Grilled Sausage & Veggie Casserole


I can’t believe that July is almost over with! This summer has been flying by and I feel like it’s blown by in a blink of an eye. We’re getting lower than average temperatures for this time of year, and I’m not going to complain about 75 and sunny! But it has given me that little taste of fall and that gets me excited for eating all of those heavy and filling foods that go great with chilly weather and football! Tonight I decided to do a grilled casserole. I only call it a casserole because everything is in one dish and I put all 1-dish dinners in the casserole section. This was a great fall teaser dish because it has kielbasa and potatoes in it and those are true fall dishes in my house! You can pretty much do whatever veggies your tastebuds desire, but we stuck with some basic summer veggies. Next time we will add a green bell pepper for some added flavor. The best part about this dish is the fact that you don’t need any more seasonings than salt and pepper. No oil, butter or anything other fattening cooking aid! Everything turned out tender, delicious, and flavorful and I will be making this again in the coming weeks!

Grilled Potato & Veggie Casserole

Grilled Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz package of kielbasa, sliced
  • 2 – Large Yukon potatoes, quartered
  • 1 – Medium zucchini, sliced & quartered
  • 1 – Medium yellow squash, sliced & quartered
  • 1/2 – Large sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 – Green Bell Pepper, sliced (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all above ingredients and wrap into a foil pouch. Put on a pre-heated grill on Medium-High heat for about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

I hope you enjoy this dinner as much as I did!!

Chipotle Cheddar Baked Avocados


After the whirlwind of fun I had last week celebrating my husband’s birthday, and our weekend trip to the lake, things at our house are finally calming down and we’re getting back into our daily routine. With daily routine comes my nightly dinners and more cooking (Yay!). We arrived home at a decent hour on Sunday so I ran to the grocery store and picked up necessities for dinner this week so we wouldn’t starve to death! We decided that after a weekend of eating processed foods, lunch meat and overly salty foods, that having a nice home cooked, not so salty meal, would be in our best interest. I grabbed some boneless rib eyes and potatoes for my husband to grill, and I made these delicious baked avocados. After trying these based on a recipe that one of the folks we were on vacation had been talking about, there are a few things I would do differently next time. For example, I would love to add some plain breadcrumbs to the stuffing mixture so once they cook, there is a little bit of crunch, and not too much “mush” texture.

Chipotle Cheddar Baked Avocados

Stuffed Avocado

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted
  • 1 lime (plus wedges for serving)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 small chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat the broiler on the oven to high. Mix cheese, minced chipotle pepper, juice from one lime, breadcrumbs, and pinch of salt in small bowl. Place avocados on baking sheet and top with stuffing mixture. Place under the broiler, about 5-6 inches away, for about 5 minutes, or until cheese has turned brown and is bubbling. Serve warm with a lime wedge.

If you end up trying these before I get a chance to make them again, please let me know what you think of the breadcrumbs! And just fair warning, they are a little on the spicy side, so make sure to use less pepper if you are sensitive to spicy things.

Cedar Grilled Salmon


Salmon

Saturday nights here in the Chef on the Side household are typically reserved for going out to eat, but since we went out last night, and we are going to be on vacation next weekend, my husband and I decided to stay in and cook for ourselves. We really love salmon and eat it about once or twice a week really because it’s so inexpensive and there are so many ways to cook it. (You’ll start seeing more of my salmon recipes on here as the summer carries on.) This method of cooking salmon is my husband’s favorite, I think it’s due to the fact that he gets to grill it, but maybe it’s the flavor those cedar planks put off. If you’ve never cooked anything on a cedar plank, you’ve really been missing out on the incredible smokey flavor that it adds to fish and pork. He also puts this spice rub on the salmon and drizzles honey over it before they hit the grill. The combination of all of these flavors are almost indescribable because they are so delicious. A few simple spices and a seemingly easy method of cooking will make you feel like you’ve just gone to a four-star bistro for dinner. My favorite part of this meal is the price tag. I serve it with some broccoli and rice which cost about $2.50, and the salmon filets cost me a grand total of $7.75. So for about $10 you have a fabulous meal for two, that would easily have cost you $20 per PERSON anywhere else. Let me know if you end up trying this, I’m curious to know what you think!!

Cedar Grilled Salmon

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Rub Recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Salmon:

  • 2 – 6 ounce salmon filets
  • Honey, to drizzle on salmon
  • 1 Cedar plank, soaked

Directions:

Soak cedar plank in water for at least 1 hour prior to grilling. Combine rub ingredients in small bowl, then rub over salmon filets. Drizzle honey over filets. Place salmon, skin side down, on cedar plank, then place on grill that has been preheated to medium heat. Grill for about 20 minutes or until fish easily flakes with a fork.

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This has quickly become one of my favorite salmon recipes and I hope it becomes one of yours! Have a good weekend everyone! I’m off to give my Netflix a workout!

Grilled Lemon-Herb Zucchini & Oven Roasted French Fries


What day is it? It’s Hump Day!! Yeah! That means I only have two more days until the weekend and that is something to smile about! My husband wanted to grill tonight so I put him on cheeseburger duty to satisfy that “meat-on-fire” urge that I’ve heard men can get. I, in the mean time, decided to work on the sides. I started off by slicing up some potatoes into fry shape so that I could make some oven roasted fries, without the guilt of frying. And I took three fresh zucchini and made this Lemon-Herb mixture that we ended up throwing on the grill too, but it was GOOD. (And thank you to my husband for making sure these zucchini slices had pretty grill marks. They look more delicious that way, right??) In both of these recipes I use spice blends that I buy from a local spice shop and they pretty much make these sides what they are. Without them, neither are as good as they could be. (By the way, any Cincinnati peeps- If you haven’t been to Colonel De’s Spice Shop at Findley Market or Jungle Jim’s, make plans to do that this weekend!) I use a lot of spices from Colonel De’s so feel free to go to their online shop and order some if you really want to spice up your life! (No Spice Girls pun intended there! Promise!)

Grilled Lemon-Herb Zucchini

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Ingredients:

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 -2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons Simon & Garfunkle seasoning (blend of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme)
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Slice the zucchinis on a diagonal and put in a mixing bowl. Add olive oil, salt, Simon & Garfunkle seasoning,  lemon zest and lemon juice. Toss. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, and serve warm. The measurements for the lemon zest, lemon juice, and Simon & Garfunkle are between 1 and 2 tablespoons because its all based on your tastes. If you want more tangy from the lemon, then aim to put more in. If you want less, than only add a tablespoon of each.

Hand-cut Oven Roasted Potatoes

Fries 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 Russet Potatoes
  • 1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tablespoons 513 Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Directions:

Wash and scrub the potatoes, and slice into french fry shape. Toss with vegetable oil and place on a baking sheet. Cook at 425 degrees for 30 -35 minutes, flipping once. Once out of the oven, sprinkle 513 Seasoning Salt and Sea Salt over hot fries, and serve.

These are both fabulous sides for burgers, grilled chicken, steak, or anything else that you or your husband wants to cook over fire! The zucchini has this wonderful fresh and tangy flavor that pairs with summer perfectly. The fries are delicious and I usually end up going back for seconds…. and thirds…. and sometimes fourths… I know, I know, it’s bad! But it’s so good at the same time! If you have the chance to try either of these, let me know what you think!

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Orange Beurre Blanc Sauce


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I hope everyone is having a great week so far! Tomorrow is already Wednesday and I feel like this week is flying by. But when your calendar is 80% full during the day, you really lose track of time. Anyhow! Tonight’s dinner was a little on the fancy side, but it definitely something you make when you want a restaurant quality meal, without the restaurant price. My husband also made the comment that this is a great comfort food meal to make on a cold winter night, but not a 90 degree and humid summer night. Duly noted honey, duly noted. We had a prosciutto and mozzarella stuffed chicken breast with an orange beurre blanc sauce over garlic mashed potatoes. (Whew! That was a long title!) You don’t have to have this chicken with mashed potatoes, you could really serve it with any side dish that you want, I just happen to love using this sauce over the mashed potatoes for a delicious combination that makes my dinner just sing. This takes about 75 minutes to prep and cook, so don’t come home starving before making this dinner. Although this is a fairly easy recipe to follow, no one will ever know you didn’t go to culinary school.

Prosciutto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breast with an Orange Beurre Blanc

Ingredients:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Prosciutto Slices
  • 4 ounces Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 cup Pulp Free Orange Juice
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tablespoon Parsley, Finely Chopped
  • 1/2 stick, Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes

Directions:

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Cut a pocket into each chicken breast in the thickest part of the chicken breast. Stuff with prosciutto and mozzarella and then use wooden, non-colored toothpicks to hold the sides together. (Cooking twine works too Brush with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until internal temperature is 160 degrees. While that is cooking, add orange juice and white wine to a medium-sized sauce pan and heat over medium heat until it has a slow boil. Once the liquid has reduced by half, whisk in the heavy whipping cream, bring to a boil over medium, and then simmer over low until sauce has thickened. Add parsley and keep warm. Right before serving, whisk in butter until melted. When chicken is ready, remove toothpicks and pour sauce over chicken. Serve with your favorite starch for a good comfort meal, or with a steamed veggie if you’re looking for a lighter meal.

Finished Chicken BreastsRaw Chicken Breasts

 

Sorry for the lack of pictures tonight, when you have your hands all over raw chicken breasts, the last thing you want to touch is a camera!

Blackened Tilapia Tacos


ImageToday here in paradise, it was hot. Like, really really hot. When I left work at 5 o’clock this evening, my car’s outside temp reading said 101 degrees. Add that with the 94% humidity rating and you’ve got the recipe for a hot and sticky day. So for dinner tonight, I decided some Blackened Tilapia Tacos with a Cabbage Slaw and a Cilantro Lime Sauce and a homemade Guacamole sounded pretty amazing. Boy, this was fantastic! My husband actually high-fived me after his first bite and he never, and I mean NEVER, gets excited over the food I make. Normally I get a less than enthusiastic “It’s good” when I ask him how something is. These were PERFECT for our hot and humid night and is already something that my husband is asking for me to make again.

Ingredients:

For the Fish:

  • 2 tilapia filets
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • white corn tortillas

Raw Tilapia Filets          IMG_1509

For the Slaw:

  • 1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped

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For the Cilantro Lime Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 lime, juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded, chopped
  • 1 cup white onion, thinly sliced

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Directions:

For the Cilantro Lime Sauce, combine sour cream, lime juice, cilantro and jalapeno in food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into bowl with onions and set aside. For the Slaw, combine cabbage, red cabbage, lime juice, and cilantro in bowl and toss. Set Aside. For the fish, combine cumin, oregano, paprika, red pepper, salt, and garlic powder in small bowl. Cover tilapia filets. Heat vegetable oil (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until done.

To assemble, place three “forkfulls” of fish on the bottom of the tortilla, cover with a small handful slaw, then with 2 or 3 teaspoons of Cilantro Lime Sauce. Serve with lime wedge.

To make my guacamole, I take two avocados, cubed, and combine with two tablespoons of pico de gallo and mash together with a fork until I get the chunky consistency that I like. This tastes very similar to the guacamole that you can get at Chipotle and it takes only a few minutes to whip up!

By the way, to make sauces like the Cilantro Lime Sauce, I like to use a Ninja Food Processor- these things ROCK! You can get one at Amazon.

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So tell me, what do you make for dinner when it’s super hot outside??

Welcome to Chef on the Side!


First of all, welcome to my blog! Chef on the Side is a project for me to document my adventures being a part-time at-home chef as I work a full-time job as a Sales Rep for a web design firm. I have always looked to cooking as an avenue to relieve my stress and to ensure that my husband and I are fed. Some people go running or do yoga to unwind after a stressful day/week/month/year. I, on the other hand choose to take a bunch of ingredients and turn it into something amazing. I am not professionally trained but instead I am trained on the ‘Food Network’ method. By watching cooking shows, cooking video blogs, and slide shows, I have figured out how to muddle my way through the kitchen with some of the best “rustic” cooking you will ever see! Recently, however, I have joined the Top Chef University online cooking school and was given a 3 pound textbook “The Professional Chef” so I can kind of start over and re-learn the basics and then move onto more advanced techniques. You’ll get to learn as I do!

A majority of my recipes are ones that you can make after a full 40-hour work day, with time left over to relax and watch a few episodes of ‘Chopped’ before calling it a night. But I’ll also throw in some recipes that are good for Saturday or Sundays when you have time to spend in the kitchen. Any fellow BBQ fans out there? Well, I will share with you some of my recipes for the smoker that I frequently use on the weekends. So I invite you to stick around and follow my journey as a Chef on the Side.