Browsing articles in "Main course"

Luck Be A Lady

Jan 1, 2012   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  1 Comment

For as many New Year’s as we can remember my mother, her mother, and her mother before her, put on a slow cooking pot of pork roast and sauerkraut. This year as the kraut started smelling up the marymeals kitchen with its comforting aromatics, I began to wonder how this tradition got started. I called up my mom to ask her about it and she seemed surprised as she admitted she didn’t even really know. She just remembered that it was what they did. After some investigation, I uncovered some interesting information. It turns out there is a reason why sauerkraut and pork is a traditional New Year’s food. A Pennsylvania Dutch folklore claims that eating it will bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. It’s good luck to eat pork because pigs forage forward for their food and don’t look back, and in Irish culture cabbage is associated with luck and fortune since it is green and resembles money. Since Pennsylvania is where many of my mother’s family settled when they came to this country from Ireland and England, I can see how they adopted the traditions of the locals. Other foods that different cultures use to help ring in the year include black eyed peas- for luck, long noodles- symbolizing a long life, lentils- as they resemble coins, pomegranates- abundance, and fish for moving forward. However you celebrate the New Year, I hope you can incorporate or start new family traditions. They are the rituals that bind generations of family together and create a sense of unity that nothing else can. If you’d like to follow my family’s tradition of pork and sauerkraut you just need to fire up the crock-pot and let it do all the work.

Slow Cooked Pork and Sauerkraut

4lbs pork loin roast
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 apple shredded or diced small
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 lbs sauerkraut

Place pork loin in the slow-cooker. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on caraway seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper. Place apple on and around the pork and cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark add the sauerkraut, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly on top, resume cooking another 4 hours. (about 8 hours total.) Stir before serving. Serve with mashed potatoes.

A Wok on the Wild Side

Sep 23, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Blog, Main course  //  2 Comments

More then 40,000 Chinese restaurants have popped up across the United States. That’s more then the number of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger Kings combined. Even my hometown with a population barely pushing 2,000 has a Chinese takeout. In the 19th century Cantonese cooks modified their traditional foods to suit a more western palate and created one of the most popular cuisines in America. Skillfully adapting recipes to local ingredients led to the creation of dishes like General Tso’s Chicken, and the ever popular Orange Chicken. You would never find dishes like this in China. Here we treat the vegetables in our Chinese food like garnish, and we salivate over battered Orange Chicken that is deep fried before its stir fried and gets almost half of its calories from fat. In this marymeals version the sweetness comes through with not much more then fresh orange juice, soy sauce, and a quick stir fry in a hot wok.

Fresh Orange Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas

1 small onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp veg oil
1 lb cubed chicken
2 thinly sliced green onions
8 oz of sugar snap peas
zest and juice from 4 oranges
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch

Heat oil in wok or other large frying pan over high heat. Add onion, red pepper, and garlic. Stir fry 30 seconds. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to the wok. While the chicken is working mix together juice, zest, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Continue to stir fry the meat another 5 minutes. Add snap peas and sauce mixture and continue frying until peas are tender but still have crunch and the sauce has thickened. Approx 4 minutes. Toss with green onions and serve over steamed rice.

Viva la Italia

Nov 14, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  2 Comments


Italian food brings to mind images of pasta, lasagnas, and pizza, yet the cuisine of Italy is actually quite diverse and influenced by the many different regions of the country. Coastal areas have access to some of the world’s best seafood, and with the island of Sicily’s strategic position on the Mediterranean its various conquerors left many of their culinary traditions, not to mention some great recipes behind. The Inland arid regions eat a more rustic and earthy fare. A traditional Italian dinner, Ossobuco hails from the northern region of Lombardy. It is here in the capital city of Milan that this rich braised veal got its culinary introduction. Simply put, Ossobuco are veal shanks slowly roasted in wine and broth until the meat practically falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. Its quite delicious, requires very little work, and is sure to impress.


3 lb. veal shank( 4pieces 3 inches thick)
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup carrots diced
1/2 cup celery diced
1 onion diced
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp thyme (if fresh 3 sprigs)
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken or veal stock
flour for dusting meat
salt and pepper and paprika to season meat

Preheat oven to 350
In a dutch oven on the stove melt 2 tbsp butter. Season veal on both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika. Be generous as this is the only seasoning besides the thyme. Spread flour in a shallow dish and dredge meat through flour on both sides. Shake off access and add meat to the melted butter. Increase heat to medium high, sear meat on all sides until well browned. Remove the veal to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Once melted add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook until onions are translucent and then add thyme and garlic. Continue to saute until vegetables begin to brown Add the veal back to the pan. Pour in wine, and stock, bring to a simmer and then cover and place in the oven to cook until the meat is tender about and hour and a half. The sauce should be reduced and the meat browned and very tender, you may need to roast an additional half hour.

Traditional topping:

1. handful fresh parsley chopped
2. zest from 1 lemon
3. 2 cloves chopped garlic

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and use to sprinkle on top of veal.

Stew on this

Oct 23, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  1 Comment
Irish Beef Stew

Stewing meat over a low flame for long periods of time is one of the oldest and most traditional ways of cooking. Since man discovered flame we have been slow roasting meat, scrounging vegetables, and making our humble dinners. Our ancestors got it right when they combined simple ingredients and added liquid to the pots simmering over the fire. This slow simmering process makes even the toughest cuts of meat tender and delicious. Make it even tastier by starting your stew as far in advance as you can, the longer the flavors have to meld together the tastier it will be. Nothing’s better for super on these cold fall nights then a bowl of steaming hot and nourishing stew.

Irish Beef Stew

2 lb beef stew meat
2tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup celery chunks
1 onion cut in large chunks
1/2 small head cabbage chopped
1/2 lb small red potatoes
8 oz package of baby carrots
1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
16 oz can of beef stock
10 oz bag frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste
handful chopped parsley

In a large Ziploc bag toss in flour, salt, pepper and beef. Seal the bag and toss meat around to coat in the flour mixture. In a large soup pot heat oil and then toss in the flour coated beef. Brown meat in all sides to seal in the juices. Once the meat has a good sear begin adding onion, celery, and cabbage. Let this saute a few minutes and then add potatoes, carrots, paprika, red pepper flakes and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and once it cooks a few minutes, add beef stock. Let the stew simmer a good hour until the root vegetables are soft, at this point you can add peas and stir, let the peas warm through and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss with chopped parsley.

Stong to the finish cause I eats me spinach

Oct 5, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  No Comments

Roasted Spinach and mozzarella Pizza

Popeye the sailor man was onto something when he obsessed over the power and strength that he achieved from eating mega cans of spinach. With its high level antioxidants, vitamins, and extreme source of iron this leafy green is truly a super food. Fresh spinach melts into creamy mozzarella quite beautifully when it’s roasted on top of this Martha inspired Popeye Pizza. This is also a great recipe for converting the unsuspecting into a spinach lover.

Pizza with Roasted Spinach and Mozzarella

8 oz fresh spinach
16 oz fresh mozzarella sliced
3 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Pizza Crust:
1 cup beer
1tbs butter
2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 pouch Instant yeast

Time to dust off the Bread makers you all got as wedding gifts! This crust works great in the dough cycle of your bread machine. Just place the wet ingredients (beer and butter) in the bottom and then add flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast, turn on the dough only cycle and let the machine do all the work. For those of you who need to make the dough by hand follow the wet ingredients first rule and then follow with the dry in a large bowl and mix with a large spoon until combined. Turn dough onto a floured surface and kneed about ten minutes until smooth. Place in bowl, cover and let rise at least 30 minutes.
To Assemble:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees with a pizza stone. A stone gives the best results but a baking sheet will be fine. Shape dough to desired size and place on parchment paper. This will allow you to transfer the pizza to the stone. If using a baking sheet you can build your pizza directly on the pan just spray pan lightly with cooking spray and then place the crust on top. Brush the pizza crust with olive oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped garlic. Add slices of mozzarella to cover the crust. Top cheese with a huge mound of piled high spinach. This will cook down and melt into the pie. Bake about 20 minutes or until the spinach has reduced and melted into the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a touch of olive oil and serve.

The way to a man’s heart

Sep 22, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  No Comments

Grandma Nancy's Fried Chicken
They met right around the time he was being shipped overseas to fight in WWII. He kept in touch occasionally with romantic letters that arrived in her mailbox from Europe at just the right moments. But my grandmother was still shocked when he showed up on her doorstep after the war, swept her off her feet, and made good on his promise to spend the rest of his life with her. She had shyly recounted the details of their courtship to me during one of my weekend visits. She was surprised they ended up together. I wasn’t. I was certain that right before he shipped out to war, Ray Potts had an out of body experience eating one of Grandma Nancy’s Sunday dinners and he was determined to find a way to experience her mouth watering meals for the rest of his days. Who wouldn’t? To get you starting your own Sunday traditions please enjoy the recipe for fried chicken that I’m convinced stole my grandfather’s heart.

Grandma Nancy’s Sunday Chicken

2 frying chickens cut into pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp each of paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
Combine buttermilk and spices in a large glass dish. Rinse chicken pieces and place in the dish to marinate for at least 1 1/2 hours up to overnight, turning occasionally to coat all pieces

For Frying:

2 cups flour
1 tbsp season salt
1tsp pepper
oil for frying

In a large tray combine flour with seasoning. Take chicken pieces and dredge in flour mixture to coat. Heat oil to 350 and fry pieces about 6 to 7 minutes just to get a crisp brown on the outside. Remove pieces and place on a baking tray to finish cooking in a 350 degree oven for additional 15 to 20 minutes. Shared on gallery of favorites! With the 21st Century Housewife.

It’s All Greek to Me

Sep 3, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course, Sides, Soups and salads, Starters  //  1 Comment

Mini Burgers with mint and tzaziki

It was in ancient Greece that the first cookbook was recorded into history. With such a rich culinary history dating back thousands of years, the Greeks have had plenty of opportunity to perfect those amazing dishes. One of the main things that makes Greek food into such great party food, is the many meze or “small plates”. They’ll make perfect sides for your end of summer BBQ. Here are some great Mediterranean ideas for your next grill fest.

Mini Burgers with Mint and Tzatziki sauce.

2 lb ground beef
1 small onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp mint chopped
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce mixed with 2 tbsp honey for basting
16 mini French dinner rolls.
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)

16 slices of roasted red pepper(grill w the other side veggies)
Mix first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into patties the size of an ice cream scoop. Should make about 16 mini burgers. Place on a hot grill. Brush with honey mixture on both sides as you grill to your desired done-ness. To assemble: slice open French rolls. Place a slice of roasted pepper (you can grill veggies at the same time as the meat) place the burger, a dollop of tzatziki sauce, and top with the other bun.

Grilled Vegetables

2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
6 small Roma tomatoes
2 red peppers cut into 16 pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
Corse salt

Slice zucchini and squash into quarters and then in half. Slice each red pepper into 8 pieces for a total of 16. Leave tomatoes whole. Place on a baking sheet, toss with oil, salt and pepper. Place veggies directly on the grill, turning occasionally. They cook in about 10 to 15 min.


Tzatziki is a classic Greek yogurt dip that is super delish. Garlicky flavor blended with cucumbers and thick Greek style yogurt, its great as a dip on its own served with veggies, chips, crackers, or bread. Here its makes a great topping for the Mediterranean burgers.
16 oz of Greek style yogurt (the thicker, the better)
1 large English cucumber quartered (if u have only regular you’ll need to remove the seeds and peel)
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
Some paper towels or cheese cloth for draining the cucumber.

Chop garlic and cucumber in food processor. Since cucumbers contain a lot of water it is important to place them in towels or cheesecloth so you can squeeze as much of the extra water out of them as possible. Do this over the sink. Once you have made them as dry as you can, remove them from the towels and place them in a bowl. Add yogurt, and garlic salt and mix together. Remember to always test for seasoning you may need more. Top with paprika.

Greek Potato Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes
6 eggs
1 small red onion diced
1 piece celery diced
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp dill

Boil potatoes and eggs. Potatoes are ready when you can easily insert a fork in them. Eggs should boil 12 min. Drain both and run under cold water in order to cool. Once they have cooled, shell eggs and dice along with the potatoes into a large bowl. Add all ingredients and stir to combine. Test for seasoning. Top with a dusting of paprika.

Hummus with kalamata olives

1 can garbanzo beans drained
3 heaping tbsp of Tahini
Juice from one lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
Pitted kalamata olives
Pita bread or crackers to dip

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more garlic salt it needed. Top with kalamata olives. Serve with pita bread or crackers.

a greek feast

Its getting hot in here

Aug 25, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Blog, Main course  //  No Comments

Crock Pot tomato sauce

On days when its 104 degrees, I just can’t bring myself to fire up the oven. The problem with that – i have a ton of tomatoes from the garden, ripe and ready to be made into homemade pasta sauce. I usually slow roast them in the oven with spices and garlic so they can cook away and I can forget about them. Because while we know I love to cook, I actually don’t love slaving away in the kitchen all day. Then it dawns on me. Slow. Why not plug in the slow cooker and throw em in there? I still don’t have to pay any attention to them and Google says that the low setting uses about as much energy as a light bulb! It only heats its own small container and not the entire kitchen! So, it looks like I still get slow roasted tomato sauce for dinner, and I don’t have to add fuel to the insanely hot fire that is the end of southern California summer. You can also do this in the oven for 4 hrs at 250 degrees.

Slow Cooking Pasta Sauce

8 cups tomatoes diced
1 large onion diced
5 cloves garlic diced
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp basil
1tsp chili powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp garlic salt
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp sugar

Toss all ingredients together in slow cooker and stir. Turn on to low setting. After about 4 hours tomatoes should be fully cooked and ready to be blended. Remove a few cups at a time and process until smooth. Place back in the slow cooker for an additional half hour. While its cooking down, you can fry up sausage or burger to add to the sauce and boil your pasta. Check for seasoning and add S and P to taste. (If you’re setting the cooker before you go to work, don’t worry about the time limit, because the longer it cooks the better it will taste. Just make sure its on your lowest setting.) If adding meat you can do so at this time, stir together add to your pasta plate and enjoy your no fuss homemade sauce.

Need a margarita?

Aug 20, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  No Comments

taquila sunrise pork tacos

Sometimes the greatest ideas are born after a few sips of a delicious and relaxing beverage. Especially after a lot of hard work has been done. Like the other day when I was purging the cupboards of all things un-useful and discovered a forgotten stash of tequila and triple sec. It’s the perfect Margarita combination. Thinking it had to be past its prime and in need of finding a Mary type meal to be a part of I began to experiment. I quickly decided that the ingredients in a Margarita with tartness from the lime, and its unbeatable salty and sweet combination, would make a terrific marinade for BBQ. All you have to do is add you favorite spice rub to a traditional margarita mix, soak the meat and dinner is one grill away. Here I have created a delicious marinade to infuse this traditional and delicious flavor into your favorite cut of meat. This BBQ is a great main course on its own, but I decided to make it into tacos. It feeds more because you dice up the meat, and really, who doesn’t love a great taco? The tequila is optional but highly recommended for its ability to tenderize even to toughest cuts of meat.

Tequila Sunrise BBQ

For the Meat:
2lbs pork, chicken or beef
1Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp red pepper
1 Tbsp of garlic salt
1tsp dill seed
1Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup tequila(optional)

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk in oil, lime, orange and tequila. Reserve 1/4 cup for basting. Place meat in a large Ziploc bag and pour remaining marinade over. Place in fridge and let mixture penetrate meat for 1 to 3 hours turning bag occasionally. To Grill: Place meat on grill and baste occasionally using reserved marinade For Pork, 12 to 18 min. For chicken, 8 to 12 min.
To Roast: Preheat oven to 350. Place meat and marinade in a non metallic dish and cover with aluminum foil. bake covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 min
For the Tacos:

diced tequila sunrise BBQ
black beans
lettuce or cabbage
sliced avocado
sour cream mixed with a little lime juice

You can’t go wrong here with whatever you’re putting into your tacos. Any taco type ingredient you usually use or have on hand will be delicious. I layered in the meat, black beans, lettuce, avocado, sour cream, and salsa. Mary tip: For tasty tortillas spray both sides with non stick cooking spray (I love Watkins!) and toss onto the grill for about 30 secs on each side.

Here’s the recipe for some great homemade Sunrise Margaritas:

1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup triple sec
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh lemon juice
splash or orange juice

Combine sugar with water until sugar is completely dissolved. Add fresh lime and fresh lemon juice stir to combine. Add tequila, triple sec and a splash of orange juice. Serve on ice or blend in blender with ice. Add salt or sugar to the rim of your glass before serving. Garnish with a slice of orange. This is a great non alcoholic beverage as well mix as usual omitting all liquor.

Open Sesame

Aug 12, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course  //  No Comments

Tahini Burger

Great flavor combination’s are often achieved in my desperate attempts to find something in the freezer to salvage for dinner. It’s late, I’m starving, and I just know I have some hamburg (that’s what Grandma Nancy called it) in this house that I can throw on the grill. A brilliant plan begins to form in my head. Tahini Burgers! Tahini is a delicious Israeli dressing traditionally made out of sesame paste, lemon and garlic. It’s typically served on falafal sandwiches, or mixed with chic peas to make hummus. The paste comes in jars like peanut butter and there is always some hanging around in my pantry. I couldn’t help but think if it was good on falafal which is essentially a veggie burger it would be even more delish on the great American hamburg! (vegetarians-just use your veggie patties in this recipe)

Tahini Burgers

1/2 cup of sesame paste
Juice from half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of water
Salt to taste
4 hamburg patties
Season salt
1 tomato sliced
1 onion sliced
1 small green pepper sliced
4 pita pocket breads

For the Tahini:
Place paste, lemon, and garlic in a small food processor or blender (you can also whisk together by hand, but you have to chop the garlic first) add the water and blend you may need more water depending on the thickness you desire for your dressing. Season with salt to taste.
For the burgers:
Season salt each side and grill to desired done-ness. Cut off the end of the pita bread so you can open the pita. Place hamburg inside, layering slices of veggies and spoon over a generous amount of tahini.