Archive for the ‘Easy’ Category

Blackened Chicken Pizza


Difficulty: Easy

We love pizza! This is a hearty meal in itself, a wonderful crust of your choice, loaded with flavorful chicken, a fresh tomato salsa and cheese. We get our pizza dough from our local grocery store and it rolls out to be almost an extra-large, you can find fresh dough at your local pizzaria, if your grocery store carries them or sometimes in the frozen aisle. Or use a favorite recipe. Adapted from Rachael Ray.

1 fresh dough ball
All-purpose flour, a couple of tablespoons to work dough
1 tablespoon grill seasoning
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch dried cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded out to even thickness, about 1/2-inch thick
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups shredded Cheddar with jalapeno or chipotle pepper or mozzarella cheese (use the latter if you want to tone down the heat factor)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 small-medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt
1/2 lime, zested and juiced

Directions: Preheat a large heavy skillet over very high heat. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine grill seasoning, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper and place on a plate, press chicken breasts into seasonings on one side. Add oil to screaming hot pan and cook chicken 2 minutes on each side, chicken will not be cooked through but will finish in the oven.

Spread out a little flour or and stretch out pizza dough onto a pizza pan to desired size and thickness.

Remove chicken from pan and slice into thin strips. Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Make garlic paste by mashing it with the flat of your knife and a generous pinch of coarse salt. Add paste to salsa. Add zest and juice of 1/2 lime and mix salsa thoroughly. Scatter chicken, salsa and cheese over pizza dough working to the edges of pizza. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until crisp and bubbly-brown on top. Remove from oven, let cool 5-10 minutes, cut into slices and devour.


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Roast Pork Loin


Difficulty: Easy

What is easier or tastier that a juicy pork loin, perfectly roasted and then topped with a sweet, flavorful glaze? Not much! The pork is brined in a salt water mixture and will guarantee juicy, tender and flavorful meat every time. If your pork is enhanced already, do not brine. You may choose any glaze you like, we love the flavor combinations of the pork and sweet apricots, but a cherry glaze, cranberry- orange or apple would be fantastic as well. A classic meal that is easily rounded out with a few simple sides, we served pan sauteed green beans and a brown rice with lemon, thyme and Parmesan. So good, so simple with fantastic flavors.
Serves 8.

1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, tied at even intervals
Salt and pepper
1 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup apricot jam
2 TBS lemon juice
1/2 cup water, separated

Salt water brine
3 TBS table salt
3 TBS sugar
2 quarts water

Directions:Dissolve salt and sugar into 2 quarts water in a large bowl (one that can accommodate the roast and brine). Submerge the meat completely in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the meat, rinse, pat dry, trim off any excess fat or silver skin and tie with kitchen twine at even intervals if your meat did not come tied from the butcher. Let pork sit at room temperature, covered, for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour prior to roasting.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat the pork down with paper towels again and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown the roast on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to a 13×9-inch baking dish.

Roast pork until the center registers 135 degrees in an instant-read thermometer, 50-70 minutes, flipping it over halfway through the roasting time. Prepare glaze if using when there is 20 minutes left of roasting. Combine jam, lemon juice and 1/4 cup water in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until hot and glaze has thinned. During the last 15 minutes of roasting, brush the glaze over the pork, add remaining 1/4 cup water to bottom of pan to prevent burning.

Remove from oven, cover pork with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 145-150 degrees. Remove the twine and cut into 1-4-inch thick slices. Spoon additional glaze over meat.


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Oven “Fried” Chicken


Difficulty: Easy

I love fried chicken, who doesn’t right? But in efforts to be healthy we tried this alternative. Granted it is no KFC or your grandma’s true fried chicken but it is still moist, flavorful and has a nice crispy crust. As you can tell, we served this meal with mashed potatoes and veggies but Phil & I both agreed we needed something wet, coleslaw will be our next accompaniment. This recipe serves 4 but our chicken breasts were mammoth and you could easily feed 8 if you cut them in half and stay true to real portion sizes, or just use regular sized chicken breasts or cutlets would be nice too.

1 box plain Melba toast, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 TBS vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBS Dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp onion powder
A few dashes of Tabasco sauce, to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Directions: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Pulse the Melba toast in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread the crumbs in a shallow dish and toss with the vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp table salt (or 1 tsp kosher salt) and 1/4 tsp pepper.

In a separate shallow dish, whisk eggs, mustard, thyme leaves, garlic, onion powder and hot sauce together. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season generously with salt and pepper (I am always using kosher salt). Dip one chicken piece at a time into egg mixture and then coat with the Melba crumbs. Press on the crumbs to make sure they adhere and lay the chicken on the wire rack and spray the top with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Bake until the coating is golden brown, the chicken is no longer pink and the thickest part registers 150 degrees in a instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Taco Soup


Difficulty: Easy

It can’t get any easier than taco soup. A pantry meal at it’s finest! Top this quick concoction with fresh ingredients like creamy avocado, cool sour cream and fresh cilantro and you will soon take it to the next level. Hearty with 3 kinds of beans, tender chicken, corn, sharp cheddar cheese and the crunch of tortilla chips. Satisfaction in a bowl. Definitely a family favorite in our home. This recipe will feed a crowd (approximately 10 or so) or you will have leftovers, which is never a bad thing. Phil and I can stretch this for a few days and have happy lunches.

1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cans chicken breast
1 taco seasoning packet
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
3/4 tsp onion powder
Salt & Pepper

Sour cream
Corn tortilla chips
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2-3 avocados, diced
Limes, cut into wedges for serving

Directions: Dump all canned goods into a large pot, do not drain anything. Add 2 cans water. Add taco seasoning packet and remaining spices, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, finishing with salt and pepper to taste. The additional seasonings are approximate, add more or less according to your taste.

To serve crush a handful of tortilla chips in bowl, top with cheese and the taco soup. Serve with a healthy dollop of sour cream, a good sprinkling of cilantro, avocado and lime. Dig in!

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Chicken w/ Spinach Pesto Sauce


Difficulty: Easy

An easy, fresh and healthy weekday meal is just a short time away! Whip up the pesto in your food processor, saute the chicken, throw together a salad and a veggie and voila! Dinner served. A nice way to get your veggies in, this pesto packs a punch with loads of nutrient-rich spinach, bright flavors from lemon, garlic and Parmesan. Great with pasta too. If you don’t have pine nuts, walnuts are easily substituted. Serves 4.

4 boneless chicken breasts, about 6-oz. each
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions: Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side.

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the about two tablespoons pesto over each piece of chicken and serve. Refrigerate remaining pesto for use later in the week, toss with pasta for dinner to accompany chicken or freeze in an ice cube tray and transfer to an airtight container for long term storage (about 1 month).

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Buttermilk Waffles


Difficulty: Easy

Delightfully crisp, light and fluffy. I add orange zest and vanilla for a fresh taste. Easy to make from scratch and infinitely better than a trusty mix. This batter is thick. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of syrup for a wonderful meal. Serves 4. Double accordingly; when it is just my husband and I one batch is great, more than 4 then double and you should get around 8-9 waffles, thin with a bit more milk if necessary! It also depends on the size and depth of your waffle iron. Leftovers hold well in a zipper lock bag in the fridge and crisp up beautifully the next morning in your toaster.

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 TBS butter, melted
1 TBS vanilla
Zest of one orange

Directions: Preheat waffle iron. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. In a large measuring cup (4-cup Pyrex) or medium bowl combine buttermilk, milk, egg yolks, butter, vanilla and orange zest. Whip the gg whites with hand mixer in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, gently combine until few streaks of flour remain. Do not over beat, batter will be lumpy. Gently fold in whipped egg whites. Cook according to your heart’s desire.

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Roasted Cauliflower

Difficulty: Easy

I love cauliflower and it is best done roasted. Cauliflower has a bad rap because too often it is prepared wrong; boiling & steaming can lead to smelly overcooked and bland taste. Roasting brings out the delicate flavors and ensures even cooking, gorgeous caramelization and no smelly veggies!

1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with the bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges so that core and florets remain intact.

Line backing sheet with foil, place wedges on foil and drizzle with half of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, turn and repeat with remaining olive oil and season again.

Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue roasting until bottom of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, carefully flip wedges and sprinkle garlic powder evenly over cauliflower. Return to oven and continue to roast for 8 minutes longer. Remove to serving plate, sprinkle fresh Parmesan over top and serve!

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