Category Archives: Main Course

Czech Chicken Paprika

Old world recipes can be very difficult to pass on from generation to generation.  Back in the day, recipes were not written down and made from memory.  Since they weren’t written down, you just add a little of this and a little of that until you get the “right consistency” and if not you add a little more of this and that.

As I grew older and took interest in cooking, I wanted to learn from my Grandmas how to cook their traditional meals.  I didn’t want to see these recipes lost forever.  Funny thing, as I look back it seemed like some recipes were a big family secret.

Today I made one of my favorite main Czech dishes and transcribed the recipe with measurements.  Measurements are a bonus because some of the old cook books that my Grandma owned listed ingredients without measurements.  I think you were just supposed to know what to do!

This recipe is so easy and the gravy is absolutely delicious!  Gravy always seemed to be so daunting to make from scratch…but really it is easy!

Traditional Czech Paprika

Czech Chicken Paprika

  • 2 TB cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 pieces of chicken (breast & thighs with skin on)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 2 TB paprika
  • S & P

Chicken Paprika Gravy

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 TB paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, add cooking oil and onions over high heat.  Cook until the onion softens.  In the meanwhile, salt and pepper chicken pieces.  Place in the pot, skin side down.  Cook until the skin is browned scraping the bottom of the pot, then flip and brown the other side.  Add 8 cups of water to cover the chicken and bring to a boil.  Cook chicken in boiling water for one hour.  Reduce the heat, transfer chicken to a platter and strain the juice. (I use a slotted spoon to get little pieces out)

For the gravy, whisk flour and water in a small mixing bowl, getting all of the lumps out.  This will create a paste.  Whisk the paste into the large pot of chicken juices, constantly whisking until the gravy comes to a boil and it will slightly thicken.  Add sour cream, continuing to whisk to get any lumps out.  Then season with paprika and salt.  Let gravy simmer for approximately 10 minutes.  Place the chicken back in the pot to heat through.

Serve chicken pieces on a large platter with a gravy boat filled with hot gravy.  Traditionally this would be served with dumpling.  But it is also delicious with egg noodles.

 

 

 

Hearty Homemade Chili

Snow Again!?  That seems to be a common theme this ENTIRE winter.  The perfect dish to warm ya up is a hearty bowl of hot chili!

Chili is so versatile and most of the staples should be stocked in your pantry.  This time I even added a couple of ingredients and the brown sugar sweetened it up to entice my children.  If you don’t need to worry about young palates, then feel free to add some heat with hot peppers.  So get creative and fill up a big cup of chili to warm up this winter!

Hearty Homemade Chili

Hearty Homemade Chili

(double for a crowd)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 5 slices of turkey bacon, diced
  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 1 – 15 ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, diced onion, etc.

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil.  Sautee the onion, green pepper and garlic until softened.  Add the bacon until it becomes crispy.  Add the ground beef until browned and cooked through.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Garnish with suggested toppings and serve piping hot in a bowl or cup.

What are you favorite toppings on chili?

Acorn Squash Ricotta Tart

Simply Savory are two words to describe this tart made with Acorn Squash, Caramelized Onions and Ricotta Cheese.

Winter Squash Tart

It is the season for winter squash and there are so many different ways to prepare them.  This rustic tart is perfect for fall!  Wouldn’t it even make an impressive side dish on the table for Thanksgiving dinner?

The tasty, crumbly crust was easy to make and only used a handful of ingredients.  Using a food processor, the dough came together and was in my fridge within a couple of minutes – tops!

In the past, I have been turned off from buying winter squash because they can be difficult to handle, peel and cut when raw.  Today, I softened the squash by piercing it 4- 5 times, then placing it in the microwave for about 7 minutes.  The outside of the squash was slightly softened , which made it much easier to cut in half lengthwise.  Once it was halved, the seeds and strings were removed.  The squash could be sliced further and the skin removed.

Crust:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse 2 times to mix the ingredients.  While the processor is running, drizzle the olive oil and water into the flour mixture.  The dough will start to form a crumble.  Remove and knead the dough together.  Form a disk and wrap it in parchment or wax paper.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Tart Filling:
1 acorn squash (or any winter squash)
1  red onion; thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 lemon squeezed
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
fresh thyme, salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Cut squash into large diced pieces.  In a large mixing bowl, toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet in one layer.  Toss the sliced onion in the remaining olive oil and place next to the squash.  Salt and pepper the squash and onions.  Bake for 25 minutes.

While waiting, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon and thyme in a small bowl.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and press into a round 9″ tart pan.  Spread the ricotta mixture over the dough.  Once the squash and onions have been caramelized, remove from the oven, reduce the heat to 400°.  Place the squash and onion on top of the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Bake in a 400° for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Rustic Squash and Carmelized Onion Tart

An Aussie Burger

What makes an Aussie Burger?  ….that is the question.

Let’s start from the bottom layer –

the burger,

sauce (don’t say ketchup),

cheese,

a fried egg,

pickled beets (beet root),

lettuce,

tomato,

slice of pineapple

Aussie Burger

Hope my Aussie husband enjoyed his Birthday Burger!  Love all his support of my blog….at least he finished his burger, while I was still setting up my photo shoot.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Frittata is an Italian egg-based dish similar to an omelette or crustless quiche, enriched with additional ingredients such as meats, cheese, vegetables or pasta.  It may be flavored with herbs.  They are so versatile that I never make them the same way twice and they are perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It is a great way to get more veggies into my family’s diet and everyone in my house is pretty happy when I make them.  The kids especially like a slice with a little ketchup drizzled on top.

Slice of Frittata

Pre-cook 1/3 cup of quinoa in 1/3 cup of water for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.  Set aside.

This frittata was a veggie version.  But, sometimes I check out my fridge to see if there is any leftover ham, chicken or pork.  Any leftover meat or veggies are perfect for a frittata!!  Cube it and throw that in too.  Otherwise, pick any veggies that you have on hand and chop them.

First Harvest Asparagus

I was pretty excited that I was able to harvest my first batch of asparagus from the garden today.  Since it is a small handful, it will not be enough to serve for dinner, so into my frittata it goes!!

Use a medium-sized fry pan that can be placed in the oven, under a broiler.  Sautee the veggies in a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil until softened.

Sauteed Veggies

Once the veggies are done, spread them out evenly in the fry pan and place the cooked quinoa on top.  Quinoa is perfect because it will settle to the bottom of the dish and give it some crunch, almost like a crust.  This is the perfect time to add leftover meat.

Layer Quinoa

Wisk 5 eggs in a small mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently pour the eggs over the veggies and quinoa evenly.  I strategically placed a few slices of sweet baby red peppers to fancy it up.  This is the perfect time to sprinkle a little shredded cheese or grated parmesan if you’d like.

Cook over medium heat until the eggs are almost completely set.

Quinoa Egg Frittata

To finish cooking the eggs, I place it under a broiler a few minutes until the top is cooked and golden brown.

Veggie Quinoa Frittata

Slide the frittata out of the pan and cut into wedges to serve.

Healthy Quinoa Frittata

Lunch is served!!

Mac n Cheese Muffins

What a fun sized portion of Mac n Cheese!  Perfect for kids and adults alike.  Great for lunch or a side dish to compliment dinner.  Shhhh….I am even adding some veggies in too!

Wouldn’t this recipe be fun way to get your kids in the kitchen cooking?  Basically, have all of the ingredients cooked and ready for them to mix, then give them a few choices of veggies to add.  They can even fill the muffin tin and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.  This recipe is versatile because I have tried many different veggies in the Mac n Cheese Muffins…be creative!

Mac n Cheese Muffins

8 oz box of macaroni or elbow pasta; cooked and drained

1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup plus 2 TB grated parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup plain yogurt

2 carrots, shredded

1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 TB Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Cook the macaroni pasta according to the instructions on the package.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.  Drain the pasta, return to the pot and mix in the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the milk and yogurt until combined.  Add the egg mixture to the pasta mixture, mix with the selected veggies, nutmeg, mustard, salt and pepper.  Divide the mixture among 12 count medium muffin pan.  Heat butter in a small skillet.  Once melted, add bread crumbs and stir until browned.  Add in the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake until set about 15 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Other suggestions for pre-cooked veggies:

small broccoli florets, diced zucchini or summer squash, diced asparagus, sliced grape tomatoes

Wild Salmon En Croute

“En Croute” indicates food that is wrapped in pastry dough.   You can make a visually beautiful dinner even on a week night!

Today, I was inspired by a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Cookbook, but I added a slightly different twist.  Best thing was that I had all of the ingredients on hand in my fridge, freezer and pantry.  I try to keep a package of frozen puff pastry on hand because I never know when I might need it…and I am stocked up on a filets of salmon.  My family and I are doing good at eating a fish dinner at least once a week because of the health benefits and my kids LOVE it!  I personally prefer wild salmon because of the taste and texture.  I topped the salmon with basil pesto, slices of fresh campari tomatoes, and slices of mozzarella.  This was a very eye appealing, fast, fun and easy dinner – yummo!

Wild Salmon En Croute

Wild Salmon En Croute

2 sheets of puff pastry

large filet of salmon

2 or 3 TB basil pesto

slices of 2 large tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes

2-3 ounces of mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400°.

Dust counter surface and rolling pin with flour.  Place two sheets of puff pastry, one on top of the other, roll dough until same size of a cookie sheet.  Lay dough on top of a cookie sheet dusted with flour.  Lightly drizzle olive oil on salmon filet to coat the surface  and place the filet in the center of the dough.  Generously spread the basil pesto over the top of the filet.  Layer the tomato slices down the center of the filet and fill in with the mozzarella cheese.  Roll the dough around the edges of salmon filet.  Brush the egg on the edges of the pastry dough.

Place salmon on the lowest rack of your oven with an empty cookie on the rack above to sheild the heat.  Bake for 35 minutes until the salmon is done and the pastry is puffed and golden brown.