Archives for posts with tag: #Dinner For Two

One of our traditions is to let our kids pick their birthday menu. Chicken Saltimbocca was my step-daughter’s request for her celebration dinner. I’ve made this since 1999 and have shared it with many friends and family because it’s always a favorite. This time, I served it alongside Roasted Broccoli with Carrots and some Cauliflower Mash topped with toasted panko.

We learned from my son-in-law who is from Naples, Italy that “saltimbocca” means “to jump in (your) mouth.” I think that’s the perfect description for this delicious, versatile Italian chicken dish that was originally made with veal, sage and slices of ham.

Chicken Saltimbocca (Low Carb/Keto/Gluten-Free)

Ingredients for 6 servings:

3 large chicken breasts, cut lengthwise and flattened

Salt & ground pepper

3 TBSP olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 sprigs of rosemary, remove the needle-like leaves and chop fine

3-4 ounces of goat cheese

3 ounces of cream cheese

6 slices of proscuitto

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the 3 chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Between two pieces of wax paper flatten each chicken breast with a mallet. Season the 6 chicken breasts on both sides with salt and ground pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, add the olive oil, goat cheese, cream cheese and rosemary. Using a fork combine the mixture thoroughly.
  4. On a cutting board or work surface, lay a chicken breast down and spread a layer of the cheese mixture over the surface. Make sure to divide up the cheese evenly to have an equal amount for all 6 pieces.
  5. Roll-up the chicken breast and then wrap each one with a piece of prosciutto. If needed, use a toothpick to hold the chicken wrapped prosciutto breast closed. Lay the chicken seam side down in a baking dish. Repeat with each chicken breast.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is 165 degree F.
The chicken is done!

Notes: You can have a butcher prepare the chicken breasts outlined in number 2. Then, you’ll just need to season with salt and pepper before moving to numbers 3 through 6 in the directions.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

We have a house of teen and young adult children, which means I try to be creative in our low carbohydrate meal options. My goal is delicious dishes that are not boring or repetitive for any of us. This Baked Cheesy Meatball recipe fits all requirements. It is a cheesy topped casserole with a tangy, sweet tomato sauce that couldn’t be easier to make or more delicious.

Baked Cheesy Meatballs (Low Carb/Keto/Gluten-Free)

Ingredients:

1 cup onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed or minced

4 TBSP olive oil

1 pound extra-lean ground beef

1 pound Italian Sausage

1/2 cup seasoned Keto breadcrumbs, almond flour or Gluten-Free Panko such as Aleias

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup and 1 TBSP parsley, finely chopped

2 large eggs

1 TBSP fresh chopped basil, rosemary, thyme and/or oregano

Salt and ground pepper to taste

2 cups tomato sauce such as Yo Mama’s Foods Keto brand, Cento Tomato Sauce or Barilla Vero Gusto Sauce

3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack positioned in the middle. Butter or spray a casserole dish. Set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, add olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, Italian sausage, breadcrumbs or panko, parmesan, 1/2 cup parsley, eggs, fresh herbs, salt and ground pepper to taste. Then, add the sautéed onions and garlic. Combine all ingredients thoroughly. (I use my clean, washed hands to kneed the mixture and combine completely.)
  4. Use a spoon to scoop out enough meat to make 1 1/2″ round balls. You can also use a cookie scoop but I like to form them in my hands and roll into balls that are all the same size. Place the meatballs in the prepared casserole dish. This will make about 25 to 30 meatballs.
  5. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes until fully-cooked and brown. Remove from the oven and drain the grease.
  6. Then, top the meatballs with the tomato sauce and shredded cheese.
  7. Place the casserole dish back in the oven and cook for 5 additional minutes until the cheese is fully melted.
  8. Garnish with the remaining parsley.
Meatballs Ready to Bake!

This serves 6. I added a side of steamed broccoli. The kids got to top these delicious Baked Cheesy Meatballs over a bed of pasta. You can also add a side salad for a complete meal.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

Today is Taco Tuesday! As everyone knows, it’s one of our family’s favorite meals of the week since tortillas and cheese are involved. This posed a dilemma during meal prep though since we altered our cooking for low carbohydrate options. Never fear, I dug deep and decided to make Stuffed Bell Peppers with a Mexican Twist.

This recipe is ground beef with onions, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini and Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies, Mexican shredded cheese seasoned with basil, cumin, oregano and chili powder. Then, it is packed nicely into a bell pepper and topped with MORE cheese.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with a Mexican Twist

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4 gloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced

2/3 cups mushrooms, chopped

1/2 medium zucchini, chopped fine

14.5 ounces Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chili (I only used half and saved the rest for another use)

1 TBSP dried basil

1 TBSP dried oregano

1 TBSP cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and ground pepper to taste

6 bell peppers, any color (your preference)

1 1/2 cups Mexican shredded cheese or Monterey Jack (your preference)

Chopped cilantro (this is optional — you can substitute with parsley)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground beef in a large fry pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat for 6-7 minutes until almost cooked through. Drain the meat in a colander to remove any fat. Set aside.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the same pan and cook about 6 minutes over medium heat until translucent. Then, add the mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes and all the seasonings. Mix together until thoroughly combined, and cook another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the meat back to into the pan with the other ingredients and stir to combine. Continue cooking about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and add 1 cup shredded cheese to the pan. Stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
  5. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and clean out the cavity to remove the ribs and seeds. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the peppers with salt and pepper.
  6. Neatly arrange the bell peppers in an 8×8 baking dish or casserole pan. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and let cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  7. Carefully, fill the peppers with the ground beef, vegetable and cheese mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes more or until the peppers are knife tender and the cheese is melted and browned.
  8. Serve with chopped cilantro.

Note: This recipe is designed for Keto but stuffed bell peppers are completely versatile. You can add anything you choose such as fresh or frozen corn and/or cooked white or brown rice. You can also swap out the ground beef for chicken or remove the meat entirely for a Vegetarian dish!

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

Chicken is probably one of the most versatile dishes to make. It is used in many American, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Indian and Chinese recipes. Besides pasta, chicken is generally something that children and adults will eat without too much fuss. One of my go-to and our family’s all-time favorite is Chicken Parmesan.

I usually make Chicken Parmesan from memory, which means it isn’t always the same. No fear! I have my recipe binder with one I saved from Bon Appetit when my children were younger. The following is sure to be a family winner.

Basic Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4 cup chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup peeled, grated and coarsely chopped carrots (you can use a Cuisinart)

3 TBSP thyme

2 28 ounce cans peeled whole tomatoes in juice (I use Italbrand Italian Peeled, San Marzano Whole Peeled or Muir Glen Whole Peeled)

Chicken

10 skinless boneless chicken breasts halved to 1/3″ thickness (you can buy the thin cut chicken breasts or cut whole ones diagonally through the center. A butcher will cut and flatten them for you or you can use a mallet or rolling pin to do it yourself.)

3 cups breadcrumbs (you can purchase Progresso Italian Style or Italian Panko or I like using ALEIAs Original Real Panko that is gluten free)

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup all purpose flour

6 TBSP olive oil, divided

3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

2 TBSP chopped fresh Italian parsley

1 TBSP chopped fresh marjoram

5-6 Basil leaves torn

Preparation:

Step 1

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic; saute until onions are soft and translucent about 10 minutes. Add carrots and thyme; saute until the carrots are soft about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice; bring to a boil, coarsely mash the tomatoes as they cook. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and reduce to about 5 cups about 1 hour. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Step 2

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Spread breadcrumbs on plate. Whisk eggs to blend in medium bowl. Spread flour on another plate. Coat both sides of chicken with flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.

Step 3

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 TBSP oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken to skillet and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Transfer chicken to a platter. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of a 15x10x12 inch glass baking dish. Arrange one layer of chicken over the sauce. Spoon 2 cups sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecorino over. Repeat with remaining chicken, sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecorino. Bake until cheeses melt and chicken is cooked through about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, marjoram and basil leaves before serving.

Serve over angel hair or thin spaghetti pasta with a Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread.

Few notes:

  1. To save time, you can substitute the tomato sauce recipe for your favorite jarred pasta sauce. This isn’t something I do but it’ll save valuable time for a quick but delicious dinner.
  2. I sometimes buy the Belgioioso Fresh Mozzarella and slice it thinly. I place this on top of the chicken along with the Parmesan and Pecorino. I prefer it to the shredded mozzarella cheese but both work.

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

A few months ago, I finally decided to write a food blog since cooking has been my passion since I was 15 years old. Like many, I enjoy planning menus and shopping for ingredients. I often look in our (or someone else’s) refrigerator and cabinets and challenge myself to create something delicious with the items on hand. Or, I’ll read a cookbook or cooking magazine cover to cover to search for the perfect recipe(s).

I’m told that cooking and baking for a party is one of my super powers as it is something I do effortlessly. Chopping, measuring, mixing, folding, stirring, sautéing, roasting, frying, basting are all things that bring me great joy. I absolutely love being in the kitchen to create deliciousness for the people in my life.

Although, I do have a day job in a completely different industry, I have (and will) cater dinner parties, weddings, graduations and birthdays. Over the years, I’ve been asked countless times for recipes or suggestions from family and friends. My daughter calls or texts regularly from the East Coast to ask what she should make based upon the items in her refrigerator or pantry.

That’s when I go to work and search my extensive database of recipes accumulated over 35+ years. It is this scrumptious food library that is the impetuous of my nostalgic but modern food-lovers site!

My challenge for this first post was the recipe to share. I literally have hundreds and hope you enjoy my choice that was the main course for a recent dinner party with friends and my spouse’s favorite.

You’ll find that my recipes are easy and delicious. Bottom line, I want you to have confidence in the kitchen. And soon, you’ll realize there is no need to fear the pork chop as long as you follow the recipe below (and do not over cook them).

Simple but Elegant Pan-Seared Bone-In or Tomahawk Pork Chops (one of my favorite recipes I found a few years ago that my spouse loves)

2 TBSP olive oil

Two 12-oz bone-in or tomahawk pork chops (1″ thick)

1 TBSP each Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper (I have both in grinders because I like them coarse but you can use your favorites)

6 TBSP unsalted butter

Thyme leaves from 4 sprigs

4 Garlic cloves, smashed

  1. Season pork chops on both sides with the salt and pepper
  2. In a large skillet (or I use a cast iron, grill pan), heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the pork chops
  3. Sear the pork chops, flipping once for 4-5 minutes on each side. Then, remove from the pan to a plate
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter, thyme and garlic until melted and fragrant, about 1 minute
  5. Return the pork chops to the pan. Cook and flip once. Baste constantly with the butter sauce until the pork chops reach 140 degrees (do yourself a favor and purchase a good, quality meat thermometer. Pork is generally done at 145 degrees but will continue cooking when you remove them from the pan. Do not overcook them or you’ll have dry chops)
  6. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes before serving or carving into thick slices

Serves two but you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe. I like to serve these with Spinach Sautéed with Lemon, Kale and Wild Mushrooms or Roasted Butternut Squash with Fresh Herbs. For a starch, you can add Garlic and Rice Pilaf, Brown Rice, Mashed Potatoes or polenta. These are all excellent choices!

Enjoy! XOXO Jill

T-Bone Chop with Roasted Zucchini and Squash with a Side of Rice