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Category Archives: Main Meals

Vegetarian Lentil Chili… nourishing and very filling!

If any of you read my last post, I announced I had just started online classes to go for my Masters of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition. I have been wanting to write a new blog post recently, but the transition back into school is more challenging than I expected. Also, my husband has been doing a Cleansing diet these past two weeks and my cooking has been very, very basic. He’s been eating only vegetables, fruit and lentil chili. His lentil chili recipe is very good! It’s sweet and slightly spicy and very filling.

This recipe makes enough chili to last him several days! I eat it once or twice, but I need a little more variety for dinner than chili every night…

The chili is cooked in a crock-pot/slow cooker for most of the day. It makes the house smell like a Mexican restaurant – yum! If you prepare it the night before and cook it during the day, then when you come home after a busy day at work, dinner is ready to eat. Add a little shredded cheese, a few tortilla chips, a nice salad and voila’  – an easy meal.

Lentils are legumes and are very nutritious. They are a good source of protein, dietary fiber, iron and other important minerals like phosphorus and manganese. They are also low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Lentils make a healthy addition to any eating plan!

Enjoy!!

Sweet and Spicy Vegetarian Lentil Chili 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 small red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1½ cups dried lentils, rinsed

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups water

1 cup apple juice

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cook about 30 seconds longer. Transfer the mixture to a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and seasonings. Stir in the water and apple juice, cover and cook on Low for 8 hours. Add more water if chili gets too thick. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Main Meals

 

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Mexican Chicken Casserole…How do you say that in Spanish?

I’m not really sure what to call this recipe – quesadilla, enchilada, tostada – or a combination of all three. However it’s called, it doesn’t matter because it tastes good and is easy to make!

The quesadillas we’ve had in restaurants are usually two tortillas laid out flat with meat and cheese in the middle and grilled to get them crispy. Enchiladas are tortillas rolled around meat, cheese or beans, covered with a sauce and cheese and baked. Tostadas are more like a pizza – a tortilla crust with toppings.

At first, I was trying to make an enchilada recipe I’d received from a friend, but the tortillas were too small and they cracked when I rolled the them. As always, if something doesn’t quite work out – I improvise! I layered the tortillas flat on top of some sauce, spread my meat and cheese, added another layer of tortillas, more sauce and cheese, then baked it. So simple.

I used chicken breast pieces in this recipe, but you could substitute ground meat, shrimp, turkey or just your favorite vegetables and beans. My suggestion, if you use just vegetables, is to saute’ them in olive oil with some spices first. This will add a nice flavor to the dish. Or you could also roast them in the oven the day before. Just thinking about the variations makes me want to try this recipe again soon! Roasted summer squash, sweet potatoes, black beans…mmmmm. Let me know what combinations you’ve tried!

Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!)

 

Mexican Chicken Casserole

1½ lbs. cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1 pkg. gluten-free corn tortillas (~ 10 small tortillas per pkg.)

2 cups gluten-free green taco sauce

1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese

sour cream

fresh salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spread one cup of taco sauce on bottom of dish. Layer 5 tortillas on top of taco sauce, spaced evenly in dish. Layer chicken pieces evenly on top of tortillas. Cover with ½ cup taco sauce. Add the remaining 5 tortillas on top. Spread the last ½ cup of taco sauce. Cover with the cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Garnish with sour cream and salsa. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Main Meals

 

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Shrimp Scampi for two…my Valentine’s Day dinner!

My husband cooked Valentine’s Day dinner for me last night! He likes to cook and he does cook a few times each week, depending on his schedule. Many times I get home before him or I’ve got some new recipe I want to try. Sometimes we cook as a team – like last night. I gave him the idea of Shrimp Scampi and searched for a couple recipe choices, but he prepared the meal. Then, this morning I asked him what he actually put in the skillet. It was a little challenging for him to remember the details – it was 14 hours later you know, and he slept in between! I realize now that I should have him write down the specific quantities as he’s doing it – it will make both our lives easier… (Of course, if you ask him the details of a football game played two years ago, he’ll remember it all.)

Anyway, the meal was very delicious!! It’s definitely one we’ll repeat and he did remember the quantities, with a little help! Although this dish is pretty simple, you could add so many things to it for extra colors and flavors – like chopped tomatoes, spinach, capers, or ??? You decide… Enjoy!

 

Shrimp Scampi

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 teaspoons lemon juice

dash of salt/pepper

25 large raw shrimp, tails removed (if frozen, defrosted and drained)

3 cups cooked jasmine rice

Parmesan cheese

 

In a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the garlic, onion, parsley, lemon juice and dash of salt and pepper. Saute’ for about 5 minutes, until the onion and garlic are soft. Add the shrimp and cook through, about 5 more minutes. Spoon on top of cooked rice or use your favorite gluten-free pasta. Sprinkle some parmesan on top and serve. Makes 2-3 servings.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Main Meals

 

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Upside-down Pizza Casserole – close, but not really!

One of the meals my husband missed most when he had to give up gluten is pizza. It’s very hard to find a pizza place that has a gluten-free crust. We are lucky in our area that one of the pizza restaurants (Yianni’s House of Pizza – http://www.yiannishouseofpizza.com/) does have a gluten-free crust – very thin and crispy. We usually order their barbeque chicken pizza – made with grilled chicken, barbeque sauce and cheese – oh so good!!! I’ve also had the Greek pizza with a gluten-free crust. Even though I’m not gluten-sensitive, if I get the gluten-free crust and we have leftovers, my husband can eat them too – I like to share!! Another restaurant with gluten-free pizza crust in Maine and New Hampshire is Portland Pie Company (http://www.portlandpie.com/). We like their gluten-free pizza crust, too.

Okay, I’ll admit that my recipe for Upside-down Pizza Casserole comes close, but doesn’t really replace a good pizza. Most importantly, it has to be eaten with a fork, not your fingers. You can still add your favorite toppings and sauces (on the bottom!), then the toppings are covered with cheese and the “crust” is poured on last. My sister gave me this recipe a couple years ago and I don’t know where she found it. I had to convert her wheat flour recipe to gluten-free, so naturally I used my wonderful substitute, Pamela’s Gluten-free Baking and Pancake Mix. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Bon appetit!!

Gluten-free Upside-Down Pizza Casserole

2 tablespoons olive oil                                    Batter:

1 lb. ground turkey sausage                           1 cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix

1 medium onion, chopped                              1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped                   1/2 cup milk

1 clove garlic, minced                                     2 eggs, beaten

1 jar (25 oz.) spaghetti sauce

1 pkg. (4.5 oz.) turkey pepperoni

1 cup fresh spinach

8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey, onions, mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil. Once cooked, drain the excess liquid. Add the spaghetti sauce to the cooked turkey mixture and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Spoon the mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Layer the pepperoni on top of the mixture. Layer the fresh spinach on top of the pepperoni. Cover it all with the mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese. In a small bowl, combine the batter ingredients and mix well. Remove the meat mixture from the oven and pour batter on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

** Variations:  add chopped peppers, sliced black olives, or your favorite topping to the meat/sauce mixture.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Main Meals

 

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Shepherd’s Pie… a great, one-dish comfort meal!

Mmmm... so good!

My son arrived home from college this week!! My husband and I are so happy to have him around the house again. He worked in another state over last summer, so we only saw him for brief periods. I know we just spent Thanksgiving week with him (see earlier post “What’s in your suitcase …?”), but it’s still good to have him home for a longer stay. He’s a really good kid and we all enjoy doing things together.

One of the things we really enjoy is sharing a good meal! I made a hearty clam chowder last night with a fresh tomato and mozzarella salad, fresh bread (not gluten-free) with olive oil and parmesan cheese for dipping. Tonight, I made Shepherd’s Pie with ground turkey.

Shepherd’s Pie is a wonderful comfort food and can be adapted for anyone’s taste preferences. It’s a great one-dish meal. You can add any vegetables, spices, or different types of meat and it tastes great all blended together. Both my husband and son only eat seafood or poultry (no red meat), so ground turkey is a great substitute. The dish my mother made when I was growing up had ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes. Very simple. As my taste buds matured, I learned to enjoy some extra spiciness, so I began adding garlic, oregano, basil, onions, cheese and extra vegetables – like mushrooms, spinach, or shredded carrots. I put spices and some veggies in with the meat to cook and absorb flavor and other veggies, like fresh spinach, layered on top of the meat. The potatoes are always the final layer. There really is no wrong way to make a Shepherd’s Pie, so have fun, and try some new veggies or spices! Bon apetit!

Shepherd’s Pie 

 3-4 large baking potatoes, cut into chunks, skin on

¼ cup milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey or lamb)

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped mushrooms

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon dried basil

salt/pepper to taste

1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup shredded cheese (your choice – cheddar, monterey jack, mozzarella,…)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking dish. In a large pot, place potato chunks, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes are soft when pricked with a fork. Drain well. Add milk and mash with a beater or masher. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add ground meat and thoroughly cook through. Drain fat, if needed. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic, spices and cook until onions start to soften – about 5 more minutes. Layer the meat mixture in the bottom of the greased baking dish. Layer the canned corn on top of the meat. Evenly spread the mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables. Place the butter and cheese on top of the mashed potatoes. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Makes 4-6 servings.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2011 in Main Meals

 

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Leftovers? …Turkey Pot Pie!

I know there will be plenty of leftover turkey by Friday of this week, so I’m going to turn it into another meal. One of my family’s favorites is home-made chicken pot pie – just meat, no vegetables. We used to buy it at Hungry Hollow Country Store in West Paris, Maine. They make the best chicken pie we’ve ever had!  When we started eating gluten-free food, I had to come up with a wheat-free recipe that comes close to the Hungry Hollow pies. Oooh, experimenting is so much fun and I love to experiment!!

So, I think I’ve gotten pretty close with this recipe and it’s so easy. This week, of course, I will substitute turkey and because I haven’t perfected a gluten-free flaky pie crust yet, I will use Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix (Gluten-free/Wheat-free) to make a variation of pot pie. The crust on this pot pie is more like a biscuit or dumpling. Yum! If you’d like to add your favorite vegetables, make sure they are cooked and drained well, so the gravy doesn’t get watered down. Also, be sure to use a bigger baking dish, or the gravy might spill over into your oven.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving day with family and friends. My husband and I are visiting our son in college in North Carolina. We are planning on cooking our turkey dinner in the dorm kitchen! It will be a fun adventure and we are all very excited! I’m bringing all my recipes with me – my son is already “drooling” at the thought of many home-cooked meals!

Turkey Pot Pie

2½ cups cooked, boneless turkey, cut into bite size pieces

1½ cups turkey or chicken broth

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons cold water

Dough/biscuit:

1 cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

pinch of garlic powder, onion powder and whole celery seed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large 9 inch pie plate. Place turkey pieces in pie plate, evenly spaced. Pour broth into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. In a small dish, combine cornstarch with cold water, stir until dissolved completely. Pour cornstarch slurry into hot broth, stir and bring back to a boil. This mixture will thicken as it cooks. Continue to stir. Once it becomes thick, pour over turkey pieces in pie plate. In a separate bowl, combine dough ingredients and mix well. Spoon soft dough on top of turkey mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 3-4 servings.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Main Meals

 

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