Tag Archives: skillet dinners

Rasta Pasta

1-recipe

In the pursuit of new and better low-carb substitutes, I recently acquired a Veggetti slicer for the tidy sum of $14 plus tax. I am generally suspicious of “As Seen On TV” products, and not without reason. However, the Veggetti has been well worth its price. It’s basically a giant pencil sharpener for vegetables, which can slice them into thick or thin strings depending on which end you use.

Here’s a picture of what the sliced vegetables look like:

4-spiral_squash

For this recipe, I substituted yellow squash for spaghetti. I used the “thin” end of the Veggetti to slice the squash, and then boiled it for 2 minutes. The result was an excellent substitute, and I plan to use this device quite frequently in the future.

I substituted shelled edamame for the black beans in this recipe. I happened to have it on hand, and it fit the color scheme. :) Definitely making this dish again: the flavors are excellent, and it’s remarkably satisfying for a recipe which contains nothing but vegetables and seasoning!

Ingredients:

  • 4 yellow squash, spiral-sliced and boiled for 2 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup shelled cooked edamame
  • 2 cups broccoli flowerets, blanched
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

2-peppers_onions

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, bell pepper, and garlic until tender.

3-edamame

Add the edamame and broccoli, and cook for 1 more minute.

5-finished

In a large bowl, toss together the cooked spiral-sliced squash, vegetable mixture, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

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Savory Sausage and Kraut Skillet

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Sometimes, real life and blogging do not mesh well. In today’s case, I made this recipe for dinner, and it was so delicious that we ate all of it before I realized I’d forgotten to take a “finished” picture :) As problems go, this is one I’m happy to have.

This recipe is not dissimilar to the Apple and Sauerkraut Sausage recipe I posted a while back, but I think I prefer this one: today’s recipe has potatoes, and uses less sugar. In addition, the apple in this recipe is grated, rather than sliced, so it “vanishes” into the kraut, leaving behind only a gentle sweetness. I enjoy the tart taste of sauerkraut, and it’s nice when the recipe doesn’t mask it too much. Definitely a good skillet dinner for those busy weeknights!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and grated
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 12 small red potatoes, washed and sliced in half
  • 1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained, rinsed, and packed
  • 1 pound smoked beef sausage or kielbasa, sliced into 2-inch pieces

Directions:

2-onions

In a large skillet, sauté the onion and green pepper in the butter over medium heat until tender.

3-kraut

Add the apple, brown sugar, caraway seed, potatoes, and sauerkraut, and mix well.

4-sausage

Place the sausage on top of the sauerkraut mixture.

5-cover

Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

Serves 4-6.

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Chuck Wagon Skillet

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“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”
— Robert Burns, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough”, 1785

All ingredients assembled per recipe directions? Check.

Heat reduced to low? Check.

Checking the food every ten minutes or so to make sure that all is well? Check.

Smell of burning? ……Dang. Check. :(

I had my trepidations about this recipe, and I ignored my gut feeling. The result was somewhat of a disaster. I’m noticing a pattern here: this recipe is from the same source as the failed Easy Pork Chop Rice Bake, and has a very similar problem. There simply was not enough liquid to prevent the dish from burning. Not a good sign for future reliability.

The flavor of the unburned portion was pretty good, but the pasta was still hard and crunchy. I think that I could rework this recipe without too much trouble, by doing the following:

– Cook the pasta in advance. Hoping that it will miraculously self-cook, as the author of this recipe seems to have done, is unrealistic.

– Brown the ground beef and onion together, and layer over the pasta in a 13” x 9” Pyrex dish.

– Layer the remaining ingredients per the original recipe directions, omit the extra water, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour.

I really don’t think that this would be a difficult fix, and I’m a little disappointed that the original recipe led to a burned mess of what could have been a really delicious casserole. The next time that I attempt a “Peggy’s Kitchen” recipe from the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, I’m going to follow my instincts. I have been fooled twice now, and it’s time to wise up. In the meantime, here are the pictures and directions for what I did cook. While today’s post is filed under the ‘fail’ tag, I took on this recipe blog with the intent to be transparent and honest whenever things didn’t go according to plan. If I can learn from my own mistakes, others can learn from them as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 2 cups medium noodles, uncooked
  • 1 (16-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

2-onions

In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the butter until tender.

3-meat

Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper, and cook until browned.

4-cheese

Layer into the skillet the cheese,

5-celery

celery,

6-olives

olives,

7-pasta

and noodles.

8-tomatoes

Pour the tomatoes and water over the top.

9-cover

Cover, and heat to steaming.

Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.

10-finished

Serves 6.

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Chinese Pepper Steak

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I wish I knew where my mother got this recipe, because it’s really good! This dish has a different flavor profile from the Pepper Steak recipe I published in October: while that recipe has more of a sweet-and-sour taste from the ketchup used, this one is definitely classic “Chinese buffet” pepper steak. I highly recommend marinating the beef strips for several hours to tenderize the meat and allow the flavor to deepen.

I used dark soy sauce instead of the fermented bean paste, and followed my mother’s hand-written note to substitute in ground ginger instead of using sliced fresh ginger. While I am generally in favor of fresh ingredients, I think she made the right call: reading the recipe, it directs the cook to first stir-fry the ginger, then add the beef strips, and later remove the ginger. I don’t want to sit there with a pair of chopsticks picking thin slices of ginger out of my skillet when I could be getting on with dinner! Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound steak (or lean beef cut of your choice), trimmed of fat and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 medium green pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 medium red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 small onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Directions:

2-make_marinade

In a medium bowl, combine the dry sherry, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1/2 tablespoon of the cornstarch.

3-marinate_steak

Add the beef strips to this marinade, and refrigerate for several hours.

4-saute_peppers

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, and sauté the garlic, green pepper, red pepper, and onions over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the skillet, and raise the heat to high.

5-cook_steak

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut oil, marinated beef strips, dark soy sauce, and ground ginger to the skillet, and cook for 2 minutes.

6-add_broth

Add the chicken broth to the skillet, and bring to a boil.

Dissolve the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, and add this mixture to the skillet along with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.

7-add_vegetables

When the sauce has thickened, return the vegetables to the skillet, and cook for 1 minute.

Serve over a bed of rice.

8-finished

Serves 4-6.

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Pasta with Spinach and Sausage

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At this point, I have tested and posted enough recipes from the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company to warrant giving them their own blog tag. I have been consistently pleased with the results: all of the ONG recipes have been very tasty! I look forward to discovering more of them in my collection, and serving each and every one. It’s always nice to find a reliable source of dinner ideas. :)

Today’s recipe is another “skillet dinner”. I like making these meals, because they are typically inexpensive, quick, and requires minimal cleanup. I find them particularly useful on evenings where I’m in a rush, low on inspiration, or uncertain of what time we will get together to eat. As usual, use your largest skillet to make this: when the recipe says that it serves 8, it means it!

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sausage, cooked, drained, and crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans Italian tomatoes
  • 16 ounces penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

2-saute_mushrooms

In a large skillet, sauté the mushrooms and garlic in the olive oil until tender.

3-add_sausage

Add the sausage, Italian seasoning, and tomatoes, and cook for 10 minutes.

4-add_pasta

Fold in the pasta and spinach, and heat thoroughly.

Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

5-finished

Serves 8.

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Sausage, Peppers, and Potatoes

1-recipe_card_1 2-recipe_card_2

I have two versions of this recipe in my collection: one is the original clipping from “Lipton Recipe Secrets”, and the other is a transcription written in my grandmother’s handwriting. I think that it is a good sign when I find multiple copies of a recipe: this tells me that someone else thought it was worth keeping around!

This is one of the easiest skillet dinners I have made.  If you can chop vegetables and turn on the stove, you can make this meal. I do have one alteration that I would make in the future, however; the original recipe does not include a thickening agent, so the vegetables and meat end up simply simmering in soup. I would whisk in a tablespoon or so of cornstarch near the end of the cooking time, in order to create more of a gravy-like sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large red and/or green bell peppers, sliced into strips
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions:

3-brown_sausage

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the sausage.

4-cook_peppers

Remove the sausage, and add the peppers to the remaining drippings.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.

5-add_potatoes

Add the potatoes, onion soup mix, and water to the skillet.

6-simmer_covered

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

7-readd_sausage

Return the sausage to the skillet and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes or until the sausage is done and potatoes are tender.

8-finished

Serves 4.

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Ham Spaghetti Skillet

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I am starting to give recipes from the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company some preference. The other recipes I have tried from this source (Chicken A La Suisse and Apple Sauerkraut Sausage) have been quite good. Today’s dish does not break the pattern: it is easy to make, yields a large amount of food, and tastes good. I would definitely make this meal again.

This is a great way to stretch limited resources and meat. None of the ingredients used are particularly expensive, and the proportions are such that the final product does not feel “scanty” in terms of flavor or satisfaction. When I made this recipe, I substituted whole wheat corkscrew pasta for the elbow spaghetti, but it does not make much of a difference either way. Use what you have, and don’t worry about it. A little bit of hot sauce works well to bring out the flavor, but it is an optional addition.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow spaghetti (or pasta of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 2 cups diced cooked ham
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

2-pasta

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

3-saute

In a large skillet, sauté the onion and green pepper in the shortening over medium heat until tender.

4-add_ham

Add the ham to the skillet, and brown lightly.

5-add_tomatoes

Add the garlic and tomatoes, and stir well.

6-cover

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

7-add_rest

Add the pasta, cheese, and salt to the skillet, and mix well.

Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes.

8-finished

Serves 4-6.

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Apple and Sauerkraut Sausage

1-recipe_card

This is another recipe from the Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, published in 1995. It’s everything I love in a family dinner: simple, substantial, and flavorful. The flavor balance is fairly good, with the savory sausage and fermented sauerkraut underlying the fruity sweetness of the apples. Caraway seeds add subtlety to the mix.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (32-ounce) can sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups chopped apples (I combined Red Delicious and Golden Delicious because those were what I had in the refrigerator)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

Directions:

2-brown_sausage

In a large skillet, brown the sausage over low heat.

3-add_sauerkraut

Stir in all of the remaining ingredients, and mix until the brown sugar dissolves.

Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the apples are tender.

4-finished

Serves 4.

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Pepper Steak

1-recipe_card_printed            2-recipe_card_handwritten

There are actually two recipes on this card, as shown above. The first one looks like it came from a newspaper. The hand-written version has all the hallmarks of being one of my grandmother’s Great Depression innovations: cheaper ingredients, a less expensive cut of meat, and the use of pre-made seasonings (in this case, Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix). I chose to make the printed newspaper version, because it sounded like a more interesting and flavorful recipe.

I made two modifications to the original recipe. First, I chose to use vegetable oil in the place of the more generic “fat”. Now there’s an artifact of the past – how often do you see a modern recipe that simply calls for “fat”? While I know that my grandmother kept a jar of “drippings” on the stove and a tub of lard in the refrigerator, this is no longer a common practice. Second, I chose to use fresh sliced mushrooms rather than canned mushrooms, for better flavor.

When making this dish, be sure to use the largest skillet that you have! I started cooking in my regular skillet (which is not tiny), and ended up transferring everything into my wok because there was no way that it would all fit.

I had concerns that the sauce might be too salty: an entire bouillon cube seemed like a bit much for a recipe with so little liquid. However, I was pleasantly mistaken. The sauce is rich and savory without being overpowering. The overall flavor balance of the dish is good, and I definitely plan to keep this one in my repertoire.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white flour
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

Directions:

3-slice_steak

Slice the flank steak into 1/2-inch wide strips.

4-slice_peppers_onions

Slice the onion and green peppers into rings.

5-brown_steak

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat.

Brown the flank steak in the skillet, and remove. Pour off any excess fat.

6-make_sauce

Add the ketchup, water, soy sauce, flour, boullion cube, and pepper to the skillet.

Stir well, and heat to boiling.

7-add_meat

Add the browned meat strips and onion to the skillet, stir to coat with the sauce, and cover.

Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning.

8-add_veggies

Add the green peppers and mushrooms, and stir to coat everything with the sauce.

Simmer 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the peppers are crisply tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

9-finished

Serves 6.

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