Category Archives: Main Dish

Italian Meatball Soup


2013 is here and I am determined to meal plan this year–both to save money and eat healthier.  In my meal planning I decided I would attempt one new recipe a week.  So this week, I tried Pioneer Woman‘s Italian Meatball Soup.  I love her recipe blog because she has step by step pictures to follow.  While I may not need those pictures, they are just more fun to follow!  She also thinks of out of box ideas that sound crazy but are good.  Lemon juice in meatballs? I wouldn’t have thought of that one!  But… amazing.  This recipe is filling, flavorful, and has that great hearty warmth that every winter day needs.


3/4 lb Ground Beef
3 T Fresh Parsley, Minced
1 Egg
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Black Pepper
1/2 t Ground Oregano
2 t Lemon Juice


3 T Coconut Oil
7 C Beef Stock
2 C Water
1/2 t Salt
2 T Tomato Paste
3/4 C Onion, Chopped
3/4 C Carrots, Chopped
3/4 C Celery, Chopped
1/2 lb Cabbage, Chopped
Grated Cheddar Cheese To Serve
2 Bay Leaves


Combine all meatball ingredients and mix well.  Shape into small balls and chill for 30 minutes.

After chilling, heat coconut oil over medium-low heat in a heavy pot.  Brown meatballs on the outside–don’t cook all the way through.  Remove meatballs to a plate.  To the pot, add stock, water, salt, tomato paste, and herbs.  Bring to a boil, then simmer 30 minutes.

Add onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes. Simmer 15 more minutes.  Remove bay leaves.

Add cabbage and meatballs. Bring to a boil, then simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Serve with plenty of freshly grated cheddar cheese sprinkled over the top.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman


Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin


I love cooking with pork tenderloins because they are cheaper cuts of meat and the recipes are often very simple.  However, I have struggled to find a good recipe that doesn’t dry out the pork.  Another Pinterest find, this recipe yielded a moist and flavorful pork tenderloin.


4-5 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced or Crushed
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
2.5 t Coarse Salt
1/2 t Freshly Ground Pepper
2 T Olive Oil
2 Pork Tenderloins (About 1.25 lb each)


Stir together garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl.  Rub the paste all over the pork.  If you have time, marinate overnight.  If not, it’s still great!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat.  Brown pork all over, about 4 minutes.

Transfer pan to oven.  Roast pork, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees, about 20 minutes.  Transfer pork to a cutting board, and try to let it rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Kitchen Confidante

Pizza Salad


My comfort food prior to going gluten/grain free was pizza, particularly a Papa John’s pizza dipped in cheese sauce.  Yummm!  I don’t think anything will measure up to a Papa John’s pizza but this dish does a great job of capturing the flavors of pizza.  We’ve now eaten this twice for dinner and have greatly enjoyed it.


Meat, could be a pepperoni slices, ground beef, or our favorite–turkey sausage
2 bell peppers, chopped or sliced
1 eggplant, diced
1 red onion, diced
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
Chili flakes, to taste
Olive oil
Black or green olives roughly chopped
Banana peppers, roughly chopped
Fresh basil, torn into small pieces
3 T pizza sauce
1 T red wine vinegar
Any other pizza-like topping  you’d like… the “pie” is the limit (Haha!)


Over medium-high heat, saute the meat until crispy.  Remove from the pan.  Add olive oil, peppers, onion, eggplant, and mushrooms to the pan.  Let all the ingredients cook until they’ve softened and caramelized.  Add the veggie mixture to the meat, along with the chili flakes, olives, banana peppers, and basil.

For the dressing, whisk pizza sauce, vinegar, and 1/4 c of olive oil together.  Drizzle over the pizza salad and toss to combine.  Serve the salad hot, but cold pizza salad is good too!

Crockpot Honey Apple Pork Loin


This is a super fast and yummy crock pot dish!  The pork was very tender and fell apart at a fork’s touch.  The texture reminded me of the pulled pork BBQ my Mom makes in Virginia.  Yum!


Pork Loin
3 Sliced Apples
4 T Honey
2 T Cinnamon
Salt to taste


Lay the apple slices from 2 apples at the bottom of the crockpot and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Cut slits in the pork loin (approx 1/2″-3/4″).  Drizzle some honey into the slits and then place apple slices into the slits.  Place the pork loin into the crockpot on top of the apples.  Drizzle the top with the remainder of the honey.  Place the rest of the apples on top.  Then sprinkle the whole thing with cinnamon.  Cook on low for 7 hours.

Easy Crock-Pot Fajitas


I love crock pot meals…they are so easy and have little work involved besides dumping the stuff in the crock pot.  Sadly, I often am disappointed in crock pot recipes.  We don’t use ingredients with preservatives, artificial flavors, and chemicals which means that many crock pot recipes don’t work for us.  And the recipes I do find many times disappoint in flavor.  But today, I am happy to announce a GOOD crock pot recipe!


4 chicken breasts
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 lime, squeezed
2 T cumin
2 T chili powder
1 C water


Put everything in the crock pot with the vegetables first.  Set it on low for 8 hours.  Shred chicken.  It’s done!  We wrapped our fajitas with lettuce and added some shredded cheddar cheese and avocado slices.  Delicious!!!

Chicken Parm Bake


One of the best Italian comfort foods… done healthy!


2 t olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
hot red pepper flakes to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 c marinara sauce
1/4 c chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded (I used cheddar instead)
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1/2 c almond meal


Using a casserole dish, put in the olive oil and crushed garlic-mix. Spice it up with red pepper flakes. Put chicken breasts in and then marinara sauce. Next, put fresh herbs-basil, and then layer 1/2 of each cheese. Sprinkle almond meal on top of the cheese. Then add the rest of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

* Note: I modified the chef’s original recipe to make it gluten free

Perfect Roast Chicken


One of my very favorite meals growing up was roast chicken.  It was always the meal I requested for my birthday.  I love the flavorful meal and the crunchy skin.  Since having my own kitchen I’ve always been intimidated to try it…such a big piece of meal, it’s cooking nearly the whole animal! I tried the grocery store rotisserie chickens and restaurant roasted chickens, but they can’t compare to the taste of home cooked roasted chickens.  About a year ago I tried cooking one on my own, and it miserably failed.  Tough meat, no flavor.  I temporarily gave us.  That is, until Pinterest.  I was inspired again and pinned several recipes.  I decided to try this recipe.  After all, how can you go wrong with Martha? And… I don’t need to try any other recipes! This was perfect! I’ve made this recipe now several times and am sold.  I’ve also made this recipe twice for dinner parties and everyone remarks at how tender and flavorful the chicken is.  I hope you can enjoy this amazing recipe.  Every time I eat it I’m transported back to Virginia eating a Sunday supper after church.  Love it!


  • 1 six lb roasting chicken (Trader Joe’s sells great organic whole chickens)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2 in thick
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 C chicken broth, skimmed of fat


1.  Let the chicken and 1 T butter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove and discard the plastic pop-up timer from chicken if there is one.  Remove the giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity.  Rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water.  Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels.  Tuck the wing tips under the body.  Sprinkle the cavity of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, and set aside.

2.  In the center of a heavy duty roasting pan, place onion slices in two rows, touching. Place the palm of your hand on top of the lemon and pressing down, roll the lemon back and forth several times.  This softens the lemon and allows the juice to flow more freely.  Piece entire surface of lemon with a fork.  Using the side of a large knife, gently press on garlic cloves to open slightly.  Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, and lemon into cavity.  Place chicken in pan, on onion slices.  Cut about 18 inches of kitchen twine, bring chicken legs forward, cross them, and tie together.

3.  Spread the softened butter over entire surface of chicken and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast until skin is golden brown and crisp, and the juices run clear when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours.  When the chicken seems done, insert an instant read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh.  The breast temperature should read 180 degrees and the thigh 190 degrees.

4.  Remove chicken from oven, and transfer to a cutting board with a well.  Let chicken stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle.  Meanwhile, pour the pan drippings into a shallow bowl or fat separator, and leave onions in the pan.  Leave any brown baked on bits in the bottom of the roasting pan.  Place on the stove over medium-high heat to cook, about 1 minutes.  Add chicken stock, raise heat to high, and using a wooden spoon, stir up and combine the brown bits with the stock until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.  Strain the gravy into a small bowl, pressing on onions to extract any liquid.  Discard onions and stir in the remaining tablespoon of cold butter until melted and incorporated.  Untie the legs, and remove and discard garlic, thyme, and lemon.  Carve and serve gravy on the side.

–Martha Stewart