Chicken Stuffed with Asparagus & Provolone

This is a great dinner party entrée to impress your guests. It’s super easy and you can make it ahead and put it in the refrigerator without the bread crumbs.

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Chicken Stuffed with Asparagus & Provolone

Seves 4

½ cup mayonnaise
3 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
16 thin spears of asparagus, trimmed
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 slices provolone cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, tarragon, salt, and pepper until the mixture is well combined. Set aside.

Place a chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (resealable freezer bags work well) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the chicken breast with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Repeat with the rest of the chicken breasts.

Place 1 slice of provolone on each chicken breast, and top the cheese with 4 asparagus spears per breast. Roll the chicken breasts around the asparagus and cheese, making a tidy package, and place, seam sides down, in the prepared baking dish. With a pastry brush, apply a coating of the mayonnaise mixture to each chicken breast, and sprinkle each with panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken to make a coating.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crumbs are browned and the chicken juices run clear, about 25 minutes.

Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

I have a client that is on a very restricted diet, which means I have to make almost everything from scratch. All the canned enchilada sauces available have salt in them. I use no salt added tomatoes and tomato paste. It’s actually really easy to make your own and you can make it mild or spicy. Instead of making one big casserole, I made individual servings for the freezer.

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Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 6

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1½ Tbs onion, chopped
1½ Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
2 cups enchilada sauce, divided (see recipe below)
1½ cups (6 oz) shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup sliced ripe olives

Preheat oven to 350°

Place the tortillas in the microwave for about 1 minute to soften.Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, cilantro, and jalapeño; sauté until onion is tender. Add chicken, diced tomatoes and 1 cup enchilada sauce; cook 5 minutes.

Spoon chicken mixture evenly down centers of tortillas. Roll up tortillas; place, seam sides down, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas, and top with cheese. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until enchiladas are thoroughly heated and cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with tomato and olives.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Makes 2 cups

2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs chili powder
2 cups water
3 oz tomato paste
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ tsp salt

Add the vegetable oil, flour, and chili powder to a medium pot. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk the ingredients together. Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the mixture for one minute once it begins bubbling.

After one minute, whisk in the water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer it will begin to thicken slightly then add the salt. The sauce is now ready to use.

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower features prominently on my blog. I looked through my archives and realized I have a thing for cauliflower! I especially like roasting vegetables, probably due to the fact that I grew up in the midwest in the ’60s when all vegetables were boiled to a flavorless mush.
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Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium onion, sliced
4 thyme sprigs
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 Tbs olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet with the onion, thyme, garlic cloves, and olive oil; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender, 10-12 minutes longer.

Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese

I have been know to wake up in the morning and eat pickled beets.  Yes, I know I’m weird!  My favorite being Pickled Beets and Eggs.

Beets are high in many vitamins and minerals, and the juice from red beets has been actually shown to reduce high blood pressure. Beets help cleanse your liver, boast your sex drive (nature’s Viagra), combat depression, relaxes the mind, contributes to a sense of well being and the list goes on.

n 1975, during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, cosmonauts from the USSR’s Soyuz 19 welcomed the Apollo 18 astronauts by preparing a banquet of borscht (beet soup) in zero gravity.
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Roasted Beets with Goat Cheese

Serves 4

4 medium beets, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
1 Tbs olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
4 scallions, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
crumbled goat cheese

Toss beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste on a baking sheet.

Roast at 450 degrees F, stirring once or twice, until tender, 35 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; toss with scallions and lemon juice. Top with crumbled goat cheese.

Super Easy Mac & Cheese

One of the things I am passionate about is getting kids interested in cooking. Over the years, I have taught many kids how to make simple meals. They can learn math skills, practice fine-motor coordination, make choices about nutrition, and practice basic cooking techniques. They can learn about different countries and traditions by making foods from around the world. It’s also a great way to get families together in the kitchen. If you get kids cooking at an early age, chances are they will continue this good habit as they grow.

I happen to collect Macaroni & Cheese recipes. I ran across this one and thought it would be perfect for kids to make. Just make sure you are there to help or supervise the pasta boiling part!

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Super Easy Mac & Cheese

Serves 10

16 oz pasta
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 oz parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups heavy cream
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare pasta according to package directions, but add a good bit of salt to the water. Once cooked, drain but do not rinse the pasta.

Transfer pasta to a large mixing bowl. Add half the cheddar, monterey jack and parmesan cheeses, as well as the heavy cream. Stir well to combine, season with pepper to taste.

Transfer the mixture to a 9″x13″ casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Baked Parmesan Green Beans

This came to me through facebook. It seems very appealing. They word crispy was used in the title, which I removed. They aren’t especially crispy, though they are delicious.

I am off to New York for a couple of days, so I will be posting from there. Brrrrr….. I’m already cold just thinking about it!

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Baked Parmesan Green Beans

1 (14 oz) Bag of frozen whole green beans (or about 4 cups fresh)

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
⅛ tsp pepper (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

If using frozen green beans, put the bag of green beans in the microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until just thawed (or you could leave them out at room temperature for a few hours). If using fresh green beans, wash and snip off the ends.

Place green beans on prepared baking pan, making sure they are evenly spread out, and none are laying on top of each other, (this will ensure even crispiness!) Sprinkle seasonings and parmesan cheese evenly over green beans.

Place green beans in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy! (To make them extra crispy, I like to broil them for an extra 1-2 minutes before pulling them out of the oven). Serve with dipping sauce of choice.

Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Every Monday, I make Macaroni & Cheese for a school, for 10 years. I can only image how much macaroni I’ve boiled – 10 lbs per week. I guess you could say that I’m fairly good at it. However, this recipe is NOT the school recipe. That one is done on the stove top and this recipe is baked with breadcrumbs. Let’s face it, there is nothing better than mac n’ cheese.

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Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Serves 6-8

Kosher salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter
6 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 qt whole milk
1 bay leaf
3 cups grated extra-sharp white Cheddar
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
Freshly ground white pepper
1 lb elbow macaroni or other small pasta
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 lightly packed cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 400°F and put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and ½ tsp salt and cook, stirring, until slightly darker, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the mustard.Switch to a whisk and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Discard the bay leaf. Add the cheese, stirring until melted, and then add the Worcestershire and Tabasco. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Pour into a colander and shake it a few times to drain really well. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce, and stir until well combined. Generously season to taste with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish and spread the pasta in the dish.

In a medium bowl, toss the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Scatter the crumbs evenly over the pasta.

Bake in the center of the oven until the crumb topping is golden, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream

My dad grew up in working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Last month, he was talking about how much he missed having chipped ham sandwiches. I went home and discovered that you can order chipped ham and Pierogies – Pittsburgh’s Halftime Gift Box from the from the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. I decided that this would be his Christmas gift. It arrived the week before Christmas. We went over and I made them and they were delicious! I decided to make them myself the next time.

Pierogies are Polish dumplings of unleavened dough – first boiled, then they are baked or fried usually in butter with onions – traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit.

Pierogies are a delicious treat and a Pittsburgh tradition that reflects the city’s multicultural heritage, especially that of the European immigrants of the early 20th century.  In Pittsburgh, they eat 11 times the pierogies of any other city in the nation. The Pittsburgh Pirates even hold a pierogi race during the bottom of the 5th inning at every Pirates home game.

Sour cream in the dough is a favorite secret of many Pittsburgh pierogi makers. You can serve it with sautéed mushrooms.

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Homemade Pittsburgh Pierogies with Sour Cream

2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
butter and onions for sautéing
ingredients for filling of your choice (potato & cheese filling recipe below)

Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to over beat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 12-15 pierogies, depending on size.

Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Sauté chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with a side of sour cream for a true Pittsburgh pierogi meal.

Pierogi Tips

If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.

If you don’t want to cook all of the pierogies right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.

You can fill pierogies with pretty much anything you want, though potato and cheese is the most common (recipe below).
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Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling

5 large red potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 Tbs butter
4-8oz of grated cheddar cheese

Peel and boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, sauté onion in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sautéed onions and add grated cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want your pierogies), adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon bits, chives, or other enhancements if you desire. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.

Cheesy Bacon & Eggs Cups

Wakey, wakey eggs and bakey!

These bacon, egg and cheese cups have all the elements of a perfect breakfast!

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Cheesy Bacon & Eggs Cups

Serves 1

1 slice of bacon
1 tsp melted butter
1 egg
¼” slice of cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown, but still flexible. Wrap bacon slice around the inside of a muffin cup. Place a teaspoon of butter (or bacon grease) in the bottom of muffin cup. Drop in egg.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Place 1/4 slice of cheese over egg, and continue cooking until cheese is melted and egg is cooked.

Caramelized Onion, Gruyère, and Bacon Spread

My daughter, Zoe, sends me recipes that she wants me to make. I made this one immediately. Our guests went crazy for this dip / spread. She is on her way back from college today – yay! I guess I need to get the ingredients and make it again. It’s actually from Cooking Light Magazine.

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Caramelized Onion, Gruyère, and Bacon Spread

1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs olive oil
3 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded and divided
2 Tbs chopped fresh chives, divided
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions and salt to the pan and sauté 5 min, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the onions are a deep golden brown. Cool slightly.

Reserve 2 tablespoons cheese. Combine cheese, caramelized onions, 1 tablespoon chives, and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Transfer the mixture to a 1 quart glass or ceramic baking dish or 8-inch cast-iron skillet coated lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with reserved 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon chives.