Archive for the ‘Entrees’ Category

For our retreat to Mala Duba, we decided to make a few casseroles ahead of time and cook them once in Mala Duba.  This was a yummy, comforting casserole that did great being frozen and then baked a few days later.  I combined a few different recipes to create this dish.  The ground turkey was an unexpected and delicious change from the normal ground beef, and it’s less expensive here than beef is. 

Tamale Pie with Cornbread Crust

Adapted from this and this recipe

500 g ground turkey                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 28 oz can tomatoes, chopped
1 pkg. taco seasoning, plus additional cumin, chili powder, and salt to taste                                                                                                                                                                                                    
1 can kidney beans (rinsed)
1 small can green chilis
1 can corn
2-3 cups shredded cheese
1 box jiffy corn bread mix or one recipe cornbread crust (below)

– In large pot, brown turkey with chopped onions. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. – Add all other ingredients up to cheese. Simmer for a few minutes, adjusting seasonings as needed. Meanwhile, prepare cornbread crust.  Pour meat filling into 9×13 pan. Top with shredded cheese.  Spread cornbread onto top of casserole. Bake at 375 uncovered for 35-45 minutes or until cornbread is browned and filling is bubbly, or cover with foil and freeze.  To freeze frozen casserole, defrost for 30 minutes at room temperature, bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until crust is done, about 30-45 minutes.

Cornbread Crust

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk

1 egg

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and stir to mix.


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Two Keepers

The past two evenings we’ve enjoyed quick and comforting meals for dinner – beef stroganoff and chicken paprikash. They definitely weren’t the most exotic dishes I’ve ever created, but they were really simple, came together quickly, and required a minimum of ingredients. Budget-wise, they were fairly frugal, especially since the little meat I used in them went pretty far and I felt satisfied for hours after eating them. Each recipe made enough for three full servings – I would have had a lot more leftovers, too, if I had served some side dishes with them. Although I probably won’t be craving these dishes anytime soon, they were yummy. Yummy, quick, cheap and filling? I’d say they’re keepers!

Beef Stroganoff

1/4 kilo ground beef (17kn)
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped (.50 kn)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 packet (3 servings) cream of mushroom soup (8 kn)
1 cup sour cream (3 kn)
1/2 bag of bowtie pasta (3.50 kn)
Salt to taste

Set a pot of water on to boil, salting the water with about a teaspoon of salt, and cook pasta.
Brown ground beef; remove meat from pan but retain juices. Saute onions in butter and meat juices until translucent; add garlic clove and saute for another minute. Return meat to the pan. Prepare cream of mushroom soup with boiling water and add to meat and onion mixture. Add Worchestershire sauce and salt to taste and simmer for several minutes. Temper sour cream with pan juices and then add sour cream to pan. Adjust seasonings to taste. If necessary, add a tablespoon of flour (mixed in a little water to prevent lumps) to mixture and simmer until thickened.
Total cost: 32 kn / $6.40 / $2.13 per serving

Chicken Paprikash with Gnocchi

1 b/s chicken breast (6 kn), cut into strips
1 onion, chopped (.50 kn)
1 large red pepper, cut into strips (2 kn)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1/4+ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, broken up into chunks (4 kn)
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream (.50 kn)
300-400 grams frozen or fresh gnocchi (5 kn)

Set a pot of water (with 1/2 teaspoon salt) on to boil.
Salt and cook chicken in oil on high-ish heat until starting to become golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. In same pan on medium heat, saute the onion and pepper (with a little more oil) for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, paprika, and cayenne and saute for another minute. Return chicken to pan and stir to coat with paprika. Add tomatoes and salt and reduce heat to simmer until mixture becomes thickened but peppers are still on the crunchy, rather than mushy, side. Temper sour cream with pan juices and add to pan. Adjust seasonings to taste. Reduce heat to lowest setting while gnocchi cooks.
Cook gnocchi in boiling water just until all gnocchi float to the surface. Do not overcook gnocchi, as it will become mushy and fall apart if overcooked.
Serve paprikash over gnocchi.
Total: 18 kn / $3.60 / $1.20 per serving

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YUM, YUM, YUM!!! I concocted the idea for these wraps while sitting on the beach yesterday, and couldn’t wait to try them once I had the idea in my head. And I wasn’t disappointed! They were delicious, although I couldn’t help but think while making the wraps and bbq sauce how much quicker they’d be to make if I lived in the States and could just buy the ingredients already prepared. But we were blessed to have received some Ranch dressing in a package from the States, so at least I didn’t worry about having to create my own dressing!

Adapted from Homesick Texan’s Flour Tortillas

1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp veg oil
3/4 cup warm milk

Stir together all dry ingredients. Add milk and oil and stir to combine. Knead until just mixed, adding water a teaspoon at a time as needed for a supple dough. Divide into six piece, roll each into a ball, and let rest for a few minutes. Heat up a griddle on medium-high heat, and roll each ball into as thin a wrap as possible. Cook on the griddle until just forming golden spots on each side. Keep covered until ready to use.

*I really dislike these “tortillas” in Mexican food – they taste more like a pancake than a tortilla to me. However, because they’re a little thicker and chewier than tortillas, I think they work great as wraps. They take a little effort to roll out – try to get them as thin as possible, because they will puff up a bit when being cooked.

Barbeque Sauce
from Serious Eats’ Basic Barbeque Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoons molasses
1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a pan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

*A half of a tablespoon of Tabasco makes for a pretty spicy sauce. Yum!

BBQ-Ranch Chicken Wraps

1 b/s chicken breast
4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Tomato, sliced into half moons
Whole lettuce leaves
Few tablespoons of chopped onion
Ranch Dressing
BBQ Sauce

Coat chicken breast with bbq sauce, sprinkle with salt, and bake in 200C oven until done. Slice into 1/8 inch thick slices and let cool.

Spread bbq sauce on wrap. Lay down large leaf of lettuce and top with chicken, bacon, tomato, onion, and ranch dressing. Add more bbq sauce as needed, roll into wrap, and slice in half. Enjoy!

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The last time I lived in Croatia, stir-fry was one of the only meals I knew how to make. Needless to say, I ended up eating a lot of stir-fry. A lot. Like, way, way too much. Especially considering I hated the way I made it, and that I’m not a big fan of white rice. So once I returned to the States and decided to learn how to cook more than just stir-fry and plain chicken breasts, this dish fell out of my cooking repertoire, and since then I’ve never looked back.

Until now.

Last night we were getting hungry and it was getting late, and although these aren’t usually the best circumstances in which to try a new recipe, I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather have than something with a peanut sauce. Weird, considering the fact that I’ve never actually eaten anything with peanut sauce. Thankfully, we had to go to the store anyways, so I was able to pick up all of the ingredients for the meal that I ended up creating. At least, I thought I had all of the ingredients.

Upon returning from the store, I threw on a pot of water to boil, chopped the chicken into small cubes and sauteed in olive oil, and set about to cut up the veggies. While those were sauteeing, I began to tackle my peanut sauce…until I looked in the fridge and realized that I had about a tablespoon of peanut butter. Peanut butter is a precious commodity in Croatia – I found out a few weeks ago that the health food store next door to my house carries a relatively yummy peanut butter for a reasonable price, but apparently I was so excited by this discovery that I ate nearly the whole jar. Oops. Thankfully, however, David had bought a huge bag of peanuts for a snack, so we quickly set to work shelling about a quarter of a cup of the peanuts. While the sauce wasn’t as creamy as it would have been with peanut butter, it still tasted delicious. The whole meal was finished in less than a half an hour, was inexpensive and filling, and most importantly, was delicious! My faith in stir-fries has been renewed, with the realization that they don’t have to contain rice (the whole wheat spaghetti was delicious and didn’t require nearly as much sauce as rice), the predominant flavor doesn’t have to be soy sauce, and the veggies don’t have to be overcooked and soggy.

Peanut Sauce
adapted from Cooking With Amy

1/4 cup natural (unsweetened) peanut butter, or shelled peanuts
2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
dash of ground ginger
1/4 cup water

Puree ingredients through water in mini food processor, gradually adding water until mixture is smooth. Add remaining water, place in a saucepan on medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until sauce is bubbling, adding up to 1/4 cup water as needed.

1 chicken breast, cubed
1 carrot, shaved into ribbons
1 zucchini, cut in to 1/2 inch thick half-moons
1/2 onion, cut into small strips
1 red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
Whole wheat spaghetti
Spicy Peanut Sauce

Cook spaghetti. On medium-high heat, cook chicken in a little olive oil until they begin to brown. Remove to a plate and saute the veggies until just softened but still al dente. Add the chicken and spaghetti to the pan, add the peanut sauce, and stir to combine all ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve!

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Very quick. Very cheap.  Very yummy.

Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

1-2 chicken breasts, cut into tiny cubes
1 apple, cut into small chunks
4 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped, or 3 green onions
1 cup couscous
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of cinnamon

In pan, melt 3 tbsp butter. Add curry powder and stir for a minute until mixture gets fragrant. Add the apples and stir to coat, cooking for about a minute. Add the chicken chunks, a couple of pinches of salt, and stir to mix well with the apples. Cook, covered, for about 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Sprinkle with cayenne and cinnamon to taste, and remove to a plate, cover, and keep warm. In the same pan, add the remaining tbsp butter and the onions, and cook until soft. Add 1 3/4 cups water and salt, bring to a boil, and add the couscous. Cover and remove from heat. After about 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and then scoop into a bowl, topping with the apple and chicken mixture. Season to taste with cinnamon and cayenne.

Optional: top with toasted walnuts, mint leaves, or fresh cilantro.

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Mom’s Lasagna

Here is the recipe for my mom’s mouth-watering lasagna. I may be impartial, but I think it’s the best lasagna in the world!

Mom’s Lasagna

1 lb. (450 g) Italian sausage or hamburger (or a mixture of the two)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 c.)
1 clove garlic, pressed

Cook and stir above ingredients till meat is cooked. Drain.


1 can (16oz./450g) whole tomatoes (I like to pulverize them)
1 can (15oz./425g) tomato sauce
2 T. parsley flakes (dried)
1 t. sugar
1 t. dried basil leaves
1/2 t. salt

Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered until mixture is consistency of thick spaghetti sauce, about 1 hr.

9 uncooked lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Drain.

1 16 oz. (450g) carton of ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 T. dried parsley
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. dried oregano leaves

Measure out :
2 c. mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz./225g)

Layer a small amt. of sauce on bottom of 9 X13 baking dish (greased). Then layer 1/3 each of noodles, sauce, ricotta, and mozzarella. Repeat 2 times, ending up with a little reserved sauce on top (about 1/2 c.). Top with 1/4 c. parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350F/180C degrees for 45 min. (uncovered).

Let stand 10-15 min. before cutting.
Serves 8-10.

Happy eating!

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One of my recent cooking goals has been to learn to make a great risotto, and my first attempt, thanks to this recipe, was successful. The layers of flavor and texture – sweet caramelized onions, creamy rice, tangy balsamic vinegar, and a subtle splash of white wine – leave your palate highly satisfied. Granted, it took forever, but it was completely worth it, especially since there was very little chopping, cutting, peeling, etc. And I love that this recipe has chicken in it, so it’s a complete meal. A side of roasted veggies would be a delightful compliment to the dish.

A few notes on the preparation and the ingredients I used:
– The original recipe didn’t call for garlic, but I love it, so I added it in at the end of the caramelization of the onions. Adding it before this will result in the garlic burning and drying up.
– I used homemade chicken stock, which resulted in the dish needing to be salted a bit more than I had anticipated, but I fear that using chicken boullion cubes would be too salty. If you have homemade broth or boxed broth, that would be preferable. One of the secrets to risotto is to make sure the broth is hot when you add it to the rice. This keeps the cooking process on track and keeps the rice from sticking together.
– I used just one b/s chicken breast to make it more inexpensive. I put it on a pan, salted, peppered, and sprinkled garlic powder on it, and baked it for about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Then I let it cool and chopped it into small pieces.
– The white wine doesn’t have to be good quality. I’m pretty sure the wine I bought was one of the poorest quality wines ever sold (it was only $2 for a large bottle). But because it cooked for so long, the flavor was diffused and the dish tasted wonderful.
– The recipe instructs the onions to be caramelized first, and then set aside while the rice cooks. I did this the first time I made it, but upon further reflection I think a multi-tasking cook would easily be able to caramelize the onions while stirring the rice, which would really cut down on the cooking time a lot.

I saw a cute idea in a magazine for a dinner party where everyone gets to take turns stirring the risotto while munching on appetizers and talking, with music playing in the background. And because it smells so wonderful while cooking, your guests will be anticipating a mouth-watering epicurean delight, and when you serve this meal, perhaps garnished with some fresh herbs, they will not be disappointed!

Roasted Chicken with Carmelized Onion Risotto
From http://www.allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 15 MinutesCook Time: 30 Minutes
Ready In: 45 MinutesYields: 4 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups hot chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups chopped cooked
chicken breast
salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and saute for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions are a dark golden brown. Remove from heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a separate large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the rice and mix well. Let heat for about 2 minutes, then pour in the wine. Reduce heat to medium low and start pouring in the broth about 1 cup at a time. Add more broth as each cup is absorbed. Continue in this manner until all the broth is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the reserved onion mixture and allow to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish each serving with fresh thyme.

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