Main Dishes

Main Dish Recipes

Chicken Taco Cornbread

When I went to visit my sister last fall I bought a magazine at the airport that she later made fun of me for buying, a Cast Iron Cooking magazine!  Of course she had reason to poke fun.  I should’ve bought some beauty, design or gossip mag like normal women do.  But this magazine has already produced two very tasty meals, so I don’t mind so much.

Chicken Taco Cornbread

They call this a “twist on taco salad” which is a great description and makes this a meal that doesn’t really require a side dish since it’s the main dish and the veggie side.

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You don’t need to do too much prep, just some chopping of vegetables.  And everything is done in one skillet.  You can shred the cheese, or buy pre-shredded.  The recipe calls for shredded rotisserie chicken, but if you have leftover cooked chicken that would be perfect, or you could poach chicken breasts if you have the time.  A can of tomatoes and green chile is on the ingredients list, but if you want to skip the green chile or can’t find it a partially drained can of diced tomatoes will do just fine.

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The dressing is something quite close to Chuy’s creamy jalapeno so be sure to save whatever it left over and use it as a dip for tortilla chips!

The recipe uses a blend of mozzarella and cheddar.  Any cheese you’d use for tacos or fajitas would work, monterery jack, colby, cheddar, or the Mexican cheese blend they sell in bags.

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The cornbread base has tortilla chips baked in.  I had some very thin tortilla chips that weren’t the best in this situation, they lost their crunch.  A nice thick corn chip would be better here and hold up nicely.  I’ll definitely be sure to do that next time.  And there will be a next time because there is so much room for modification here.  Adding in black beans or corn, using ground beef instead of chicken, or leftover fajita meat which we often have after cooking up fajitas for friends…we always overbuy!

Chicken Taco Cornbread

Ingredients

Dressing

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles OR 1 can diced tomatoes and a couple tablespoons diced green chiles
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Crust

  • 1 egg
  • 1 7-ounce package of cornbread mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup crushed tortilla chips

Toppings

  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 2-3 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • chopped cilantro

 

Directions

Dressing

  1. Combine cilantro, ranch dressing and salsa in a food processor and mix until well blended.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

Filling

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a 10-inch cast iron skillet.
  2. Cook onion, bell pepper and jalapeno until softened.  Stor in chicken, tomatoes, cilantro and seasonings.  Cook for about 5 minutes, taste and season more if needed.
  3. Transfer filling to a bowl, wipe out skillet and grease with crisco.

Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a bowl beat egg, milk and cornbread mix just until combined.
  3. Put chips in the greased skillet, then pour batter over the chips.
  4. Spoon chicken mixture over the cornbread batter and sprinkle with cheeses.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, let cool briefly before cutting in to slices.

Toppings

  1. Top slices of cornbread with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro.
  2. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

 

Daring Bakers: Baked Pork Siopao

I do not know where these tasty meat pockets have been all my life!  When I first saw this challenge at the beginning of the month I was a little bummed since I much prefer sweet to savory when doing a Daring Bakers challenge.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I encourage you to try these.  You won’t be disappointed.  Especially with the meat!  I would’ve eaten it plain from the pot and not even have made the dough if I didn’t have a post to write!  It is very, very good.

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The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

These siopao make a great meal.  You can make them ahead of time and all you need is a side of veggies and you’re good to go.  While these are traditionally steamed, this version is baked.

As I said before, the meat is to die for.  So good.  For real.  My house smelled heavenly while it baked.  DO NOT leave out the star anise!  It’s subtle but adds so much.  I scored 2 in the bulk section of my grocery store for $0.20!

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After a slow roast, chop it up and return it to the juice for an overnight mingling of flavor.  This may not be totally necessary, but I think it made the meat more flavorful and juicy.  Lots of fat will harden on top if you chill it, so remove what you can (this was tricky and disgusting for me so I gave up quickly) then slowly heat it just to get everything back to a nice juicy state.  Drain the meat and onion and reserve the juice.  It makes for a crazy good sauce later.  Also, a nice layer of fat will form on top of the reserved juice.  Remove it or pour the juice slowly into your saucepan and the fat should stay in the container.  Sorry for all the fat talk.

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Hazelnut, Panko and Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Recently I’ve been in a bit of a rut when it comes to dinner.  When that happens I fall back on old recipes that can feed us for the better half of the week so I can cook less often or I really push for eating dinner out or ordering in.  This chicken dish was just what I needed, a quick a delicious dinner.  It’s simple, doesn’t have a lot of ingredients and is a lot more exciting than your typical crusted, baked chicken.

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The hazelnuts are a really nice surprise here and pair well with the rosemary and parmesan.  Coating the chicken with the mayo and mustard keeps the chicken moist.  Pounding the chicken out thin helps it to bake evenly without getting dry, a problem I often have with baked chicken.

Skinning the hazelnuts is by far the most time consuming (and frustrating! and messy!) part of this meal.  After toasting them for a few minutes in a 375 degree oven, place them in a large, clean dish towel and rub them together, pound them on the counter, etc to get the skins off.  Don’t worry if you don’t get all the skin off of every nut, though.  Your store sells blanched hazelnuts?!  By all means use those!  And send me some!  I am not a fan of skinning hazelnuts, and would love a little shortcut there.

I served this with steamed green beans and mashed sweet potatoes.  It made for a lovely, colorful and tasty plate of food and a meal I’d definitely like to have again.

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Hazelnut, Panko and Parmesan Crusted Chicken

From Fine Cooking

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds), pounded thin
  • 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1.75 ounces (about 1/3 cup) toasted, skinned hazelnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then place a wire rack on top and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Melt butter, then add in panko.  Stir and toss until panko begins to toast and become golden.
  3. Combine toasted panko with hazelnuts, parmesan, rosemary, garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Combine mayo and mustard in a shallow dish.
  5. Coat each chicken breast on both sides with mayo mixture then with panko mixture.
  6. Place on the wire rack and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Cook for 12-15 minutes.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Last week I had lunch with a good friend at a place called Local Foods in Houston.  They have 2 locations now and we visited the newer one on Kirby for the first time.  This location has more seating and boasts a lovely outdoor space.  The weather cooperated perfectly making for a lunch I’d gladly repeat every day if I could.  We split a pork sandwich and their fall harvest salad.  The salad was so delicious that I knew I’d be trying to recreate it at home.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

While I am sure there was more in this salad that I couldn’t quite pinpoint or remember when I made a grocery list, I knew that is had broccoli, cauliflower, roasted brussels sprouts, pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese.  We chose to add chicken to ours at the restaurant, but it would’ve been just as incredible without it.  You could leave out the chicken for a vegetarian salad or if you’re serving this as a side salad, or add it if you’re serving as a main course.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

One of my favorite parts about this salad was the dressing.  Again, I know mine isn’t the same as Local Foods, but the dill in the dressing stood out to me and really brought out all the delicious flavors of the salad.  So I made a dill vinaigrette to dress this salad.  And it’s pretty special.  I’ll be making it again.

Make sure to use fresh dill and parsley in the dressing and chop them very fine.  As with all homemade salad dressings, you can adjust the flavors to your liking.  Add more or less honey (I found this to be on the sweet side) add more salt, some cracked pepper, or more garlic if you’d like.  Shaking dressing up in a small mason jar is an easy way to make and store the dressing.

Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

The amounts below are enough for 2 to 4 salads, depending on how big you make them and who’s eating.  After prepping all the vegetables they can be refrigerated for use later on, so you can easily enjoy this salad for lunches during the week by simply tossing the ingredients together when you’re ready.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

Salads at our house are almost always greens, carrots, celery, tomatoes, dried cranberries and nuts if I have them around.  I love that this salad has so much stuff in it that I’ve never thought of putting in to a salad!  It’s delicious.  You can make it for one or for a large group.  And it’s a great fall salad with the roasted brussels and sweet pops from the pomegranate seeds.  And of course there is goat cheese.  Thank God for goat cheese!  I hope you try this salad.

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette | Hottie Biscotti

Fall Vegetable Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

Inspired by Fall Harvest Salad from Local Foods

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • Spring mix
  • 3/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup cauliflower florets
  • 8-10 brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed and cut into quarters
  • pomegranate seeds
  • roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 2 ounces plain goat cheese
  • cooked chicken (optional)

For the Dill Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2-3 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Directions

For dressing

  1. Shake all ingredients together in a jar or whisk together in a bowl.  Set aside or store in the fridge.

For Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Toss brussels in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast, shaking the pan once or twice, for 20 minutes until brussels sprouts are tender and browned.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water.  Boil broccoli and cauliflower for 2 minutes, then drain and put vegetables in the ice water, swish around a few times, then remove from the water to drain.
  3. Prepare the salad by either tossing salad greens, broccoli and cauliflower, brussels sprouts in a large bowl with your desired amount of dressing, then plating and topping with pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds and goat cheese OR plate everything together and drizzle on the dressing.
Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

The Fine Cooking magazine from October/November has a nice feature on cauliflower.  It includes ways to prep and prepare it along with a few recipes.  This tart is one of those recipes.  This curry is another.  I have a thing for coconut and curry, and so I was drawn to this recipe immediately.  I also love to find satisfying vegetarian dishes that we can work in to our meal schedule.  My husband didn’t miss the meat at all.  This one is a keeper.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

There is quite a bit of chopping to be done, but it can all be done in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook.  Once that is taken care of, this dish comes together easily.  You’re looking at 45 minutes cooking time in all, but more than half of that is simply simmering time.  Thanks to that simmering time your house will smell amazing.  The only downside there is that it will smell that way for hours, and waking up to the smells of curry you ate the night before isn’t amazing.  But it is worth it!

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

This reheats really well, so it’s a good choice for those of you cooking for one or two.  This will feed you for a couple of meals, and that’s definitely something I look for in a recipe these days.  I love leftover night.

The spices are warm and subtle.  The first taste is sweet and then the heat hits you at the end but is still more warm than spicy.  I didn’t have black mustard seed, so I didn’t use them and I thought this was still wonderful.  The coconut milk tones down the heat and adds sweetness as well as welcomed creaminess.  I used a whole jalapeno with a few seeds and it wasn’t overwhelming at all.  If you want it spicy make sure to use more of the seeds and membrane or even add a second jalapeno.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

The garnishes are necessary, in my opinion.  The yogurt is a nice cool contrast to the warm curry, the cilantro is the perfect herb to compliment the spices and the cashews add richness and crunch.  We ate this with warm naan which is perfect for soaking up the sauce.  Serving this on top of rice would also be delicious (and stretch it a bit).  I hope you try this dish!  My mouth is watering right now as I think about it and I’m considering getting some out of the fridge…and it’s 8 in the morning.  So you know it’s good.

Cauliflower Coconut Curry | Hottie Biscotti

Cauliflower Coconut Curry

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use ghee if you have it)
  • 1 onion, cut into large dice
  • 2 red bell peppers (you could also use orange or yellow)
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped fine (as many or as few seeds as you’d like)
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick (2 inches)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets
  • plain yogurt
  • chopped cashews
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • naan or rice for serving

Directions

  1. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon stick and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown a bit.
  2. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, water and raisins.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook until thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add in the cauliflower and mix together.  Cover. keep the heat on low and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick.  Season with salt and lemon juice.  Serve with yogurt, cashews and cilantro.

Fall Vegetable Tart with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Fall is coming! Here in Southeast Texas we enjoyed a “cold front” this past weekend.  The mornings were slightly chilly and the days incredibly pleasant.  This week it’s humid and hot again.  But the promise of cooler weather is near.  And cooler weather means comfort food and cute coats and sweaters for my kids.

This fall tart recipe comes from the latest issue of Fine Cooking which I received last week and I’ve already made this twice.  I can see it appearing in our dinner rotation many more times in the coming months.  I love roasted vegetables.  I love goat cheese.  I love savory pie crust.  And so naturally, I love this tart.  It is incredible.

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You can make this from start to finish in a couple of hours, or you can make the vegetables ahead of time and simply assemble and bake the tart when you’re ready.  I’ve done it both ways now.

The combination of vegetables (butternut squash, carrot, cauliflower and red bell pepper) is great.  The recipe calls for leeks, but I decided to use a yellow onion instead.  I didn’t make a great grocery list and ended up using my only onion in another dish so I left out the onion entirely.  The tart didn’t suffer a bit.  The measurements in the recipe below are from the magazine, but I didn’t really measure.  I’m sure I used a bit more, maybe heaping amounts of those listed here.

After roasting the vegetables you mix in a bunch of chopped proscuitto.  That’s magic right there.  Magic.

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The dough is simply flour, butter, cream cheese and a pinch of salt.  It comes together in a food processor in no time and doesn’t need to be chilled before being rolled out.  However, this means you absolutely must roll it out onto parchment paper.  I made the mistake of rolling it out on the counter the first time and won’t do that again.  Since this is a rustic tart you don’t need to worry too much about how neat the edges of your dough are.

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After you roll out your dough you spread some softened goat cheese on it.  Again, there’s magic happening in your kitchen right about now.  Be sure the goat cheese is room temperature or it will pull too much on the dough and rip it.  I know from experience.

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On top of the cheese goes the vegetables.

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Fold up the edges, brush with a beaten egg and bake.  I baked mine on a pizza stone the second time with great results, but a cookie sheet works well, too.

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After cooling for a few minutes, slice and serve and enjoy.  It’s so amazing warm, but I ate a slice cold from the fridge as I was running out the door at lunchtime and it was still delicious.  As far as reheating goes you need to be prepared for a slightly soggy bottom crust.  But again, still delicious.  If you’re serving this to at least 4 people you probably won’t need to worry about leftovers, though.

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Fall Vegetable Tart with Goat Cheese and Prosciuttio

From Fine Cooking

Ingredients

Dough

  • 6 ounces (1 1/3 cups) flour
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter cut into chunks
  • 6 ounces cold cream cheese (low fat is fine) cut into chunks
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash

Filling

  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup sliced carrots (1/2 inch thick half moons)
  • 3/4 cup sliced leek (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in to bite sized pieces
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

Directions

Filling

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Toss the vegetables together with rosemary, thyme 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Transfer to a 9×13 pan, cover tightly with foil and roast for 30-40 minutes until just fork tender.
  4. Let cool for 10-15 minutes then add in the prosciutto.

Dough

  1. Put flour, butter, cream cheese and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the dough just begins to come together.
  2. Place a large piece of parchment on the counter and sprinkle with a little flour.  Turn dough out onto the parchment and bring together with your hands, sprinkling with more flour if needed.
  3. Roll dough out onto the parchment into a roughly 16-inch round.

Assemble

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Transfer parchment to a cookie sheet or pizza stone and trim any excess parchment that hangs off the sheet or stone.
  3. Spread goat cheese onto the dough leaving a 1 1/2 inch border.
  4. Pile vegetable evenly on top of the goat cheese.
  5. Fold edges of the dough over the vegetables, then brush with beaten egg.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad

My husband was recently gone for work for a month, making a visit home one weekend.  It was rough having him gone, but we had a ton of help from friends and family.  People have asked how I did it, and the answer is that I didn’t!  I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who visited, let us invade your homes and watched my kids.

One of the things that fell by the wayside when I was home with just the kids was cooking dinner for myself.  I’d almost always have some random meal of snacks or a frozen dinner.  But when I saw this dish I knew I’d be putting it together for dinner and enjoying it for a few meals.Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad | Hottie Biscotti

When cooking for one I find it best to make something that is either good cold or good reheated as leftovers.  As much as I love to cook, I don’t want to prep and cook a meal every evening.  Having a couple nights a week where I can eat what I’ve already prepared is really helpful.  This pasta salad is best the day you make it, but is good cold or warm as leftovers.

This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman.  I followed it almost exactly.  I added 6 slices of cooked, chopped bacon and then changed the cooking a little.  The reason for changing the cooking is not because I thought it would be better or easier, but because I didn’t read through the directions fully before I started…

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad | Hottie Biscotti

I really like kale, but only when it’s been softened with some kind of dressing or if it’s been cooked.  It’s lightly cooked here, which makes it less bitter.  It’s also chopped into fairly small pieces, so it’s not overwhelming.  Full disclosure though, if you don’t like kale at all you probably won’t like this.  You could leave out the kale completely, but I think that it makes this dish not only lovely but also at least just a little good for me.

This garlic oil is incredible.  You could end the dish here and be good.  I’ll be using this again on other pasta dishes.

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The combination of pine nuts, bacon and parmesan is perfect.

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Serve this up right after assembling and eat any leftovers either cold or heat it up a bit.

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad | Hottie Biscotti

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad

Slightly Adapted from The Pioneer Woman  

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of bowtie pasta
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped. drippings reserved
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, dried, ribs removed and chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 ounces of shredded parmesan

Directions

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and toast the pine nuts, shaking them frequently to keep them from burning.  Once they are golden brown remove from the pan.
  2. In the same pan heat oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.  Once it begins to turn golden turn off the heat and add in the salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta noodles according to package instructions, drain and rinse in cold water.  Transfer to a large serving bowl.
  4. In a large pan heat 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings over medium heat and add in the kale.  Cook until softened to your liking, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.
  5. Add garlic oil, kale, bacon, parmesan and pine nuts to the pasta and toss to combine.

 

Quick Skillet Lasagna

One day I am going to be a great meal planner.  At this current time however I am not so great at it.  Every now and then I plan a week of meals and I only have to take one trip to the grocery store.  But then there are weeks like last one where I find myself on the couch at 5pm on Friday evening not sure of what we are going to eat for dinner.  I loaded the kids up in the car after browsing through my Test Kitchen cookbook and got what I needed for this quick one skillet dinner.  It was ready by 7pm,  it was a huge hit and a recipe that I will definitely be making again.

Quick Skillet Lasagna | Hottie Biscotti

In this skillet lasagna you have all the goodness of lasagna without all the work of layering and dirtying several dishes.  The recipe calls for broken lasagna noodles, but you could use penne or ziti if that’s what you have around.  I used Italian turkey sausage, but a mixture of ground beef and pork is what is called for in the original recipe.  I added a few ounces of goat cheese to the ricotta because I don’t think that there is a thing on this earth that couldn’t use some goat cheese goodness.  I layered some mozzarella slices on top of the finished dish and broiled it for a few minutes.  I think when you serve lasagna there should be strings of cheese stretching from pan to plate, so this ensures that will happen.  Top it all off with some fresh chopped basil and you have a super delicious and satisfying dinner that is ready in less than an hour.  I realize it’s no 30-minute meal, but it sure does take less time than a proper lasagna!

Quick Skillet Lasagna | Hottie Biscotti

Serve this with lots of good bread and a green salad for a complete meal, and one that will make everyone very happy.

Quick Skillet Lasagna

Adapated slightly from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 package Italian turkey sausage (16-20 ounces)
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8-10 ounces)
  • 8 ounces of lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan + more for serving
  • 8 ounces part-skim ricotta
  • 3 ounces goat choose
  • 8-10 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions

  1. Pour the tomatoes into a quart measuring cup and fill with water to make 4 cups.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add in the turkey and cook, breaking the meat up into pieces, until meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add in the noodles and stir to combine.  Press the noodles down into the sauce so that they are covered and then cover the skillet.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. In a small bowl stir the ricotta with the goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Set aside.
  7. Preheat your broiler.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.  Use a large spoon to dot the top of the skillet with the ricotta mixture, then lay the mozzarella slices on top.
  9. Place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil.
  10. Serve with extra Parmesan.

 

Baked Empanadas with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Filling

One of my very best friends introduced me to the wonders of homemade empanadas a few years ago.  I’ve made them with her a couple of times, but never made them by myself.  I am so glad that I came across the recipe again and decided to make them last week.

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

The dough recipe is simple and can be done by hand or with a food processor.  It does need to chill before rolling, so make sure to give yourself at least an hour for that.  Better yet, make the dough the day before or in the morning and it’s ready to use when you need it.  The dough is easy to handle and it bakes up flaky and buttery and just plain amazing.

This pork carnitas recipe is from Simply Recipes, has terrific flavor and is the perfect filling for the dough.  It’s definitely something I’m going to keep in my go-to file of recipes.  You’ll have leftover meat if you make the full 3-4 pounds, and I plan to use some of it in tacos and freeze some for later.  If you don’t have time to make the pork, then you can use ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning, shredded chicken, beans or a combination of vegetables.  You can even add a little cheese to the filling if you’d like to.

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

Serve these lovely meat pies with sour cream for dipping, guacamole on the side, salsa, or maybe this sauce that I’ve been drooling over recently.

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

When we had these for dinner I served this Mexican street corn on the side.  But they can stand alone as a meal with a simple green salad.  You can also make them smaller and serve them as appetizers.  I cut them into 5-inch circles and 2-3 was a good serving size for dinner.

empanadas5 empanadas4 empanadas3 empanadas2 empanadas1

Here are some good tips on freezing both baked and unbaked empanadas, as well as a few delicious sounding recipes for different fillings.  I think I might have to whip up another batch to freeze for when we have a new baby on our hands in 6 weeks!

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

Empanadas with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

From Carrie Hartman and Simply Recipes

Makes 18-24

Ingredients

Empanada Dough

  • 4 1/2 cups flour + extra for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 2/3-1 cup of ice water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Pork Carnitas

  • 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Empanada Dough

  1. In the bowl of a food processor pulse flour and salt a few times.  Add in the butter and pulse until butter in is pea sized pieces.
  2. Whisk the eggs with 2/3 cup water and the vinegar.  With the processor running, stream in the egg mixture just until the dough comes together.  If it seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat together into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour and up to a day or so.

Pork Carnitas

  1. Combine all the spices in a bowl and whisk them together.
  2. Place the meat in a plastic bag and add the spice mixture.  Turn the bag to coat the meat.  Put the bag in the refrigerator and let the meat marinate for at least an hour and up to overnight.
  3. Place the meat in the slow cooker with the vegetable oil and cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Remove to a cutting board and let cool until you can handle the meat, then shred it.  If meat seems dry, add some of the juices in the crock pot back to the meat to moisten it.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Remove dough from the fridge and cut in half.  Return the other half to the fridge.  Let it warm up for 10-15 minutes until it can be easily rolled out.
  3. Flour a clean work surface and roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch in thickness.  Cut out rounds of dough about 5 inches in diameter, using a bowl as a guide.
  4. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling onto one side of a round of dough, fold the other half over and pinch the dough together to conceal the filling.  Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Whisk an egg with a little water in a small bowl.  Brush some of the egg wash onto the top.  Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.  Cut a small vent in the top with a paring knife.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Take the other half of the dough out and repeat with another cookie sheet (or 2) while you bake the first batch.
  7. Bake empanadas for 15-20 minutes depending on the size until pastries are golden brown.
  8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Ham And Vegetable Fried Rice

At the end of this week I was working on the last of our Easter ham and originally thought that the idea of putting it in a fried rice was a little odd.  But this wound up being a really tasty dinner and one that comes together pretty quickly.

Ham and Vegetable Fried Rice | Hottie Biscotti

This recipe from The Food Network was the one I followed, changing up a few things here and there.  I used less vegetable oil and added some sesame oil, added more vegetables and added some plain soy sauce and Soyaki sauce from Trader Joes.  Since no two people like their stir fries exactly the same, you can change up the vegetables and the amount and type of extra sauce you use.  When I served this I put a bottle of soy sauce on the table and Ben added a little more to his while I was happy without it.  Serving this with a bottle of sriracha as well wouldn’t be a bad idea if you want some heat.

Ham and Vegetable Fried Rice | Hottie Biscotti

A wok is ideal for cooking a stir fry, but you can use a large skillet.  This wok is a cheap one from IKEA and has served me well for the last couple of years.  Make sure to prep everything ahead of time.  Cut all the vegetables and meat, whisk the eggs, and have the rice ready to add the pan.  Once you start cooking a stir fry it comes together fast, and you don’t want to get flustered or burn something while you grab something you’ve forgotten.

Ham and Vegetable Fried Rice | Hottie Biscotti

This is a little bit of a cheater stir fry since you’re using a bag of frozen veggies instead of fresh, but it sure does help shave off some prep time!  And it’s still better for you than ordering take-out.  Enjoy.

Ham and Vegetable Stir Fry

Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided
  • 5 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 3 cups cooked, chopped ham
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, sliced, white and green parts separated
  • salt
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3-4 cups cooked Jasmine rice
  • soy sauce to taste
  • Soyaki sauce to taste

Directions

  1. Heat wok or skillet over high heat, add in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and 2 teaspoon of sesame oil.  Add in ham and cook, stirring or shaking pan occasionally, until ham is lightly browned.
  2. Add in the chopped onion and cook until it starts to become translucent.  Then add in the garlic, ginger, and the whites of the scallions and a pinch or two of salt.  Stir fry for about 1 minute.
  3. Add in the frozen vegetables and stir everything together, then cover for 1-2 minutes.  Stir again until vegetables are just about defrosted.  Transfer everything to a large bowl.
  4. Wipe the pan clean, then return to medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon each vegetable and sesame oil to the pan.  Add in the eggs and scramble until almost set.  Remove from the pan to the bowl with the vegetables and ham.
  5. Wipe the pan clean and return to high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons sesame oil.  Add the rice and break up any large pieces.  Let cook without stirring for 2 minutes, then add in the vegetables, ham and eggs.  Cook everything together and add some of the soy and/or Soyaki sauce to taste.  I added almost a tablespoon of each.  Serve.