Midwest Ratatouille

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This ratatouille is a perfect meal, healthy, cheap and just a symphony of flavors.  It is basically a vegetable hash, in the midwestern sense. Best served with some bread to get all the juices.

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 summer squash
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • salt/pepper
  • 3-6 Tbsp olive oil
  • a dutch oven (aka casserole dish) or a deep sauce pan with lid
  • (may need extra tomato juice, so always handy to have some extra)

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop your eggplant. I dice my eggplant into quartered pieces about an inch in size, chop and put aside.
  2. Cut your summer squash and zucchini to match your eggplant. Put these vegetables in a bowl, mix and sprinkle with salt…and let set for 30 minutes.
  3. While your eggplant and squash/zucchini are sitting, you’ll chop your onion and green pepper. I cut these julienne style and set in a separate bowl.

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4. Back to your eggplant and squash/zucchini, dry off all pieces and then add 1 layer at a time to your skillet. Don’t over crowd, this may take a few skillet trips to saute it all.

5. Set your skillet on medium, add in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and then add in one layer of your eggplant mix. You want to just lightly brown your eggplant and saute your zucchini–don’t burn/overcook. Once ready, set in a bowl to the side.

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6.  Once your eggplant mix is all sauteed and set off to the side. In the same skillet add in your green pepper/onion mix …more olive oil may be needed. Add in your garlic and cook until peppers and onions are tender. Don’t burn the garlic!

7.  While your pepper/onion mixture is cooking, cut up your tomatoes.

8.  Open your tomato cans, pour the juice in a bowl and cut your tomatoes julienne style. Once they’re all diced, pour your tomato juice and julienned styled tomatoes over the onion/pepper mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

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9. Cover and turn up heat to bring to a boil.

10. While your tomatoes are heating up, begin to finely chop your parsley.

11. Once your tomatoes are at a boil, uncover and we’re going to begin layering your casserole dish.

12.  Add  a layer of your tomato/onion/pepper mixture and sprinkle with parsley. Then add in a layer or eggplant/zucchini/squash, then tomato mixture sprinkle with parsley and continue layers until done.

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12. Put casserole on stove on a medium heat, cook for 20 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning as needed. Be sure to give it a little stir, to ensure that vegetables at the bottom are not burning. Vegetables should be tinder and if it seems dry, add in some tomato juice and adjust the seasoning.

Serve with warm bread and enjoy!

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Chicken with lemon and pea orzo

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A beautiful meal that only takes 20-25 minutes and cheap to make.

 

Ingredients

  • 1-2 chicken breast
  • 1 1/2 cups of Orzo (FYI Orzo is found in the pasta section, and Kroger sometimes has it for $1)
  • 1 cup of peas (I used a bag of frozen that can be steamed in the microwave, or you can use fresh)
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • Fresh Herbs ( I used thyme, parsley and a lil rosemary)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice and 2 tsp lemon zest
  • Dried Italian seasoning

Instructions

  1. Start by preheating  your oven to 425.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towel, season with salt/pepper and Italian seasoning.
  3. Once the oven is ready, place you chicken on tin foil on a baking tray and make a little tent around it. This allows the chicken to cook and stay moist.

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4. Place chicken in middle of oven and let cook for 20 min (at 20 min we’ll come back to this)

5. Now that the chicken is cooking we’re going to start on the Orzo.

6. Take a skillet add in your olive oil, garlic and orzo. Let this brown for about 1 minute on medium heat.

7. Add in your fresh herbs and make sure your garlic and orzo are not burning.

8. Turn up the heat to high and add in your chicken broth. Bring this to boil and then cover with lid.

9.  As your broth is heating up to boil get your peas ready. If you’re using frozen peas, put them in the microwave for 3 minutes…my bag said 5 minutes but i didn’t want them completely cooked.

10. Once your peas are ready, drain and measure out 1 cup of peas.

(If you’re using fresh peas you’ll just add these into your skillet to cook with your orzo)

11. Add these to your skillet, add a few pinches of salt and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the broth has been soaked up. Keep watch as once the broth is almost gone, turn your heat down so your orzo and peas don’t burn.

12. Once orzo is cooked and peas are bright green, add in lemon juice, lemon zest and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Remember to taste, taste, taste! Keep heat low to stay warm.

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13.  Now back to the chicken, it should be about 15-20 minutes at this point. Pull out your tray of chicken and carefully open your tin foil. At this point I like to put the chicken back in the oven for about 3-5 minutes uncovered to cook

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(Reminder to always check your chicken is fully cooked before eating)

14.  I sliced my chicken in half and then sliced it.

15. Place chicken over your orzo, garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese…. and enjoy.

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Lemon-ginger bundt cake

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Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter ( I used salted)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger (I got a little piece from Kroger for .09 cents)
  • lemon zest

Lemon glaze

  • 1 cup powder sugar
  • 4-6 tbsp lemon juice

Cream cheese frosting

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Lemon juice/zest if desired

Instructions

The Cake

  1. Starting with you dry ingredients–combine flour, baking powder and salt in a side bowl–we’ll come back to this.
  2. In your main mixing bowl put your softened butter and sugar. Turn your mixer on medium and mix till its fluffy. Then one at a time beat in your eggs.
  3. Once eggs are fully mixed in add in your sour cream, lemon juice, ginger, vanilla and lemon zest! Mix well. You batter should be light and airy.
  4. Next slowly mix in about half your dry ingredients.
  5. Add in your buttermilk, then add in the remaining dry ingredients.
  6. The flour should be nonexistent because its mixed so well. (I totally tried my cake batter…and it was delicious…so that’s a good start)
  7. Your oven should be ready and so now we’re going to butter or spray your bundt pan. use non stick baking spray or I just used butter and lathered that pan so my cake would slide out.
  8. When you’re ready, add in your cake mix and bake for 70 minutes.
  9. You’ll know your cake is ready when you stab it with a fork and no batter comes up with it.
  10. Let your cake cool for about 5 minutes, then if you’re brave  have a plate ready and slide your cake out carefully.

The Glaze

  1. While your cake is still warm, we’re going to add on the glaze.
  2. Take your powdered sugar and combine with your lemon juice.
  3. The mixture should liquefy, so if its pasty add in more lemon juice.
  4. Once your mixture is ready slowly cover your cake. (I did mine kind of in a design at first, then when I decided I wanted frosting just completely covered)
  5. Let your cake cool then proceed to enjoy or make some icing to add to the deliciousness.

The Icing 

  1. Add in your cream cheese and softened butter in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Slowly add in your powdered sugar and vanilla
  3. Beat until creamy (I started off with a hand mixer then as it got thick switched to a spoon)
  4. If you’re looking for more lemon flavor add in some lemon juice adn zest at this point and taste, taste, taste!
  5. Make sure your cake is cool and ice to your liking.

Grab some milk and enjoy!A6EF3B9C-5DCC-4595-9D14-67A654257CC3

 

Hollandaise sauce

Hollandaise is a sauce that should be velvety, tangy, and something you can’t stop eating.

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Ingredients

For 1-3 servings

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 stick of butter PLUS 2 slabs aka 2 tbsp
  • 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • (pinch of cayenne if you like heat)
  • 1 Tbsp of water

For 4-5 servings

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 sticks of butter plus 2tbsp aka slabs
  • 1 Tbsp of Lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • (pinch of cayenne if you like heat)
  • 1 Tbsp of water

Instructions

The best way to cook hollandaise is having several  sauce pans –1 small, 1 medium

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  1. Crack  eggs, put egg yolks in your medium sauce pan—discard the egg whites and shells.
  2. Take your stick or sticks of butter, cut into slabs and place in sauce pan. Set sauce pan to the side for now.
  3. In the medium sauce pan that is now holding your egg yolks….add in your 1 tbsp of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice.
  4. You will now put this on your stove….if you have gas put it on low…and move it slowly to medium, if you have electric you can set it to medium since it will take longer to cook. THE GOAL — slowly warm up your sauce.
  5. As you put your sauce pan on the stove you will add in 1 slab of cold butter…this is  one of your 1 tbsp of butter that you’ve left behind.
  6. This will slowly melt….like slowly 3-5 minutes. The goal is not to 1–not over whisk…and 2–not curdle our eggs by making it too hot. So watch it pan, begin slowly whisking/stirring your butter into the egg yolk mixture. If for any reason your eggs begin turning into scrambled….your pan is too hot and you need to start over. (It happens…)
  7. As your egg yolk mixture is melting your cold butter–turn to melting the rest of your butter in the small sauce pan. You will put the small sauce pan over low heat and make the butter frothy. Once the butter becomes frothy and totally melted—- REMOVE FROM THE HEAT.

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8. Back to the medium pan, your butter should have melted by now and your sauce become thick….if it hasn’t …no worries! Slowly add in small amounts of lemon juice and up the temperature–carefully. You will know the sauce becomes thick because it will coat your whisk every so lightly. If its still soupy add in more lemon juice and keep it on the heat. Once the mixture becomes slightly thick–remove from heat!

9.Remove the medium sauce pan from the heat and add in your last tbsp of butter. As you whisk together you should notice it melting easier. Your medium sauce pan will remain off the heat, FYI.

10.Once melted, slowly pour in your melted butter and whisk….this should thicken the sauce a bit more.

11. Once all butter is poured in and whisked…add in your salt/pepper and cayenne if wanted. Taste, taste, taste–season till you’re happy and then serve immediately.

FYI the sauce can’t be  kept on the heat cause it will curdle and you can’t keep the sauce past like an hour because it will separate. SO SORRY YOU WILL NEED TO EAT RIGHT AWAY…ITS AWFUL I KNOW.

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Bruschetta–light

Unlike Italian bruschetta, this  recipe is simple and leaves out the cheese and garlic.

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Ingredients

  • Cherry/grape tomatoes, I usually pick up the medley pack at Kroger. The colors make your dish really pop
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  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Balsamic Vingar
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Italian seasoning
  •  Baguette
  • Parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Take your baguette and begin slicing on a diagonal, creating little slices
  3. Once you have the amount you’d like of bread slices, set them aside
  4. To give the bread some flavor outside of jsut toasted bread, we’re going to make a seasoning.
  5. Pour in about 2 tbsp of olive oil, add in italian seasoning, salt, pepper and give it a good stir
  6. Now dip one side of the bread into your oil mixture and place on a baking tray
  7. Begin mincing your clove of garlic then spread over your bread slices bru1
  8. When your oven temp is ready place in oven. These will cook about 10 minutes. Watch to make sure they’re not burning, since everyone’s oven is different
  9. Begin cutting up your tomatoes and place in a bowl
  10. Once all tomatoes are diced, add in about 2 tbsp of olive oil , 1/2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of fresh cut basil and then season with salt and pepper. Taste Taste Taste! I found that its better to use less vinegar at first then can add in more if needed. Then I adjust the seasoning.bru2
  11. Check on your bread, this is about the time where its starting to turn golden. If you’re wanting to add some cheese, this is when I’d pull out my bread from the oven sprinkle some on and place back in the oven to get it melted and finish toasting the bread.
  12. Once your bread is at the crisp level you’d like add your tomatoes and serve.bru 3

Vegetable Marrow Farci

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The perfect meal for a Meatless Monday. I found this recipe in my Titanic cookbook, so we’re going old school here. Vegetable Marrow Farci, is pretty much fancy for stuffed zucchini boats. They’re easy to make, delicious even warmed back up and perfect for anyone watching their calories.

Ingredients

Will need a medium to large skillet and a baking casserole dish.

  • 2 large zuchinni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup cooked rice ( I used a $1 whole grain, 90 second steam pouch from Kroger)
  • salt and pepper
  •  1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (Kroger has a can of these for 99cents)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Cut your zucchini in half, length wise creating two long spears each. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Hollow out your zucchini, put the guts to the side because we will be using these again.
  3. Place your hollowed out zucchini shells into your baking dish.

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4. Put your skillet on medium to medium high, add in your olive oil and your red onions and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.

5.While these are sauteing, dice up the reserved zucchini guts.

6.When your onions are a nice translucent color (not burnt) add in the dried oregano, tomato paste and the diced zucchini reserves. Cook for about 4-5 minutes. While doing so prepare your mushrooms.

7.Turn up the heat a little and add in your mushrooms, cook for about 5 minutes or until your vegetables are a nice brown. Now stir in your vinegar, let it saute for a few minutes. This is when I put my 90 second rice into the microwave to warm up.veg2

8.Now remove  the skillet from the heat, stir in your rice–add in your salt, pepper and your Parmesan cheese. Taste, taste, taste–make sure its how you want it.

9. Now comes the fun part, you’re going to restuff your zucchini shells with your filling. Don’t pack too tightly.

10. Once your shells are filled sprinkle bread crumbs over the top, maybe a little extra parmesan and then poor on a little melted butter to get those breadcrumbs toasty.

11. Place in oven and cook for 40 minutes. The zucchini should be tender, like stick a fork in it soft.

Maybe top with some fresh basil and enjoy. This can be a dish all on its own or a great side dish.

 

Curry Chicken in an onion pepper cream sauce

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What you’ll need

  • One Skillet with lid
  • 4 chicken legs/thighs or combo
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Curry powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne and lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 medium yellow sweet onion
  • 1-2 red bell peppers or I used about half a pack of small mixed sweet peppers for a variety of colors
  • Fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Instructions

  1.  Pat your chicken dry and trim off any excess fat.
  2. Season your chicken with curry powder, salt & pepper on both sides. Curry powder can be very strong so I would suggest maybe using 1 Tbsp to cover all 4 pieces. Not 1 Tbsp each!
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt your 3 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, be sure it doesn’t burn, add in your chicken skin side down.
  4. Lightly brown the chicken on both sides, 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a plate temporarily.
  5. Now add in your onion and peppers, I cut mine julienne style20100407-How to Cut an Onion - 16
  6. Saute for 5 minutes or more until onions and peppers are tender. Be sure to not burn/brown them. (you may need to add in more butter if necessary)
  7. Now return your chicken back to skillet, skin side down. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered, turning once and stirring vegetables.
  8. During these 10 minutes I would begin to finely chop my parsley and measure out my wine and cream.
  9. Once you’ve hit 10 minutes, pour in your wine and boil until its almost evaporated, but don’t burn your wine completely off.
  10. Now reduce heat to  medium. Add in the cream and parsley and bring to a simmer.
  11. This is when you’ll want to start adding in salt, pepper, a little more curry and garlic powder to get your sauce seasoned well. I added in about 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, curry powder and pepper. Tasted my sauce then added more salt and pepper to get it at the perfect flavor. I like my sauce a little more spicy so I added in probably a little more than 1 teaspoon of cayenne to give it a little kick.
  12. Once you feel good with the flavor, bast your chicken with the cream sauce. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
  13. Rotate chicken, stir and baste occasionally. Be sure that your cream sauce does not boil–keep it at a good simmer and it’ll start to thicken up.
  14. Be sure your chicken has reached 165 degrees, adjust seasoning as needed. (Optional to hit it with a little lemon juice to finish it off.)
  15. Serve over Basmati rice and enjoy!

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