Category Archives: Main Dish

The Best Steak You Will Ever Cook


The best steak I have ever eaten is from Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse here in town.  We go once a year for our anniversary and I splurge and get a delicious filet.  While that is the best steak I have ever eaten, this is *by far* the best I have ever cooked myself.  I know it is kind of bold to say this is the best.  But it is.  I first tried cooking a steak in my cast iron skillet, and it was good.  Bernie found a link to a video of Gordon Ramsay cooking a steak, dubbed the perfect steak.  So, I thought I could give it a try.  It looked pretty easy and I like to treat Bernie to a good steak at home every once in a while.  It looked easy, and it was easy.  The seasoning is spot on and the general tips in the video were interesting (i.e. make sure your steak is at room temperature before you cook it!).  Our place is usually Texas Roadhouse because, surprise, Bernie likes to get steak when we go out.  We haven’t been there recently and while he says it’s because we go all the time and he’s a little tired of it right now, I think secretly I kind of ruined it for him by making steaks that are even better than what he can get there :).  Give this a try, you won’t regret it and will end up with a delicious, restaurant quality steak.  I am listing the ingredients but take a look at the video, it’s only a couple minutes long.

the perfect steak

The Perfect Steak, from Gordon Ramsay


Your favorite cut of steak
olive oil
black pepper
course salt
garlic cloves
fresh thyme
butter – about one pat per steak


the perfect steak

Season your steaks with salt and pepper, push in the seasoning on the steaks.  Heat olive oil in a hot pan.  Put your steaks in.  After a minute or so add garlic (to taste – we don’t really like a lot of garlic).  Turn your steaks every minute to cook evenly.  Add a few sprigs of thyme.  Add your butter to the pan.  Once butter is melted, tilt your pan and baste the steaks with the liquid in the pan.  Brush the garlic over your steaks for more flavor.  Once cooked to your liking, remove steaks and let rest.

the perfect steak



Chicken Enchilada Soup


It has been well established that I love Mexican food. Even though I love my fajita bowls it is nice to have something a little different. This dish makes an appearance in our meal plan every month. It is hearty and delicious and best of all, is cooked in the crockpot so really easy to pull together. Since I work from a home office I can usually pull this together during one of my breaks in the morning and can enjoy for my dinner break at night. I have used the mild and hot Rotel and both were good, but the hot was just a little too hot for me.

enchilada chicken soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup, from Dainty Chef

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounce) Rotel diced tomatoes with green chiles for mild, habeneros for hot
1 package (10 ounce) frozen corn
½ cup onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can (10 ounce) Enchilada sauce
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese


Heat saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Stir in the flour, keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in chicken broth and 1/2 cup of milk, continue to stir to keep mixture smooth. Return to heat. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil and cook, stirring constantly to thicken.

In a large bowl whisk together the chicken broth mixture and enchilada sauce. Gradually mix in remaining milk until combine and set aside.

Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. In a large bowl, whisk together the enchilada sauce and chicken broth mixture . Gradually whisk in remaining milk until smooth. Set aside.

In a crockpot combine the beans, rotel tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Put the chicken breasts on top of the vegetable mixture and pour enchilada sauce over top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. When ready to service, remove chicken and shred. Mix shredded chicken back into the soup, and enjoy! Top each portion with cheese. We also top with crushed tortilla chips, you could also use avocados or sour cream!

Yields: 6 servings

Nutrition per serving (excluding toppings other than cheese): 301.5 calories, 14.8g fat, 8.2g saturated fat, 61mg cholesterol, 450mg sodium, 24.6g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, 7g sugar, 19.5g protein


Fajita Bowls


When I was pregnant I anticipated my appetite changing…and I was partly right. I didn’t really have a taste for much of anything, other than frozen pizza in the beginning. Then when I had my appetite back, everything tasted good. The day I told Bernie I made the best piggies-in-a-blanket I had ever tasted in my life, he stopped trusting my judgement. I didn’t really expect my appetite to change after pregnancy. Maybe it is just a fluke, but ever since I carried Alex I could live off Mexican food and chocolate. That being said, this is my favorite dish we eat at home. If I had to pick one thing to eat for a whole week this would be it. It is simple and you can tailor it to your tastes. We based this dish off our order at Qdoba Mexican Grill – Fajita Ranchera Naked Burrito. I always make extra so I can have it again the next day for lunch. So really, this isn’t a new recipe, just a meal idea…but no way I could leave this one out since I love it so much!


Fajita Bowls, from Me, inspired by QDoba

What you need:

Batch of chicken (or steak) fajitas
Spanish Rice – this is my favorite until I can find a recipe we love
Mexican corn

Some more ideas for toppings:
black beans, rinsed and drained
monterey jack cheese

Combine and enjoy!!


Cast Iron Steak


Up until the last month we didn’t have an outdoor grill. All of our grilling has been done inside on a George Foreman. That was challenging when it came to steaks. When I saw I could cook a steak in a cast iron skillet, I wanted to try it. And I have to say, it turned out really well. Just make sure you buy a good cut of meat, this is the single most important rule for this recipe. Cheaper cuts haven’t turned out as well for us. Also be sure to have a good sear before putting your steaks in the oven.  Glad to find another way to use my cast iron skillet!

cast iron steak

Cast Iron Steak, from


Steaks, room temperature
olive oil
fresh ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Rub steaks on both sides with oil, salt and pepper. Let sit while cast iron skillet is preheating over high heat, about four minutes.

Place steak(s) in pan and don’t move for three minutes. Flip and again don’t move for another three minutes.

Place skillet in preheated oven for five minutes for medium rare steak, cook a little longer if you like your steak more done.

Remove skillet from over and place steak on a patter.  Allow it to rest for several minutes.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni


What did I do before Pinterest? This is another successful find from Pinterest and it is evidently from the menu at Buca Di Beppo. The only times I have been there were for sorority functions in college and honestly, wasn’t impressed BUT I did enjoy this meal. I don’t know if it tastes like what is on the menu at Buca Di Beppo, but I think it can stand on it’s own.

We don’t really eat a lot of pasta anymore so this is a nice treat for me – it tastes good AND is quick and easy. This is a meal I can get ready while I have a toddler running around the kitchen or standing between my legs begging to be held…depending on the day. It does have some heat from the crushed red peppers but you can adjust to your liking. Us, we like it hot so we use the full amount. I eliminated the butter called for and added a lot more vegetables. I typically use frozen because it is quick and just as healthy, but you could add whatever vegetables sound good to you. In the reviews on the original recipe someone tried spinach and while I haven’t tried that yet – I think that could definitely work.

spicy chicken rigatoni

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni, altered slightly from Tastebook


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper + more for garnish
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
3/4 cup. Marinara sauce
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 lb (16oz) Rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions


Heat oil in saute’ pan over medium heat. Add the crushed pepper, salt, pepper and garlic and saute’ just long enough for garlic to caramelize and red pepper to release flavor into the oil. Add the chicken and coat in spices and garlic.

Add marinara then alfredo sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce slightly thickens and the chicken is cooked through. Stir in peas and carrots and cook until the vegetables are done.

Distribute pasta and top with sauce and chicken mixture. If you want more kick, garnish with crushed red pepper. Ready to serve!

Yields 4-6 servings

Nutrition based on 4 servings: 333.5 calories, 15.5g fat, 3.2g saturated fat, 32.5mg cholesterol, 868.4mg sodium, 35.7g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 13.2g protein


BBQ Chicken Pizza


We love pizza in our house. Alex eats cheese pizza and Bernie and I love pizza with whole wheat dough, homemade sauce, pepperonis and lots of peppers – sweet and hot. This has been “our” pizza for years, and I thought it was time to try something new. When we are in a pinch we will usually go for a frozen California Pizza Kitchen BBQ pizza so why not try to recreate that – but fresh? This was really good and tastes very much like California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ chicken. I used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.



BBQ Chicken Pizza, altered slightly from CDKitchen



2 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce plus
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup Gouda cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 small red onion, sliced into rings
2 tablespoons cilantro


Preheat oven to 500 degrees when ready to bake dough.

In a medium bowl, dissolve the honey in warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until foamy, at least 5-10 minutes. After yeast mixture is ready, mix in oil.

In a separate large bowl combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir the flour into wet ingredients until all flour is incorporated.

On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a moist towel and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours. (if you use fast rise yeast – which I did- it won’t take as long).

Once dough is ready, punch down and divide into 2 pieces for thin crust, use the whole amount of dough for thick crust. Spread dough on a pan and use a fork to poke holes through the dough to prevent air pockets from forming. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove and set aside, lowering oven temperature to 425 degrees.

While crust is cooking, begin to prepare chicken. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add chicken pieces. Saute until cooked completely and remove from heat. Coat chicken with 2 tablespoons of barbeque sauce. Set aside.

Spread 1/4 cup barbecue sauce over the surface of the dough. Distribute half of the cheese over the sauce. Spread chicken over the cheese. Place the onions over the chicken then cover with the remaining cheese.

Place pizza in the oven and bake until cheese is bubbling (about 7-10 minutes). Remove pizza from the over and sprinkle with cilantro.


Chili Con Carne


Chili is the perfect winter meal.  I love it and could eat it anytime of the year but Bernie won’t touch it when it is warm outside.  Luckily for me, we are well into chili weather.  I usually do a spicy chili, my mom’s recipe, but I wanted to try something different.  The original recipe calls for cornbread to be cooked on top of the chili in the oven but I was a little worried about it turning out soggy being on top of the chili.  So, I made sweet cornbread separately to be served with the chili.  This is a really yummy sweet chili.

Chili Con Carne, from Nigella Lawson

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried or crushed chili flakes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 red peppers, seeded and finely diced
3 pounds 92% fat or less ground beef
7 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans


Heat the oil in a very large pan and add the onion and garlic, cook until softened.  Add the chili, coriander, cumin and stir well.

Add the peppers then break up the ground beef into the pan and, using a fork, keep turning it to separate it as the meat browns. Add the crushed tomatoes, ketchup, tomato puree, and water stirring to make a rich red sauce. When the chili starts to boil sprinkle over the cocoa and stir it in.   Add beans and cook for 1.5 hours. (or you could put it in the crock pot on low for several hours)

Yields about 20 servings

Nutrition per serving: 163.1 calories, 5.8g fat, 1.4g saturated fat, 19.5mg cholesterol, 381 mg sodium, 18.1g carbohydrates, 5.3g fiber, 1.9g sugar, 11.5g protein.