Posts Tagged ‘main dish’

We love this tasty dish from Practical Paleo, but I despise making meatballs. The process is just tedious and messy. So I’ve found a way to maximize output and minimize mess – at least how many times I have to make a mess.

This meatball recipe uses nuts and veggies as the binder for the pork as opposed to eggs or breadcrumbs. The result is a sneaky way to get a little extra nutrition and fewer carbs. The original called for cooking these tidbits in a skillet first, but we found we actually prefer the bit of crunch from not cooking them ahead. (Not to mention having one less dish to wash!)

Here are my meatball tips:

  1. I double the batch. This means I’m making this family favorite once but getting more than one meal.
  2. I use my cookie scoop/melon baller to measure out the meatballs. This ensures they are the same size without a lot of guesswork.
  3. I put enough in a pan for dinner. The rest go on a cookie sheet to freeze. After being frozen, I put them in a freezer container and label. From there, I only pull out what I need for the next meal and bake as usual.

Thanksgiving Stuffing Meatballs

meatballs and corn

Thanksgiving stuffing meatballs with corn on the cob. Yummy!

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 Tbsps. Italian Sausage Spice Blend (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped*
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped*
  • 1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped*
  • 1/4 chestnuts, walnuts, pecans, finely chopped*

*I put all these ingredients in my mini food processor. Speeds up the prep time.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine pork and spice blend until will combined. Then combine onion, celery, carrot, and nuts with the meat mixture until well combined.

Form into 1-inch meatballs. Place in an oven-safe dish or on a baking sheet and bake approximately 25-30 minutes or until cooked all the way through.

To use frozen meatballs: Place as many as you need on a baking dish or baking sheet and bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Italian Sausage Spice Blend

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 Tbsp. ground sage
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper (or 1 tsp. black pepper)
  • 2 tsps. dried parsley (optional)

*I mix up a big batch of this (like, triple) and keep it on-hand in my spice cupboard. I tend to leave out the fennel, and it is still tasty. You can use 2 tablespoons of this per pound of meat to make sausage.


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Crunchy Chicken Salad

Crunchy chicken salad, baked in a casserole dish, is a tasty main course for lunch.

A friend of mine gave me this recipe after she used it for a lunch gathering. My husband and I enjoy it very much. The kids…well, the oldest pretty much just eats the chicken out of it, while the youngest turns up her nose. They can eat peanut butter sandwiches while hubby and I get a real meal.

(Mom confession time: I LOVE peanut butter. I love peanut butter sandwiches. I would eat peanut butter sandwiches every day if I could. That being said, I recognize the value of a diet rich in foods beyond peanut butter and bread. So I limit myself and my kids. But when I have to take a bag lunch? More often than not, it’s a peanut butter sandwich.)

This baked chicken salad is great on its own, or served in tortillas. I love the crunch of water chestnuts, and the contrast they provide with the chicken. I have reduced the mayonnaise from the original recipe, as I found that it was very runny. It also reheats and freezes well. I often double the recipe and freeze a pan without the topping. If you do that, thaw before baking.

Crunchy Chicken Salad

  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 cup sliced pimentos
  • 1/2 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/8 tsp Accent Spice mix
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small can French fried onions
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Mix together chicken, almonds, water chestnuts, pimentos, celery salt and Accent. Whip mayo and lemon juice; stir into chicken mixture.

Pour into a greased casserole dish (8×8). Top with onions and cheddar. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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When I can get everyone – everyone! – in my family to eat a meal, we officially have a winner. This all-in-one we made ages ago, and it got lost in my recipe box. Found it recently and decided to try it again, remembering that everyone liked it last time. (Last time, neither of the kids were quite as picky as they are now.)

History repeated itself, and everyone ate it! (Can I get a Hallelujah?!) My three-year-old even repeated several time, “I like this supper. I like all the things in it.” The flavors complement each other very well, and everything is fairly mild, so it has kid-appeal. The egg adds a nice touch, so I don’t recommend skipping it…though I almost did.

sweet potatoe and sausage hash

Sweet Potato Sausage Hash

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch slices.
  • 12 ounces bulk pork sausage. (I used 1 lb. mild sage sausage because that’s what I had.)
  • 1 fresh Anaheim or sweet bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cups spinach and/or baby kale
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 eggs (we only did two)
  • salt
  1. In a very large skillet with a lid, heat 2 Tbsp. water over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes. Cover; cook 12 minutes.
  2. Uncover skillet; add sausage and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until sausage is brown and sweet potatoes are tender, stirring to break up sausage. Drain fat if necessary. Stir in spinach and cumin. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Transfer to a serving dish.
  3. Add oil to skillet. Heat over medium heat. Crack eggs into skillet (or alternately, into a bowl and scramble lightly before pouring into skillet, like I did.) Sprinkle with salt. Cook until desired doneness. Serve over hash.

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Vanilla and pork? Hmmm. When we first tried this, the recipe had us make grilled peaches and a peach spread to put on pork chops before grilling them. The peach spread didn’t thrill us, but the brined pork chops are easy and incredible! The brine tenderizes the meat, and causes it to soak in flavor. (I will definitely be covering brining in a future post.)


Vanilla Pork Chops, shown here with Veggie Trio

We make this family favorite often – even my girls love them. When we can, we grill them, but they taste great broiled or just baked in the oven as well.

Vanilla Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In large plastic bag or container, combine water, salt, sugar and vanilla until salt and sugar are dissolved. Place chops in bag and set in deep bowl. (I use a deep container and don’t use a bag.) Refrigerate 6-24 hours.
  2. Drain chops. Grill over medium coals 6-8 minutes per side, or until meat thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Alternately, you can broil approx. 5 minutes per side, or bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

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I’m a mom. Few children I know like to eat vegetables, at least in the quantities they are supposed to. (Heck, I don’t like to eat vegetables in the quantity I’m supposed to.)

So when I want comfort food, like Cheesy Hash Brown Bake, I find ways to be sneaky with veggies without sacrificing flavor.


Mmm…yummy. Can you tell there are carrots and broccoli hiding in this photo of my party potatoes?

The original recipe calls for 3 lbs. of frozen hash browns. My mom always used the cubed hash browns, but I found that I prefer the shredded hash browns from a texture standpoint. This offers easy opportunity for subbing in other veggies, like shredded carrots, and/or broccoli slaw.

Food processor

My food processor makes shredding easy.

I started by buying a bag of broccoli slaw and a bag of shredded carrots and substituting these for part of the hash browns. Then I tried using my food processor’s shredding disc to shred my own carrots and the stalks from broccoli, and we liked the texture better. I also recently subbed shredded cheddar for the shredded “process cheese food” and found no difference in flavor. So here is my recipe.

Makeover Party Potatoes

  • 4-5 cups shredded hash browns
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded carrots (or bag of shredded carrots)
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded broccoli (or bag of broccoli slaw)
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup onion, grated, or 1/2 cup dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups chopped ham


  • 2 cups crushed corn flakes
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Thaw potatoes. Mix all ingredients for casserole together. Put in 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with buttered corn flakes. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

*You can also split the casserole ingredients between two 8×8-inch baking dishes. Make only half the topping and top one with it. Bake this one. Cover the other with plastic wrap and/or foil and freeze. (A disposable foil or plastic pan works great for this.) Top with buttered cornflakes before baking at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until heated through.

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BC (Before Children) my husband and I only cooked for the two of us. This was one of our favorite quick and simple meals; the simple pasta sauce whips up on the stove in less than 15 minutes, and makes just enough for two.We love the flavor garlic adds, and the crushed red pepper flakes give it just enough zing to be exciting.

Once the kids were born, it was knocked out of the rotation because “I don’t like tomatoes” and “it’s too spicy” became just annoying.

Every once in a while, I get the house to myself and even a meal to myself, (What?!?! Yep, it happens.) and I decided I wanted Quick Marinara. We had some leftover spaghetti noodles and some leftover cooked chicken pieces in the frig, so it was meant to be.

In retrospect, I should have left out the chicken. It interrupted the flavor of the sauce. Now, if you had some well-seasoned chicken breast on hand, it might be a different story.

Quick marinara

Quick Marinara, with cut-up chicken breast pieces to add protein.

Quick Marinara for Two

  • pasta of your choice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Advance preparation:  Mince the garlic. (Did you know that letting minced garlic sit for several minutes before cooking may make it healthier for you? So mince it up and let it rest while you get the pasta going and heat the oil in the skillet.)
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. Heat oil in medium skillet. Saute garlic in oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced. Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired.

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Asian Turkey Wraps – Not the prettiest meal, but tasty!

I’m a big fan of all-in-one meals because I’m pretty terrible at planning side dishes. I love it when the veggies and meat are all wrapped up in a neat little package.


With this dish, I also love that it a is a quick, one-pan meal, though I end up getting my food processor dirty. I’ve made note of “advance preparation” that works best if you can do it ahead of time rather than in the midst of cooking.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Makes 10 (1/3 cup) servings.

  • 1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey (I buy 1 lb. packages, and usually just reduce the other ingredients a little.)
  • 1 pkg (16 oz) frozen stir-fry vegetable blend, thawed (my pkg. is 14 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce (I highly recommend Soy Vay’s Veri, Veri Teriyaki. Mmm.)
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh gingerroot (I use 1 tsp. ground ginger when I don’t have fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 10 Boston lettuce leaves (or other broad lettuce of your choice)
  1. Advance Preparation: Thaw turkey (if necessary) and stir-fry veggies. Mix together teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, ginger, vinegar, and oil. Mince the garlic. Chop green onions.
  2. Cook turkey in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until no longer pink.
  3. Chop stir-fry vegetables coarsely. (This is where I pulse them in my food processor, usually because I’ve forgotten to thaw them. 🙂 ) Add veggies to pan. Stir in teriyaki sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, ginger, vinegar, and oil – or if you’ve planned ahead, dump in your pre-measured mixture. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in onions. Place scant 1/2 cup turkey mixture on each lettuce leaf; fold lettuce over filling. Serve with additional hoisin sauce, if desired.

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