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Top 10 Fast Family Dinners

No Comments | Written on September 19, 2014 at 5:00 am , by

We’ve all been there.  Suddenly it’s 5 o’clock and you have no idea what is on the menu for dinner.

That’s just the time when you should turn to one of these Fast Family Dinners!  They can call be whipped up in minutes and are always a hit at mealtime.

Which one will you try this week? 

Keep reading for the recipe…

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10 Recipes to Make in a Muffin Pan

No Comments | Written on June 13, 2014 at 5:00 am , by

Muffin pans – they come in mini, standard size and even jumbo!

These versatile pan can be used to make so much more than just muffins.  From breakfast through dessert, appetizers and main dishes, you won’t believe all the exciting recipes you can make in a muffin pan!  We even have a few unexpected cooking tips using a muffin pan.

Keep reading for the recipes…

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Grilled Tuna Steak with Charred Corn Vinaigrette

2 Comments | Written on June 22, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Yesterday was the longest day of the year, and in order to absorb every moment of sunlight, I decided to fire up the grill and enjoy dinner outside.  I recently picked up a copy of The Deen Brother’s brand new cookbook, “Get Fired Up,” dedicated to grilling, tailgating and picnicking.  So many recipes caught my eye, but this one in particular just said “make me…

The charred corn vinaigrette tastes just as fresh and bright as a Sunday morning Farmer’s Market.  The ahi tuna is so beautiful on it’s own that a simple glaze and quick sear is all it needs!  I paired the dish with the Beringer Founder’s Estate Sauvignon Blanc and my Midsummer celebration was complete.

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I met Jamie and Bobby for the first time last year at the Beringer Great Steak Challenge in Napa.  (In this photo we are inside the Beringer wine caves, explaining the darkness!)  They are hosting the contest again this year and I encourage everyone to give it a shot.  Those folks sure know how to throw a party, and the grand prize isn’t too shabby either!

Read all about it at http://www.greatsteakchallenge.com/ and submit by July 14th.  Good luck!  I would love to see some Better Recipes readers in the winners circle again this year!

Grilled Tuna Steak with Charred Corn Vinaigrette

For the Vinaigrette:
1 cup grilled corn kernels, cut from 1 cob
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Tuna:
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Four 6-to-8-ounce yellowfin tuna steaks, rinsed and patted dry

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the corn, olive oil, basil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper; set aside.
To make the tuna, in a wide shallow bowl, whisk the vinegar with the honey until the honey dissolves.  Whisk in the olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Place the tuna steaks in the vinegar mixture and turn to coat.
To prepare, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and brush the grate with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Transfer the tuna steaks to the grill.  Close the cover and cook to the desired doneness, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Serve the tuna steaks with the corn vinaigrette spooned on top.  Serves 4.

(From the cookbook, “The Deen Brothers Get Fired Up,” by Jamie and Bobby Deen, and Melissa Clark)

This story is dedicated to Lisa Keys in honor of her son William Keys.  Whether it is the longest day of the year or the shortest, Will’s light will always shine down upon us.  Our thoughts are with Lisa and her family today and everyday.

Week 20: Sandwich Recipe Contest Winner

3 Comments | Written on June 14, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

It’s a Po’ Boy…it’s Buffalo Bleu Cheese…it’s both.  Plus, it’s a winner!  Congratulations to Mary Shivers for her award-winning sandwich creation.  Mary says, “I love this contest! With a different theme each week, the challenge of creating a recipe for a specific kind of food that I might not normally experiment with is one I enjoy greatly.” Aww…how sweet is that!  We sure are glad she entered because this recipe is a keeper.  Check it out and then hear more from Mary! 

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BUFFALO BLEU SKILLET SHRIMP PO’ BOYS

Ingredients:

  • Spread:
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 3 tbsp crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp Creole seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • Shrimp:
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 36-40 medium shrimp, cleaned
  • 4 split and lightly toasted French rolls, tops attached
  • 2 cups thinly sliced romaine hearts or iceberg lettuce

Directions:

Spread: Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and chill until ready to use. Shrimp: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. In a medium bowl, stir together remaining butter and hot sauce. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Pour into skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes, just until shrimp are done, stirring often. Remove from heat and drain. To assemble, spread toasted sides of rolls with spread. Add 9-10 shrimp to each. Top each with 1/2 cup lettuce. Serve immediately.

Number of Servings: 4

Mary's pic 1

Mary, you are on fire and so is this recipe!  I love the heat of the sauce but the cool zing of the spread.  How did you come up with your winning recipe?

“After eating delicious Shrimp Po’Boys in New Orleans last summer, I couldn’t wait to make them at home! While we loved the fried version, I wanted to try something a bit healthier. This was the result – the flavors of a Po’Boy with the added flavors of Buffalo Wings for a bit more zing. Light or fat-free mayonnaise and sour cream may be used in the spread.”

As a Better Recipes veteran, do you have any advice for others interested in entering our recipe contests?

“Enter, enter, enter! If you love to cook like I do, this is fun, friendly, yet challenging contest. It has a short entry period for each theme and it is well organized.”

Any other culinary wisdom you are willing to share with our readers?

“I’ve learned when “experimenting” in the kitchen, I have to jot down notes as I go. If I wait until later to write down specifics, I seem to forget a measurement, cooking time, or even an ingredient.”

Thanks so much Mary for your great recipe and these wonderful tips!

If you love southern cuisine, you simply must check out these links from some of our blogger buddies.

Bibberche – Louisiana Chicken and Anduoille Sausage Gumbo: http://bibberche.com/2011/05/louisiana-chicken-and-andouille-sausage-gumbo/

Chez Pim – Favorite Jazz Fest Eats: http://chezpim.com/travel/gallery-favorite-jazz-fest-eats

Sugar Plum Blog – Peaches ‘n Cream Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce:  http://www.visionsofsugarplum.com/2011/06/peaches-n-cream-bread-pudding-with.html and Southern Peaches ‘n Cream Praline Muffins:  http://www.visionsofsugarplum.com/2011/05/southern-peaches-n-cream-praline.html

Show Food Chef – Real Good Gumbo:  http://cathyshambley.blogspot.com/2011/05/real-good-gumbo-daring-cooks.html

Louisiana Seafoodhttp://louisianaseafood.com/recipes/

Are you a blogger with a great New Orleans recipe to share?  Leave a comment with a shout out!  We would love to see it!

Week 13 “Seafood” Winner

1 Comment | Written on April 26, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Who needs to order in when you can make this gourmet pizza quickly and easily at home!  If you love shrimp scampi, just wait until you try the same flavors in a pizza. Instead of a tomato based sauce, this pizza features a creamy and cheesy white sauce filled with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes.  It is topped with garlicky, peppered shrimp and is finished off with fresh basil and Italian parsley.  Best part is, dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes!  Let’s take a look at the winning dish and hear from the creative cook behind the recipe, Pat Harmon!

PEPPERED SHRIMP SCAMPI, SUN-DRIED TOMATO, AND ARTICHOKE PIZZA

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. Can Artichoke Hearts, rinsed, well-drained, and chopped
  • 1/3 C. Sun-dried Tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped; reserve 2 T. oil, divided
  • 1 C. Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 t. Garlic Powder
  • 1 C. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 12-inch Precooked Pizza Crust
  • 1/2 C. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 lb. Medium to Large Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 t. Cracked Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1 T. Italian Flat-leafed Parsley, chopped
  • 1 T. Fresh Basil, chopped

Directions:  Heat oven to 425º. In a medium bowl, mix together chopped artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, mayonnaise, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese. Place pizza crust on a vented pizza pan or baking sheet. Brush crust with reserved oil from tomatoes. Spread artichoke mixture evenly over crust. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over top. In a medium bowl, toss together shrimp, olive oil, cracked black peppercorns, and crushed garlic. Arrange over top of pizza. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and shrimp is pink. Mix parsley and basil together and sprinkle over pizza.

Number of Servings: 8 slices

Congratulations Pat!  My mouth waters just thinking about your pizza, how did you come up with this winning recipe?

“I have always loved the entree, Shrimp Scampi, being a lover of shrimp prepared most ways, so I decided to make a version to top a pizza.”

What inspired you to enter the Better Recipes weekly contest?

“I have been entering various contests that Better Recipes has conducted for several years.  I wasn’t giving up until I won.  I am thrilled to have finally won one of them.”

That’s fantastic!  I admire your perseverance and drive.

“If you love to cook and bake and create your own recipes for contests as much as I do, the bottom line is DON’T EVER GIVE UP.  Sooner or later you will win a valuable prize.  Enter often and various types of recipes.  You can never tell what may win.  I love this hobby!”

You are such an inspiration!  Do you have any advice for others interested in entering our recipe contests?

“Think outside the box.  This time I took a popular dinner entree and transformed it into a dish that is somewhat more casual in the form of a pizza.”

Excellent point, Pat!  Thanks again for your fantastic entry and keep up the great work.  All of your recipes are just wonderful!

Cumin-Crusted Chilean Sea Bass

6 Comments | Written on April 14, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

In honor of our “Seafood” theme this week, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite fish preparations.  The recipe is very easy, and extremely flavorful.  I love to use Chilean Sea Bass for this recipe, but I have also substituted a black bass and it was also wonderful.  You could even use tilapia if you like.  The key to this recipe is toasting the cumin seeds.  Using the whole seeds, toasting and crushing them releases an aroma and flavor that will knock your socks off!

CUMIN-CRUSTED CHILEAN SEA BASS (click here to view and print recipe)

1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces Chilean Sea Bass (6 ounces each, about 1-inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cook cumin seeds in a large skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant.  Place cumin, salt, and pepper in a spice grinder and process until finely ground.  A mortar and pestle could also be used.  Rub cumin mixture over tops and bottom sides of filets.  Heat oil in a heavy oven-proof pan over medium-high heat.  Add filets; cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned. Wrap handle of pan with foil if it is not oven-proof. Place pan in oven and bake for 5-8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork in the thickest area.  To serve, sprinkle fish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over top.

Serves 4.

How to Toast Cumin Seeds

1)  Heat cumin seeds over medium high heat until they become fragrant and turn a golden brown color.  Watch carefully!  The seeds can turn quickly and burn easily.

2)  Use a mortar and pestle as seen here to crush seeds.  If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, allow the seeds to cool, place them in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin.

3)  Crush the seeds, add salt and pepper and rub on the fish.  It’s that easy!

Kung Pao Shrimp

4 Comments | Written on March 24, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Stir-fry is a quick and easy go-to meal on busy weeknights.  This recipe is one of my favorites because I love the spicy kick of the kung pao flavors.  I used shrimp, but you can feel free to use chicken, beef, pork or even make it vegetarian!

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KUNG PAO SHRIMP  (click here to view and print recipe)

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup rice wine or sake
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 Tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups broccoli florets
8 ounce can bamboo shoots, drained

Whisk together broth, rice wine, soy sauce, honey, chili-garlic sauce, cornstarch, and sesame oil in a bowl; set aside.  Heat a wok or large deep skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the peanut oil, then stir in shrimp.  Stir fry shrimp until just opaque, about 3 minutes; remove and transfer to a plate.  Add the green onion, ginger, and garlic; stir fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the broccoli and bamboo shoots; stir fry about 2 minutes until crisp-tender.  Add the broth mixture and shrimp.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute.  Serve over hot, cooked rice, if desired.  Serves 4.

Creamy Stuffed Sole

No Comments | Written on March 18, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

Searching for a new way to enjoy fish for dinner?  Look no further!  One of the winning recipes from our 2010 annual contest offers an easy, creative, and delicious solution.  This recipe calls for sole, but you can choose your favorite whitefish, or pick up whatever is on sale this week.  Serve with some rice and your favorite vegetable, and dinner is served!  Huge round of applause to Kimberley Guidea for this fantastic recipe!  (Hint:  This recipe calls for a can of crab meat.  My favorite comes from Trader Joe’s.  I think it has the best flavor and the price isn’t too bad either!)

fish winner

CREAMY STUFFED SOLE (click here to view and print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 8-oz tub cream cheese
  • 1 can fancy white crab meat, drained and flaked
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon unseasoned fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed, or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon chopped scallions or green onions
  • 2 lbs fresh or frozen sole or flounder fillets, thawed
  • Hot, cooked white or brown rice, if desired

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a thin layer of olive oil in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place cream cheese and crab meat in a mixing bowl, then stir together. Stir in the 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, the dill and salt. Fold in the 1/2 cup of scallions. Lay fish fillets flat and spread mixture over each piece, then roll up and place seam side down in dish. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs over the fish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove, then turn oven off. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of scallions over fish, and place back in the oven for 5 minutes. Serve with white or brown rice.

Number of Servings: 4

Notes: If you can’t get sole, any thin white fish works well. This recipe is so simple and looks so fancy–it’s a winner every time!  The filling mixture alone may be used as a spread for crackers.

Kim Photo 1

Congratulations on your win Kimberly!  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

“I absolutely love cooking.  I have always enjoyed it since the time I was a child, standing on a kitchen chair helping my mom make cookies, but I didn’t start making up my own recipes until college.  I think it started just by looking to see what was in the refrigerator and using it creatively in whatever way I could.  My earliest creations were stir fries.  Everyone, myself included, was surprised at how great everything I made seemed to turn out.  Since then, I just continued to make things up, and they usually work out.  Everyone always asks what recipe I used, and sometimes have a hard time believing that I didn’t use one.  Occasionally I’ll watch cooking shows and I remember certain tricks or concepts and retain them like a sponge, but I don’t make it a point to watch any or write anything down.  I just enjoy sharing it with friends and family!”

It’s so great to hear about your passion for cooking.  So what made you decide to enter our 2010 annual contest?

“My mother was the one who planted the idea of entering a cooking contest in my mind, but it was years before I actually did.  This is the very first contest I’ve ever entered.  Honestly, I was inspired to do it because I needed money so I got online and found your contest. Everyone who I’ve made the creamy stuffed sole for has raved over it, so I figured that was a good one to use!”

You are now one for one – pretty good track record!  We hope you continue to come up with fantastic original recipes and continue to enter and win cooking contests.  We have a new one every week here on Better Recipes!

Kim & Ion Cooking 1

Jalapeno-Apricot Pork Loin

2 Comments | Written on February 17, 2011 at 5:00 am , by

I am always on the lookout for a new crock-pot recipe.  That’s why I was excited to try this sweet and spicy pork tenderloin – one of the runner-up winners in our 2010 annual contest.  Congrats to Dale Greenland on his winning dish!

JALAPENO-APRICOT PORK LOIN

Ingredients:

  • one 2-pound pork loin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup canned apricot halves in their syrup
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, diced
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Directions:

In skillet sear pork loin on all sides in oil, browning the fat side till it has a light brown crust. Place loin in a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients plus 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for several hours or until done. Slice and serve with apricots spooned on top.

Number of Servings: 6

Tell us about yourself Dale!

“I am 53 years old, and it seems the only male, who had a winning recipe.  I am flattered to say the least!  I have been cooking since I was very young. I remember standing by the coal stove my grandmother would make the greatest food on.  I was allowed to help and I cherish those memories.  I cooked many a meal while living at home with parents and siblings. Chili was my love.  My mother required that when I made Chili I had to make 2 batches.  One for me and dad and one for the rest of the family.  They couldn’t take the heat!

How did you come up with your recipe?

“I had a pork loin that I needed to cook and my 34 year old oven took a dive. So I had to come up with something other than roasting.  I decided to use the slow cooker and see how it would be for a substitute method of cooking.  After deciding to use the slow cookery method I had to come up with some flavors. I looked around and saw some apricots which I don’t care for as stand alone fruit. This would make it sweet but I like some zip and so came the jalapenos and spices.”

Any plans for the prize money?

“Try to get my oven repaired and use some to spoil my Grandchildren!”

Ultimate Last Minute Gift for Foodies

1 Comment | Written on December 23, 2010 at 5:00 am , by

What do you get the foodie who has everything?  How about the ULTIMATE pan!  One that can be used for a wide variety of dishes, offers the best non-stick surface on the market, and even has easy clean-up.  Time for the “Scanpan!”

As a Scandinavian myself, I admit that I have a special affinity for Nordic design.  This product from Denmark is for anyone who loves to cook, but hates to fuss and avoids messy clean-up.  Above is the Scanpan CTX Cookware – the first to combine seven-layer construction and a non-stick surface.  The surface allows for the use of any utensil, including metal.  These products are an investment that will last a lifetime!

So, I decided to put the pan to the “scallop test.”  Could this high-quality non-stick cookware perfectly sear a scallop?  Let’s find out…

Those look pretty darn good to me!  And, believe me, they tasted amazing!

For dinner, I prepared this recipe for Sea Scallops with Gingered Sweet Potatoes in the pan and the results were delectable.  I can’t wait to try the whole collection!  From a sauce pan to a wok, and even a dutch oven, they are all available at Sur La Table.  This is the perfect gift for the home cooking aficionado on your list.  Merry Christmas and Bon Appetit!

SEA SCALLOPS WITH GINGERED SWEET POTATOES

4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 teaspoons honey
3/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound large sea scallops
2 green onions, thinly sliced

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce the potatoes in several places and place on a baking sheet.  Bake until potatoes are tender, about 45-50 minutes.  Halve the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the pulp into bowl of electric mixer.  Add milk, 1 Tablespoon of the butter, honey, ginger, salt, and pepper.  Beat on low speed until potatoes are blended and smooth; keep warm.
2.  Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until butter just begins to brown.  Add scallops and cook, turning once, until scallops are seared and center is just opaque, about 1-1/2 minutes per side.
3.  To serve, place mashed sweet potatoes on serving dishes, top with scallops, and scatter some sliced green onion over each serving.  Serves 4.