Dinner Recipes

Bacon, Beets and Bleu Cheese Microgreens Garden Salad



Servings: 4 Side Salads or 2 Entree Salads
Prep Time: 10 minutes


16 ounces fresh Microgreens, washed and dried
1 (15 oz) jar Pickled Beets, drained and thinly sliced
1/4 cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Bleu Cheese crumbles
6 slices cooked Bacon, crumbled
1/2 cup Walnut or Pecan pieces, optional
1/2 cup of your favorite Salad Dressing


1. Layer salad greens on a serving platter or individual plates.
2. Top with pickled beets, red onion, bleu cheese, bacon, nuts and dressing. 
3. Serve immediately.

NOTE: If preparing salad in advance, forego adding dressing until ready to serve. 

Pepper Steak and Orzo

I made this pepper steak and orzo dish the other night using leftover ingredients that were running out of shelf-life. I had about 1/3 pound of sirloin steak, 1/2 of a yellow onion, 1/2 of a green pepper, a handful of cherry tomatoes, some garlic and Gorgonzola cheese.  I had a variety of pasta choices, but opted for orzo because I wanted something more along the lines of pepper steak & rice. 

This is one of those dishes that you can easily swap out ingredients for whatever is lurking in your fridge & pantry. Zucchini & summer squash would make a nice addition, as would baby spinach or artichoke hearts. You can also change the meat to chicken, turkey, different cuts of beef, or shrimp. Same holds true for the cheese, as long as it's a soft, crumbly cheese that melts quickly. 



Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes


1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 medium Onion, chopped
1/2 Green Pepper, chopped
1/2 pound Sirloin Steaks, thin strips, about 2-inches long
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (or Tamari Sauce)
2 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Orzo, cooked
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Salt & Pepper to taste


  1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add onions and green pepper and cook for 4-5 minutes, until onion becomes semi-soft. 
  3. Add beef strips and stir to incorporate ingredients. Cook 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Add garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt & pepper, if desired. Stir to incorporate ingredients. 
  5. Drain orzo and add to vegetable mixture. Stir well.
  6. Top with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles. 
  7. Transfer to dinner plates and serve immediately.


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Super Cheesy Cheeseburger Soup

I'll admit it. I'm a cheeseaholic. I'm also a cheese snob and if I'm going to eat cheese, I want premium quality. On the flip side, I'm also a sucker for Ragu Cheese Sauce (I know it's a contradiction!) because it lends a creaminess that I enjoy.

With that said, this Super Cheesy Cheeseburger Soup offers a bounty of flavor and is ideal for those nights when you want a filling meal, but don't have much time to cook. It pairs well with a fresh garden salad and dinner rolls. You could also add some bacon crumbles and grated cheese to the soup upon serving. 

Servings: 4 bowls or 8 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


1 pound Grassfed Hamburger
1/2 White or Yellow Onion, chopped
2 medium Jalapenos, seeds removed and finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Carrots, finely grated
6 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Large Elbow macaroni, uncooked
1/2 jar Ragu Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (One of my favorites is Tillamook
1 cup Fontina Cheese, shredded


  1. In a large stockpot, cook hamburger over medium heat until browned. Chop with spatula to crumble into small pieces.
  2. Add onion and jalapenos. Cook 3-4 minutes, until onion becomes translucent.
  3. Add garlic and carrots and combine with meat mixture. 
  4. Add chicken broth and macaroni. Cook for 9-11 minutes, until macaroni is al dente (soft to the tooth).
  5. Add Cheddar Cheese Sauce and shredded cheeses and stir until well-combined. Cook for 5 minutes
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately.






Easy Homemade Lasagna

Easy-homemade-lasagna-plate-the-cheap-gourmetLet's face it. Making traditional homemade lasagna can be a lengthy process. This meal is often made on weekends when we have more time in the kitchen.

However, sometimes we just crave it, so here's an option that will satisfy your tastebuds and fit into busy schedules.

The key to this easy homemade lasagna is the noodles. You'll want to use extra wide, such as traditional German egg pasta noodles from Bechtle or Homestyle egg noodles from Amish Kitchens. 

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes


1/2 bag wide noodles, cooked al dente
1/2 to 1 pound hamburger or Italian sausage, cooked (depends on how much meat you like)
1/2 medium Onion, diced
1/2 medium Green Pepper, diced
1 medium Tomato, seeds removed, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 (14-oz) jar Spaghetti Sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Basil
1/2 teaspoon dried Parsley
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease 9 x 11 glass baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
  3. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  4. In skillet, cook hamburger or sausage. Remove from skillet and place on plate lined with paper towels to absorb grease or drain in colander and rinse with cold water.
  5. Over medium heat, cook onion and green pepper in skillet until onion becomes translucent; about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour noodles into baking dish. Add remaining ingredients except for cheeses.
  7. Gently combine until ingredients are incorporated. Evenly spread pasta.
  8.  Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve immediately.



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Old Fashioned Homemade Ham and Bean Soup

Growing up, my mom made ham and bean soup with cornbread on a weekly basis. She was the Queen of stretching a dollar, as she was a stay-at-home mom with 4 kids trying to feed 6 people on one income.

She would prepare a bone-in ham for Sunday dinner and use the leftovers for grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and ham and bean soup.

Mom made everything from scratch and insisted that the only way to avoid bland and boring ham and bean soup was to use dry beans (never canned!) and include the ham bone during the cooking process.

Nowadays, it's just my husband and me, so rather than purchase a bone-in ham, I usually buy a small boneless ham and a ham hock. Feel free to use whichever method works best for your family.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bean Soak Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours


1 lb package dry White Beans
1/2 large White Onion, diced
2 medium Carrots, diced
2-3 medium stalks Celery, diced
6 cups Vegetable Broth
1/2 lb pre-cooked Ham, cut into bite-size chunks (Hickory, Smoked & Honey Ham are great choices)
3-4 large cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1 teaspoon fine Pink Himalayan Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 Bay leaves
1 medium Ham Hock


  1. In a colander, wash and drain beans and check for any residue or rocks.
  2. In a large stock pot, add beans and cover with water, about 2-inches above beans.
  3. Cook over high heat until boiling, then reduce to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.
  5. Drain beans, place in a container and set aside.
  6. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable broth to stock pot and heat over medium high for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes; until onion becomes translucent.
  8. Add vegetable broth and remaining ingredients and stir.
  9. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours; until beans are soft and tender.
  10. Remove ham hock from soup and scrape meat from bone, if desired.
  11. Transfer to individual soup bowls or mugs and serve immediately.

This recipe pairs well with Buttermilk Jalapeno Cornbread.


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Sausage and Beef Hand Pies

Meat-hand-pie-the-cheap-gourmetPersonally, I love meat pies because they contain an entire meal in flakey dough and can be consumed without utensils.

I'd never attempted making my own, simply because I don't have a great track record with dough. However, I found a recipe for Natchitoches Meat Pies at Food Network and felt I could pull it off. I adapted the recipe to suit my tastes and am happy to report the dough was light, flakey and crispy and very easy to make. 

The sausage and beef hand pies have become a favorite in our household. I've modified the recipe in various ways and used ground turkey and chicken, different types of beef, breakfast sausage and scrambled eggs, and even a vegetarian version. Let your imagination run and see what ingredients you can change to create your own version of meat pies. 

Yield: 12 individual pies
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2-3 minutes per batch of 3 pies



1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1/3 lb Grassfed Ground Beef
1/4 lb Ground Sausage (we prefer Chorizo or Andouille)
1/4 cup Leek (or sweet onion), finely chopped
1/4 medium Bell Pepper (red or green), finely chopped
1 rib Celery, finely chopped
1 small Jalapeno (seeds removed), finely chopped
1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoon organic all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Beef Stock (Kitchen Basics is our preferred choice)


1-1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
1 Egg
1/2 cup whole Milk
Vegetable or Peanut Oil for frying


Meat-pie-filling-the-cheap-gourmet1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add coconut oil and coat bottom of skillet.
3. Add ground beef and sausage and stir cook until browned; about 5 minutes.
4. Add the leek, bell pepper, celery, jalapeno, salt and pepper.
5. Stir and cook until vegetables are soft; about 6-7 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.Stir in flour and beef broth.
7. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened; about 1 minute.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.


  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Use a fork or pastry blender to cut shortening into flour mixture until it becomes coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk together. 
  4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until dough is pliable. 
  5. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a round disc.
  6. Pastry dough can be used immediately or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and stored in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.


Meat-pie-dough-the-cheap-gourmet1. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces.
2. Lightly dust a cutting board or work surface with flour.
3. Flatten each piece into a 6-inch round disc; about 1/4-inch thick.
4. Place 2 tablespoons of meat mixture on one side of the dough. Fold in half and crimp edges with a fork to seal them.


1. In a deep fryer or large skillet, preheat oil to 375 degrees.
2. Carefully place 2 to 3 meat pies into the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides; about 3 minutes.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pies to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb grease.
4. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy.



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Bacon Wrapped Jalapenos Stuffed with BBQ Meatloaf and Cheese

When making the BBQ Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Onion Bombs from the previous post, you'll likely have some leftover meat. Here's a way to utilize leftover meatloaf and squeeze an extra meal out of it.

Not only are these stuffed jalapenos perfect for a fast dinner, they also make fabulous appetizers. They pair well with garlic butter rice, brown rice, fries, and loaded baked potatoes. 

Bacon-wrapped-meatloaf-stuffed-jalapenos-with-cheddar-cheese-3-the-cheap-gourmetBACON WRAPPED JALAPENOS STUFFED WITH BBQ MEATLOAF AND CHEESE

Yields: 12 individual peppers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes




6 large Jalapeno peppers, cut in half with seeds removed and stems intact (cut stems to 1/2")
1/2-cup raw BBQ meatloaf
6 slices thick Bacon
1/4-cup Cheddar Cheese, finely shredded


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fill each jalapeno half with meatloaf mixture; about 1 Tablespoon per pepper.

3. Cut bacon in half and wrap diagonally around each pepper to cover meatloaf. (Start on the top and gently pull bacon to extend length as you wrap).


4. Place in a baking pan and bake for 15-18 minutes; until bacon is slightly crispy with brown edges. Remove from oven and carefully top each pepper with a pinch of shredded cheese.


5. Return to oven and bake for 2-3 minutes; until cheese is melted and bubbly.

6. Remove from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy.


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BBQ Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Onion Bombs

Everything about these BBQ bacon wrapped meatloaf onion bombs is amazing and certain to please the carnivores in your family. Not only are they easy to prepare, they can be made in advance and frozen for those nights when you don't want to cook.

I wish I could take full credit for the recipe, but instead it is adapted from one I found at MyFridgeFood.com. It's a great source for all types of recipes based on what you currently have in the fridge, plus guests can submit their own recipes for a chance to win prizes.

For us, the beef onion bomb is a meal in itself, but it would pair well with a fresh garden salad, steamed green beans, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes or fries.


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 2


1 pound grassfed ground beef
1/4 medium Green Bell Pepper, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground Pink Himalayan Salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (we like Emeril's Original Panko breadcrumbs
1 medium egg, beaten
1/4 cup Half & Half or whole milk
1/4 cup BBQ sauce, plus extra for brushing (my favorite is The Shed Spicy Sweet BBQ Sauce)
2 medium White or Yellow onions
6 thick slices Applewood or Hickory Bacon


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine all ingredients except onions and bacon.
3. Cut the top and bottom off each onion and remove skin. Cut in half and remove core, leaving 3-4 thick outside layers.
4. Divide meat mixture in half and roll into balls.
5. Wrap onion halves around meat to create a seal around the meatball.
6. Wrap each bomb with 3 slices of bacon and secure with toothpicks.












7. Bake in glass casserole dish for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
8. Brush with BBQ sauce and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Slow Roasted Garlic Chicken Recipe

The slow roasted garlic chicken is the star of our Sunday dinner. I stuff the cavity with any leftover vegetables in the crisper. Most common selections include: one whole onion, two carrots, two celery stalks, and one lemon. Cut the lemon in half and place one half inside the cavity; add remaining vegetables; than seal the cavity with the remaining lemon half.



1 whole Roasting Chicken (6 to 7 pounds)
1/2 stick unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2-inch thick triangles
6 cloves Garlic, sliced in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1 teaspoon Olive Oil



1. Remove organs from cavity and dispose or use for gravy. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Stuff cavity with vegetables, if desired.
3. Place chicken in slow cooker. Separate skin from meat in the breast area. Place 3 to 4 butter pads under the skin on each side of the breast.
Using a paring knife, make small slits at the leg joint. Place 2 to 3 pads of butter under skin.
4. Place 2 to 3 garlic cloves under skin in breast and leg areas.
5. Wash hands, than mix seasonings together.
6. Drizzle olive oil over entire bird and lightly rub oil to cover the surface.
7. Evenly distribute spices and lightly pat.
8. Cover and cook over high heat for 3 hours.
9. Baste with juices, cover and reduce heat to low for 3 to 4 hours.
10. Remove chicken from slow cooker and let rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
11. Remove vegetables from cavity and discard.
12. Gently pull chicken legs and wings from the body.
13. Slice breast meat crosswise into 1-inch slices.
14. Transfer to serving platter and serve immediately.


Chocolate Balsamic Glazed Sirloin and Potato Onion Bacon Hash

This recipe for chocolate balsamic glazed sirloin and potato onion bacon hash is certain to be a huge hit! While it tastes as though you spent hours preparing it, this gourmet meal takes less than an hour from start to finish.

I purchased chocolate mandarin balsamic vinegar from a vendor at our local Farmers Market, but it can also be found in specialty stores such as Dean and Deluca. You can also try online stores such as the Olive Branch Oil and Spice Company

Servings: 2
Marinade Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes


2 (5-ounce) Top Sirloin Fillets
1/3 cup Chocolate Mandarin Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus 2 Tablespoons
2 Tablespoons fresh Rosemary, finely chopped, plus 2 small sprigs for garnish
4 strips Bacon, chopped
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
8-10 Pearl Onions, ends and skin removed
4-6 medium Baby Portobella Mushrooms, gills removed and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh Garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, and chopped rosemary. Add the sirloin steak and coat boat sides, then allow to marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes.


2. Slice Yukon Gold potatoes and submerge in a bowl filled with cold water. 

3. Place a large saute pan on high heat and add remaining olive oil. Heat until oil begins to smoke. Drain water from potatoes and carefully add to pan along with pearl onions.

4. Place a medium saute pan on high heat and add chopped bacon. Cook until crispy, then reduce heat to medium and add portobella mushrooms and garlic. Stir ingredients together and cook for 5-6 minutes until onion becomes translucent. 

5. While the potatoes are finishing, remove sirloin steak from marinade and lightly season both sides with salt and pepper, if desired. 

6. Place the steak on a broiler pan or heated grill and cook each side for 3-4 minutes for medium-rare.

7. While steak is grilling, add bacon, mushroom and garlic mixture to potatoes and mix well to combine ingredients. 


8. Remove steak from grill/broiler and let set for 2-3 minutes. Divide potato onion bacon hash in half and transfer to dinner plate. Serve the steak on top of the hash and garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig. 




Rustic Italian Chicken Sandwich

Here is a simple rustic Italian chicken sandwich recipe that's affordable and easy to prepare. I purchase a loaf of freshly baked bread from our local bakery, which yields 4 good-sized sandwiches. My favorite breads include poppyseed (as shown in the picture), sesame seed, and of course, Italian.

It's best to marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes to infuse the Italian dressing flavor. It's even better if you can marinate for a few hours. This Italian chicken sandwich is perfect for lunch or dinner and is always a favorite at family gatherings. 

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Servings: 4
Marinate time: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minute


1 loaf Italian bread, quartered
1-1/2 cups bottled Italian Dressing
4 (4-ounce) Chicken Breasts
1 medium Tomato, sliced
4 Romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Pour Italian dressing into a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken breasts and gently massage dressing into each piece. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. 

2. Slice bread loaf lengthwise, then cut into 4 sections. Wrap in foil and set aside.

3. Slice tomato and chop lettuce; set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and place in skillet. Cook for 6-7 minutes per side, until no longer pink.

6. While the chicken is cooking, place bread in oven and heat for 7-8 minutes.

7. Assemble sandwiches and sprinkle each chicken breast with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Pairs well with chips and a pickle spear!



Florida Red Royal Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

This dish was prepared using Florida Red Royal shrimp from our local Farmer's Market. It uses fresh shrimp broth made from the shells and heads for an extra boost of flavor. Use the leftover shells to fertilize garden plants. They contain chitin, which activates plants' natural defense mechanisms and minimizes fungus growth. 

Florida Red Royal shrimp is very similar to rock shrimp. The meat's texture is comparable to lobster. It is considerably more salty than other types of shrimp, so be careful when adding salt. Additionally, it requires about half the cooking time of shrimp. 



Shrimp Broth:
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
3 cups Water
Shells and heads from 2 pounds shrimp

Shrimp Scampi:
2 pound red royal Florida shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
1/2 medium Onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Shrimp Stock
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 box Linguini
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Place shrimp in a colander and rinse with cold water. Cut off heads and remove shells. Using a paring knife, butterfly each shrimp and devein. Place peeled shrimp in a bowl and put in refrigerator until ready to cook.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp shells and heads and cook for 2-3 minutes; stirring frequently.

3. Add 3 cups water, stir gently, and reduce heat to simmer. Gently press shells to release flavor into the water and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Place a bowl under a colander. Strain shrimp shells and set stock aside.

4. In a 2-quart saucepan, fill 2/3rd with water and a pinch of salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Add linguini and cook for 10-12 minutes or until soft to the tooth.

5. While linguini is cooking, lightly season shrimp with salt and pepper.

6. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to turn pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

7. Reduce heat to medium and add onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

8. Add lemon juice, white wine, and shrimp stock. Bring to a boil and reduce stock by two-thirds; about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add shrimp and butter.

9. Drain linguini and add to shrimp mixture. Gently stir until well incorporated and finish with parsley. Transfer to serving plates and enjoy!

NOTE: Store leftover shrimp stock in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or, pour into ice cube trays and freeze, then transfer to a plastic bag. Add frozen cubes to soups and stews, or use for sautéing vegetables.





Super Easy Chicken Sausage and Bean Soup

I love hearty soups that can be served as a meal. This chicken sausage and bean soup offers robust flavor that will fill you up and leave you satisfied. It pairs well with a garden salad and homemade yeast rolls.

What's great about this sausage and bean soup is you can make it with just about any type of sausage. Mild or spicy Italian pork sausage, Chorizo, chicken or turkey sausage, or even breakfast sausage works well. The same holds true for the beans. I like to use 1 can each of dark red kidney and white cannellini, but have also used pinto, navy, and even butter beans. Have fun creating your own unique flavor profile. 

Chicken Sausage and Bean Soup
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 to 1-1/2 hours


1 (32 oz) container chicken broth or 4 cups homemade stock
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
4-5 chicken sausage links, halved and cut in thin slices
*I used chicken sausage stuffed with mozzarella cheese which added a nice flavor
1 (15 oz) can EACH red kidney beans and cannellini beans, or 2 cans of one kind
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


1. In a stock pan, add 1/4 cup chicken broth and bring to boil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onion becomes translucent; about 5-7 minutes. Add chicken sausage and stir to combine ingredients.


2. Drain juice from one can of beans. Add remaining juice and both cans of beans, along with herbs. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

3. Ladle into soup bowls, top with grated cheese, and serve immediately.


Baked Mahi Mahi Fish with Strawberry Mango Salsa

Mahi Mahi fish is one of my favorite white fish. It has a mild flavor that is comparable to Cobia or Cod. It's very versatile and can be baked, broiled, grilled, sautéed, pan fried, and even turned into fish tacos.

Baked mahi mahi fish pairs well with an assortment of side dishes. It can be served with vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, and fruit. One of my favorite side dishes is bacon and bleu cheese potato pockets.

I also like to serve the fish with a refreshing strawberry mango salsa that has a hint of spiciness from jalapeno pepper. Another option is a tomato-cucumber-red onion salsa that can be found here.

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Serves: 2
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes


1 pound Mahi Mahi fish filet, skin removed
1 Lemon, sliced into rounds
1 teaspoon Everglades Seasoning (This stuff is great on all kinds of food!)
1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning (I use this in almost everything I cook)
Salt and Pepper, to taste


1 medium ripe Mango, skin removed, diced
8 medium Strawberries, diced
1 small Jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced
1/4 small Red Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-1/2 teaspoons Mandarano Balsamic Sauce (substitute with 3/4-teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar)


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Prepare salsa and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. In a 9"x12" glass baking dish, arrange lemon slices in two rows.
4. Add seasonings to both sides of mahi fillets and place on top of lemon slices.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 18-20 minutes or until meat is fork-tender and flakey.
6. Carefully remove foil and transfer to serving plates. Top with salsa and serve immediately.


Slow Cooked Cuban Flank Steak and Rice

If you're looking for an exceptionally flavorful slow cooked Cuban flank steak recipe, I think you'll love this one. Although this version is served over rice, you could substitute with quinoa or pile the meat and veggies onto Cuban bread and make a sandwich.

While this slow cooked Cuban flank steak is perfect for dinner, it's also ideal for pitch-ins and parties. It's super easy to make and requires zero pre-cooking, other than the rice. All you have to do is place everything in the slow cooker and enjoy all the goodness later in the day.


Slow Cooked Cuban Flank Steak and Rice
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Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours


1 small white Onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced in ½" strips
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, sliced in ½" strips
2 large cloves Garlic, minced
1 pound Flank Steak, sliced in ½" strips
2 teaspoons ground Chili powder
1 teaspoon ground Oregano
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Lime, juice only
1 cup organic Beef Broth
1 (15 ounce) can organic Black Beans, drained and rinsed


1. Lightly grease slow cooker with oil, butter, or cooking spray,
2. Place onions, peppers, and garlic on bottom of slow cooker.
3. Add sliced beef.
4. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Mix together and sprinkle over meat.
5. Squeeze juice from lime and drizzle over meat. Add beef broth.
6. Cover and cook over low for 6-8 hours.
7. Remove beef and transfer to cutting board. Shred beef using two forks and return to slow cooker. Add black beans. Turn heat to high and begin preparing rice.
8. Cook rice according to package directions.  When done, scoop onto plate and add flank steak, veggies, and stock.

Italian Sausage, Bacon, and White Beans Casserole

This Italian sausage, bacon, and white beans casserole is a hearty meal that will keep you warm on chilly winter nights. It's packed with amazing flavor and topped with refrigerated biscuits for a complete one-dish meal.


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Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 to 25 minutes


6 slices thick Bacon, chopped
1 pound bulk Italian Sausage
1 medium Onion, chopped
3 large cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 can (15 ounces) Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium Tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon dried Basil
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon dried Parsley
1 can (12 ounces) refrigerated Buttermilk biscuits


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

2. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, cook chopped bacon over medium-high heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a small bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb grease.

3. Add Italian sausage to skillet and cook until no longer pink inside; about 8 minutes.

4. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent; about 2-3 minutes.

5. Stir in beans, tomatoes, and herbs. Heat to boiling over high heat; about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to casserole dish.

6. Separate refrigerated biscuits and arrange over casserole.

7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until casserole is thoroughly heated and biscuits are golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes and transfer to serving plates.

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Prime Rib with Dijon Mustard Slather


If you're looking for a recipe that adds a burst of flavor to prime rib, you'll love this Prime Rib Dijon Mustard Slather. It's super easy to make and works well as a meat tenderizer. I let the meat marinade in the refrigerator for a few hours, then let the prime rib roast stand at room temperature for about an hour prior to roasting.

I serve Prime Rib with Dijon Mustard Slather with roasted potatoes or bacon bleu cheese mashed potatoes, along with steamed green beans or roasted corn on the cob. It pairs well with a fresh garden salad and dinner rolls.


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Servings: 4 (8 ounce)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinade Time: 2 to 3 hours
Roasting Time: 35 to 45 minutes


2 pound Prime Rib Roast
1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
4 cloves Garlic, mashed
1 Tablespoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Hot Creamed Horseradish


1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except prime rib roast, and whisk together until well blended.

2. Rub slather over entire roast. Place in a baking dish and store in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Remove roast and let stand for 30 minutes to an hour.

4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees then reduce to 350 degrees when you put the roast in. This will sear the outside and help keep juices locked in.

5. Roast for 18 to 22 minutes per pound for medium rare. Remove from oven and let stand for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees before slicing. If you prefer medium, the internal temp should be 150 degrees. For well done, the internal temp should be 170 degrees.

6. Slice meat and transfer to serving dishes. Serve with side dishes, garden salad, and rolls.


Vegetarian Tamale Pie Recipe

Vegetarian-tamale-pieIt is believed tamale pie dates back to the early 1900s, when women were encouraged to conserve meat. Nearly all tamale pies contain corn, cornmeal, tomatoes and beans. Some add beef, pork or chicken to the pie mixture, while others include cheese or olives.

The spiciness of tamale pies can be controlled through the use of peppers. The Jalapeno is relatively mild, whereas Habaneras boast the highest level of heat. The pepper rule of thumb is the smaller the pepper, the higher the heat.

When working with hot chili peppers, it's best to wear gloves. If this is not an option, be certain to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after removing seeds and chopping.

The following Vegetarian Tamale Pie recipe was developed by me when I worked at a health food store. This turned out to be one of the most requested dishes on the menu. I have since altered it with the addition of chile pepper and red pepper flakes. Feel free to adjust the heat by adding more or less of these ingredients.


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Serves 6
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 to 40 minutes


3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 fresh Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed and minced
1 15-ounce can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can Refried Beans
1 15-ounce can Corn
1 15-ounce can diced Tomatoes, with juice
1 Tablespoon Chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper flakes (or Cayenne Pepper)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Sour Cream, optional


3 cups Cornmeal
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Tablespoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups Water


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno pepper. Saute until crisp tender.

3) In medium mixing bowl, combine black beans, refried beans, corn, tomatoes, spices and sautéed vegetables. Mix well.

4) In separate medium mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, honey, salt, olive oil and water. Mix until smooth.

5) Pour bean mixture into lightly greased 8-inch glass baking dish.

6) Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of bean mixture.

7) Using a large spoon, place dollops of topping on bean mixture. Spread mixture across bean mixture as if icing a cake.

8) Place inside oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the cornmeal topping comes out clean.

9) Remove from oven and serve immediately.

10) Top with sour cream, if desired.

Kung Pao Tofu Recipe

Kung pao chicken chinese food recipeKung Pao Tofu is an excellent Chinese food option for individuals who follow a Vegetarian diet. This recipe can be adapted using chicken for those who cannot stand the thought of tofu. However, before you turn up your nose, give this recipe a try. Tofu takes on the flavor of the ingredients it's cooked with. When properly cooked few people notice any difference in texture or flavor.

Use extra-firm tofu when preparing Kung Pao Tofu; otherwise the tofu will crumble when cooked. And, if you chicken out (no pun intended), instructions for preparing this popular Chinese dish with chicken are listed at the bottom of this recipe. Simply cook the chicken first, then follow the recipe below.


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Serves 4
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 5-8 minutes


2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Tamari or Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Honey
1 teaspoon Arrowroot or Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh Ginger, minced
2 teaspoons dried Red Pepper flakes
1 green Bell Pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 red Bell Pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 small yellow Onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound Extra Firm Tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup dry roasted Peanuts
4 cups cooked Rice (white, brown, Jasmine)


1) In a small bowl, mix together Balsamic vinegar, Tamari (or soy sauce), honey and sesame oil. Set aside.
2) Mix arrowroot (or cornstarch) with small amount of water until smooth. Add to sauce mixture and stir ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
3) Heat a large, heavy pan or Wok over medium-high heat for 2 minutes.
4) Remove pan from heat and carefully add olive oil. Return to burner and heat oil for about 30 seconds or until it reaches the smoking point.
5) Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 seconds and stir frequently.
6) Add green and red peppers and onions. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently until crisp-tender.
7) Add tofu and gently stir to incorporate with vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes.
8) Add sauce and gently stir to incorporate ingredients. Continue stirring and cook until sauce boils and thickens, about 30 seconds.
9) Add peanuts; stir to mix.
10) Remove from heat and serve over rice.


1) Replace tofu with 8-ounces of skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes.
2) In medium saucepan, bring 1-1/2 cups water to boil.
3) Add chicken, stirring constantly to avoid sticking.
4) Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken turns white and cooked through; about 2 minutes.
5) Drain chicken in colander set over a bowl. Set aside.
6) Reserve 1/4 cup of this cooking liquid and add to the vinegar, soy sauce, honey mixture.
7) Follow directions in the recipe above and replace the tofu with chicken when called for.

KC Masterpiece Southern Style BBQ Chicken

KC-Masterpiece-BBQ-Chicken2 I recently received a bottle of KC Masterpiece Southern Style BBQ Sauce through the FoodBuzz Tastemaker program with KC Masterpiece. I've been a fan of KC Masterpiece for as long as I've been cooking and was eager to try their new sauce.

The KC Masterpiece Southern Style BBQ Sauce is thin-bodied with slightly tangy notes of cider vinegar and a bit of heat from red and black pepper.

I wanted to create a sweet and tangy flavor, so I whipped up a wet rub consisting of dark brown sugar, fresh garlic, onion powder, Beau Monde seasoning, and a splash of BBQ sauce, then brushed the chicken in BBQ sauce during the final minutes of grilling.

The brown sugar rub can be tricky to cook with as it creates a caramel-coating that is sticky and can burn easily on the grill. For this reason, I cooked the chicken on low heat to minimize the black crunch. The end result was a sweet and tangy chicken with just a hint of spicy notes at the back of the throat.

I served the KC Masterpiece Southern Style BBQ Chicken with sides of baked beans, baked garlic cheddar mashed muffins, and yeast dinner rolls. I used a whole cut-up chicken and turned the leftovers into a BBQ chicken salad.

My husband and I absolutely loved the new KC Masterpiece sauce. It's thinner than most of the bottled sauces I've used in the past, which I really liked because it didn't overpower the flavor of the meal. I can't wait to try it on pulled pork, ribs, and my slow-roasted beef brisket.


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Serves: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes


1 whole Chicken, cut-up
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
2 large cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Beau Monde seasoning
2 teaspoons dry Chicken Rub
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons KC Masterpiece Southern Style BBQ Sauce


1. Preheat gas grill to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Rinse whole chicken with cool water and pat dry. Cut into pieces.
3. In small bowl, combine dark brown sugar, garlic, onion powder, Beau Monde seasoning, dry chicken rub, and 2 teaspoons KC Masterpiece Southern Style BBQ Sauce.
4. Gently massage rub onto chicken pieces.

KC-Masterpiece-Chicken Rub
5. Place on grill and cook for 25 minutes, turning chicken pieces half-way through cooking.
6. Brush chicken pieces with remaining 1/2-cup of BBQ Sauce during final 5 minutes of cooking.
7. Remove from grill and serve immediately.


Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Today, I'd like to share a delightful Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary recipe. This was my first experience eating lamb chops. I don't know why, but I've always had an issue with eating baby lambs and could not bring myself to try it.

Last year, I entered the Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary recipe in the Foodbuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. Although I did not progress through the contest, I discovered I actually enjoy lamb chops and this recipe has become one of our favorites.

It is very easy to prepare and the roasted garlic and rosemary topping adds a ton of extra flavor. I hope it becomes one of your favorites as well!


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Adapted from Michael Chiarello's Lamb Chop recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes


1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use 1/8 cup for marinade and 1/8 cup for cooking lamb chops)
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Tablespoons fresh Rosemary leaves
1 Lemon, zested
4 Baby Lamb Chops
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper


1. Heat 1/8 cup olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until light golden brown. Add rosemary leaves and cook until crispy.
2. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer to small bowl, add lemon zest, and mix well.
4. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Season both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper.


6. Cook lamb chops in skillet 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
7. Transfer to serving platter and spoon rosemary-garlic marinade on top.


Baked Chicken with Turkish Figs and Walnuts

The following baked chicken with Turkish figs and walnuts recipe was inspired by a dish served at one of my favorite local restaurants, Flip Flops Grill and Chill. The executive chef is Danny Veltri, winner of the popular show, Hell's Kitchen and they serve some amazing food there!

The first time I tried Flip Flops baked chicken with figs entrée I knew I had to try to recreate it. The flavor is so rich and robust and the fig seeds add an additional flavor profile that pulls everything together. Even my husband, who isn't a fan of figs, enjoyed this recipe and encouraged me to add it to our list of favorite recipes.

I served the baked chicken with Turkish figs with a side of homemade chicken risotto and fresh steamed green beans. If you've never made risotto, check out my article, How to Prepare Homemade Risotto published at Associated Content.


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Serves: 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Beau Monde Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup dried Turkish figs, chopped
2 Tablespoons light Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon Wine
1/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
Zest of 1 Lemon, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Place in large resealable plastic bag.
3. Add garlic, Beau Monde seasoning, ginger, salt, red wine vinegar, olive oil and figs. Gently massage to incorporate ingredients into chicken. If desired, allow to marinate 20 to 30 minutes in refrigerator.
4. Place chicken breasts and marinade in glass baking dish.
5. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour Cabernet Sauvignon between each breast.

6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes, or until juices run clear.
8. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
9. Transfer to serving plate and top with chopped walnuts and lemon zest.


Brie Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Chicken in Phyllo

This recipe for brie cheese and bacon stuffed chicken in phyllo came to me after making my Greek Feast for Two Dinner Menu. I had plenty of leftover phyllo dough and wanted to try something besides dessert recipes.

The process for making brie cheese and bacon stuffed chicken in phyllo is relatively simple, but does require extra organization. The chicken breasts need to be flattened out for ease of rolling them up. I place the chicken breasts in a resealable bag and flatten with a rolling pin. Take the phyllo dough out of the refrigerator as you begin to prepare the chicken. Cook the bacon ahead of time so it is cool enough to break into small pieces. 

Brie Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Chicken in Phyllo

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Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 35 to 40 minutes


2 (6-oz) boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
2 slices Bacon, cooked extra crispy, chopped
2 ounces Brie Cheese
8 Phyllo Pastry sheets, thawed
3 Tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted


1. Cook bacon slices in medium skillet over medium-high heat. If desired, cut bacon into small chunks prior to cooking. Turn bacon slices or stir bacon bits until extra crispy. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain excess grease.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Place chicken breasts, one at a time, in quart-size resealable plastic bag. Using a rolling pin or heavy glass bottle, gently pound and roll chicken breasts to 1/2-inch thickness.

4. Cut brie cheese into 2-inch slices. Place 1-ounce of cheese approximately 2-inches from the narrow end of the breast. Top with crumbled bacon.

5. Fold chicken over cheese and bacon and roll twice; making certain ends are closed. Secure with toothpicks. Set aside.

6. Use 4 sheets of phyllo dough per chicken breast. Melt butter in microwave. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each phyllo sheet with butter. Place buttered sheets on top of one another.

7. Place chicken breast in center of phyllo dough. Carefully remove toothpicks. Wrap sides of phyllo, than wrap ends; making a package.

8. Transfer chicken breasts to oven-safe glass baking dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until phyllo dough is medium-golden brown.

9. Let sit for 5 minutes. Slice chicken breasts open. Transfer to serving dish and enjoy!


Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup Recipe

One of my favorite soups is roasted red bell pepper soup. Years ago, while working as a prep chef for a country club, we served this soup for special occasions. There rarely was ever any leftover and the Executive Chef refused to share his recipe so I could make it at home. 

I recently discovered a roasted red bell pepper soup recipe at CDKitchen.com which sounded similar to the one made at the country club. I made a few minor changes and attempted to go from memory. I'm happy to report the soup turned out magnificently. In fact, my husband, who isn't too fond of red bell peppers, enjoyed the soup so much he went back for seconds!

To make roasted red bell pepper soup, you need to roast the peppers. This can be accomplished by broiling them in the oven or roasting on a grill. I chose the oven method, but need to let you know that roasting peppers in the oven generates substantial smoke, so be certain to turn on the exhaust fan.


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Peppers can be roasted whole, but I cut them in half and remove the seeds. I find this method to be more efficient and less messy. Roast the peppers prior to making the soup. The entire process takes less than 20 minutes. The roasted red bell pepper soup recipe uses 4 whole peppers.

1. Turn oven to broil.
2. Wash and dry peppers. Slice in half and remove stems and seeds.
3. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat pepper halves with vegetable oil. It's important to use vegetable oil because of its high smoke point.
4. Arrange peppers on a baking sheet, skin side up.

5. Place on the highest rack in the oven and broil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until skin starts to bubble and turn brown.

6. Remove peppers and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making certain it is sealed all the way around. This provides steam which makes it easier to remove the skins. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. When peppers are cool, gently remove skins and chop peppers into bite-sized pieces.


Yields: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 45 minutes


1 stick Unsalted Butter
1 small Vidalia Onion, chopped
2 medium Carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 stalks Celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
4 Red Bell Peppers, roasted, skin and seeds removed and loosely chopped
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 cup Heavy Cream, warmed
8 fresh Basil leaves for garnish, thinly sliced (optional)


1. In a medium size pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté until soft.

 2. Lower heat to medium. Add garlic and cook until vegetables are completely softened; approximately 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

3. Add the roasted red bell peppers and cook for another 10 minutes.

 4. Add chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. 

5. Puree vegetables using a hand blender, food processor, or blender. Return to cooking pot and remove from heat.

 6. Heat heavy cream in microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, or until warm to the touch. 

7. Add cream to soup and stir until incorporated.

8. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with basil leaves and cracked black pepper. Serve with rustic bread, if desired.


Greek Feast for Two Dinner Menu: Project Food Blog Challenge #2

I am excited to share my Greek Feast for Two Dinner Menu with you, but first want to extend my gratitude for voting The Cheap Gourmet blog through to Round Two of the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog Challenge. It means a lot that you are taking time to read my cooking blog and submit your votes and to that I say, Thank You!

This week's challenge is to "tackle a classic dish from another culture" and as you can see, I chose Greek food. I've been enchanted by the Greek Islands for as long as I can remember. A few weeks ago I watched the Grek Islands episode of Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. I found myself fixated on the food and realized I knew very little about the classic Greek dishes.

Greek foods consist of local ingredients and include tons of fresh produce, fragrant herbs, olives, and olive oil. Research revealed lamb, pork, and seafood are the most common proteins. I based my menu selections on foods often served during Greek festivals.

The Greek Feast for Two dinner menu includes: Greek Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing, Greek Paidakia, Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary, Roasted Vegetables, and Cheese and Honey Filo Rounds.

This was, by far, one of the best meals I have ever prepared. My husband and I were intoxicated by the cooking aromas and the savory, salty, earthy flavors of the foods. Everything about this meal was fun and I am proud to share the recipes with you today.

The Greek Feast is relatively easy to prepare, but does require about 2-1/2 hours of time. Step-by-step directions are provided for ease in preparation. I think you will find the end result well worth the effort.

Preparing the Greek Feast for Two Dinner Menu

Start by preparing the Greek Paidakia. Marinate for 2 hours to achieve ultimate tenderness and intense flavor. Prep time is 15 minutes. Chops are broiled for 15 minutes. Total prep and cooking time is 2-1/2 hours.

Greek Paidakia
Adapted from Grilled Lamb Chops at GreekHomeRecipes.com

I was attracted to this dish because the original recipe stated, "Paidakia is to the Greeks as baby back ribs are to Southerners." Since I live in the South and LOVE baby back ribs, I figured I couldn't go wrong with Greek Paidakia.

The original recipe uses lamb, but I substituted with pork. This recipe is super easy to make and uses minimal ingredients. The flavor is incredibly savory and the meat melts in your mouth.

1-1/2 pounds Pork Rib Roast, frenched and cut into 4 to 6 individual chops. Frenched means the meat and fat is removed from the upper bone; providing a handle for ease in eating.
2 Tablespoons Dried Basil
2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley
1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lemon, cut into wedges

1. In a small bowl, combine basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
2. Rinse pork chops and coat each side with herb mixture.
3. Lightly brush each side with olive oil.
4. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours.


5. Broil pork chops 8 minutes per side.
6. Transfer to serving platter and garnish with lemon wedges.
7. Squeeze lemon juice over pork chops and devour!


Next, prepare the Greek Salad. The Vinaigrette dressing should chill for at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Tip: I bought the Kalamata Olives from the Olive Bar at my local grocer. It was less expensive than jarred olives and I could pick the best olives.

Greek Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
Adapted from www.GreekSaladRecipe.net.

Greek Salad Ingredients:
1 head Romaine Lettuce, washed, dried, and loosely chopped
10-ounce bag Baby Greens
1/4 Red Onion, thinly sliced
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1/2 English Cucumber, diced
4 ounces pitted Kalamata Olives
4 ounces Feta Cheese, crumbled


Greek Salad Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1 whole Lemon (use the zest of this lemon for the Baby Lamb Chops)
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar

1. Gently toss vegetables and olives together in a salad bowl. Top with Feta cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
2. In a small bowl, combine Vinaigrette dressing ingredients and briskly whip together using a wire whisk. Transfer to serving container and refrigerate for one hour.
3. Transfer to salad plates and add desired amount of dressing.


Now, it's time to work on the Cheese and Honey Filo Rounds. This recipe was the most challenging dish to prepare due to the delicacy of the filo (phyllo) dough. The original recipe cut the dough into rounds. I didn't have much luck with that method and ended up cutting the sheets into quarters. This dish is intended to be served at room temperature. Makes 16 rounds. Prep time is 15 to 20 minutes and bake time is 12 to14 minutes.

Obtain the original Cheese and Honey Filo Rounds recipe and watch a preparation video at www.Greek-Recipe.com.

8 sheets refrigerated Filo dough, cut into quarters
4 ounces Pecorino-Romano cheese, finely grated
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil for basting
1-1/2 Tablespoons Honey

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place filo dough on large cutting board. Carefully cut sheets into quarters and stack into a pile.
3. Use 2 sheets of filo dough for each cheese-stuffed round. It is important to work quickly so the dough doesn't dry out.
4. Place 2 sheets of dough on cutting board and lightly brush with olive oil. Place 1/2-teaspoon of cheese near the end of the square. Gently roll and lightly baste with olive oil. Carefully roll one end toward the center to create a snail shell. As you can see, I need more practice.


5. Place on baking sheet and lightly baste each round before placing in oven.
6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until light golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to serving platter. Drizzle with honey. Serve at room temperature.

Next, prepare the roasted vegetables. These require 10 minutes to prep, 30 minutes to marinate, and 16 minutes to cook.

Roasted Vegetables
Adapted from Rachel Ray's Lamb Chops with Roasted Vegetables and Spring Pea Risotto

The original recipe roasts the vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes. I marinated the vegetables for 30 minutes and broiled them with the Greek Paidakia.  Either method will provide great results.

1/2 pound fresh Green Beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 dozen Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese, finely grated

1. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss green beans, tomatoes, and onions with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.


3. Broil at 500 degrees Fahrenheit on lower oven rack for 16 minutes. The Greek Paidakia should be placed on the top oven rack while veggies are roasting.
4. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with cheese.


Finally, it's time to prepare the Baby Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary. It is recommended to serve lamb chops medium-rare. This recipe requires 15 minutes prep time and 8 minutes to cook. Start preparing the marinade 5 minutes before placing the veggies and Greek Paidakia in the broiler.

Adapted from Michael Chiarello's Lamb Chop recipe

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (use 1/8 cup for marinade and 1/8 cup for cooking lamb chops)
2 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 Tablespoons fresh Rosemary leaves
1 Lemon, zested
4 Baby Lamb Chops
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

1. Heat 1/8 cup olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until light golden brown. Add rosemary leaves and cook until crispy.
2. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
3. Transfer to small bowl, add lemon zest, and mix well.
4. Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Season both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper.
6. Cook lamb chops in skillet 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

7. Transfer to serving platter and spoon rosemary-garlic marinade on top.

This is my Greek Feast for Two dinner menu. I hope your family and friends enjoy the meal as much as we did. I welcome and appreciate your votes. Each one helps launch me to the next level of the Project Food Blog Challenge. Voting is open from 6 a.m. PT Monday, September 27th through 6 p.m. PT Friday, September 30th. Thank you for your support!

P.S. If you missed the first challenge, click here to read, Defining The Cheap Gourmet Blog


BBQ London Broil Recipe

London broil is one of my favorite ways to prepare flank steak. This affordable cut of meat is often tough and requires a great-tasting marinade to tenderize. I was getting weary of the same ole' Worchestershire marinade I've used for years. After scouring the Internet for different ways to prepare London broil, I grabbed a few recipes, altered and changed ingredients, and came up with the following BBQ London Broil recipe. This recipe includes a dry rub and a marinade sauce, but is super simple to make.

It's best to marinate the BBQ London Broil flank steak overnight if possible. If you're short on time or can't wait an entire day to enjoy the deliciousness of this tasty cut of beef, allow at least one hour of marinating time. This steak is perfect for grilling, but can also be broiled; which is how I prepared it. I served the BBQ London Broil with macaroni and cheese and a side of green beans. Simple, tasty, and cheap!

London Broil should be served medium-rare, so keep a watchful eye when grilling or broiling. The meat is sliced and requires less cooking time than usual.


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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Marinate Time: 24 hours or 1 hour minimum
Cooking Time: 12-15 minutes
Meat Resting Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4


1-1/2 pounds Flank Steak

Dry Rub

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Blackening Seasoning


1/3 cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons Tamari Sauce (or Soy Sauce)
2 Tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
3 cloves Garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 Tablespoon Onions, pressed through garlic press or finely minced


1. Score meat diagonally, a little less than half-way through meat thickness. Turn meat 45 degrees and score diagonally again to create a criss-cross pattern.

2. Rub meat with one teaspoon of dry rub per side. Be certain to get seasoning into scored areas.

3. Place marinade ingredients into a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Massage bag to incorporate ingredients. Place steak into the bag and gently massage marinade into the meat.way


4. Refrigerate overnight or for at least one hour.

5. Place meat on broiler pan and turn oven to broil.

6. Broil 6-8 minutes per side, depending on meat thickness.

7. Remove from broiler and let rest for 10 minutes.


8. Slice thinly against the grain and serve immediately.


If you have leftover meat use it for fajitas, quesadilla, or homestyle beef Manhattan sandwiches.

Chevilotta Cheese Stuffed Sausage and Bowtie Pasta with Tomato Sauce

I recently discovered Chevilotta cheese stuffed sausage through my local butcher, Gaff's Quality Meat and Specialty Food in Port Orange, FL. This tasty carnivorous treat consists of sweet Italian sausage, herbs, spices, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It is wrapped in a coil and held together by two wooden skewers. 

Unfortunately, there aren't many Chevilotta cheese stuffed sausage recipes available online. It seemed logical to create a pasta dish, although I think this sausage would be fantastic with pancakes or waffles.

My first cooking adventure with Chevilotta involved pan frying the sausage in olive oil, but I imagine it would be great on the grill, broiled, or baked. I added sautéed green and red peppers, onion, and garlic, along with penne pasta. I tossed the mixture in olive oil, added fresh basil and parsley, and topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It was quite delicious and very filling!

Last night, I prepared a similar dish, but this time used bow tie pasta and added chunky tomato pasta sauce. The tomatoes really brought out the distinct flavor notes of the cheeses and sweet sausage. This sausage-pasta dish is super easy to prepare and can be ready in less than 30 minutes. It's great for those nights when you don't feel like cooking or have a hectic schedule and little time to cook.

Chevilotta sausage can sometimes be hard to locate by that name. If there's a local butcher in your area ask if they sell cheese stuffed sausages. Some specialty shops carry it as well. If you're feeling adventurous make your own Chevilotta sausage using the recipe provided at Epicurious.com


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Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

1 pound Chevilotta cheese stuffed sausage
6 ounces Bow Tie pasta, cooked
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 medium green Bell Pepper, seeds removed and chopped into bite-size pieces
1/3 medium white or yellow Onion, chopped into bite-size pieces
3 to 4 medium Garlic cloves
1-1/2 to 2 cups Pasta Sauce
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
Salt and pepper to taste, optional


1. Fill 2-quart saucepan two-third full of water. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Bring water to boil over high heat. Add pasta, stir and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente (soft to the tooth). Drain and set aside.

NOTE: If you can multi-task, prepare sausage and veggies while pasta is cooking.

2. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to 12-inch skillet and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When oil begins to smoke, carefully place sausage coil in skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip sausage and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook sausage for 2 minutes.


3. Transfer sausage to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease.

4. Add vegetables to remaining oil and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. If necessary, add one teaspoon of oil. Salt and pepper veggies, if desired. Vegetables should still have a bit of crunch. If overcooked they will become mushy.

5. Remove wooden skewers from Chevilotta sausage and slice into bite-size pieces. Return to vegetable mixture and gently stir to combine ingredients.


6. Add pasta and pasta sauce to sausage ingredients. Gently stir to incorporate ingredients.

7. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to serving dish. Top with grated Parmigano-Reggiano cheese and serve immediately.


Bon Appétit!

Homestyle Beef Manhattan Sandwich

Homestyle Beef Manhattan sandwiches are one of my all time favorites. Stuffed with juicy meat, creamy mashed potatoes, a soft Kaiser roll and tons of gravy, beef manhattan's make a complete meal. Well, almost. It's always a good idea to serve with a side of veggies, a yummy salad or tasty slices of fruit.

I've enjoyed homestyle beef manhattan sandwiches for as long as I can remember. I recently discovered a decadent recipe for Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich at The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog. After making it according to the recipe, I realized this sandwich was perfect for making Beef Manhattan sandwiches. It was a huge hit and today, I'd like to share the recipe with you.

I'm a huge advocate for copyright laws and refuse to publish another food blogger's recipe. So, you will need to obtain the Marlboro Man's Favorite Recipe and then follow the remaining cooking instructions.


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Serves 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes


Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich Recipe

Mashed Potatoes Recipe:

2 large Idaho Potatoes, washed and chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half
2 tablespoons butter
4 Kaiser Rolls
1 jar Homestyle Beef Gravy


1. Cook Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich recipe according to directions.
2. In 3-quart saucepan, add potatoes and salt. Bring to a boil. Cook uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender.
3. Drain potatoes in colander. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add butter and milk or half-and-half.
4. Using hand mixer, mash potatoes until creamy. Add additional milk if desired.
5. Slice Kaiser buns in half. Top with meat mixture. Add 1/2 cup mashed potatoes. Top with gravy and top of Kaiser roll. Serve with veggie side dish, tossed salad or fruit slices. Enjoy!

Beef Manhattan Sandwich

Grilled Pork Rib Roast Recipe

Grilled pork rib roast is a great entree for special occasions, holiday parties, and Sunday dinners. It requires about two hours of grilling time using indirect residual heat to yield a moist rack of pork chops, but is well worth the wait.

This was my first attempt making grilled pork rib roast. During a grocery shopping trip, I spotted the rib roast which looked like a rack of lamb. The nearly 3-pound roast was on sale for $2.59 a pound, which was too good of a deal to pass up.

After returning home, I searched recipe databases to find out the best way to prepare it. The following recipe is a combination of three different recipes which all sounded good. I pulled the ingredients I had on hand and hoped for the best. Fortunately, it turned out great and has officially moved to the top of my Favorite Foods list. I hope you enjoy it as well!


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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 3-4


2-1/2 to 3-pound pork end roast with rib bones, about 6 ribs
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper, coarse
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet Paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground Allspice
2 tablespoons Olive Oil


1. In a small bowl, mix together seasonings.
2. Wash and pat dry pork roast. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil per side.
3. Sprinkle half of seasoning mixture per side and gently press to create a char crust. Wrap rib bones in aluminum foil to prevent burning.


4. Heat gas grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or prepare a medium-hot fire in charcoal grill.
5. Turn heat off on one side of gas grill or move coals to outer edges using tongs.
6. Grill pork roast over indirect heat for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until internal temperature reads 150 degrees. 7. Place roast over direct heat and grill for 10 minutes, or until internal temperature of roast is 155 degrees.
8. Remove from grill and let pork roast rest for 10 minutes. Remove foil and slice pork between bones.


9. Transfer to serving plate and serve immediately.


Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad

Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad is one of my all-time favorite summer salad recipes. It's super easy to throw together and low in calories. You can have it for lunch or dinner and can serve the chicken hot or cold. Whenever I bake chicken breasts for dinner, I like to bake a few extra so I can add them to salads. Preparing the chicken ahead of time greatly reduces the prep time!

Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad

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Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

1 head Romaine lettuce
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into chunks
1 cup Mango, peeled and cut into chunks
2 4-ounce boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons Salad Dressing (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse chicken in cool water and pat dry. Place chicken in glass baking dish and bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  3. Wash and dry romaine lettuce. Cut off bottom, trim leaves, and cut into bite-size pieces.
  4. Place lettuce in medium bowl and add pineapple and mango chunks. Toss well.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Slice chicken breast and place on salad.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of your choice of salad dressing, if desired

This recipe and many more are available in my cookbook, "The Diva Diet". This spiral-bound cookbook provides more than 100 healthy, yet delicious recipes and can be purchased for just $18.74 at Lulu.com.