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I don’t know what it is about this dish, but I really like it and make it frequently. I’m going to give you the recipe for two servings, so feel free to double or triple, etc. if you are feeding more . . . or a teenager.

  • Ingredients
  • Flour
  • Seasoning (at least salt and pepper, but whatever you like)
  • 2 pork chops (boneless or not, it doesn’t matter)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (I use ancho chile powder if I have it)
  • Water

Flour and season the pork chops. Heat a small skillet and add the oil. Brown the pork chops in oil and cook a little while. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through yet.

While that is happening, open your beans and drain them in a colander. Rinse with water. Drain well and pour into a small bowl. Stir in onion and chile powder.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

If you are using an oven-proof skillet to brown your pork chops, then remove the chops and stir in splash of water, enough to swirl the pan around and stir up the browned bits. Stir in the spiced kidney beans and place the chops on top of the beans.

If you are using a different baking dish, spray it with non-stick spray. Spread the kidney beans evenly across the bottom of the dish. Remove the chops from the skillet and settle them atop the beans. Splash a bit of water in the skillet and stir up the browned bits. Pour the water over the chops and beans.

Place either the skillet or the baking dish into the oven, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the meat reaches a temperature of 145 degrees F. This doesn’t take long because you’ve done much of the cooking already. The beans turn a bit crispy along the edges and are so, so tasty!

Dinner is served! Cheesy Vegetables, Pork Chops with Chili Beans, and Spicy Sweet Potatoes.

This is what happens when the grocery store pickup service makes a noodle substitution. And I’m very happy about it. These are mung bean noodles that go by various names: Saifun or bean threads or glass noodles or cellophane noodles. They are gluten-free. I received two packages and have made lunch three times so far. Please, no scoffing. I will be the first to acknowledge I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do know what I like and I like what I’ve done with these noodles. There are many recipes online for Ants Climbing a Tree and I started with the one at Saveur. The recipe then morphed because I couldn’t get the ingredients called for and that caused me to improvise.

  • Ingredients
  • 4 oz. (approximate) Chinese dried bean thread noodles*
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. Chinese bean sauce or oyster sauce**
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided (I use the low-sodium version)
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Cover noodles with boiling water and let stand for 4 minutes to soften. Drain and stir in sesame oil.

In a 12″ frying pan, heat canola oil and stir fry ground pork until cooked. Stir in ginger and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, another minute or two.

Stir in red pepper flakes, bean or oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then stir in noodles. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and scallions. Serve warm.

Yield: 2 bowls

*I am seeing these sold in bundles and 4 oz. is 2 bundles. The packages I most recently purchased had three bundles, so I used two bundles each time I made this. What surprises me about these noodles is how well they stand up to the cooking process. They’re not mushy after all the softening and simmering. Amazing.

**The recipe calls for NO red pepper flakes and instead Chinese red chile bean paste. But I couldn’t find that. So the first couple times I made this using oyster sauce and red pepper flakes. Delicious. The next time I made this I had found Chinese bean sauce, but it’s not spicy. Oy! So, I kept using the red pepper flakes to spice things up a bit. Still Delicious! So there!

This is what I used as pictured. When I used oyster sauce, the color of the dish was much lighter, but still full of great flavor.

This is a super fast and delicious dish. The recipe started at OneGoodThingByJillee. Hers makes a ton, so I’ve cut it down and changed it slightly. I use Old El Paso brand Stand ‘n Stuff taco shells. There are ten shells in each box. In an 11×7″ baking dish you can fit 8 shells and that makes plenty for three people. They stand up beautifully, so there’s very little finagling. They are gluten-free. If you do not have access to these beauties, you’ll have to eyeball things to make it work. Jill has instructions on her site on how to make hard-shells from soft corn tortillas. I did try that one time, but I found it to be too tricky. The very best thing on Jill’s site is her recipe for taco seasoning and I make that ALL the time. I added a triple-recipe below.

  • Baked Taco Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning (or one store-bought envelope)
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup (1/2 of a 15oz. can) refried beans
  • 8 Stand ‘n Stuff taco shells
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican mix cheese
  • Toppings of your choice (sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, etc.)

Prepare an 11×7″ baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a frying pan, brown ground beef. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and then stir in tomato sauce and refried beans. Set the taco shells into the dish as pictured. Distribute the ground beef mixture evenly into all the taco shells. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all the shells. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top with your favorite toppings. Voila! Done! Inhale!

  • Triple-Batch Taco Seasoning Ingredients
  • 6 Tbsp. chili powder (I use ancho chili powder)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. pepper

Mix all together and use 2-3 Tbsp. for each pound of meat. For tacos, I sprinkle it over cooked ground beef, then stir in a little water and cook until the water evaporates. I also use this mix on beef or chicken fajita-makings and other types of meat. I sprinkle it on before or after cooking, it just depends. No rules! This batch should last you a good long while.

This recipe comes from apinchofhealthy.com and I’ve made it many times over the years. It’s a one-pot meal with delicious flavors.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into apx. 1″ cubes
  • Cajun or Creole seasoning, about 2 tsp.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb. cured sausage links, sliced (I use andouille)
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Hot sauce (like Tabasco)
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 1-1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Season the chicken with Cajun or Creole seasoning and salt and pepper. Heat a little bit of oil in a large pot. Add the seasoned chicken and stir fry until the chicken is no longer pink. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Continue frying until the onion is translucent and the celery is no longer crisp.

Stir in the garlic and fry for another minute or so. Keep the pan over heat and stir in the thyme, bay leaf, sausage, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in hot sauce to taste and chicken broth. Lastly, stir in the rice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and let simmer 15 minutes without taking off the lid. Remove lid and stir. Take a little bite. If the rice is not nearly done enough, cover and return to very low heat for another 5-8 minutes. If the rice is done, let the pot sit, covered yet unheated, for about 5 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with green onion. Serve warm now. Serves 4-6 people.

My mother makes a mean shrimp Louie. It’s simple, but delicious. She also uses crab instead of shrimp when she has it available. I’ve changed the recipe a bit to suit what I have on hand and my own taste.

  • Salad Ingredients (measurements dependent upon how many people are served)
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Red onion
  • Shrimp, cooked and shelled
  • Thousand Island Dressing Ingredients (makes about 2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Sweet pickle relish
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon juice

Tear lettuce into bowls. Decoratively slice tomatoes, avocados, eggs, and a little bit of red onion onto lettuce in each bowl. Place shrimp on top.

The dressing ingredients are not exact. Here is what I do . . . Stir the mayonnaise so it’s smooth. Stir in enough ketchup to turn the mayo a pink color. Stir in sweet pickle relish, a fair amount. Stir in a splash of Worcestershire sauce and enough lemon juice to create a dressing-like consistency.

Serve the dressing on the side so each person can add an amount they like.

It’s Cobb Salad y’all! I do love it. I make this with any variety of things. Pictured is a 32-cup Tupperware bowl, so you can mentally figure my quantities. Can you see what’s in the bowl?

Today I used one whole chicken breast, boned and skinless, sliced into thin strips. I marinated it for a short while in about 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. dried rosemary, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I added salt and fresh-ground pepper as it was put into the saute pan. I stir-fried the chicken slices over very high heat in olive oil until it browned quite nicely. Then I let it cool down so as not to wilt the salad. I have also used lemon-pepper and another time I used a southwest seasoning and another time just salt and pepper to season the chicken. I do this differently every time I make it. Whatever you feel like doing at the time will be fine.

Also in this particular salad is a base of two small heads of torn romaine lettuce, a couple handfuls of baby spinach leaves, three hard-boiled eggs, five slices of crispy oven-fried thick bacon, sliced green onion, grated sharp cheddar cheese, pitted and sliced black Kalamata olives, three sliced mini sweet peppers, sliced grape tomatoes, sliced green onion, one and a half chopped avocado, and chopped cucumber. Just before I serving, I sprinkle on croutons. Where is the bleu cheese, you ask?

My dad gives me an entire round of Stilton every Christmas. I slice it into wedges, vacuum-seal the wedges, and freeze them for use throughout the year. I usually run out around early November. Bleu cheese dressing goes well on salads and sandwiches, so I make a lot of it. My Cobb Salad is always served with Bleu Cheese Dressing. Always.

  • Bleu Cheese Dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Buttermilk
  • Garlic powder
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Bleu cheese, crumbled

Stir the mayonnaise to get out any lumps, thin it to a dressing-like consistency with buttermilk. Stir in a dash of garlic powder and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Stir in crumbled bleu cheese. Let it sit awhile, if you can wait.

This is a recipe that I make often. It’s not fussy and is low-carb. My house smells great while it is simmering all afternoon. It is gluten-free. It is based upon the recipe found at foodnetwork.com. On the day I took these photos, I served the Chile Verde with Spicy Sweet Potatoes and Corn Pudding.

  • Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 pounds tomatillos
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 pounds pork roast (butt or shoulder is best, but I used a lean loin), trimmed of fat and cut into 2″ pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2 Anaheim or poblano chiles, seeded and chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 2-3 jalepeno peppers, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock

In prepping the tomatillos, this is what I do, but I’m sure there is a better, more flavorful way. I’m just going for the easy way. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by covering with foil. I do not oil or grease the foil. Peel off and discard the tomatillo husks. Rinse the tomatillos. Slice in half and place each half, skin side up on the prepared baking sheet. Roast until brown spots appear on the skins. Remove from oven and let cool. Turn off your oven, you’re done with it. Once the tomatillos are cool, chop them. This is sort of messy. Set the tomatillos aside.

Heat a very large cooking pot. Swazz a bit of vegetable oil into the bottom. Liberally salt and pepper the pork pieces. In batches (mine was 3 batches), over high heat, brown the pork cubes and then set aside. Add more oil as necessary.

In the same pot, add the onions and bell peppers. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add the chiles and the jalepenos. Saute awhile longer. Add the garlic and saute a little longer. Stir in the prepared tomatillos, oregano, cumin, coriander, bay leaves, and cilantro. Add the pork back into the pot. Add enough chicken stock to cover the meat. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally until the meat is fork tender. Add chicken stock as needed. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Yields 6-8 servings.


Late last year I tried a modified version of a Texas Chili Con Carne recipe that used dried chiles. It was my first time working with dried chiles. I had seen them in the grocery store, but had not known what to do with them. The chili turned out really, REALLY good. The flavor was deep, smoky, and rich. Early this year I bought a couple more packages of dried chiles and yesterday thought I’d make a sauce to bind my pulled pork in the stuffing for Stuffed Poblanos. I make pulled pork quite often, but with only two of us, always have a lot left over. I confess that I do not have a crockpot. Nowhere to store it. I’ve got a big Dutch-oven style cooking pot so I use that at a low heat to make pulled pork in the oven.

Various ways I’ve used my pulled pork is to add sauce and make sandwiches, top baked sweet potatoes, fill sopes or enchiladas, and to stuff poblanos. The poblanos are a real low-carb option. If you’re unfamiliar with poblanos, they’re a large chile with a very mild flavor once they’re stemmed and seeded. Once in awhile I’ve had one that’s got a kick at the stem end. I use gloves to stem and seed them.

The basis for the enchilada sauce is from foodiecrush.com. Heidi at foodiecrush.com called for 2 oz. of dried guajillo chiles and 1 oz. of New Mexico chiles. I just happened to have a 6 oz. package of guajillos and a 3 oz. package of New Mexicos. Hmmm. Do the math. Because I find stemming and seeding dried chiles quite tedious, I decided to make a triple batch and freeze the unused sauce, so I wouldn’t have to do it again anytime soon.

I wore gloves to stem and seed the chiles. It took me about 50 minutes hunched over my garbage can to stem and seed them. Like I said, tedious.

I’m a lazy cook when it comes to presentation, so I don’t strain my sauce. I really don’t see what difference it makes since enchilada sauce is usually added over, under, or with stuffed tortillas. Who cares if it’s not smooth?

  • GF Enchilada Sauce
  • 6 oz. dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 oz. dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 9 cups water
  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped tomato (I used grape tomatoes)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin

In a very large cooking pot, place the dried chiles and water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, covered, for thirty minutes. Remove from heat and strain the chiles out of the cooking water. SAVE THE COOKING WATER! Set aside the chiles and the water.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, swazz the olive oil and then add the onions. Let them cook until translucent. Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, oregano, paprika, and cumin. Let it cook down until it’s thick and pasty.

Scrape the onion-tomato mixture into a very large food processor and add the chiles and a bit of the chile-cooking water. Let it process, adding chile-water as necessary to get a sauce consistency that is to your liking. I tried to get my consistency as smooth as possible in the processor because I didn’t want to strain it afterward. Don’t throw out the remaining chile water! More to come.

Pour the processed mixture back into the large cooking pot. I rinsed my skillet out with a little chile-water and added that to the cooking pot, too. Bring to a boil and then let simmer, uncovered, for ten or fifteen minutes. Add more chile-water as necessary. Don’t skip the cooking step, it really creates the flavor.

My yield was about 6-1/2 cups. I stirred 1/2 cup into my pulled pork at that time and then saved the sauce and the leftover chile-water in the refrigerator until the next morning. The next morning, the sauce had thickened a bit, so I stirred in more of the chilled chile-water. In the end I froze three 2-cup portions in vacuum-sealed bags. I discarded about 2 cups of remaining chile-water. Another note on this recipe: I’ve read that the flavor REALLY comes out if you roast your dried chiles on a skillet first, but that’s a step too far for me.

  • Stuffed Poblanos
  • 4 fresh poblano chiles
  • 2-1/2 cups spiced shredded pork or chicken
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the stem-end out of the poblano chiles and cut a slit down one side. Remove the seeds carefully. Place the chiles onto the baking sheet, slit side up.

Stir enchilada sauce into the meat and then stir in about 2/3 cup of the shredded cheese. All these quantities are approximate. I eyeballed the amount of shredded pork, sauce, and cheese that I would need. No worries, it’s a forgiving recipe, hard to go wrong.

Stuff the chiles. I use a fork and my hands to try to get filling all the way into the tips of the chiles.

Bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle shredded cheese over each chile. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.

Just so you know, I’ve made stuffed poblanos with all kinds of filling: ground turkey, ground beef, beans, shredded chicken, etc. It doesn’t really matter as long as it holds together. You can use tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, refried beans, whatever you want as a binder. There are several recipes on Pinterest that give good ideas of various fillings you can use. There is no reason to pre-cook the chiles, just stuff and bake!

Legs tired, we chose an outside table at a restaurant in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and collapsed into chairs, ordering dos cervezas. It was a pleasant afternoon on the plaza, watching the world go by. We asked the waitress what was good to eat and she recommended Plantain Cups. They really hit the spot that day. Once home, I tried to recreate the dish because of how delicious they are. Plantains are readily available here, but I’ve never cooked with them before. I found a recipe at SimpleByClara on her Dominican Cooking website and used her basics of how to make the cups. They are really yummy and quite easy to make. I’m still not sure how to select a plantain at the grocery store and I suspect what I’m choosing are not as good as they could be, but it’s a work in progress.

  • Ingredients for Cups
  • 3 large (or 4 medium) ripe plantains, peeled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Oil for basting

Cut the plantains in half and place into a large saucepan. Try to disabuse yourself of the notion that these are bananas. They’re not. They’re more like potatoes. Add water to cover and add salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer until plantains are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove plantains from water and let cool a little. Mash the plantains. I always end up using a food processor, which works well. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not cooking them long enough or if they’re old plantains. In any event, mine are always too hard to mash by hand, but the food processor works great.

Prepare a muffin tin by spraying or greasing. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Mashed plantains are sticky, and so it’s easy to form the cups. Grab a handful of mashed plantain and press it into a muffin cup. Make them very compacted. I got 10 plantain cups last time. Brush oil lightly over each cup. I used olive oil, but any type of oil should work.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and fill with your favorite topping.

The ones we had in Puerto Rico were filled with little tidbits of spiced beef and a tasty sauce. Here is what and how I did what’s pictured (they were delicious), but I’ll probably never make these the same way twice.

I cut beef Tri-Tip Steak strips into 1″ cubes. I sprinkled taco seasoning over the meat. I preheated a skillet on high heat and added a bit of olive oil. I added the meat to the pan and seared it on all sides as well as possible. I removed the meat from the pan and set it aside. To the skillet I added diced onion, diced sweet mini peppers, and diced garlic. I let it saute until the onion was translucent, then I added some chopped jalepeno peppers. I stirred the beef back into the pan and cooked a bit longer. I scooped a little bit of the filling into each plantain cup, then sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese. I baked at 425 degrees F for about 10 minutes. I served these topped with mashed avocado, fresh jalepeno slices, and salsa. Umm, umm, good!

Alternative fillings would be spiced chicken, cheddar cheese, beans and/or corn. Whatever you want to do will be great.

Another reason I like these is that it takes the place of wheat or gluten foods at dinner time. It’s something I can feed my relative with the wheat allergy.

This was a mish-mash of several different recipes. I served a spiral-sliced honey ham for my husband’s birthday a few days ago and had quite a bit leftover. I have a grinder attachment to my Kitchen Aid mixer and so I can easily make the ground ham. Another well-used appliance that I have is a commercial-style chamber vacuum sealer. I buy ground pork in bulk and then divide it into 1/2# and 1# packages to toss in the freezer. It works well for being prepared to make Egg Roll in a Bowl, Chorizo Burgers, Cold Pork Pie, and now these Baked Ham Balls.

  • Ingredients for Ham Balls
  • 2# ground fully-cooked ham
  • 1# ground pork
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • Ingredients for Sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Mix all ham ball ingredients together in a very large mixing bowl. Form into large balls, about 3″ diameter. You will get about 20-24 meatballs. Place meatballs into the prepared baking dish. They should all fit into the one pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

While the ham is baking the first time, mix the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Sugar should be dissolved. Remove from heat.

Remove ham balls from oven and pour sauce over them as evenly as possible. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes more.

Remove from oven and serve warm. Yield: 8-10 servings.