Recipe: Zucchini Torpedoes

Zucchini TorpedoesWith just a little bit of time management, this main dish is easily put together with the rest of the meal for a total prep and cook time of thirty to forty-five minutes. My wife initially found a recipe for filling and baking zucchini in some “weekly recipe” magazine insert. I used it to get the cooking temp and times for the zucchini. The meat mixture is completely mine. Improvise it as you desire. I think the first time I made it, I used 1 lb. ground beef.
The Ingredients

zucchini (cut in half lengthwise and seeded)
1 lb. ground turkey
1 lb. ground chicken
onion, minced (I used half of a not-quite-large yellow)
garlic, minced (five or six cloves)
ginger, minced (about 3/4 inch of medium sized piece)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
olive oil (I used extra virgin)
1 cup red wine
sea salt
shredded cheese

Prep and Cooking

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Prep zucchini (cut and seed), place in a casserole dish with 1/2 cup water, cover with foil, and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, prep and start the rice.
4. Saute’ the minced onion, garlic, and ginger until onion is soft and garlic is beginning to brown.
5. Add ground poultry to the onion mixture and cook until the meat is browned.
6. Add red wine, tomatoes, basil, parsley, turmeric, and pepper to mixture and continue to cook on medium-high heat to reduce the sauce a bit.
7. When the zucchini is done with the first fifteen minutes of cooking, remove from oven, take zucchini from dish, and dump any excess water from dish.
8. Fill zucchini with meat mixture and spread the rest of the mixture evenly across the bottom of the casserole dish.
9. Press the filled zucchini down into the meat mixture in the casserole dish and cover with cheese.
10. Put back into the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
11. Serve with rice.

I used 2 pounds of meat so that I’d have plenty of extra meat mixture to put over top of the rice. One pound of meat would have been sufficient for six torpedoes, maybe eight, depending on how large the zucchini are.

Recipe: Lavender Chicken and Rice

Tonight I actually made two skillets of chicken.  The larger was one of my normal batches of onions, garlic, sliced/chopped chicken breasts sauteed in olive oil with diced tomatoes and a little (mostly) fresh basil.  I made this the larger because the smaller skillet was an experiment.  I really like the Lavender Metheglin from Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery.  Lavender Metheglin is mead (fermented honey) infused with one percent lavender flowers.  It smells and tastes wonderful.  While I frequently cook with wine, liquor, and beer, I hadn’t tried cooking with mead.  I figured it would work, but the Lavender Metheglin also has a unique flavor that I wasn’t sure the rest of the family (the children, mostly) would enjoy.  It turned out wonderfully and the kids and wife also liked it.  Next time, I’ll make the whole skillet with it.
The Ingredients
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion (my standard is Vidalia)
about a half pound of boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
a little salt
coconut oil
about 1 cup Lavender Metheglin
Prep and Cooking
1.  Get the rice going in a rice cooker (or via the old fashioned way on the stove)
2.  Saute the onions with a pinch of salt  in the coconut oil
3.  Add the chicken (already cut) and brown/cook it a bit
4.  Add the Lavender Metheglin.  In my small skillet, the chicken was completely covered so I kept the flame up a little higher than normal to reduce the mead a bit, making sure there’s enough sauce to mix into the rice.
5.  Serve over the rice
**Even though I had to use two skillets tonight, it still fits into my ‘Lazy Dinner’ category.

Recipe: Robio’s Crock Pot Squash & Zuke Lasagna

The last time my family was going on a camping trip, I made a zucchini and squash lasagna a week ahead of time, froze it, and brought it along to warm up and eat.  Everyone loved it, but it took nearly as long to warm it up as it did to make it fresh.  This time, I pre-cooked the meat and onions and took them with us in a Ziploc bag.  The day I made the lasagna, I just threw all the ingredients into a crock pot before we headed out for the day.  So what’s the Squash and Zuke part?  As a gluten-free recipe, instead of the noodles, I use squash and zucchini.  With the traditional preparation, I sliced the veggies lengthwise, relatively thin, and layered them in place of the noodles.  It tastes great and is a bit healthier than traditional.  This time, I chopped up the veggies as if I was cooking them for a pot or skillet.
The Ingredients
2 lbs Ground pork
Bacon (about 2 strips – I used thick cut, maple cured)
1 medium onion (I used Vidalia)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Italian seasoning
Ground Turmeric
1 large can (about 28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
2 or 3 Zucchini (depending on size)
2 or 3 Yellow Squash (depending on size)
16 oz part-skim Ricotta Cheese
2 – 8oz bags of shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Black pepper
Prep and Cooking
1. Dice the bacon into small pieces.
2. Chop (not quite finely) the onion and garlic and begin sauteing them in a skillet.
3. As the onion begins to become translucent, add the bacon, then the pork, salt, and pepper.
4. While the pork is browning, chop the zucchini and squash into bite size pieces.
5. When the pork is nearly browned, add the Italian seasoning, basil, and turmeric.  ( I wait this late so the turmeric doesn’t give me a false sense of the pork being browned.)
4. When the pork and bacon have finished browning, drain the grease (or let it cook off –my preferred method).
5. Add all the ingredients (except one bag of shredded mozzarella) to the crock pot and stir to make sure the ricotta is mixed in thoroughly.
6. Cover and cook on low all day.
7. Remove the top and sprinkle the second bag of shredded mozzarella on top of the mix fifteen to thirty minutes before serving.

Recipe: Miss Piggy Is Delicious!

"Miss Piggy is Delicious" cookingWith the idea of making sure I made enough to have leftovers for lunch and that I needed to use the ground pork and some potatoes, I came up with this really simple recipe.  It is one of my favorite –the combination of the Andouille sausage and the cracked pepper bacon added a nice spiciness to the dish.  My wife and younger daughter weren’t as keen on that.

The Ingredients
Ground Pork, one pound
Bacon (about 5 strips – thick cut, cracked pepper)
1 Andouille Sausage (about 14 oz. – I used Smithfield brand)
1/2 medium vidalia onion
5 medium red potatoes, sliced and halved
black pepper
Prep and Cooking
1. Brown ground pork
2. Slice bacon into small strips, mix into skillet for browning
3. Slice sausage into small pieces, mix into skillet for browning
4. Dice and add the onion
5. Add the potatoes, cover and cook ten to fifteen minutes, or until potatoes are tender
**This another of my lazy dinners.  Only two items require chopping, it is all cooked in one skillet, and it doesn’t require much cleanup.

Recipe: Pseudo-Fried Rice (Ground Chicken and Peppers version)

Pseudo-Fried Rice (Ground Chicken and Sweet Peppers version)Light and easy was on the menu again, making use of left over rice and the ground chicken and some of a bag of mini sweet peppers.  The tumeric and peppers combined to give this a smoky sweet taste.
The Ingredients
cooked rice
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
16 oz. ground chicken
3 garlic cloves (coarsely chopped)
kosher salt
8 mini sweet peppers
ground tumeric
coconut oil
Prep and Cooking
1. Begin browning the chicken in a skillet, adding the garlic and some salt and pepper and the tumeric
2. Part of the way through the browning, add the onion
3.  Clean, chop, and add the peppers
4. Cook for a couple minutes and add the rice** and then the coconut oil
5. Stir the mixture fairly constantly to get an even temperature without burning
**NOTE:  Since the rice had been in the refrigerator for a few days, I sprinkled a little water on it and nuked it for a minute and a half to soften it before adding to the skillet.

Recipe: Pseudo-Fried Rice (Kielbasa/Smoked Sausage version)

Pseudo-Fried Rice (Kielbasa)Light and easy was on the menu, making use of the left over rice and kielbasa I had in the refrigerator.
The Ingredients
cooked rice
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
16 oz. Sausage or Kielbasa (I used Smithfield’s Polska Kielbasa)
garlic powder
sea salt
lemon juice
Prep and Cooking
1. Begin sauteing the onion in olive oil (I’ve been using a blend of olive, grapeseed, and canola oils) with salt and pepper
2. Slice the Kielbasa and put in the pan with the onions (add a little more oil as necessary) and the garlic powder
3. As the kielbasa begins to brown, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice (from the plastic lemon)
4. When the kielbasa is done cooking, add in the rice and a little more oil
5. Stir until the rice is warm/hot

Recipe: Robio’s Easy Peasy Pork Chops

Pork chops…hmmm…what to do???  Bake ’em in the oven with creamy mixture and peas…that’s what I did.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture.
The Ingredients
2 packages of Pork Ribeye Chops (about 8 chops, medium cut)
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Celery soup
1 can Green Peas (I used sweet peas)
1/2 medium vidalia onion (finely chopped)
(about) 2 cups 2% milk
black pepper (to taste)
a sprinkle of ground Tumeric
Prep and Cooking
1. Preheat oven to 375 **
2. With a spoon, gently (don’t want to mush the peas) mix the two soups, milk, peas (drained), onion, tumeric, and black pepper until blended
3. Place pork chops into the mixture, making sure they are submerged
4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about an hour (or until the chops are cooked through)
5. I serve this with rice and salad
**I never really know what temperature to cook things…375 for an hour was a bit much.  It started to boil over and the pork chops didn’t require a knife.  Could have gone less time or less temperature…

Recipe: Robio’s Skillet Not-Quite-Chili

Robio's Skillet Not-Quite-ChiliTonight I was feeling a bit lazy.  I knew I had hamburger thawed and bacon in the fridge, so while I was at the grocery store, I picked up the corn, one of the cans of beans, and some onions.
The Ingredients
Ground Beef, about a pound
Bacon (about 5 strips – I used thick cut, maple cured)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
2 cans baked beans
1 can whole kernal corn
1 medium vidalia onion
1/2 bottle of Barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar)
black pepper
Prep and Cooking
1. Dice the bacon into small pieces
2. Brown beef and bacon in skillet, adding a little black pepper
3. After the beef and bacon are nearly browned, add the chopped onion
4. When the beef and bacon have finished browning, drain the grease, then add the barbecue sauce
5. Let this cook for a few minutes before adding the cans of beans and the drained cans of corn and tomatoes
6. Cook until the mixture is hot throughout
**This really is one of my lazy dinners.  Only two items require chopping, it is all cooked in one skillet, and it doesn’t require much cleanup.

BBQ Cheeseburger Casserole

Robio's BBQ Cheeseburger Casserole

You can kind of see the layers of rice, BBQ beef, and mashed potatoes

My wife mentioned Shepherd’s Pie yesterday.  Today, as I was thinking about what to do with the ground beef, I thought of the mashed potatoes from the Shepherd’s Pie, but I also wanted to use the leftover rice.  A good flavor to blend with both of those is BBQ sauce…that’s how this recipe came about.  The kids and wife (and me) all liked it.
BBQ Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Rice (I used left over white rice)
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (shredded)
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Black Pepper
Ranch Dressing
Sour Cream
Prep and Cooking
If using freshly made rice, get it started and preheat oven to 350 degrees before going to step 1.
1.  Prepare mashed potatoes according to recipe on box (I added the sour cream and the Ranch dressing to make the potatoes a little creamier…less thick…to make them easier to spread across the beef mixture)
2.  While making the potatoes, brown the beef with Worcestershire sauce and black pepper, and when the browning is nearly complete, add the onion.  Once the meat is browned, drain the grease, then add the BBQ sauce and simmer.
3.  Put a layer of rice in the bottom of the pan –about 1/3 of the height
4.  Cover with cheese
5.  Put the beef mixture in the pan and cover with cheese.  It should fill the next 1/3 of the pan.
6.  Put dish in oven for about 15 minutes.
7.  Take dish out of the oven, fill in the rest of the pan with the mashed potatoes, and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes.
8.  Take out of the oven again, top with more cheese, and pop back into the oven until the cheese is melted.
9.  Server hot.

Recipe: Sour Creamy Chicken over Noodles

Sour Creamy Chicken over NoodlesOn the way home tonight, I was trying to decide what I was going to do with the chicken that was waiting on me at home.  The clouds looked like they could decide to open up and rain so I didn’t want to use the grill.  What could I do with the chicken and what would I have with it?  Hmmm.  Cheesy chicken in the skillet was the first thing to pop into my head, but what would go with that?  Also, that would be a big sticky mess in the skillet.  Oh, I could add sour cream –it would add flavor and melt along with the cheesy to become a creamy mixture with chicken in it…and I could serve it over egg noodles.  Conveniently, I had to stop by the store for more powdered Coffee Mate so I grabbed the few ingredients I needed to make this and then got to work on it when I got home.
The Ingredients
1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 medium onion (chopped)
16 oz. package of egg noodles
16 oz. sour cream
4 oz. shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1/2 of a small tub of crumbled goat cheese
smoked paprika
onion powder
garlic powder
Prep and Cooking
1. Put the water on for the noodles
2. Cube the chicken and saute in a skillet with a little olive oil, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and curry
3. As the chicken is getting near done, add the chopped onion
4. The water should be boiling and ready for the noodles
5. While the noodles cook, add the shredded cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, paprika, and a little more pepper to the chicken and stir
6. The skillet mixture should be completely melted by the time the noodles are done
7. Serve the chicken mixture over the noodles
**Note: I probably could have used a little more cheese and then, maybe, a little milk to thin the sauce a bit –it had a very strong sour cream flavor. My wife and I didn’t mind it, but our girls weren’t very fond of it.
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