough through & form the spaetzle noodles.
  3. Once the spaetzle begins to float to the surface, scoop with a large slotted spoon & transfer to a colander placed inside a bowl for the drained water to collect. Continue process until all of the dough is used.
Caramelized Onions
  1. Heat oil in saucepan, add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Set aside.
Sauce
  1. In the saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, bouillon, garlic powder & salt until smooth. Gradually stir in milk & broth. Bring to a boil; cook & stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat to a bowl & set aside.
  2. In the saucepan, cook bacon (not too crisp); remove to a cutting board to coarsely chop. Add bratwurst sausage meat (which has been removed from casings) to saucepan & scramble fry until cooked. Drain on paper towel. Add chopped bacon, bratwurst & caramelized onions to your prepared sauce.
Cottage Cheese / Other Ingredients
  1. In a small bowl, beat eggs; add cottage cheese & pepper. Set aside. Drain sauerkraut & rinse. Squeeze dry. Grate cheese
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Spread 1 cup sauce mixture over bottom of pan. Layer with 1/3 of the spaetzle noodles, a 1/3 of sauce mixture, 1/2 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/2 of the sauerkraut & 3/4 cup grated cheese. Repeat layers ( spaetzle, sauce, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, spaetzle, sauce). Save grated cheese for last 5 minutes of baking.
  3. Cover & bake for 50-60 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining GRATED CHEESE; bake 5 minutes longer until cheese is melted. Allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting.
Recipe Notes
  • If you do not have a spaetzle dough maker, just drop spoonfuls of dough into the boiling water to form spaetzle noodles. Dip your spoon into water to prevent it sticking on the spoon.

Parmesan Baked Scallops over Egg Noodles

Whether broiled, fried, baked or pan-seared, fresh, wild-caught scallops are an excellent stand-alone dish or will compliment a salad or pasta with their sweet flavor and delicate texture.

Sea scallops are widely known for their iconic, beautiful shape …. a fan-like shell with fluted grooves. Different varieties are found in oceans all over the world and come in many sizes. For commercial purposes they are labeled similar to shrimp. A number is used to designate how many scallops of a given size it would take to constitute a pound. The label 20/30 means it would take 20/30 scallops to make up a pound and labels like U10 means it would take less than (‘under’) 10 to make a pound.

Scallops are bivalve mollusks (meaning having 2 shells- usually united by a hinge) that have a reddish-pink, upper shell and white or cream colored, lower shell.

Brion & I love seafood so this meal definitely works for us.

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Parmesan Baked Scallops over Egg Noodles
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Instructions
Gouda Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter; whisk in flour & cook, stirring until frothy. Add milk, whisking until sauce comes to a boil & starts to thicken. Add cheese & spices & continue to cook a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; set aside.
Parmesan Scallops
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a 9-inch square baking dish, melt butter & toss scallops in it. In a bowl, combine next 5 ingredients & sprinkle over scallops. Gently stir to spread them out in one layer. Bake about 15-20 minutes.
Egg Noodles
  1. In a pot of salted, boiling water cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain. Reheat sauce & combine with pasta. Divide between two serving plates & top each with baked scallops.

Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad

For some of us, the best part of salads is everything but the greens! I have always had a hard time digesting lettuce so I’m never drawn to it when we get to salad season.

The idea of a full meal (lettuce-less) salad has always appealed to me. Of course there are many of these using a variety of ingredients. Probably one of the most popular was the taco salad. The earliest record of it dates back to the 1960’s with its predecessor being the small teacup-sized ‘Tacup’. It consisted of beef, beans, sour cream and cheese, served in a small ‘bowl’ made entirely of a Fritos tortilla.

The taco in a Tacup was invented by Charles Elmer Doolin, the founder of Fritos (tortilla chips). He created a device that looked like tongs but with two tart molds at the end of each tong. One mold would fit within the other mold with a tortilla sandwiched between them. The scalloped-edged shell was the dipped into hot oil. Holes in the bottom mold exposed the tortilla to the hot oil, enabling it to cook evenly.

Tacups were first served in Dallas, Texas in the early 1950’s and by 1955, he was selling them in Fritos’ flagship restaurant, ‘Casa de Fritos’, at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. It became popular enough that the Tacup was made bigger and served as a full, main-dish sized salad bowl.

Today’s salad is a satisfying meal (without a shred of lettuce) served in an edible tortilla bowl.

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Chicken Avocado Fiesta Salad
Instructions
Marinade
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. In a large resealable plastic bag, pour marinade. Add sliced chicken; seal & turn to coat. Refrigerate for 1-4 hours. When finished marinating, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat & set aside.
Salad
  1. Cook corn cobs in a pot of boiling, salted water, covered for 5-7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, hold the corncob vertically on a slip-proof cutting board & cut corn kernels from top to bottom around the sides with a sharp knife. Leave corn in bite-sized pieces.
  2. Fry bacon slices until brown & crispy. Chop into small pieces.
  3. Peel, pit & cube avocados. Sprinkle with a bit of lime or lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Dice Roma tomato. Slice green onions, chives & dill. Drain sliced black olives. Cube Gouda cheese.
Tortilla Bowls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush the inside of 2 heat-resistant glass bowls with oil. Place one tortilla in each bowl so that the shape more or less adheres to the bowl. Line each tortilla with cheddar cheese slices & then place the second tortilla on top.
  2. Place the bowls with the layered tortillas in the oven & bake for 7 minutes. Remove the bowls from the oven & allow to cool before removing the 'edible tortilla bowls'.
Assembly
  1. Place tortilla bowls on serving plates. Place cooked chicken on the bottom, top with corn, avocados, tomato, onions, olives Gouda & herbs. Drizzle with Ranch dressing (or dressing of choice). If you wish, before putting the dressing on, give it 30 seconds in the microwave to warm it slightly again.

Wiener Schnitzel

Today, March 21st, our family honors the memory of my father on his birth date. Being of German decent, my dad always enjoyed having meals he recalled from his childhood. My mother excelled at cooking, so I can only imagine that she got the ‘taste of his memory’ perfect. A meal that dad enjoyed but was not one that came up very often at our house, was ‘wiener schnitzel’.

‘Wiener schnitzel’ is actually a geographically protected term in Germany and Austria and can only be made with veal. In researching this subject, I came across at least eleven more versions of schnitzel which still followed the preparation techniques of the original wiener schnitzel. In addition to different types of meat used, a schnitzel can be served with a topping or a filling.

As usual, I’m doing an oven-fried version instead of pan frying in oil or butter. It would be so nice if Brion and I could be sharing this meal with my Mom & Dad today.

Time slips by and life goes on,

But from our hearts your never gone,

We think about you always, we talk about you too,

WE HAVE SO MANY MEMORIES BUT WE WISH WE STILL HAD YOU.

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Wiener Schnitzel
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Course Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Servings
Ingredients
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Rating: 5
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly oil a wire rack & place over a baking sheet.
  2. Place each cutlet between two pieces of plastic wrap & pound with a meat mallet until about 1/4-inch thick.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper & milk. Place the flour in a plastic bag & buttered bread crumbs on a plate.
  4. Place one cutlet at a time in the bag with flour; shake to coat. Then dip in egg mixture; covering each. Finally, dip in buttered bread crumbs, coating each side well. Place breaded cutlets onto the prepared rack.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes; flip & bake for another 5 minutes. Check to be sure they are cooked. Serve with lemon slices & your choice of veggies.
Recipe Notes
  • Boneless pork chops can be substituted for veal & taste excellent.

Stuffed Baked Jumbo Shrimp

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The word ‘new’ brings thoughts of hope and an opportunity to focus on new goals and challenges. Throughout the world, New Year’s Day is filled with traditions and symbolic ritual with many of the traditions revolving around food. Certain foods symbolize wealth, prosperity, health and good luck for the coming year. Fish are believed to be a lucky new year’s eve food because their scales resemble coins and they swim in schools which evokes the idea of abundance.

If you want to have seafood other than fish … shrimp, clams, mussels, squid and oysters are all thought to be good choices as new year’s ‘lucky foods’. It seems the start of a new year has a tendency to turn even non-believers a bit superstitious.

This shrimp dish can be used either as an appetizer or a main course. Brion & I love shrimp so we made it a full meal deal!

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Stuffed Baked Jumbo Shrimp
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, egg & water. Stir to combine & set aside to thicken slightly.
  2. Butterfly shrimp by making light incisions in the inner part of the shrimp starting from the tail down; remove veins trying not to slice too deep. Season shrimp lightly with sea salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a baking dish. Divide filling between shrimp. Place stuffed shrimp into prepared baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter & bake for 20-25 minutes.

Pulled Corned Beef with Sprouts & Potatoes

Although brussel sprouts fall in that ‘love to hate them’ category for many, not so for me. I remember my mother growing them in her garden. They just seemed so unique … little mini cabbages on a stem! The fact that we can buy them pretty much year round takes away from these Autumn jewels somewhat.

But, it seems more people have realized that soggy, boiled, overcooked sprouts are a thing of the past. These tasty little treats are often dressed up with salty bacon, sweet balsamic vinegar or nutty Parmesan cheese. The smaller the sprouts, the more tender they are and even more tender and sweet after a frost. I probably appreciate the texture as much as the flavor.

In this casserole they are paired with some very tender corned beef, potatoes and Parmesan cheese. In regards to the corned beef, the key is either to slow roast at a very low temperature or a long, slow simmer in a liquid infused with spices. The ‘corned’ part of the beef refers to the brining process. The meat is submerged in a brine mixture which is flavored with spices. This process usually takes about seven to ten days. At this point its ready to cook.

Most often you can buy a piece that is sold in a vacuum sealed pouch which is in a spiced ‘gel’ mixture. All you have to do is rinse it in cold water, place it in a baking dish with a bit of fresh water and roast at about 250 F. until it becomes ultra tender.

This was such a nice fall meal. The flavors came together so well.

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Pulled Corned Beef with Sprouts & Potatoes
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F. Rinse spiced gel off of corned beef. Place in a shallow baking dish; add a small bit of water & roast until VERY tender. Remove from oven; using 2 forks, pull meat apart & set aside.
  2. Peel & slice potatoes into 1/4-inches slices. Slice the shallots & Brussels sprouts thin; set aside
  3. In a large saucepan, add the sliced potatoes & cover with milk & butter. Bring to a boil, lower heat & simmer 8 minutes. Remove from heat; lift potatoes from milk with a slotted spoon & reserve the milk & butter for sauce.
  4. Adjust oven temperature to 375 F. Coat a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with oil or butter; layer the potato, then corned beef, shallots & Brussels sprouts. Repeat again using all the ingredients. Whisk the flour into the cooled milk/butter combo. Pour sauce over all; sprinkle with garlic powder & top with Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil & bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cool for a few minutes & serve.

Stuffed Plantain Cups

When it comes to cooking, plantains are really more of a vegetable than a fruit. Grown extensively in Ecuador, plantains are usually cooked before eating, both when green and at various stages of ripening. When they are ripe they turn yellow than black. Plantains are larger and firmer than their banana relative and not sweet. With their bland, starchy, somewhat potato-like flavor, plantains take well to many cooking methods.

In October of 2018, I had posted a blog on Baked Patacones w/ Guacamole. Patacones or fried plantains had been my initial introduction to this vegetable in Ecuador. After enjoying them there, I have since made them a few different ways. I understand you can add them to stews, boil and puree them like mashed potatoes or bake with sugar and cinnamon for dessert.

Today, I wanted to make stuffed plantains but decided to do it in individual servings as opposed to leaving them in their skins. Of course, you can’t eat plantains without some avocado mayo, right!

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Stuffed Plantain Cups
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Ecuador
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Ecuador
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Instructions
Plantains
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & lightly butter. IF YOU PREFER, PREPARE AVOCADO MAYO AT THIS TIME.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut both ends off the plantain. Slit a shallow line down the long seam of the plantain, peel only as deep as the peel. Remove plantain peel by pulling back. Place plantains on baking sheet & lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake for about 15 minutes, turn & bake for another 15 minutes or until golden & tender.
  3. While the plantains are baking, add 2 Tbsp of oil to saucepan, followed by onions, garlic & tomato sauce. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, add about 1/2 cup water if necessary. Add ground meat & seasonings. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes more then add the small pepper.
Assembly
  1. Adjust oven to 375 F. Butter 4 custard baking cups. Lightly mash plantains. Scoop 4 equal parts into custard cups. Press against sides to form 'cups'. Sprinkle a small amount of grated cheese in bottom of each cup then divide meat filling between them. Bake for 10 minutes; remove from oven & top with remaining cheese. If you like, place back in oven for another 5 minutes. Serve warm with Avocado Mayo.
Avocado Mayo
  1. Remove peel & pits from avocados. In a food processor, combine all ingredients & puree. Remove from processor, cover & set aside.

Spicy Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Pizza

Ever since I made pizza with yeasted potato crust it has become a staple in our meal rotation list. It seems like all it takes to come up with an amazing filling combo is just a little inspiration so the influence of flavors Brion and I tasted in Mexico became a natural choice for me.

Although avocado on pizza may sound weird, if you are a guacamole lover, its glorious. When you think about it, tomato or tomato sauce is a big part of pizza most of the time. Often guacamole is made with tomato, so it compliments pizza well. I used all the ingredients you would normally fit into a tortilla for toppings. Spicy chicken, bacon, avocado, onion, tomato, cheese and GUACAMOLE!

When I make guacamole for pizza, I like to keep it simple: mashed avocados, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt and cilantro. Another thing I found, was that any left over pieces can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer bag and frozen. When you want to use them, thaw at room temperature then heat slightly in the microwave. Most often pizza is frozen unbaked and needs assembly and baking. This pizza tasted just as good as when it was freshly baked!

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Spicy Chicken, Bacon & Avocado Pizza
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. Cook potato, peel, mash & cool. Combine yeast with lukewarm water; whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes until foamy. Add butter, salt, sour cream & potato; mix well.
  2. Stir in flour, one cup at a time. When dough is completely blended, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough about 10 minutes, until smooth & elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Chicken Marinade
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine all ingredients. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
Guacamole
  1. In a large bowl, coarsely mash avocados with lime juice & salt. Stir in garlic, onion & cilantro. Blend well. Cover & set aside until ready to use. You will have extra for something else.
Pizza Topping Prep
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until fairly crisp, drain on paper towels & chop coarsely. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Add marinated chicken, stir-fry until cooked then remove to a dish. Add peppers & onion to skillet; sauteing until tender crisp.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll or press dough into a 16-inch circle. Transfer with paper to a baking sheet.
  2. Using some grated cheese, make a ring around the outer edge of the dough. Roll dough once over cheese ring. Carefully spread the 1/2 cup of guacamole over the bottom of pizza, then sprinkle with a bit more cheese. Layer with avocado slices, onion, bacon, chicken, tomato & remaining cheese. If you prefer, brush to top of the outside ring with egg wash.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, Remove from oven & slice.
Recipe Notes
  • You may choose to prepare your marinated chicken & guacamole before you start making the dough.

Spiced Pulled Pork Tortillas w/ Orange Guava Sauce

This pairing of pork, corn tortillas and guava brings me back to some of the flavors we tasted on our adventures in both Cuba and Mexico.

Pulled pork sounds like a lot of work but it simply comes down to a gentle, slow cooking process so it can be literally ‘pulled apart’ when finished. Pork shoulder is the most commonly used joint. The long cooking could dry out some cuts but shoulder is quite a fatty joint, therefore providing a natural baste. During the cooking period, most of the fat will dissolve but most importantly its this long cooking process that breaks down the tough fibrous connective tissue called collagen that tenderizes the meat making it so easy to pull apart. Although smokers are very often used, slow cookers or even traditional ovens will do the job nicely.

When the pork is finally done, it needs to rest for 10 minutes and then it should be ready for pulling apart. Use two forks to shred the meat and you’ve got it! This meal not only has great eye appeal, but the taste is wonderful!

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Spiced Pulled Pork Tortillas w/ Orange Guava Sauce
Instructions
Dry Rub for Pork Shoulder
  1. Drizzle pork with 2 Tbsp of oil; sprinkle with spices & orange zest & rub into meat. Season with salt & pepper. Place in a plastic bag & refrigerate overnight (about 24 hours).
  2. Bring meat to room temperature. Preheat oven to 275 F. Place meat in a roasting pan & bake until thickest part registers 170 F. on a meat thermometer. Basically, roast until it's falling apart. Remove roast from oven & transfer to a large platter. Allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. While still warm, take 2 forks & 'pull' the meat to form shreds. Keep warm until ready to assemble tortillas.
Orange Guava Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, saute onion in 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender. Add water (or wine), frozen orange juice concentrate, soy sauce, spices & cubed guava paste. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat slightly & continue to boil gently until mixture reduces slightly. In a cup, combine cornstarch & water & add to sauce continuing to cook about 2-3 minutes more. Taste to see if any spice adjustments are needed.
To Assemble
  1. During the roasting time of the meat, prepare avocados, red onion, cilantro leaves, lime wedges. Drain canned black beans (if using) so they are ready to warm at serving time.
  2. When everything is ready, lay out warm tortillas, top with pulled pork, avocado slices, black beans, red onion, cilantro & drizzle with warm orange guava sauce. Fold or roll tortilla & enjoy!
Recipe Notes
  • If you would rather not have the corn tortillas, cook some rice to serve with pulled pork. Spoon sauce over the meat & serve it with the sliced avocados, red onion & black beans.