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Category Archives: Meats

Zucchini-Beef Enchiladas

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Enchiladas are one of my favorite foods, but they are a bit filling and heavy for summer fare.  I had a few zucchini to use up, and decided to try adding one to enchiladas.  Worked great, added some low-calorie nutrition & a little extra texture without detracting from the yummy flavor.  These were a hit, and we all liked them so much, I know I will never make my Mom’s Beef and Cheese Enchiladas without zucchini added in again.  And pssst: you can totally “bake” these in the microwave – doesn’t take long, just until the cheese is melted.

Zucchini-Beef Enchiladas

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1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, quartered & chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
2 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (or 1 packet store-bought)
2 tablespoons water
15 corn tortillas
1 (8 oz) package cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (19 oz) can red enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil, swirling to coat bottom of pan.  Add the zucchini and cook about ten minutes, stirring often, or until soft.  Remove to a plate, then add the ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain and add taco seasoning, water, and the cooked zucchini.  Stir well and cook a few minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Wrap four tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside a cup of the cheese to use for the top. Take tortillas one at a time, keeping the others wrapped, and put a little cheese in a line down the middle, then some of the beef mixture, about 2-3 tablespoons. Roll up tight and place in prepared dish. Repeat, warming additional tortillas as necessary, until all the filling is used. Pour enchilada sauce over the top, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Veronica’s note: I know it’s so much easier to buy pre-shredded cheese, but you just will never get the same glorious melt that you get with cheese you’ve shredded yourself. It’s worth the few minutes and extra clean up. Also, if you’d like to “bake” these in the microwave, it’s best to divide the recipe between two smaller microwave-safe dishes. Keep an eye on it and just let it go until the cheese is melted – should take five minutes or less. I prefer to do a few at a time on a plate.

Low Country Boil {Northern Stovetop Version}

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I got this recipe from my friend, Suzie, who ironically lives up North, so I don’t know how authentic this is to the “low country” but it’s really good!  I actually ate this whole recipe by myself over the course of several days while pregnant because Den hates shrimp. Usually I avoid shrimp dishes because I don’t like to prepare myself a separate dish, but this is so worth the minimal effort.  So flavorful! The second best part is, this is an indoor version you can make on your stovetop any time of year.

Low Country Boil

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4 cups red potatoes, quartered
4 ears corn on the cob, cut in half
1 (14-16 oz) package polish sausage or kielbasa, cut into bite-size pieces
2 lbs. of uncooked large shrimp

For the stock:

12 cups water
1 package Zatarain’s crab boil
1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
1 lemon, quartered
1 large onion, quartered
9 whole cloves of garlic (or to taste)
3 tablespoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tablespoons table salt)

Add all stock ingredients to a large stock pot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add potatoes and corn and boil for 15 minutes. Add kielbasa or polish sausage and cook for 5 more minutes. Turn down heat to medium and add the uncooked shrimp. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until shrimp turns orange, and drain into a serving dish. Serve with butter and old bay seasoning mixed together and/or cocktail sauce. Enjoy and have plenty of napkins ready!

Veronica’s note: you can use frozen “mini” corn on the cob, and add along with the shrimp at the end.

Sweet Salsa Slow Cooker Meatballs

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Independence Day!  It was the best 4th of July of my whole life, and hands-down the best day Joshua’s ever had period. I want to share some photos but will be doing that tomorrow.

Today I have a simple crockpot meal that is great any time of year, because in summer, it doesn’t heat the kitchen, and in winter, it’s just nice to have something hot and ready at the end of a cold day.  I got this recipe from my friend, Holly, who actually had posted it in response to a mutual friend’s request for crockpot recipes on Facebook. I nabbed it and made it soon after because I’d just made my own apricot jam.  These were very satisfying and tasty.  Hope you enjoy, and stay cool!

Sweet Salsa Slow Cooker Meatballs

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1 (26 oz) bag frozen meatballs
3 bell peppers in different colors, sliced (optional)
1 (24 oz) jar salsa
1 (18 oz) jar apricot preserves

Place the meatballs in the bottom of your slow cooker and layer the bell peppers over, if you’re using them.  Whisk the salsa and apricot preserves together in a bowl, and pour over the top.  Cover and cook on low until heated through, 6-8 hours. Holly suggests serving over rice or with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Recipe source: adapted from Holly W.

Blackened Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo

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Dennis is a huge fan of blackened meat.  And by blackened, I don’t meant burnt (that would be me that likes burnt meat), I mean meat that’s been rubbed with spicy blackening seasoning.  So when I ran across this recipe, I knew it would be perfect for Father’s Day.  It was perfectly suited for him, is impressive, but simple to prepare, which is pretty much a requirement for all the recipes I make these days.  It was incredibly delicious, and I would make it again, and again, and again.

Blackened Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo

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2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
1 tablespoon blackening seasoning
1 (10 oz) container Buitoni Light Alfredo sauce
1 tablespoon roasted garlic
8 oz bowtie pasta, cooked to al dente & drained

Drizzle olive oil over chicken breasts to lightly coat. Sprinkle blackening seasoning liberally over both sides of the chicken. Heat skillet on medium-high and cook chicken 3 minutes on each side. While chicken is cooking, heat Alfredo sauce and roasted garlic. Add pasta and toss; divide between two dishes. Slice chicken and place on top of pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Veronica’s notes: In a pinch, you can sprinkle in some garlic powder to taste instead of the roasted garlic.  Also, Bertolli’s jarred light alfredo works great for this recipe if you can’t find the fresh stuff.

Recipe source: Plain Chicken

Here’s the card I made for Dennis this year.  It may be my favorite card I’ve ever made. :) He loved it!

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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Chicken & Dumpling Casserole |

Although the first day of spring has come and gone, it’s been chilly and blustery here in Kansas, so I thought I’d share this warm and delicious casserole for everyone that’s still eagerly awaiting spring before it’s hot and sweltering and nobody wants to bake a casserole. This is pure comfort food and perfect to warm the soul on a chilly day.  It’s very quick and simple to make, which is good if you have a baby that has decided that if you aren’t holding him or playing with him or taking him on a stroller ride, he isn’t happy, because you won’t have to listen to him scream for very long  before dinner is in the oven. ;)

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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3 – 4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (use rotisserie chicken if desired)
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 400F. Place butter in 9″ X 13″ baking dish and place in oven while it’s preheating. Once butter is melted, you can remove the pan to continue with the recipe, or let it cook a little to brown it and add an extra dimension of flavor. Be sure to watch it if you decide to let it brown because it can go from nutty to burnt pretty quickly.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle prepared chicken over the top of the butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over the chicken, but do not stir. In same bowl, after scraping out as much flour mixture as possible, whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Pour that over top of casserole; do not stir.

Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes. When done, the top will be beautifully browned and bubbly around the edges.

Yield: about 6 servings

Veronica’s notes: I boiled a whole chicken for this recipe. It was about 5 lbs and I covered it with water in a stock pot and added a teaspoon of salt, boiling for an hour or two. I forgot to set the timer so I really don’t know how long I boiled it because I was so busy with the baby- lol. If you make it this way, it’s very economical, and you automatically make your own broth to use in the recipe.

Recipe source: The Better Baker

Roasted Tomato & Portabella Meatloaf

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Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Italian Green Beans is my ultimate comfort meal.  But for some reason I rarely make it!  In fact, I only have one other recipe for meatloaf on my blog.  What is up with that?  There’s a good reason that I don’t make other favorites like pecan pie and cheesecake – because I puffy heart loooove them would eat way too much of those fat and sugar bombs.  But meatloaf isn’t necessarily unhealthy (you can even use ground turkey if you like!) and is so delicious.  I really need to make it more often.

My first meatloaf sammie! So good.

I adapted this recipe from my Foodie Mama, Marina‘s, recipe, which she adapted from the original Quaker Oats recipe.  I love that about the online foodie world – recipes keep shifting and changing as they pass from person to person.  I didn’t mean to get all fancy pants on my meatloaf, but baby portabella mushrooms were on sale at Aldi (LOVE ALDI!) for 99 cents and I had no idea what I was going to do with them, and when I decided on meatloaf I had no tomato sauce and had to make my own with canned roasted tomatoes (also from Aldi), so this wonderful meatloaf was born.

This is probably my favorite meatloaf I’ve had so far, but I know there are a lot of different ways to make it and I don’t have a ton of versions to compare it to.  It’s got lots of great flavor, the added veggies keep it nice and moist, and we thought the the sweet and sour roasted tomato sauce really put it over the top.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Roasted Tomato and Portabella Meatloaf

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2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (8 oz) package mini portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion (or ½ of a medium), diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can diced roasted tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup quick oats
1 large egg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, divided
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon juice

Take the ground beef out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before starting the recipe.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Saute until softened and all the liquid is evaporated; set aside. Place the roasted tomatoes, with the juice, in a food processor or blender and process for about a minute, or until pureed. Spoon out ½ cup of the puree and add the mushroom mixture to the remaining puree. Process until vegetables are very finely chopped, or until pureed if you don’t want to see them in your meatloaf. If you are using a blender, you might have to stop frequently to stir the mixture.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with the tomato and mushroom mixture, oats, egg, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper. Pat into a loaf pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the reserved toasted tomato puree with ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Spread ½-2/3 cup of the sauce over the meatloaf and bake for 1 ½ hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160F. Remove from oven and carefully pour off the liquid; allow to sit for ten minutes before slicing and serving. Refrigerate leftovers and make meatloaf sandwiches the next day. :)

What’s your ultimate comfort food? Here are a few of my personal favorites…

Chunky Chicken Soup

Easy Salisbury Steaks with Onion Gravy

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Tilapia with Chile Lime Butter

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I have been enjoying a lot of flavorful & healthy meals lately, this being perhaps my favorite of them all.  This fish is just bursting with flavor and while I enjoy fish normally, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed it to this degree, except for with my favorite salmon.  But I like this fish even more than the salmon!

I don’t think it’s just my pregnancy hormones tricking me into thinking this is one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever eaten.  I got the recipe from Suzie, who proclaimed it a restaurant-worthy meal (I so agree!).  Her husband is super picky and usually will only eat things like pizza and burgers, but even he ate this and enjoyed it.  I knew it must be good if he was willing to even taste it, let alone eat a whole serving. My hubs couldn’t stop at one piece, he had to have two. :)

The chile-lime butter is the key here – it’s your secret weapon to make tilapia, which isn’t that exciting by itself, seem like the most incredible edible thing ever.  It has so much flavor that you don’t need much to make your filet absolutely craveable, so it only adds 50 (healthy!) calories to your meal.  Light, fresh, totally amazing.  Do it.


Tilapia with Chile-Lime Butter

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For the butter:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped shallot (I used green onion)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or Serrano chile, including seeds (this adds almost no heat – use more if you like it hot!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cilantro for garnish

For the fish:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tilapia fillets

Stir together butter, shallot, zest, lime juice, chile and salt in a bowl.  Pat dry the fillets and sprinkle with salt.  Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over moderately high heat until just smoking, then saute the fillets, turning over once with a spatula until golden brown and just cooked through (4-5 minutes).  Transfer to a plate.

Serve each warm fillet with a dollop of chili lime butter spread over the top.  Garnish with cilantro.

Recipe Source: Two Dogs in the Kitchen


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