Spiced Mediterranean Squash

In the Mediterranean, particularly Syria and Lebanon, stuffed squash is a very popular dish. Called koosa, it is a staple of family meals throughout the Mediterranean Middle East. It is usually served with hummus, pita, and a green salad. However, it is often difficult to find squash large enough to stuff. Other times you just don’t want to go through all the work of hollowing out and stuffing those squash  So I often make this simple alternative that contains all of the flavor with just a fraction of the work. You will need the following ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups of uncooked rice

One 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

One 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes

Three yellow squash, sliced

One tablespoon of McCormick Greek seasoning

Two teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, ground allspice, and tumeric

2 tablespoons of olive oil

In a large dutch oven heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Stir often to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the ground beef and brown until the meat is cooked completely. Add the Greek seasoning while you are browning the meat. Once the meat is cooked through add the squash, salt, and pepper and mix until everything is fully incorporated. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.

 

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Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Okay, now I know what you’re thinking. “Everyone knows how to make spaghetti,” you’re saying. And it’s true. Everyone knows how to cook some noodles and open a bottle of Ragu and call it spaghetti. That’s great if you want something fast that’s going to taste okay and keep you full for a little while. But if you want spaghetti like you would find in a high end Italian restaurant or in those great hole in the wall joints in Little Italy then you are going to have to do some work. So if you want spaghetti that’s going to impress your girlfriend, maybe even enough to recreate that one scene in “Lady and the Tramp” that we secretly all love I’ve got the recipe for you. You’ll need:

One pound of ground beef

One pound of traditional breakfast sausage (yes I know it sounds weird but trust me)

One medium onion, diced

Two garlic cloves, minced

Two cups mushrooms, sliced

One 29 ounce can of tomato puree

Two teaspoons of white sugar

One 15 ounce can of Italian style diced tomatoes

One-half teaspoon salt

One-quarter teaspoon ground black pepper

Two teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

One-half teaspoon lemon juice

Two tablespoons olive oil

One package dry spaghetti

Heat the oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Meanwhile prepare the spaghetti noodles per package instructions. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onion becomes translucent. Add the ground beef and sausage and brown until complete cooked through and crumbled. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, the reduce the heat and simmer until the pasta is completely cooked. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad and wait for the complements to roll in.

 

Margherita Chicken

I am constantly on the lookout for new recipe ideas to add to my recipe box. So when I saw a listing for chicken Margherita on Olive Garden’s menu I knew I was going to end up making my own version of this recipe. I made it for my parents last night to rave reviews. And now I’m sharing this recipe with you. You will need the following ingredients:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts (The number is dependent on the amount of servings you are making.)

One cup of white flour

One half cup of milk

Two medium eggs

Panko bread crumbs

One jar of Prego pesto sauce

Roma tomatoes, sliced (You will need two slices per chicken breast)

Sliced Mozzarella cheese (You will need one slice per chicken breast)

One cup of olive oil for frying

Place the flour in a large freezer bag and add the chicken breasts, one at a time, and shake until the chicken is completely coated. Mix the eggs and milk together in a bowl and moisten the chicken completely. Then roll the chicken in the Panko bread crumbs, place on a rack, and allow to sit for about 15 minutes for the coating to adhere properly. Heat the oil to 375 degrees. Fry the chicken for about 20 minutes until it is brown on both sides. Make sure to turn every five minutes to prevent burning. Transfer the browned chicken to a 350 degree oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, top with pesto sauce, tomatoes, and cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Serve with your favorite vegetable and enjoy.

Cuban Style Braised Pork

Ropa vieja is a classic Cuban dish that encompasses the taste and style of Cuban cooking. The name ropa vieja means old cloths and it’s said that this dish got it’s name from because the shredded meat looks like old rags. It’s the national dish of Cuba and is a great introduction to Cuban cooking. Ropa vieja is an old dish that dates all the way back to Jewish migrants into Spain around 1000 A.D. Traditionally the recipe is made with a beef roast but I didn’t have a beef roast available so I decided to use pork neck bones instead.  To make this recipe you will need the following:

One and a half pounds of pork neck bones

One 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

Three tablespoons of catsup

One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

Two cloves of garlic minced

One and a half teaspoons ground cumin

One 4 ounce can of diced green chilies

One green pepper and one red pepper sliced

One small onion thinly sliced

Three tablespoons of green olives with pimentos

One  tablespoon of the olive brine from the jar

Cooking this meal is amazingly simple. Just throw everything together in the slow cooker, set it on low, and cook it for eight hours. Serve it with cooked white rice and black beans and enjoy.

 

Continental Chicken

Coq au vin is a very traditional French dish that is made by stewing chicken in red wine along with onions, mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes. I had it as a child and really enjoyed it but never made it as an adult because I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and don’t believe in consuming alcohol. Last year I moved and I have slowly been unpacking boxes and stumbled across a cookbook that I had bought at a thrift store a few years ago. It had a book mark in it and I wasn’t sure why and so I decided to make the recipe to find out why I had marked it. Well the recipe turned out to be a non-alcohol based version of coq au vin called continental chicken. Needless to say I was quite happy with the results.

To make continental chicken you will need the following ingredients:

Eight bone-in chicken thighs

two tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

One medium onion, sliced*

One clove of garlic, sliced

One 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes

One 16 ounce can of sliced mushrooms

One 16 ounce can of medium black olives

One 8 ounce can of tomato paste

One half cup soy sauce

Three cups cooked white rice

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions start to brown slightly. Add the chicken to the pot, skin side down, and brown on each side (about five minutes per side). Add the rest of the ingredients, except the rice, and bring to a boil. Reduce the temperature to low and simmer for 45 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the rice according to package directions. Serve the cooked chicken and sauce over the rice.

*If you can find them try using spring or BBQ onions instead of  regular onions. You’ll need three to replace one medium yellow onion but they have a milder taste and give the sauce a wonderful flavor and texture.

 

Granny’s Old Fashioned Meatloaf

Meatloaf. That word just conjures up images of comfort and times spent around grandma’s table for Sunday dinner. However, meatloaf isn’t particularly healthy and so a lot of people have put it aside for other kinds of food. And I’m going to admit right now that this recipe isn’t all that healthy although I have taken steps to make it more healthy than it might otherwise be. This is a variation of a recipe that is nearly 200 years old but it’s been given a modern update that has taken it from it’s roots in the Pennsylvania heartland. You will need the following ingredients:

Meatloaf

Two pounds of ground beef

One pound of ground pork

Four large eggs, beaten

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 package beefy onion soup mix

1 package McCormick’s bourbon brown sugar marinade mix

Sauce

One small onion diced fine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 can of Campbell’s Healthy Request tomato soup, undiluted

1/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil and saute the onion until it is brown and translucent. Add the water, soup, and Worchestershire sauce to the pan and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for ten minute. In a large bowl add the meatloaf ingredients and mix them together well. In a large baking pan or several small loaf pans shape the meat mixture into a loaf and top it with the sauce mixture. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes and serve. This goes great with nearly anything from rice and gravy to macaroni and cheese.

Jaeger Schnitzel

Schnitzel is a type of meat that is pounded or sliced thin then breaded and deep fried. In Germany the meat used is generally pork and that is what is used in this recipe. Normally the cut of meat used is a cutlet which is then pounded flat with a meat mallet. However, following our tradition of simplifying things for busy people we will be using thin sliced pork chops instead.

There are many different types of schnitzel, more than we could possibly discuss right now. Today we are going to be making jaeger schnitzel, or hunter’s cutlet as it would be in English. This is a schnitzel served over egg noodles with a mushroom gravy. I made it for my family this past weekend and the results were very positive. My father’s exact words were “feel free to make this again any time.” To make this dish you will need the following ingredients.

Two pounds of thin sliced pork chops

One cup of flour

Two eggs

One half cup milk

One medium onion, halved and sliced

One package sliced mushrooms

Three strips of bacon, cooked

Four packages of brown gravy

cooked egg noodles

cooking oil

Combine the eggs and milk and blend well. Put enough oil in a pan to cover the pork chops and heat it to aprox. 375 degrees. Dip each pork chop into the egg mixture and then dredge each one in the flour and then place in the hot oil. Cook the bacon until crisp, remove it from the pan, and add the mushrooms and onions to the same pan and brown them in the bacon grease. Cook each pork chop for five minutes, turn, and cook for five more minutes. Chop the bacon and add to the onions and mushrooms. Prepare the brown gravy according to the package directions. Add the gravy to the mushroom mixture. To serve, plate up a serving of egg noodles, top the egg noodles with a pork chop, and then smother the pork chop and egg noodles with the mushroom gravy. Enjoy