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Pepper Jack Chicken with Succotash

22 Apr

We’ve been really busy here the past month.  We made the invitations for Mariya’s wedding this upcoming July and I must say they are awesome!  Also Larry, Mariya and I went to Paris for a week.  So I did not do much cooking but instead brainstorming and of course while in Paris eating every macaron in sight.  And my sweet little brown Chinese Imperial (Shih Tzu per AKC) Maggie went into heat and that required 5 hour round trips.  Needless to say the Armstrong household has been busy. 

After all the eating out or prepared food cooking it was time for a real meal.  It was a gorgeous Saturday here in Charlotte.  I got to work in the yard and start cleaning it up.  I had earlier in the week picked up a Food Network cookbook and we decided to try this dish.  Barry created the pockets in the chicken and stuffed them while I did the cooking.  I changed a few things in the recipe to make it my way and it was really very good dish and not only looked beautiful, but tasted great.

Adapted from Food Network’s Great Easy Meals

Pepper Jack Chicken with Succotash

Serves 8

  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups baby arugula, roughly chopped
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts about 12 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing on the chicken
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun spice blend
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans or 1-15 oz can baby limas, drained
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 375F.  combine the cheese and 2 cups arugula in a bowl.  Cut a deep wide pocket in the thickest part of the chicken breast.  Be careful not to go thru the chicken.  Stuff breast with the arugula mixture and use toothpicks to secure open ends so stuffing does not all come out.  Brush both sides with olive oil and season with the Cajun spice blend.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat about 5 minutes.  Cook the chicken until blackened on the bottom about 4-5 minutes, turn and cook until blackened on the other side about 3 minutes. 

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to platter.

Wipe out the skillet and add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the lima beans and squash and cook until squash is tender about 3 minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 cups arugula and the lime juice. 

Slice chicken in half and serve with the succotash.


Chinese BBQ Stir-Fry

19 Apr

Chinese food, bbq and stir-fry what is not to like?!  I used to own a wok but to me it was no different than my skillet.  I love my cast iron skillet.  My husband bought it at a yard sale used over 20 years ago.  I’ve had other skillets that for one reason or another just never lasted.  I hand wash and season the skillet every time I use it.  The bad thing is, it is so heavy and my hands don’t have the strength like they used to but as long as I can lift it I will use that skillet and this dish is perfect for it.  It has that slightly sweet tang and I like to cook the cabbage longer than the original recipe.  I serve this over a coconut rice.  I just use a can of coconut juice, not milk, and cook the rice in that.  My husband can attest how good it is, he ate more than half for dinner!

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Chinese BBQ Stir-Fry

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 – 7.5 oz bottled hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size strips
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 medium sweet pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, thinly bias sliced
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 small head about 3-4 cups coarsely chopped Chinese cabbage

Heat 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil in a wok or 14″ skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pepper, onions and carrots and stir-fry 4-5 minutes or till crisp-tender.  Remove from skillet.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil and add the chicken.  Stir-fry until no pink remains.Remove from skillet.

In a medium bowl combine hoisin sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder and black pepper.  Stir cornstarch into marinade .  Add to skillet.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Return chicken and vegetables to skillet.  Add the cabbage and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. 

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Pancetta Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Horseradish Cream

29 Dec

Christmas dinner generally would consist of either a turkey or a pork tenderloin.  Since I am mainly vegetarian but do eat poultry and fish I don’t do much else in the way of other meat dishes.  This Christmas Eve was a vegetarian spread so I decided to surprise the family with a beef tenderloin dish.  The recipe called for a 5-6 lb size.  Well I was not about to spend $70-100 on a tenderloin so I bought some individual thick tenderloins instead.  Needless to say the family was pleased and impressed with dinner.  I did succumb to eating a little just to make sure it was ok and it was!  The recipe directions will be adapted to how I made this for the cuts that I had.

Adapted from Southern Living

Pancetta Wrapped Beef Tenderloin with Whipped Horseradish Cream

makes 8 servings

  • 3 lbs beef tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 14 very thin pancetta slices
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • rosemary sprigs
  • Whipped Horseradish Cream

Preheat oven to 425F.  Sprinkle tenderloins with salt and pepper.  Cook the tenderloins in 2 tablespoons hot oil in a large skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes on each side.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the tenderloins to an aluminum foil lined baking sheet that has been brushed with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Line them up in a row and sprinkle the garlic over the tenderloin.  Lay a rosemary sprig over the top.

Place 2-3  slices pancetta across the top of each tenderloin.

Bake at 425F for 30 minutes or until pancetta is crispy. 

Let stand for 10 minutes.  Serve with the whipped horseradish cream.

Whipped Horseradish Cream

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Beat whipping cream at medium speed 1 minute or until soft peaks form.  Fold in remaining ingredients.  Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

17 Dec

I made these a few years back for a picnic.  It was a 4th of July outdoor symphony with fireworks at the end.  They do this every year and its so much fun.  We laid out tarps earlier in the day to save a spot.  We only had about 10 people but the wraps and other snack food with beer and wine was a nice picnic dinner and a great way to start the evenings festivities.  I made these originally with a ground beef and a chicken filling and they were a huge hit.  Now I make them on a regular basis as it is an easy dish and a great way to use up romaine lettuce since I buy in bulk at Costco.  Also the family loves these.  Normally I also make a sauce to spoon over the filling but I was out of red chili paste so I skipped it this time but I made the filling extra saucy so it really wasn’t needed anyways. 

Filling recipe adapted from

Asian Lettuce Wraps

  • romaine lettuce
  • 1 pound chicken breast cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons crystallized ginger pieces
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons asian sweet red chile sauce
  • 1 8 ounce can diced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and set aside to dry.  In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the chicken in the olive oil, stirring often until cooked thru.

Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and chile pepper sauce to the chicken and stir.  Stir in the water chestnuts, green onions and sesame oil.

 Continue to cook until the onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Arrange lettuce leaves on plate and top with chicken filling.

Asian Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons chili paste

Mix all ingredients until well mixed.  Serve over wraps or as a dip.

Marinated Turkey

27 Nov

Another old recipe tried and true.  This came from Parents magazine that I received a years subscription when I had Mariya over 24 years ago.  I made this for our thanksgiving dinner that year and have been doing it ever since.  The turkey will be so moist and flavorful and succulent however, the bird is not a thing of beauty.  The turkey cannot be stuffed either so I do a stuffing on the side.  I cook this in a turkey bag breast side down so make sure this is in a very large pan because there will be so much liquid and the breast is just sitting in this baking for several hours to create the most delicious turkey ever!

Adapted from Parent’s magazine

Marinated Turkey

  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 large onions, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 12-15 lb turkey
  • 1 cup chardonnay wine or cooking sherry

Place carrots and onions in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Process until finely chopped.

Place chopped vegetables into a large bowl.  Stir in flour, oil, garlic powder and pepper.  The mixture should be pasty, if not, add a little more flour.

Coat the turkey inside and out with the mixture.  Set the turkey on a tray and cover lightly with foil or place into a turkey bag.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to 24 hours.

Roast following directions from the turkey, basting frequently with wine or sherry, then with the pan juices as they accumulate.

Barbeque Sandwiches with Baked Potatoe Salad

11 Sep

My family has their favorite recipes that I have been making for years over and over again.  This recipe for barbeque is no exception.  Back in the early 90’s I was intrigued by the Amish lifestyle and cooking.  I came across a great cookbook at the library and as usual I enjoyed reading it.  I copied many recipes but this is the one recipe I continue to make.  The recipe makes a good amount and I never ever have to worry about having too much and disposing of the excess.  The potatoe salad is one I created upon having had some from the deli section at Lowe’s Food Store.  I had asked them for the recipe but they would not give it out.  Top secret, who knows but it wasn’t hard to figure it out.  This is what I came up with and its a big hit with the family.

The barbeque is adapted from Marcia Adams Cooking From Quilt Country

Barbeque Sandwiches

  • 2 lbs london broil
  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 ribs celery, cut in large pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut in large pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut in large pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 12 buns

Place meats, vegetables and seasonings in the crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours until meat is tender. 

Remove the meat and shred.

Barbeque Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder, cumin, black pepper and salt

In a large saucepan melt butter and saute onions until the onion is transparent.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Simmer over low heat until mixture is thick.  This will take about 15 minutes.

Add the shredded meat to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.  Serve on buns.

Baked Potatoe Salad

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup each mayonnaise and sour cream
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 bacon bits
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash potatoes.  Pierce with fork and sprinkle salt over the potatoes.  Bake in 400 oven for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and cut potatoes into chunks.  Add remaining ingredients.