Category Archives: Meats

The Cabbage Compromise – St. Patrick’s Day Grill

Grilled Cabbage and Sausage St. Patrick's Day Platter

Grilled Cabbage and Sausage St. Patrick’s Day Platter

Wanting to go green for St. Patrick’s Day and eager to grill again after a long winter, Scott and I decided to ditch the traditional corned beef and cabbage for a grilled sausage and “cabbage steak” feast.  You may have seen the posts floating around the Internet for grilled “cabbage steaks.”  After our first effort, featured in this post, we determined they are both easy and delicious.  To complete our St. Patrick’s Day platter, we grilled up some spicy sausages, Yukon Gold potato coins (for the “pot o’ gold”) and asparagus, to maximize on the green.   I threw in some red pepper for color and crunch.  Grape tomatoes would have been delicious, too. All in all, it was a delightful variation on a theme. This is how we did it.

Cabbage Steaks

Wash a small head of cabbage.  Slice vertically through the entire head into thick, round “steaks.”  I trimmed out the “heart” or core during this prep and then skewered the cabbage to keep the leaves together.  Most photos I saw on the Internet leave the heart intact – likely to help the cabbage stay together better on the grill – and you can eat around the core.  It’s your preference, so google around.  I also saw “wedges” instead of the rounds.

cabbage (3) (1280x909)

Butter Thyme (1280x1172)

Melt a few tablespoons of butter with some salt and pepper, garlic and dried thyme.  Brush the cabbage liberally with the butter.

Cabbage Butter (1280x937)

Potato Coins

Wash and slice small Yukon Gold potatoes.  Toss in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Wrap up in “release (non-stick)” foil for the grill.

potatoes (4) (1280x853)

Asparagus and Red Pepper

Slice the pepper into matchsticks so it will cook in approximately the same time as the asparagus.  Trim and cut the asparagus.  Toss both with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  Wrap up in “release (non-stick)” foil for the grill.

asparagus (2) (1280x1082)


Timing on the Grill

These times are approximate and will depend on your grill, heat setting and the thickness of your vegetables.  Our feast took about 35 minutes total.  We put the potatoes on first at medium high, the sausages about 10 minutes later, and the cabbage 5 minutes later.  We started the cabbage on medium high, and as it charred, we lowered the heat under it, eventually moving to the upper rack while the potatoes finished cooking.  The asparagus packet took only about 7 minutes.  We flipped the potato packet every 5 to 10 minutes or so.  Scott likes to grill everything on “release (non-stick)” foil for easy clean up.  He still gets the grill marks on the food (amazing!), so I say “Okay!”

On the Grill (1) (1280x956)

The grilled plate!

The grilled St. Patrick’s Day plate!


Meyer Lemon Dijon Mustard Chicken

Always very excited to snag my first bag of the season!

Always very excited to snag my first bag of the season!

Have you noticed that Meyer lemons have arrived in the produce department?  A winter treat,  they have a marvelous aroma and are far less sour-tart than regular lemons.  One of my favorite super quick ways to use them is for a tangy, low fat baked chicken breast.  I make a simple marinade of Meyer lemon juice and Dijon mustard with a splash of low-sodium chicken broth.  For a variation, I sometimes add herbs.  Once baked, they are delicious as part of a meal, leftover sliced on salad or for a sandwich, and today I even made a simple chicken, corn and potato chowder using some leftover chicken.  This is how I do it….

This version used the marinade without the herbs.  Delicious with the roasted veggies and potatoes.

This version used the marinade without the herbs. Delicious with the roasted veggies and potatoes.

The herbs add a bright burst of color as well as flavor.

The herbs add a bright burst of color as well as flavor.

Just one of many ways to turn the leftovers into a new creation.  The mustard and lemon on the chicken added a fresh zip to the chowder.

Just one of many ways to turn the leftovers into a new creation. The mustard and lemon on the chicken added a fresh zip to the chowder.


4 each – 4 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use small chicken breasts because they are tender and cook faster.  Also great for portion control!)

Fresh juice from 2 Meyer lemons

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Optional:  2 Tablespoons herbs – anything you like – fresh, chopped.  Or… since I was cooking out of my pantry,  and in a hurry, I used Litehouse Salad Seasoning, a blend of basil, dill, parsley, chives, onion and garlic.

3 Tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth


In a glass baking pan, mix the lemon juice, mustard, and herbs if using.  Whisk in the chicken broth.  Lay the chicken breasts on top and spoon marinade over them.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until done.  Let rest, then slice.

Chili Pork (Carne Adovada)

Chili Pork

Loosely, Carne Adovada is meat (frequently pork) slow simmered in a chili pepper sauce flavored with cumin, Epazote (Mexican oregano) and garlic.  Scott and I first tasted it on a trip to Arizona and fell in love with the flavors.  We set out to create it at home and learned that it is time consuming, very messy, does not require exact measurements  (in fine keeping with Creative Recipe’s style ), lends itself to a variety of chili peppers (a bonus for Scott as he loves to grow and dry a great variety of peppers), and is well worth the time and mess in the kitchen.  While on vacation this year, we decided to make it for a party.  I did most of the food work, and Scott did most of the dishes – gotta love this guy!  We did it in a Crock Pot the day before the party so we could go hiking while it cooked, refrigerated overnight and then reheated in the oven just before the party.


Dried Anaheim Chili Peppers – We used Anaheim and New Mexico Big Jim (a larger version of the Anaheim)

Dried Guajillo Chili Peppers – We used these for extra heat.  Anaheim peppers have some heat, but mostly just a terrific flavor.  We added the Gaujillos because we thought the flavor was a nice complement to the Anaheims and for their extra heat. In the past we have used Santa Fe Grandes as well.  Don’t worry about the hotter peppers if you either don’t have them or don’t like things too spicy.  Most recipes only call for Anaheim peppers in this classic chili sauce, and it is equally delicious with just those.

In total, we probably used around 30 peppers – let’s say 20 Anaheims and 10 to 12  Guajillos – but did I count exactly?  No.

Dried peppers.  The smaller peppers are the Guajillo's.

Dried peppers. The smaller peppers are the Guajillo’s.

Garlic – four cloves, crushed

Ground Cumin – 2 teaspoons (if you have cumin seed, lightly toast in a pan over low heat, cool, and then grind to a powder)

Epazote – Mexican Oregano (easy to find in the Southwest – it really does taste different, so try to find if possible) – 2 teaspoons (or you can substitute oregano, maybe only 1 teaspoon)

Low Sodium Chicken Broth – 5 to 6 cups

Salt – 1 teaspoon

Pork – approximately 4 pounds – we have used pork tenderloin and pork shoulder.  I think I like the texture of the shoulder better, but they’re both good.   If you use the shoulder, cube the raw pork before browning.


Split the dried peppers open and remove the seeds (as best as possible – don’t worry if you don’t get them all as you willl catch the balance in the straining process). “Toast” (really, you’re just heating them) the peppers in a large skillet over low heat until they become a little soft and somewhat pliable.  Be very careful not to scorch them or your sauce will be bitter.  Even Ms. Creative Recipe watches the peppers very carefully while in the skillet.

Chili Pork Toasting

Place the chili peppers in a sauce pan with the garlic, cumin, Epazote and salt.  Cover with the chicken broth.  Simmer 30 minutes or so, until the peppers have absorbed liquid and are very soft.

Toasted peppers, ready to simmer.

Toasted peppers, ready to simmer.

Simmered peppers, ready to puree.

Simmered peppers, ready to puree.

Meanwhile, brown the pork.  I browned the tenderloin in two large pieces since it is a bit more tender than shoulder and since it was going to cook a long time in the crock pot.  When I used shoulder, I cubed it.

Browned to a nice crispy crust to add flavor.

Browned to a nice crispy crust to add flavor.

Transfer the cooked peppers and liquid to a blender in  small quantities each time, and puree well.  Be careful – it’s hot!  This is the really messy part for me – I get pepper puree everywhere!

Chili Pork Puree

Pour the puree through a colander.  This is the time consuming part (as if the whole process has not been already…)  Stir and press to push the sauce and pulp through the colander – remaining seeds and skin will stay behind.

Set the colander over a bowl and stir, stir, stir, press, press, press.

Set the colander over a bowl and stir, stir, stir, press, press, press.

This is what you don't want in your sauce - seeds and the tough skin.

This is what you don’t want in your sauce – seeds and the tough skin.

Eventually, you will have a beautiful sauce!!!!

Chili Pork Peppers Sauce

Place the pork in the Crock Pot and pour the sauce on top.  Cook on low 6 to 8 hours or until pork breaks apart easily.  Break the pork apart into chunks and transfer to a flat pan with the sauce.  Refrigerate.  Reheat at 350 degrees, covered, until hot through.

Eat with tortillas or straight up!  Leftovers are wonderful with scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast, but that’s just one idea.  I bet you can think of many more creative ways to eat this delicious dish.

Ocean Spray Cranberry Party Meatballs

Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Chili Sauce and Precooked Frozen Meatballs

Jellied Cranberry Sauce, Chili Sauce and Precooked Frozen Meatballs

This post is a result of a self-inflicted food challenge with a too-easy-to-be-true happy ending.  I volunteer at our local food pantry and we had received an abundance  of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce (maybe because the label was on upside down?).  Week after week, many clients at the food pantry marked the cranberry sauce off their food list, perhaps feeling much as I do about the stuff – something only to be suffered through at Thanksgiving, and not very pleasant – especially when eaten all by its lonesome.

The sight of all those cans of cranberry sauce got my creative side going, however, and I determined to find a tasty and easy way to use it as a recipe ingredient in hopes of encouraging people to take them.   First thing I did was turn the can around to see what was really in it.  Lo and behold! There was a recipe to make saucy meatballs – 3 ingredients and easy as can be.  So easy, I whipped them up in less than half an hour on my lunch break, then transferred to a Crock Pot and took it with me to the food pantry yesterday.  Everyone loved the dish and there was lots of fun conversation about other ways to use the sauce – smokie links, a glaze for baking ham, like a BBQ sauce for chicken, etc.  I’m including the Ocean Spray recipe here, because this is one of those really delicious, too-easy-to-be-true-but-it-is-true recipes you can throw together in an instant when you need a dish for a party or a carry-in.  The rest of the happy ending?  Everyone was excited to get their cranberry sauce!



1 14 ounce can Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce

1 12 ounce bottle Chili Sauce

3 pounds precooked frozen Meat Balls – thawed (Make sure these are precooked!).  Since I was in a hurry, I thawed them in the microwave.  I think you could also substitute cocktail wieners, smokey links, precooked ham chunks, etc.


Place the cranberry sauce and chili sauce in a pan over medium-low heat.  Watch carefully, stirring to break up the cranberry sauce.  As it melts, stir well until the two sauces are blended.  Add the meatballs and heat through, stirring often.  I then transferred to a Crock Pot (low setting).


Crispy Parmesan Chicken and Fish

Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese give a crispy crunch to oven-baked Tilapia

Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese give a crispy crunch to oven-baked chicken and fish.

Easy. Fast. Delicious. That’s the kind of recipe I love for a week night meal, and this fits the bill – plus, you can let your creativity soar with this one!  I first learned this  concept from the back of a Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix envelope.  The ingredients were  simply the seasoning mix, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder, and the process was to coat boneless, skinless chicken breasts with the mixture and bake.   I tried it – it was tasty and the cheese crisped up nicely, but I thought it was pretty salty.  I suspected the seasoning blend was loaded with sodium and preservatives, so next time around, I started experimenting with my own seasonings and even added some Panko breadcrumbs for extra crunch.  I’ve used this on both chicken and fish with great results and with or without the bread crumbs.   I’ll outline my basic concept below and then you can create your favorite flavor combinations.


Approximately 1 pound tilapia filets or chicken breasts  (I use small, tender chicken breasts – 4 ounces each.  I don’t think this would work well with larger, thicker chicken breasts)

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I use Kraft from the refrigerator case.)

Seasonings –

Use or create your favorite seasoning – i.e lemon pepper, garlic pepper, etc.  My favorite home-made blends use the Litehouse brand of freeze-dried herbs, which I grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.  Their flavor is much closer to the flavor of fresh herbs than most dried herbs.  Here is one combination I like – I use about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, 1 teaspoon red onion, 2 teaspoons basil, and 1 teaspoon oregano.

Very simple bread crumbs, cheese and herb mixture

Very simple bread crumbs, cheese and herb mixture


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Use a non-stick pan or line a baking pan w/ “release” foil.  Put the bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings in a gallon zip lock bag.  Add the chicken breasts and shake well.  (The mixture will thinly coat the chicken.)  Lay the chicken on the baking pan in a single layer.  Pat the remaining cheese and bread crumb mixture on top of the chicken.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

When I do the fish, I like to do it in a shallow baking pan.  I first squeeze a little fresh lemon juice (or any citrus) with some chicken broth in the bottom of the pan.  Not a lot – just trying to keep the fish moist and add a little flavor.  I don’t toss the fish in the plastic bag as it is more delicate and could break apart – instead I lay it in the pan and – oh! Here’s another trick! 🙂 – I sometimes spread a little Dijon mustard on top of the fish – again, layering a bit more flavor.

Tilapia with Mustard

Then I take the bread crumb/cheese/seasoning mix and pat it on top of the fish.  Don’t worry if some of the topping spills into the liquid – it will help thicken the broth as it bakes and you may end up with a nice little sauce!  I bake at 400 degrees  for about 20 minutes or until the fish is done and the topping is browned.

Tilapia for the oven

Ready for the oven!

If you don’t want to do the bread crumbs, you can just do the Parmesan.  Here is a pan I made the other day (no crumbs), ready to go in the oven.

chicken lemon dijon herb parmesan

I mixed a little lemon juice with the mustard and herbs and slathered on the chicken, then just shook the Parmesan cheese on top.  Very quick!

Fun and easy to create your own blend of seasonings in a mortar and pestle

Fun and easy to create your own blend of seasonings in a mortar and pestle

The cheese did not crisp up  as much – probably due to the moisture from the lemon mustard – but it did get brown and bubbly and the whole combination was quite delicious!

Parmesan Dijon chicken - served with roasted broccoflower, baby potatoes and grape tomatoes.

Parmesan Dijon chicken – served with roasted broccoflower, baby potatoes and grape tomatoes.

Cattle in the Pasture – Beef Entree Salad

Cattle in the pasture dressed

Years ago, while vacationing in Arizona with friends, a side trip took us to the ranch lands of Sonoita in southern Arizona.  We had an amazing dinner at a little cafe that included delicious local foods and wine.  Our friend ordered a very fun dish called “Cattle in the Pasture” – seared steak, thinly sliced and piled on a bed of fresh greens.    I loved the name and the concept and adopted my own version for entertaining friends and family.

Fast forward to last weekend when I was helping a friend in his booth at the Artisan  Marketplace (food and art show) in Indianapolis.  The creator and owner of Best Boy & Co (, he creates gourmet dessert sauces, barbecue sauces and dry spice rubs.  When he let me smell his “Java-Nib” spice rub, with espresso and ground cocoa nibs, I immediately said “Cattle in the Pasture!”

On the way home from the show, I picked up some sirloin, greens and veggies from Trader Joe’s and created this delicious meal.   This is how I did it, but as always, you can be creative and use your favorite combination of greens and veggies.   I rounded out the salad with roasted veggies using potatoes, fennel, sweet peppers and asparagus.  Because it was not a good night to grill out, I seared the sirloin on a “grill pan” to get the nice grill marks and then finished in the hot oven.


Sirloin Steak

Best Boy & Co Java-Nib Spice Rub

Salad Greens

Avocado Slices

Red Grape Tomatoes, halved

Yellow Cherry Tomatoes, halved

Red Onion Rings (thinly sliced)

Balsamic Dressing – I have also used a good Caesar dressing or mustard vinaigrette

Fresh-grated Parmesan Cheese – feta or goat cheese is also delicious in this salad


Coat both sides of the steak with the Java-Nib rub and let sit for about 30 minutes.  Heat grill or pan and brush with olive oil.   Cook to desired degree of doneness and then keep warm and let “rest” for approximately 5 to 10 minutes to redistribute the juices.

Meanwhile, place the greens on a large platter or in a large shallow bowl.  Add the avocado slices, tomatoes and red onion rings (or whatever else you choose to use).  Slice the steak and place on top.

Drizzle with the balsamic dressing and sprinkle with cheese.

Here is the salad before adding the dressing.  You can see the delicious rub on the sirloin!

Here is the salad before adding the dressing. You can see the delicious rub on the sirloin!

Confetti Fruit Chicken Entree Salad


This is a fun late winter, early spring dish – it takes advantage of fruits available in the winter, but it looks fun and colorful, a welcome relief from the winter doldrums!  Everything can be made ahead, another bonus.  The concept is a green salad topped with cooked chicken breast, mandarin oranges, grapes and strawberries.  Drizzle on a creamy raspberry balsamic poppy seed dressing, sprinkle on honey roasted sliced almonds and the confetti layers delight both the eye and the taste buds.

I took the time to make a flavorful mandarin orange, Dijon mustard baked chicken and the dressing, but if you’re pressed for time, and/or you’re going into your creative mode, use whatever you have on hand or time for.  To save time there are some great balsamic and poppy seed bottled dressings, and a roast chicken from the deli or leftover grilled chicken breasts will work just as well.  Ditto for the fruits – you can choose to suit yourself, playing around with different “slice and dice” shapes to complete the confetti look.

Salad Ingredients:

2 bags of your favorite salad greens

Cooked and sliced chicken breast (recipe follows)

1 pint strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced into circles

2 cups black or red seedless grapes, washed and halved vertically

1 each – 16 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds

Raspberry balsamic poppy seed dressing (recipe follows)

Dressing Recipe and Ingredients:

1/3 cup Sugar

1 Tablespoon Poppy Seeds

2 Tablespoons Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Skim Milk

3/4 cup Lite Mayo

Combine the sugar, poppy seeds, vinegar and mayo.  Whisk in the milk until the dressing is smooth and creamy.  Cover and refrigerate.

Chicken Recipe and Ingredients:

1 cup Low-sodium Chicken Broth

6 each – 4 ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts (if you cannot find small, tender chicken breasts you can substitute chicken tenders and adjust the baking time)

5 each – Mandarin or Clementine oranges, peeled, and sliced (I peel, pull apart into two halves, lay each half flat on a cutting board and slice horizontally)

2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 cloves Garlic – minced

2 each – Green Onions, sliced

2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine everything except the chicken broth and chicken in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Microwave 1 to 2 minutes to begin to release the juices.   Pour the chicken broth into a glass baking pan. Add the chicken in a single layer. Top the chicken with the orange mixture.


Chicken breasts topped with the orange mustard mixture, ready for the oven.

Bake uncovered approximately 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Cool.  Remove the orange mixture and discard.  Slice the chicken breasts.  If you are not serving right away, strain the broth in the baking pan and pour over the chicken breasts to keep them moist and flavorful. Refrigerate.