Tag: dinner

Tortellini Casserole

Here’s a super quick and easy casserole-style dish you can make on the weekend and then divide up single-servings for lunches or dinners the following week.

1 package mushroom tortellini
1/2 cup dried mushrooms, chopped
1 can cannelini beans (or 2 c cooked white beans of any variety)
4 small tomatoes, seeded
1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 handsful frozen peas
1/2 cup cooked chicken, diced
1/2 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter
2 T flour, sifted
2 cups milk
6 oz cheese, cubed and divided into 3oz portions (use whatever cheese variety you have on hand)

Cook tortellini according to package directions.
While pasta is cooking, reconstitute mushrooms in warm water, and saute onion and garlic in butter until lightly browned. Sift flour over onion mixture and continue to cook on low-medium heat until flour has coated onions and begins to brown. Add milk, stirring frequently until mixture begins to thicken and then add half of the cheese mixture and allow to melt and incorporate entirely while stirring to make a thick cheese sauce.
Pour beans into oiled casserole dish with vegetables and chicken. Puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor and pour over bean and vegetable mixture.
Add tortellini once cooked, pour cheese sauce overtop, and fold ingredients together.
Sprinkle remaining cheese over top, and bake 30-45 min at 375.

This will be a fairly dry casserole. If you prefer it to be more saucy, throw in a can of cream of mushroom soup, or double the sauce recipe.



Portuguese Style Kale Soup

My husband made this last night, and it was one of the better soups I’ve ever had – a favorite right up there with my curried celery or potato parsnip and cabbage soups.

1 quart beef stock
1 quart chicken stock
(Vegetarians substitute “better than bouillon” pastes in chicken and beef flavors)
½ onion, left whole
3 cloves garlic, left whole
2c white beans (pre-soaked) or 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed
2 t kosher or sea salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs fresh thyme
½ pound andouille or portuguese sausage, sliced (vegetarians, substitute tofurkey or soy chorizo)
2 large bunches kale
1 stalk celery, diced
2-3 carrots, chopped
garlic salt or minced garlic + salt (to taste, if needed)
Add stock, beans, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme to crockpot or large heavy soup pot. Start the previous night or early in the morning and cook all day to allow stock to become very rich.
After 8+ hours of simmering, fish out garlic and onion. Add more liquid if needed. Add andouille sausage and cook until you can smell the soup throughout your house. You’ll know by the rich smell when it’s done. At this point you can set it to “keep warm” setting on your crockpot or stove, and let it be for a couple of hours if needed.
1 hour before serving add kale, carrots, celery and garlic salt if needed.
Serve with good crusty buttered bread.

Makes approx. 5 quarts soup (20 servings.) If you’re not having guests, you can seal it up in sterile jars to store, or freeze portions for later.  Hint: use 1-quart ziploc freezer bags, mark the outside with the contents, and store flat in the freezer to save space.


Recipe: Best Chicken Pot Pie

It got incredibly cold here today (high of 32) and we were craving comfort food, so I whipped up this chicken pot pie. This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and assembled just prior to baking.

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 60 min
16 Servings


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t cinnamon sticks, ground in spice grinder
1/4 t whole nutmeg, ground in spice grinder
1/2 cup plain crisco, frozen and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 cup butter, frozen and cut into 1/2″ cubes
6-8 tablespoons ice water

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 carrots, diced
2 cups frozen petite peas
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
3 medium (2-3″) potatoes, peeled and diced to approx 1/4″ cubes – approximately 1 cup yield
1/2 large onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 T butter
2 t chicken bouillon paste/cubes (or chicken stock demi-glace)
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t dried sage, chopped
1/2 t dried thyme, chopped

Sift dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl.
Add butter and crisco. Using a pastry cutter, two forks, or a fork and knife, cut and slice through mixture until it resembles coarse bread crumbs with some chunks the size of peas. Sprinkle one tablespoon of ice water at a time over top. After each tablespoon, give the mixture a quick toss with two forks. Do NOT overwork. This is the key to a super light, flakey crust. After half the water has been incorporated, watch closely, as mixture will come together suddenly. Once it begins to stick together, gather into a ball, divide in half and roll each ball out to 1/4″ thickness, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Shape crust into 9x9x3” lightly oiled casserole dish, covering bottom and sides completely.

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F
In a pan, dry-sear chicken until browned, turning once. Cube and set aside in large mixing bowl.
Add carrots, celery, and half the diced onion to same pan. Sauté until veggies begin to sweat. Pour into bowl with chicken.
Deglaze the pan with 1 cup water to create a rich stock. Once stock begins to boil, pour into a cup and put aside.
Add onion, minced garlic, and butter to pan and saute until onions begin to brown. Sift flour over top and stir until all onion is coated.
Add reserved liquid, spices and bouillon, and cook down to thick gravy, stirring constantly.
Pour over bowl of vegetables and chicken, and allow to cool.
Once cooled, pour filling into prepared crust, and top with second crust. Pinch edges shut to seal, and cut slits in top to vent. DO NOT use an egg wash – it makes crust gummy.
Bake at 365 F for one hour or until crust is golden brown and gravy bubbles through slightly.
Cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

**hint: When making pie dough, always double your recipe and stash half of the dough in a freezer-safe ziploc bag. Date the dough and make note of any special ingredients (butter dough, shortening dough, any additional spices, etc)


Recipe: Quick and Easy Salmon and Broccoli Dinner

We don’t often eat pre-prepared foods. However, it’s always good to have a few items in the freezer that can be whipped up on those nights when you don’t have energy to cook.

Last night was one of those nights. Luis worked a 12 hour day, and my stamina for standing and cooking is still very very low. As a result you will likely see a lot of quick and easy recipes and meal ideas from me for awhile as I find creative ways to have dinner cooked when he gets home, without tapping out every last ounce of my energy as I’m still trying to heal.

Costco carries salmon patties that have only been very minimally processed. In other words, the fish is still flakey, and recognizable as fish. It’s simply filleted and cut into rounds, and has a light amount of seasoning. These can be found in the frozen section near the pre-made hamburger patties.

Dinner took me less than 10 minutes to cook, and was absolutely delicious. I popped two of the salmon patties in a pan over medium heat and heated them for about 4 minutes per side. While they were cooking, I put some water on to boil, and chopped up fresh broccoli. I put the broccoli in a steamer over the boiling water, lidded it, and gave it 5 minutes. A sprinkle of lemon-pepper and it was done.

Salmon patties and steamed broccoli – in under 10 minutes, very little effort, and absolutely delicious. It’s the ultimate in “fast food.”

Recipe: Steak with Mushrooms, Roasted Veggies and Mushroom Rice

I made us a nice dinner last night. Luis has been so wonderful about making sure I’m taken care of while I’ve been sick, that he deserves a nice reward. So, dinner it was.

Two steaks, marinated for the day in ginger-sesame dressing. To prepare, I pan-sauted them with a little salt and pepper. Also made some sauteed mushrooms to put on top.

I tend to prep veggies on days when I have a little energy burst, and then store them in the fridge until I’m ready to use them. As a result, I had brussels sprouts, radishes and carrots ready to go. I oven roasted the vegetables with a little olive oil, garlic and a few pine nuts. I’d never roasted radishes before, and was surprised at how they sweeten up! They’re quite tasty.

I only recently found the joys of a rice cooker. I often use a little bit of bouillon to cook the rice, and I use brown rice as I like it much better than white. You can easily just add everything to the rice cooker at once – what could be simpler? I like to add freeze-dried mushrooms, herbs, bouillon and diced various vegetables to my rice.

On the side I made a very simple salad of chopped cucumber and heirloom tomatoes with a bit of mozarella. I drizzled it with balsamic vinegar and topped with fresh-ground pepper and sea salt.

The dinner was delicious – just a little bit of rice, about 4oz of steak each, and the plates were filled with veggies both cooked and raw. It was a perfect meal.

Recipe: Fruit Smoothie for Energy!

This is one of my favorite recipes. It’s so easy to adapt for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, and it keeps me full for a few hours. It also has an added benefit of containing at least two servings of fruit and two of dairy.

The two products referenced in the recipe, PB2 and EAS, are both available online. You can substitute whatever protein powder you like, but I’ve found these to be the best for me. My previous post has ordering info if you’d like it.

Breakfast Smoothie:

1 banana
1 container Activia yogurt
2 Tbsp PB2
1 scoop EAS vanilla whey powder
1 cup water
ice if desired
Blend all ingredients until frothy. Add more water if needed.

Lunch Smoothie:
1 cup frozen (without sugar) berries, mangoes, peaches, or a combination
1 cup nonfat milk (soy is fine, or even water)
1 scoop EAS vanilla whey powder
ice to taste
1 packet Splenda if desired
Blend all ingredients until frothy. Add more water if needed.

Snack Smoothie:
1 scoop EAS vanilla whey powder
1 cup nonfat milk (or soy)
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 sprinkle cinnamon
ice to taste
Blend all ingredients until frothy. Add more water if needed.

On-The-Go Smoothie:
1 scoop EAS vanilla or chocolate whey powder
1 cup water
Mix in a shaker jar or use a stick blender to mix quickly. I occasionally have this as a fast pick-me-up if I am heading out for a workout and don’t have time to eat properly and digest before the gym.

Recipe: Hearty Turkey-Veggie Soup

I made a really delicious hearty soup last night for dinner.

The basics:

Throw whatever veggies you have laying around in a pot with a quartered onion and 1 quart stock. Add some oregano, sage, cumin, salt and pepper, and a dash of Tapatio or other hot sauce (I used a habanero sauce we had on hand)

Let all of this simmer for about 4 hours, adding water as necessary.

Strain, returning clarified stock to pot, and add:

1/2 lb ground turkey breast, browned
1 T Yoshida’s or other teriyaki-type sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup crumbled freeze-dried mushrooms, assorted (costco carries these – they are wonderful and last a year or so. We use them a lot and still can’t get through them quickly as they expand so much!)
6 carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

Simmer until mushrooms reconstitute and soften.

Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Recipe: Bison (Buffalo) Burgers

We don’t eat much red meat in our house. Generally speaking, it’s once every few weeks for me and about once a week for Luis. As a former vegetarian, I definitely don’t even eat meat every day, and consider tofu and beans to be equally good sources of protein. That said, this is a recipe that is so delicious, nearly anyone who eats any meat at all will love it.

1 lb ground bison
5 cloves garlic
1T ketchup
1T red mole sauce (find a paste version in Mexican aisle in your grocery store)
1/4c raw rolled oats
1 egg

Heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in saute pan.

Mince garlic and smash into paste. Add to bowl with remaining ingredients and mix with hands until evenly incorporated. Don’t bother trying to use a spoon. Just get in and get dirty and mash it up with your hands. You can wash them.

Once well mixed, divide into 4 even parts and roll each into a ball about the size of a tennis ball. Flatten slightly, forming to a similar shape as the bread. Make patties slightly bigger than the bread, as they will shrink while cooking. Place meat in pan and add a few turns each of freshly ground sea salt and pepper. Cook 5-7 min per side, turning ONLY ONCE. You will know when to flip when the sides begin to cook.

Toast 8 slices of roasted-garlic artisan bread. This is essentially a sourdough with whole roast garlic cloves throughout it. Feel free to substitute your own favorite bread. Add a teaspoon or so of high quality mayo to each slice. (I like Smart Balance Light Mayo with added Omega 3’s) and slide patty on top when cooked. Decorate with lettuce/spinach and tomato as desired.

Makes 4 burgers.

Recipe: Easy and Fast Vegetarian High-Protein Pasta

1/2 box whole grain high protein pasta (I used spaghetti)

5-6 fresh tomatoes, chopped

2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

parsley, oregano, basil and thyme to taste

(Substitution for tomatoes and spices = 1 can stewed tomatoes – cut up with kitchen shears while still in the can to leave small chunks)

1/2 cup goat cheese

dried shitaki mushrooms (or your favorite variety)

1 package extra high protein tofu

salt and pepper

Chop tofu into 1/2″ cubes. (in a standard brick of tofu, make 3 slices horizontally through the brick as it’s standing on its largest side, slicing parallel to the cutting board. Then make 5 even slices down through the top across the length, and 3 even slices across the width. This should give you approximately the right sized cubes.) Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a saute pan, and sear all sides of tofu until slightly crunchy on the outside.

Boil water for pasta. Roughly chop or hand-crumble dried mushrooms and toss into water as it’s heating up. Once boiling, add pasta and cook 7-8 minutes or per package directions.

While pasta cooks, toss tomatoes, garlic, spices into a saucepan. Add goat cheese and heat up slowly. Stir occasionally to melt cheese. Add tofu once cooked, and toss thoroughly.

Once pasta is done, add to sauce pan and toss to coat evenly.

Serve hot.

Restaurant Review: Ama Ama – West Seattle, WA

For our anniversary we went to Ama Ama for dinner. It’s a new restaurant in the former Guppy’s location for those that know West Seattle. It’s touted as an Oyster Bar, but is really oh-so-much more.

I had one of the best meals of my life. No exaggeration. The company was my wonderful other half of 3 years. The wait staff were readily around when we needed them and not when we didn’t, and were fun enough to be sassy and smart ass, but also got serious about recommendations when the time came for that.

We requested a table that was “a little bit private” rather than being in the line of tables with others, and were led to a lovely and very private booth in the back, near the counter where oysters were being prepared.

Continue reading “Restaurant Review: Ama Ama – West Seattle, WA”