Category Archives: Main Course

Slow Cooker Beef Stew


Last weekend, I went antiquing in Leesburg, VA and Frederick, MD.  My friend introduced me to antiquing when I first moved into our new home, and I must say, it is so much fun and can be really addicting.  I’ve been trying to decorate our house tastefully with cool pieces.  Last weekend, there were a couple of antique stores that were holding their holiday barn sales.  Decked-out barns?  How fun, right?  I didn’t get any big furniture pieces (although I saw so many that I would’ve loved), but I did get a few cool pieces including this cranberry chalkboard for our dining room.  This color matches the drapes in our dining room, and I just love how you can write whatever you want on it; I will definitely be filling that out when company comes over.

Here’s the list of three great antique stores that I’ve been to in Leesburg, VA and Frederick, MD (I didn’t know this until recently, but Frederick and Leesburg are only around 15 miles apart.  Def can do both places in 1 day!).

  Antiquing has nothing to do with Slow Cooker Beef Stew, but it’s the perfect meal to come home to after a fun day of scouring the countryside for cool antiques.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 15 baby carrots
  • 2 potatoes, chopped
  • 1 package of white mushrooms
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • Cracked fresh pepper and sea salt for seasoning

Directions:

  1. In a saute pan, warm olive oil over medium heat and brown beef.
  2. In the bottom of a slow cooker, add beef, onion, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, pepper, and garlic.  Top with red wine, beef stock, bay leaves, oregano, salt, and pepper.  Mix to combine.  Cook over low heat for 8 hours.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Adapted from Food & Wine

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Sweet Potato, Apple & Ginger Soup w/ Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

While I was traveling for work several weeks ago, my husband sent me an email that had a link and the following message: “You should buy this.”  When I opened up the link, it went to a book review of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso.  The book recently came out in stores and must have caught my hubby’s attention (he knows me so well!).  I instantly bought it and I can’t  recommend it enough.  It’s  awesome!!!!  Not only does it have amazing desserts, but it has some awesome appetizers, entrees, and side dishes as well.  At the beginning, it also has an extensive list (with photos) of every single apple out there.  If you want to know how tart an apple is, whether it’s good for apple sauce, how long its shelf life is, etc. this book will tell you.

Kudos to Amy Traverso for coming up with a wonderful cookbook that has beautiful photos and recipes and that showcases some of the various areas in the U.S. that are notorious for good apples (cough, cough… NYS!).  I used her recipe to make this Sweet Potato, Apple & Ginger Soup served alongside an Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  My pics don’t do this dinner justice because it was dark and the hubby and I were starving.  But take my word that both this soup and grilled cheese were amazing!!!!!!!


Sweet Potato Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 lb baby-cut carrots
  • 2 large apples, unpeeled, cored & cut into cubes
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 inch-long piece of fresh ginger, cut into chunks
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh apple cider
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes, carrots, and apples with 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.  Line a baking sheet with foil and roast vegetables and apples until tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil to a large stock pot and set over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, ginger, garlic, bay leaf, remaining salt and pepper, and cook for about 8-10 minutes or until the onions turn golden.
  3. Add the roasted vegetables, broth, and cider to the stock pot and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaf and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.  Season to taste and serve.
Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 tsp whole-grain mustard
  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese thinly sliced
Directions:
  1. Set a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Butter one side of the bread slice and lay butter side down.  Spread mustard on two of the bread slices and divide up the apple slices between the two portions, laying on top of the mustard.  Divide up the cheese slices and lay over the apples.  Top the sandwiches with the two remaining slices, buttered-side-up.
  3. Lay the sandwiches on the skillet and cook until the bottom is browned, 3-4 minutes, then flip.  Cook until the sandwiches are crisp, about 4-6 minutes more.
*The Apple Lover’s Cookbook

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Filed under Main Course, Side Dishes, Soup & Salad

Butternut Squash Risotto


I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Fall is officially here and with it, comes squash, pumpkins, apples, cinnamon, and all my favorite foods and flavors.  This Butternut Squash Risotto is creamy, delicious, and perfect for this autumn weather.  Even though risotto requires a little extra love and care to prepare, this recipe is well worth it.  I also used frozen butternut squash since it’s so much easier to prepare.  Definitely give this risotto a try!

What are your favorite foods/flavors of the fall?


Ingredients:

  • 1 package of frozen butternut squash
  • 6 cups nonfat chicken broth
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (9 oz)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 oz)
  • Sea salt and fresh cracker pepper for seasoning
  • Baby spinach (3 cups), stems discarded and leaves very coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Microwave butternut squash according to directions and set aside.
  2. Bring broth to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer, covered.
  3. Meanwhile, cook onion in butter in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add rice, garlic, and cumin and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1/2 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup), about 18 minutes total. (There will be leftover broth.)
  5. Stir in squash, then stir in cheese, salt, pepper, and spinach and simmer, stirring, 1 minute. (If necessary, thin risotto with some leftover broth.)
  6. Serve risotto immediately.

Servings: 4

*Adapted from Gourmet

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

I almost fell over last week when my hubby told me that he’d like me to make vegetarian chili; it’s not that we eat meat every day or anything. It’s just that in certain dishes, like chili, my hubby appreciates a little beef (as do I). However, I took full advantage of his request for vegetarian chili and made this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili. I added some barley to my chili and it came out fantastic. The barley added texture and additional protein. I love using my slow cooker because I prepare everything the night before and just dump it in before I leave for work. There’s nothing better than coming home to dinner ready to go! Do you prefer regular chili with meat or vegetarian chili? Definitely give this recipe a try!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can cannellin beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can low-sodium corn
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dried barley
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
  • Your favorite shredded cheese for sprinkling
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the shredded cheese, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.
  3. Just before serving, top each serving with shredded cheese.

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Filed under Main Course

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Let’s cut straight to the chase… I made Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese, and it was awesome!  I was a little hesitant as to how the flavors in this dish would taste, but they were amazing and perfect for this crisp fall weather.  I used frozen butternut squash which saved me a lot of time and elbow grease.  I also added 1 cup of Yuengling beer, but you could use any cup of your favorite amber beer.  A pumpkin ale might be tasty to use as well.  There’s something about homemade mac and cheese that is so comforting and so much tastier than boxed mac and cheese (no offense to anyone who likes this!).  While boxed mac and cheese is a definite time saver, sometimes it’s nice to make the homemade version with your favorite ingredients.

What’s the craziest ingredient that you’ve added to your mac and cheese?

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Barilla whole wheat medium shells
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 slightly rounded tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup amber beer (I used Yuengling)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups butternut squash purée or 1 14-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin purée
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
  • Sweet paprika, for sprinkling
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it and cook pasta to al dente.  Drain and reserve.  Preheat broiler.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepot over medium heat.  Whisk in flour, cook for 1 minute, then raise heat a bit and add beer.  Reduce until almost evaporated then whisk in honey and milk.  Season with allspice, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Thicken sauce to coat spoon, about 5 minutes, then taste to adjust seasonings.
  3. Whisk in squash and stir in about 2 cups grated cheese with a wooden spoon until melted.  Combine pasta with sauce and arrange in a casserole or individual ramekins.  Sprinkle remaining cheese and a light dusting of paprika.  Broil to brown and bubble.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Kara-Áge Chicken Stir Fry

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Kikkoman, I recieved a packet of Kara-Áge Soy-Ginger Seasoned Coating Mix.  Kara-Áge is one of the most popular cooking techniques in Japan in which protein, usually chicken, is deep-fried.  It’s similar to tempura.  I decided to make a Kara-Age Chicken Stir Fry with some veggies I had on hand and some Asian noodles.  This seasoning packet is not only great because it has my name in it :-), but it’s also a huge time and money saver!  Have you ever had kara-age and/or tempura?  Which do you prefer?  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 package of Kikkoman Kara-Áge Soy-Ginger Seasoned Coating Mix
  • 1 package of your favorite noodles
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Soak noodles in cold water for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp oil.
  3. In a plastic bag, place the chicken and seasoning packet.  Shake until chicken pieces are entirely coated and add to saute pan.  Pan-fry chicken until browned on both sides.  Remove from pan and cover in a medium bowl to keep warm.
  4. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil, and heat until just smoking.
  5. Add the onions, pepper, green beans, and celery and stir-fry until veggies are tender.
  6. Add the last tbsp of oil and garlic and stir-fry until just tender.
  7. Transfer vegetable mix to the bowl with the chicken, cover, and set aside.
  8. Add the chicken broth to the wok and bring to a boil.   Drain the noodles and add into the broth.  Cook until chicken broth is absorbed, 4-5 minutes
  9. Transfer the noodles to a large serving bowl and mix in the chicken and vegetables.
  10. Season with salt and serve.

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My Favorite Summer Recipes


Happy Friday!!  My hubby and I closed on our first house yesterday and are spending all day today, and most likely the rest of the weekend, moving.  Moving stinks, but we’re so grateful that our family is here to help.  That being said, I haven’t really been busy in the kitchen since it’s been all packed up, so I decided to write a post on my Favorite Recipes of the Summer!

This summer literally flew by for me: I traveled for work to three different cities all for more than a week at a time, my sister gave birth to my beautiful niece, my hubby and I bought a house, we somehow managed to squeeze in a long weekend at the beach, we’re moving, and somehow, someway, I managed to cook and bake my way through it all.  Here’s a few of my favorite summer recipes that are worth checking out!!!

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Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts, Main Course

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio w/ Broccoli Rabe

When I was little, I used to request that my mom and my grandma set aside some plain spaghetti for me before they poured the marinara sauce over the pasta for the rest of the family.  It’s not that I disliked marinara sauce, I just preferred to have garlic and olive oil on mine aka aglio e olio.  There is something that is so simple, but so delicious about a bowl of spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper.  It’s easy to make, but the flavors are just extraordinary together.  This is my holy food trinity: olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  90% of the meals that I cook start with this base.  By itself, you can’t beat the flavor combo, but it’s versatile enough to add onions, bread crumbs, mushrooms, any type of meat, spinach, broccoli, etc.  My hubby brought some broccoli rabe home from the grocery store, and I sat there trying to come up with some fancy schmancy dish that I could use the broccoli rabe in.  Then it hit me… this is the perfect dish for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio w/ Broccoli Rabe.  Nothing beats a simple, but delicious bowl of spaghetti!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of broccoli rabe, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • Sea salt for seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, cook broccoli rabe in boiling salted water until tender.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is lightly browned.
  4. Drain the broccoli rabe and add to the onion and garlic mix.  Toss to coat and remove pan from heat.
  5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and place in a bowl for tossing and serving.  Add olive oil mixture and toss.  Add the reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry.
  6. Season with salt and Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.

6 Comments

Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Mango Chicken Salad & a Guest Post

After traveling for work for 10 days and eating restaurant food every one of those days, my hubby asked me what I’d like to eat for my first dinner back.  I told him “something healthy, like a big salad.”  After eating a lot of good, but probably unhealthy food, I decided that I needed to detox my bod with some healthy greens and lean protein like chicken.  My hubby is the best and made me this delicious Mango Chicken Salad.  It was awesome, but instead of me talking about the salad (since I didn’t make it), I’d like to introduce my guest blogger… my hubby!

Hello Happy When Not Hungry readers!  As my wife already mentioned, I decided to make her a healthy dinner after she’d been away for work.  This salad is really easy to make and the ingredients are very simple.  I got the idea from a recipe I found on Epicurious. The original recipe called for a couple of other ingredients, like shallots and watercrests, but since I couldn’t find those in the 10 minute dash I made around the supermarket before picking up my wife from the airport, I had to improvise.

I started off by seasoning the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. I cooked the chicken in a grill pan over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes on each side. Next, I chopped the mango, onions, and lettuce and mixed them together with the croutons. Finally, I prepared the vinaigrette using red-wine vinegar, olive oil, and dried thyme. Fresh thyme would certainly work better, but unfortunately our herb garden didn’t survive the DC heat wave. I drizzled the dressing over the salad, topped it with the grilled chicken, and let my wife enjoy her first home cooked meal in 10 days!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 thin, boneless chicken breasts halves
  • 1 head red leaf or green leaf lettuce, washed and patted dry
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced paper-thin
  • Croutons for topping

Directions:

  1. Whisk red wine vinegar, olive oil, and thyme in a small bowl to blend.  Season dressing with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to hot grill pan.  Cook on each side, about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to cutting board and cut crosswise into slices.
  3. In a large salad bowl, mix lettuce, mango, red onion, and croutons, and top with chicken.  Drizzle with dressing and serve.

*Adapted from Epicurious

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Filed under Main Course, Soup & Salad

Chicken Milanese

Hello!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Here is another chicken dish that is easy to make and delicious: Chicken Milanese.   You might recall that I was lamenting about chicken last week, but I found two great chicken recipes that you should add to your arsenal if you’re getting sick of the same old chicken dishes.  What is your favorite way to prepare chicken?  Do share!

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups plain dried bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Sea salt and fresh cracker pepper for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and the eggs in another shallow bowl.
  2. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan, basil, and thyme in another shallow bowl.
  3. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4″ thick.  Sprinkle the chicken with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  4. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, then the egg, and then the bread crumb mix.  Place chicken breast on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  5. In a large saute pan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add 2 chicken breasts at a time and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to paper towels to drain and repeat steps with remaining chicken breasts.
  6. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the chicken breasts and garnish with fresh parsley.  Serve immediately.

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Filed under Main Course