Category Archives: Make Ahead Meals

Instant Pot Shiner Bohemian Black Lager Beer Beef Chili

beef & beer chili

Chili.  It’s a crowd pleaser for a reason and it just got even better.  With the addition of dark beer and an Instant Pot,  it’s magical.  Chili that tastes like it lazily simmered away half of the afternoon in 30 minutes.

My original intention with this chili was bison instead of ground beef, however I didn’t embrace the idea of a $12 serving of chili.  When did that happen?  I’m used to paying a little more for food, but the price of bison has gone up quite a bit since the last time I purchased it. Once I regained my composure and the mothers of young children took their hands away from the delicate little ears, I set off toward the ground beef.   

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Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Sheet Pan Supper

Sheet Pan Supper – Chicken and vegetables roasted all together on one pan for a super easy dinner with minimal cleanup.  Meals like this are a lifesaver during hectic evenings when you need to get dinner on the table without a lot of effort. 

Also known as “clean out the fridge dinners” around here.  You know how it goes, you’re running around trying to get everything done, making sure you have clean clothes, the dog is staring at you like “Um, hello… Could I get some food down here too?”.  You open the fridge to find some carrots, peppers and maybe a few other veggies.  Onions, potatoes and tomatoes are always on hand, so you are halfway home.  If you don’t eat meat, or if it’s a “meatless Monday”, you’re done.  Otherwise, a couple of chicken breasts thrown on with the veggies and some seasoning makes this a slam dunk in record time. The most time consuming part of this is chopping the vegetables.  If I know that I’m facing a busy week, I chop veggies ahead of time and store them in the fridge.  

I really love meals like this because I always have bits of veggies in the fridge.  Not enough to actually serve as a side by themselves, but if I put them all together- I’m in business.  This is also the perfect way to use up those vegetables that are on the verge of being tossed out.  No one wants to waste food, so a sheet pan supper is the way to salvage what you’ve already bought!

The best part of a sheet pan supper- only 1 pan to wash and if you line it with parchment paper, it’s a snap.  Use this as a basic jumping off point.  If your family doesn’t like certain veggies, change them out.  This is a suggestion and it’s what I had in my fridge.  It changes quite literally every time I make this.  One week, it could be broccoli and Brussels sprouts and the next I might only have a few root vegetables.   The proteins change as well – try shrimp or a beautiful piece of salmon or cod in place of chicken, just remember to adjust cooking times.  

A word about the Sheet Pan 

If you have a jelly roll pan or a flat cookie sheet (no sides), those aren’t sheet pans and they may warp.   A heavy-duty commercial grade sheet pan is best.  If you don’t own one, you need to buy one (or 3) immediately.  For less than $15, this workhorse of the kitchen will be a lifesaver.  In restaurant kitchens, a sheet pan is probably the most used item.  It will last you forever if you take care of it. 

Used in this Recipe:
Sheet Pan
Parchment Paper

Sheet Pan Supper
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 - 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. 2 bell peppers, chopped
  3. 4 carrots, peeled, sliced in half and chopped into 2" pieces (I used rainbow carrots)
  4. 1 large sweet onion or 5 shallots, peeled and chopped
  5. 2 russet potatoes, washed and diced into 1" pieces
  6. 1 large sweet potato, washed and diced into 1" pieces
  7. 1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes
  8. a few sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary
  9. kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  10. 2 tbsp. canola oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toss carrots, sweet potatoes and russet potatoes with half of the oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  3. Place on sheet pan and put in the oven. Roast until about halfway done, roughly 20 minutes. Toss remaining veggies with 1 tsp. oil, salt & pepper. Drizzle remaining oil over chicken breasts and season with salt & pepper.
  4. Remove tray from oven and add chicken and the rest of your veggies. Tuck sprigs of thyme or rosemary between vegetables and lay on top of chicken.
  5. Return tray to oven for 25 - 28 minutes, or until chicken is done. If your chicken breasts are on the smaller side, start checking them at 24-25 minutes. If they are large, you may need the full 28 minutes.
Notes
  1. We add ingredients to the sheet pan in stages because it doesn't all cook at the same time. Potatoes & carrots take a bit longer, so they need a head start.
  2. If you use seafood instead of chicken, remember to cut baking time by roughly half. Shrimp will cook in about 10-12 minutes (medium size) in a hot oven with convection. Portions of fish will need a few minutes longer.
  3. *All ovens are different! You may have to adjust a few minutes on either side of cooking times if your oven runs cool or hot.
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
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Instant Pot Tomatillo-Poblano White Beans

Tomatillo Poblano White Beans

Beans are the perfect introduction to the Instant Pot.  If you are new to the Instant Pot craze, or even if you’ve had yours for a while now, these beans will make their way into your regular rotation.  Tomatillo Poblano White Beans are my new favorite thing.  I made them a few weeks ago when there was some football game.  Everyone was making *quite* the fuss over it. Well, I had promised nachos for this sporting event and I delivered BIG thanks to these beans.  I warmed some tortilla chips in the oven, sprinkled a few things on them and then heaped these beans on top.  It was so dang good!!!

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Winter Market Buddha Bowl - Pook's Pantry

Winter Market Buddha Bowls with Potato, Quinoa and Beets

Winter Market Bowl Idaho Potato - Pook's Pantry
This post is sponsored by Idaho®Potatoes. All opinions are my own.

Potatoes.  Everyone loves them and they are available year round.  However, I’m sure you get stuck in the same potato rut like I do.  You need new ideas!  Well, this one is our new “Go-To”.  It has tons of veggies, it’s healthy, it’s gluten-free and if you leave the egg off, it’s vegan.
We all have a piece of that or a hunk of this in the fridge just waiting to get used up in something , right?  Here is the perfect way to use up a few of those ingredients that are hanging out patiently awaiting their destiny.

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Winter Vegetable Soup

Winter Vegetable Soup l Pook's PantryThis post is sponsored by Idaho® Potatoes. As always, all opinions are my own.

It’s winter.  That means comfort food.  But, we’re also trying to eat a little healthier too, right? We’re making an effort to eat more vegetables because we want to get more bang for our buck in the nutrition department.  I’ve got you covered.  This soup is nearly fat free, it’s low in calories and contains a ton of vitamins, minerals and fiber.  While you are cozied up in the house, it’s the perfect time to put on a pot of this hearty winter vegetable soup.

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Restaurant-Style Bloody Mary

How to make a Restaurant Style Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary.  It is THE quintessential brunch beverage, yet I only have them at a restaurant.  Brunch and Bloody Mary’s go hand in hand.  We are going to make a restaurant-style bloody mary at home.  I made a killer batch of bloody mary’s last weekend and they were hands-down one of the best I’ve ever had.

First things first, we are making it from scratch.  The difference is remarkable when you don’t use a store-bought mix.  The drink tastes MUCH fresher and brighter, which if I’m being perfectly honest, can be dangerous.  I’m usually a two drink max kind of girl and I had two drinks in no time flat.  Consider yourself warned, because they go down Very Easily.

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Butter Pecan Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle

Butter Pecan BiscottiButter Pecan Biscotti are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges and for sharing! One of my favorite ice cream flavors is butter pecan, so I wanted to turn it into a biscotti for giving away as homemade gifts for friends this holiday season.   

Normally, I am too busy to do much baking during the holiday season.  This year is different. We just moved to a new city and I am still healing from surgery so my time in the kitchen is limited. Baking loads of Christmas cookies is something that I really enjoy and these biscotti are going to be in the regular rotation. They received rave reviews around here and this house is well versed in cookie consumption.  Biscotti are an excellent option if you ship cookies to friends and family, like I do.  They hold up well and remain fresh much longer than normal cookies. 

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Roasted Red Flannel Hash with Country Sausage

a-roasted-red-flannel-hash-1-2

This week, we have a very special guest post!  You all know her as Pastry Chef Online, but she is my “Sissy”.  She is like family to me. If I could choose a sister, it would be her.  We met years ago and it was an instant kinship.  She is a talented pastry chef, a great friend and a generous, kind and compassionate person.  I am lucky to call her friend and we are all lucky that she has made us Red Flannel Hash with Country Sausage!  

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Picadillo (Cuban-Style Hash)

PicadilloPicadillo is Spanish for “hash” (or “mince”).  Essentially, this is a Cuban version of the good old American mélange, eaten on its own or used as a filling for empanadas. Spanish influences, specifically Andalusian, are obvious due to the addition of olives and raisins. Picadillo is often served topped with hard-cooked or fried eggs and is usually accompanied by fried plantains.

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Where are my fellow chile heads?!  
Although I love peppers, I’m not one of those crazy people that shoves whole habaneros in her mouth… funny story about that, actually.  
The year was 1993 and I was living in Guadalajara, México.  I was a student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara and a group of us were out strolling the Mercado Libertad, which is a huge multi-level market.  It houses everything from food to shoes to flowers.  Here we are, a bunch of 20 year old kids walking around with eyes popping out of our heads.  This was the first time most of us had been on our own in a foreign country.  We happened upon this vendor of chiles.  You know where this is going, don’t you?!  A girl in our group stated that she could handle really spicy food and was going to buy a few peppers.   We tried (in vain) to warn her that these were seriously hot and she shouldn’t pop the entire thing into her mouth.  Let’s just that the afternoon took a turn… to the Emergency Room!   I guess I shouldn’t have said a “funny” story,  just “a story”.

I’m not one to eat a whole habanero, but I do enjoy a little heat.  The kind that makes your lips and tongue tingle, not the kind that feels like someone lit a match on them.   I seem to have a higher tolerance for heat than some, which means that I may not be the best person to ask if something is spicy. We burn through jars and jars of chile paste like it’s going out of style (I assure you, it is NOT). Most of the spicy food we eat happens to be Asian.  Bowls of noodles in fiery broth are my happy place.  Food from Latin America is a close second and for good reason: I’m married to a Texan, I used to live in Mexico and we currently live in Florida.  I chose this particular recipe to share because I love picadillo.  I know, I’m totally selfish.  I make big batches of this delicious filling to make empanadas.  The saltiness of the olives with the sweetness of the raisins is really good.

My very favorite thing about this book is its inclusion of food from around the globe.  I love exploring cultures through food and this book is a peek into how chile peppers really are a global ingredient.  It’s fun to try new recipes and flavors, especially when the recipes are so varied and enticing!  

Below is a short list of some of the 250 recipes you’ll find in this book.  I have my eye on the Spinach and Tomato Dal next…  What would be your first choice?
– Middle Eastern Walnut Dip (Middle East)
– Castilian Garlic Soup (Spain)
– Chinese Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup  (China)
– Paella (Spain)- Tagine of Chicken with Apricots (N. Africa)
– Cuban style hash (Cuba)
– Original San Antonio Chili (US)
– Indonesian-Style Fried Rice (SE Asia)
– Cape Verde Sausage Stew (Africa)
– Spinach and Tomato Dal (Indian)
– Calabrese-Style Fried Potatoes with Peppers (Italian)
– Thai-Style Grilled Chile Salsa (Thai/SE Asia)
– Kimchi (Korea)
– Mexican-Style Tomato Juice – (Mexico)
– Chile-Spiked Chocolate Pots – (French)

Picadillo (Cuban-Style Hash)
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, chopped
  2. 1 each - red and green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  3. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1⁄2 habanero pepper, minced
  5. 4  cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 1⁄4 lbs lean ground beef
  7. 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  8. 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  9. 1 piece (2 inches/5 cm long) cinnamon stick
  10. 1⁄4 cup  dry sherry
  11. 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes, with juice
  12. 1⁄2 cup dark raisins
  13. 12 large pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  14. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For Garnish
  1. 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  2. Finely chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, red and green bell peppers, habanero pepper and garlic and stir well. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add oregano, cumin and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and juice, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in raisins, olives, and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until olives are heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a large deep serving platter. Sprinkle chopped eggs over top. Garnish with parsley. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. Gluten-Free Friendly!
Tips
  1. You can substitute Cubanelle peppers for the red and green bell peppers if you like.
  2. I have used a habanero here because these peppers are common throughout the Caribbean, and I like the slightly fruity flavor they impart to this dish. However, it may be more common to find picadillo made with jalapeño peppers, even though purists suggest that jalapeños are not used in Cuban cooking. Both chiles do a fine job of bringing heat to this dish, so use whatever is easiest or suits your taste. If you’re using jalapeños, you’ll need 1 to 2.
  3. Instead of garnishing the entire dish with chopped eggs, transfer individual servings to warm soup plates or deep bowls and top each with a fried egg. Garnish liberally with parsley.
Adapted from The Chile Pepper Bible
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
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This recipe has been reprinted courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold. I received one copy compliments of the publisher. No other compensation was received. Links to the book are affiliate links. 

If you’d like a chance to win a copy The Chile Pepper Bible of your own, make sure to enter the giveaway below!  Thanks to the publishers Robert Rose for providing a copy for the giveaway. It is open to US and Canadian residents!

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Sweet & Spicy Slow Cooker Chicken

Sweet & Spicy Slow Cooker ChickenA little bit sweet, with garlic and ginger, and as spicy you’d like it, this fragrant, saucy chicken dish is made in a slow cooker. It’s super simple and requires very little hands-on time. Serve over rice with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice.

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