• Spicy Beef, Broccoli and Orange Stir Fry


    This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Great Food Fast. It was really good, and -s really liked. He’s not a fan of stir fry usually, but he liked this one. I made it spicy, because we like spicy food, but if you don’t leave out the crushed red pepper. I also removed some meat and sauce for the kiddos before adding the spice. It was a pretty quick dinner to prepare, so it’s a good one for weeknight meals.

    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 2 TBSP. soy sauce
    • zest of one orange, finely chopped
    • 1 TBSP. brown sugar or honey, optional (depends on how sweet your oj is)
    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 TBSP. cornstarch
    • 1 lb of sirloin steak, but into 1/2 inch thick strips
    • 3/4 c. orange segments (2-4 oranges, depending on their size)
    • 2 c. broccoli florets, blanched in salted water
    • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper, optional
    • 1/2 c. green onions, cut in 1 inch slices
    • White or Brown Rice


    1. Combine the zest, orange juice, garlic and soy sauce in a bowl. If everyone likes spice add the crushed red pepper to the sauce. Set aside.
    2. With a sharp knife, peel the oranges, and slice them crosswise 1/2 inch thick, then halve the slices; push out and discard seeds. Set aside.
    3. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, and blanch broccoli for 30 seconds.
    4. In a medium bowl toss meat with cornstarch until coated. Heat oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Brown all sides of the beef, and cook until desired doneness, about 3-5 per side. Once meat is done, remove meat from pan and transfer to a plate.
    5. Pour the juice mixture into the pan and boil until syrupy, about 2 minutes. (If not everyone likes spice remove some sauce and set aside with some beef, broccoli, oranges and scallions.) Return the beef to the skillet; add the broccoli, oranges and scallions. Toss until coated and heated through. Serve with rice.

    Spicy Beef, Broccoli and Orange Stir-Fry:


  • Andy and Jen’s Fish with Roasted Grape Tomatoes


    My brother-in-law and sister-in-law prepared the most scrumptious dinner for the family’s Christmas Eve festivities. Tonight we made the dish, and it was delicious! So delicious that our oldest, TT, had 3 helpings of the fish and he said to our youngest, LE, “LE you should eat the fish. It’s delicious!” Quite high praise coming from a three and half year old! Try it…it’s delicious. This is a great entertaining dish, because the roasted tomato “salsa” can be made ahead of time, and then you just pop the fish in the oven when you are ready. As Andy and Jen did, we served the fish with Green Bean and Potato Salad.


    • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
    • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
    • Kosher salt, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp.)
    • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
    • 1 lb. fish fillets (snapper, salmon, or whatever you like


    1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
    2. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until the tomatoes get juicy, about 15 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl and toss with the basil.
    3. After the tomatoes come out of the oven, place the fish on the baking sheet; drizzle olive oil over fish, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until fish flakes.

    Fish with Roasted Grape Tomatoes:


  • Green Bean and Potato Salad


    Andy and Jen made this potato salad to accompany the Fish with Roasted Grape Tomatoes. This potato salad was also very tasty.


    • 2 lbs. purple and/or white fingerling potatoes, scrubbed (I just used Yukon gold, but the fingerlings are definitely worth using)
    • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
    • 1/4 c. chopped mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, chives, garlic chives, thyme, parsley, mint and summer savory leaves (I used basil)
    • salt, to taste
    • Mustard shallot vinaigrette (recipe follows)


    1. In a large pot simmer potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes, and drain in a large colander.
    2. In a large saucepan cook beans in 3 inches salted boiling water over high heat until crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. With tongs or a slotted spoon transfer beans to colander with potatoes and drain well.
    3. In a large bowl toss together warm potatoes, beans, herbs, dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Salad may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
    4. Serve salad warm or at room temperature

    Mustard Vinaigrette Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 TBSP. Dijon-style mustard
    • 3 TBSP. finely chopped shallots
    • Salt (I used 1/2 tsp.) and pepper to taste
    • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
    • 3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil


    1. In a bowl whisk together all the ingredients except the oil. Slowly add the oil in a stream.

    Green Bean and Potato Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette:


  • Stuffed Shells Florentine


    I love stuffed shells. They are so easy to make and are such a crowd pleaser. They are also great to bring to a potluck. The original recipe comes from my Aunt Nancy, but I’ve changed it up a bit, and it is a winner! My kiddos loved them, and it’s a great way to get some spinach into the kiddos as well.


    • 1 15 oz. container of low fat ricotta cheese
    • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/2 c. grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
    • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained
    • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • Box of Jumbo Shells
    • 1 jar of pasta sauce (I use Ragu Traditional)
    • chopped parsley for garnish


    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Cook jumbo shells in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes. The box I used said to cook for 13 minutes, but you don’t want to cook them for that long, because the shells will continue to cook in the oven
    3. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in the microwave or in boiling water. Drain the spinach really really well. I put the spinach in a mesh strainer and used the back of a large spoon to press the spinach to get all the water out.
    4. Combine the first 8 ingredients (through the salt) in a bowl. Pour half of the jar of sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Stuff the shells with about 3 TBSP of the cheese mixture; then place the shells (stuffed side up) on top of the sauce. Spoon remaining sauce over the shells. I made 20 stuffed shells tonight, so if your pan won’t hold all of them, put the extras in another pan. The number you make will vary by how much you stuff the shells.
    5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until hot. Sprinkle with parsley.

    Here’s a photo of what the shells look like stuffed before I put the sauce on top.

    Stuffed Shells Florentine:


  • Curry Tofu with Peanuts and Noodles


    With -s out of town that means I can make something with tofu. Of course -s sent me an email during the day saying they went to a Thai place for lunch and guess what he had? Yes, tofu! Go figure. Anyway, I whipped up this curry tofu over noodles, and it was delicious! If you don’t like tofu you can easily substitute chicken.


    • 1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    • 1 c. sugar snap peas
    • 1 red pepper, julienned
    • 1/2 c. carrots, julienned
    • 6 oz. of Saifun bean thread noodles, or any Asian noodle of your choice
    • 1/2 c. light coconut milk
    • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
    • 2 TBSP. red curry paste
    • 1 TBSP. brown sugar
    • 1/4 c. broth
    • 2 TBSP. soy sauce
    • juice from 2 limes
    • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 c. green onions, chopped
    • 2 TBSP. peanuts


    1. Prepare the tofu: Line a baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Arrange the tofu in a single layer on the towels. Top with another layer of towels and pat the tofu dry.
    2. Prepare vegetables: Julienne the red pepper and carrots
    3. Cook the sugar snap peas and noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sugar snap peas, cook for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse well under cold running water and drain again. Set aside.
    4. Braise the tofu: In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the coconut milk and peanut butter until well combined. Stir in the curry paste, brown sugar, broth, soy sauce and lime juice. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is hot and the tofu is heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar snap peas, red pepper, carrots, and noodles. Divide among bowls and top with cilantro, green onions, and peanuts. Serve immediately.

    Curry Tofu with Peanuts and Noodles:


  • White Bean and Chicken Rajas Soup


    Cooking Light sends me a dinner recipe everyday, and a few months ago the dinner recipe of the day was White Bean and Rajas soup, originally published in the December 2003 issue. I bookmarked the recipe, and tonight I used that recipe as a base to create my own version. It was really good, and -s said it was excellent. This soup is perfect on a cold winter day, and it’s super easy to prepare. You can always make this vegetarian by leaving the chicken out (the original Cooking Light recipe is vegetarian).


    • 1 TBSP olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 TBSP, ground cumin
    • 1 lb. chicken breast, but into bite sized pieces
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 2 poblano chile peppers, seeded and chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 c. chicken broth
    • 1 c. frozen corn
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans navy beans, rinsed and drained
    • Juice from 2 limes
    • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
    • Toppings: grated cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, chipotle Tobasco


    1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, then add chicken and cumin.
    2. Once chicken is nearly cooked through, add onion, chile, and red bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes.
    3. Add broth and corn; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the beans, juice, and cumin. Cover and let stand 5 minutes.
    4. Top with grated cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro and/or chipotle Tobasco.

    White Bean and Chicken Rajas Soup:


  • Pineapple Sesame Chicken


    I saw this recipe on the Picky Palate blog, and I knew this one one was right up my alley. I added pineapple to my dish, and it was a very tasty addition. The recipe calls for grated ginger, and I highly recommend buying a ginger grater (they sell them at Asian food stores, and I think I got mine for about 95 cents!) When you rub the ginger along the grater, the fibrous root is left behind, and it produces this wonderfully fragrant and delicate ginger pulp, which incorporates nicely in a marinade. If you don’t have a ginger grater, you can use a Microplane rasp, but the grater is definitely worth a trip to your local Asian grocer.

    Our oldest complained for over 10 minutes before dinner that he was hungry and he didn’t want this dinner, because he didn’t like it. I told him that he had to try everything on his plate, and if he didn’t like it then I’d consider fixing him something else. Wouldn’t you know that he ate everything on his plate and even asked for seconds!!! We’ve fought tooth and nail to get him to eat broccoli, and I believe that is the first time he’s ever eaten broccoli. For that reason alone this dish is a keeper, oh and the dish is really really good too!

    This dish is super tasty, super easy to make, and you can also substitute tofu for the chicken for a vegetarian dish.

    • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 4 tablespoons pineapple juice from a 20 oz can of pineapple chunks
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons ginger (grated)
    • 1 pound chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)
    • 1 teaspoon oil
    • 1 pound broccoli florets, blanched in salted water
    • 1 20 oz can of pineapple chunks
    • cooked rice
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
    • green onions to garnish


    1. Mix the soy sauce, pineapple juice, honey, brown sugar, ginger, and chicken in a ziploc bag and marinate in the fridge for about an hour.
    2. Heat the oil in a pan.
    3. Add the chicken and marinade to the pan and saute until the chicken is cooked and the sauce begins to thicken.
    4. Meanwhile, blanch broccoli florets in salted water until tender, but still crisp.
    5. When chicken is cooked, add blanched broccoli florets and pineapple chunks. Toss to heat through.
    6. Serve on cooked rice and garnish with the sesame seeds and green onion.

    Pineapple Sesame Chicken:

  • Chicken Barley Chili


    This recipe comes from the box of Quaker Quick Barley in my pantry. It was pretty good, and a good way to use up the barley. Not superb, but warming and filling on a very cold winter day.


    • 1 14.5 oz. can tomatoes, diced, undrained
    • 1 16 oz. jar of salsa
    • 1 14 oz. can chicken broth
    • 1 c. quick cooking barley
    • 3 c. water
    • 1 TBSP chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 15 oz. can of corn (I used 1 1/2 c. frozen corn)
    • 3 c. chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
    • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced (my addition)
    • Top with: sour cream, grated cheese, cilantro, or avocado


    1. Combine first 7 ingredients (through cumin) in a 6 quart saucepan. Over high heat, bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Add beans, corn and chicken; increase heat to high until chili comes to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until barley is tender. If it’s too thick, add more broth or water.
    3. Serve with cornbread.

    Chicken Barley Chili:


  • Bean and Chicken Ranchero Chili


    I found the most delicious sounding recipe on the Picky Palate food blog, and I just knew we had to give it a try. I fully intended on roasting the Anaheim chilies, but I ran out of time. Next time I will definitely roast the Anaheims or I may try Poblano peppers. Poblanos would give the chili a really nice zing. Either way I will roast the peppers. I also added corn to my chili, which was a really yummy addition. Next time when I roast the chilies on the grill, I will throw the corn onto some foil and roast the corn as well. You can also make this chili completely vegetarian by not adding the chicken. So here’s my version of Bean and Chicken Ranchero Chili.


    • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 white onion, finely chopped
    • 2 Anaheim chilies or Poblano Peppers, roasted and finely chopped
    • 1 c. frozen corn
    • 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
    • 6 c. chicken broth
    • 3 15 oz cans of beans, drained (I used 2 cans of Navy beans and 1 can of kidney beans, because that’s what I had in the pantry)
    • 2 c. shredded cooked chicken breast
    • 2 heaping tsp. ground cumin
    • 2 tsp. dried Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix (Hidden Valley)
    • salt to taste
    • ¼ tsp. pepper
    • ½ c. sour cream
    • ¼ c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
    • Serve with: Cilantro Crema, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, Chipotle Tobasco sauce, avocado, or mix 1 to 2 chipotles with the sour cream for a Chipotle Crema


    1. Roast the Anaheims or Poblanos in the broiler or the grill until all sides are darkened. Remove peppers and put in a ziploc bag, zip the bag and let steam for 10 minutes. Remove peppers, and remove the skins, stems, and seeds, and chop. Put some frozen corn on a piece of foil and either roast under the broiler or on the grill until the corn begins to darken.
    2. Place olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Saute onions softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in minced garlic for 1 minute; then add the cumin and Ranch dressing mix to toast the spices, about 1 minute. Stir in chopped chilies, corn, broth, beans, chicken, salt and pepper. Simmer on med-low for 20 minutes.
    3. Mix sour cream with the cilantro. Serve chili with a dollop of Cilantro Crema on top.
    4. I also made some cornbread to go with the chili…D’Lish!

    Bean and Chicken Ranchero Chili:


  • Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce


    I’ve never made vodka cream sauce before. It was super easy and super tasty. This version is adapted from The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles-I didn’t vary the ingredients so much as I changed up the preparation for a more rustic sauce.


    • 1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes packed in juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tsp. water
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 c. vodka
    • 1 c. heavy cream
    • 2 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 1 box (I used a 13.25 oz box of whole grain pasta) pasta of your choice


    1. Take the whole tomatoes out of the can and squeeze them into a bowl so the tomatoes start to break apart into pieces.
    2. When mincing garlic, use some salt as an abrasive and smash the garlic with the side of your knife–makes a garlic paste. Add garlic and 1 tsp. of water into a small bowl.
    3. Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato juices; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the vodka and simmer until the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in cream, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Use a hand held blender to puree some of the sauce. I like the chunks of tomatoes, so I only puree a bit. If you like a smoother sauce, you can transfer the sauce to a food processor.
    5. Let sauce simmer another 2 to 3 minutes.
    6. Meanwhile cook pasta according to the directions on the box.
    7. Combine pasta with sauce, and top with some more fresh basil. If you use a full pound of pasta, you may use all the sauce, but if you use less than a pound, you’ll probably have extra sauce that you can save for another use.

    Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce: