Welcome to Cooking with Chef Jeff

Hi and welcome to my blog. Here you'll find meal ideas that are made from primarily whole natural foods. I try not to use any sugar or sweetener in any of the recipes. At the bottom of the page, you can see a list of the cookbooks that I use. I do vary some from the cookbooks, usually not a whole lot. Feel free to read along and even post some ideas/comments to help me to improve in the kitchen.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to me - LC style

Dinner tonight was awesome. It's my birthday today and I said I wanted a birthday steak instead of a birthday cake. So, here's my rib-eye birthday steaks:

Yep, that's just 2 rib-eyes stacked on top of each other.
And no, candles don't stand up well when they are in a nice, tender, juicy rib-eye.

My entire birthday meal was excellent.
Grilled rib-eye steak, cauliflower poppers topped with Parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, and fresh avocados. One of my favorite meals. I love all of it.

Mexican Chicken

Here's a fantastic crock pot meal for those days when you don't have much time to make anything. It takes about 10 minutes to prep and then cooks for 8 hours while you are gone or busy.

2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp adobo seasoning
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/3 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, trimmed
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies, drained
Shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. Add the first 11 ingredients (from tomato paste to the green peppers) into the crock pot and mix well.
2. Add chicken thighs or breasts and stir well to coat the chicken pieces.
3. Add the black beans and chilies but do not stir.
4. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours
5. Stir thoroughly before serving.
6. Serve with cheese and sour cream if desired.

This recipe was from the Every Day LC Slow Cooker cookbook.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pork with Camembert Sauce

Pretty simple dish with a very good sauce.

1 pound boneless pork loin
2 oz Camembert Cheese
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp dry white wine
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Pepper - to taste

1. Cut the pork loin into 3 portions about 3/4" thick.
2. Put the pork in a zip lock bag and pound to about 1/2 thick with tenderizing hammer.
3. Cut the rind off of the Camembert cheese and cut into 1/2" chunks.
4. Spray a big heavy skillet with nonstick spray and put over medium-high heat.
5. When the skillet is hot, melt the butter in the skillet and coat the insides.
6. Fry the pork a golden brown, being careful not to overcook them.
7. Set the pork loin aside and cover with tin-foil to keep warm.
8. Add wine to the skillet and stir around with a spatula to get up all the bits of pork.
9. As the wine reduces, add the sage and stir again.
10. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add in the Camembert, stiring as it melts.
11. After it is fully melted, add in the sour cream and dijon mustard and heat through w/out simmering again.
12. Pepper to taste and serve immediately spooned over the pork loin.

This recipe is from Dana Carpenders Every Calorie Counts Cookbook

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dude Ranch Soup

Here's a great crock-pot meal for those days when you won't have much time after work or at the end of the day.

2 pounds round steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 14.5 oz can beef broth or home-made beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp adobo seasoning
1 cube beef bullion
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp dried minced onions
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to your liking)

1. Add all ingredients except cheese to the crock-pot and mix well.
2. Cook on low for about 7 1/2 hours.
3. Stir in the cheese and cook for another 1/2 hour.
4. Serve with sour cream, cheese, or whatever other toppings you want to use.

The original recipe from The Everyday LC Slow Cooker Cookbook needed a bit of a boost, so I added the cayenne pepper to give it bit of kick. Overall a great recipe and a wonderful one for leftover lunches.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chicken Avocado Soup

A great recipe my wife found on Pinterest that we had to try. It was fantastic. Needs a bit of a kick of heat so may had some hot pepper spices next time, but was still wonderful. We did tweak it a bit and the link to the original is at the bottom.

7 cups chicken stock
3 whole chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups scallions, chopped
3 ripe avocados, diced
1/2 cup cilantro
4 lime wedges
2 tsp olive oil
salt/pepper - to taste
cumin - pinch
chipotle chili powder - pinch

1. In large pot, boil the chicken breasts in the chicken stock for about 15 minutes until the chicken breasts are cooked.
2. Remove chicken breasts and shred with a fork and pour out stock and set aside.
3. Add the olive oil to the pot and heat over medium heat, adding in 1/2 of the scallions and garlic.
4. Saute about 2 minutes, add tomatoes, and saute another minute.
5. Add chicken stock, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat and simmer on low for about 15 minutes.
7. In 6 bowls, fill equally with some chicken, avocado, the rest of the scallions, and the cilantro.
8. Ladle 1 cup chicken stock over the chicken and serve with a lime wedge*.

*Note: We forgot about the lime wedges and ended up topping ours with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Sooo yummy.

Here is the original recipe from Skinnytaste.com

Taco Spaghetti Squash

This is a fantastic meal idea that we borrowed from a friend of ours and tweaked a bit.

1 spaghetti squash
1/2 pound ground beef
1 chopped onion
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
2 tomatoes, chopped
olives - for topping
sour cream - for topping
salsa - for topping
guacamole/avocado - for topping

1. Cut the squash in half, scooping out the seeds.
2. Place cut-side down on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about an hour. Bake until the squash is tender and cam be shredded with a fork, but not so much that it is mushy.
3. Brown the ground beef and onion in a medium skillet, draining off the fat if you desire.
4. Remove the squash from the oven and shred with a fork.
5. Stir in the taco seasoning, the shredded squash, and 1/2 of the cheddar cheese with the ground beef/onion mixture.
6. After it is mixed, put it into a greased 2 quart casserole dish and top with the other 1/2 of the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered at 350 for about 20 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and serve over a bed of lettuce and top with tomatoes, olives, sour cream, guacamole or avocados, and salsa if desired.

Here's the link to my friend Rachel's blog that has the original recipe she made.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

There's probably hundreds of variations on this dip, but this is one that we made recently and I really loved it, so I wanted to post it.

1 whole rotisserie chicken or 2 (10 oz) cans of chunk chicken or whatever chicken you want to use.
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch Dressing
3/4 cup hot sauce (Franks Red Hot works great)
1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Shred and cut-up the chicken into small pieces so that is like shredded beef.
2. Heat the chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat.
3. Stir in the cream cheese and ranch dressing.
4. Cook and stir until it is well blended and warm.
5. Mix in half of the shredded cheese and move the mixture to a slow cooker or glass pan.
6. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the and cook on low in a slow cooker or heat in the oven until hot and bubbly on top.

One thing I will try next time is Blue Cheese dressing instead of ranch and maybe even blue cheese sprinkled on top. It goes great with celery, crackers, chips, or pork rinds.

Gina's White BBQ Sauce

Here is an excellent white BBQ sauce that I got from a friend who's name is Gina, hence, the name: Gina's White BBQ Sauce.

1 cup mayo
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbsp splenda
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
1/2 tbsp rosemary
1/2 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp garlic

1. Mix everything together.
2. Pour over whatever you want to cook and let marinade overnight or all day long.

This is great for food that will be baked, broiled, or grilled. Goes good on chicken, beef, or pork.  It was very good this time, but I will make a few tweaks next time. I cut out the splenda, reduce the thyme and rosemary in half and then add in a few tbsp of Parmesan cheese. Have to make it more "Wisconsin".

In the pictures, below, I have used it to marinade a pork chop that we broiled. In the background on the plate, you can see the Wice A Woni topped with Butter-Browned Almonds.

Wice A Woni

Fantastic side that tastes very close to Rice A Roni, but is done with cauliflower instead. The topping of Butter-Browned Almonds makes it even better.

1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp lard
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp seasoning salt, divided
2 tsp chicken bullion granules
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp paprika

1. Cut cauliflower into small chunks to fit into a food processor. Pulse until it is the consistency of rice. You can also use a hand grater to accomplish the same thing.
2. Melt lard and coconut oil over medium heat in large frying pan and add in the onion, garlic, and 1/2 of the seasoning salt. Cook until the onion and garlic are lightly browned.
3. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and stir well to fully mix everything together.
4. Cook  uncovered for another 5 minutes or so until the cauliflower is browned or heated through, being sure to stir frequently.
5. Serve with Butter-Browned Almonds as a garnish.

This is a very good side dish and the kids loved it and so did we.  We will probably cut down the thyme in it next time as we don't like it that flavor very much, but it was still very good.

Butter-Browned Almonds

Just a simple recipe to get some wonderful Butter-Browned Almonds for topping veggies. Goes great on asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and spinach.

1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup almonds, sliced or slivered
1/4 tsp seasoning salt

1. Place all ingredients into a small pan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently until the almonds are golden brown. Takes about 8 minutes.
2. Immediately after they are done, remove from the pan so they don't continue to cook and put in a bowl for serving.

This recipe is from the Extreme LC Meals on the Go cookbook.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

This recipe is a bit of work, but still pretty quick. About 45 minutes start to finish and it is very good. Our whole family likes these.

1 Egg
1 tbsp water
3/4 cup almonds, finely ground
1 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 6 breasts cut in half
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, cut into 12 slices ( we used provolone and cheddar)
1/3 pound deli-style ham, cut into 12 slices
cooking oil spray

1. Combine egg and water in a bowl large enough to dip the chicken in.
2. Combine almonds, seasoning salt, and parsley in another bowl about the same size.
3. Divide cheese and ham into 12 portions.
4. Place chicken thigh or breast on a plate cut side up and place a piece of cheese in the middle of the chicken.
5. Roll up ham and place on top of the cheese and roll up the chicken around the ham and cheese.
6. If needed, use toothpicks to hold the chicken together.
7. Dip chicken into egg mixture, then into almond mixture and place on a baking sheet that has been pre-sprayed with the cooking oil spray.
8. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

That's all there is to it. You can play around with the cheese and ham insides or the almond coating to your liking. We like cheddar or provolone instead of Swiss. I like Parmesan cheese in my coating to give a bit more flavor.

This recipe is from the Extreme LC Meals on the Go cookbook.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Easy Beef and Green Beans

Very quick and easy all-in-one meal. Have made it a few times and we love it.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups celery, chopped
1 (16 oz) bag of frozen green beans (fresh could be used as well)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp seasoning salt (This home-made seasoned salt is great)
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp hot chili oil (or more if you like it spicy)

1. Brown the ground beef and garlic over medium heat.
2. Add in the celery, beans, and mushrooms and cook until they are tender. Usually between 15 and 20 minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients to the pan, mix together and serve while warm.

There are also lots of options you can do to finish it off if you want. I add Paremsan cheese on top of mine and my wife likes Ranch dressing on hers.

This recipe is from the Extreme LC Meals on the Go cookbook.

Pizza Burgers

Here is one of my first attempts at making pizza burgers. I have a few things I will change, but overall, they were pretty good.

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
18 slices pepperoni
1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried minced onions
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Mozzarella Cheese

1. Mix the garlic powder, dried onions, 1 of the 2 tsp of Italian seasoning, and the tomato sauce together.
2. Mix the other tsp of Italian seasoning into the ground beef. You can also add any binder if you want.
3. Press the ground beef into approximately 12 very thin patties. The thinner and bigger around they are, the better.
4. Lay one slice of pepperoni on each patty.
5. Place about 1 tsp of sauce on top of 6 of the patties.
6. Place the 2nd patty on top of the first, pepperoni side down towards the sauce and press the edges together to seal it so it looks like 1 burger.
7. Broil (or grill) until it is mostly done.
8. After it is almost done on the last side, place one more piece of pepperoni on the top, spoon on a bit more sauce, then cover with cheese and place under the broiler to finish.

I made a couple mistakes this time through. I made the first 12 patties too thick. I need to make them thinner and bigger in diameter. Will try using a plate to press them down flatter next time. I also didn't seal the outside on them well and a lot of the sauce ran out while cooking because about 1/2 of them curled up like 2 burgers stacked on top of each other. Overall it was a good learning experience and I will try them again.

I got the idea for this from the Extreme LC Meals On The Go cookbook but tweaked it quite a bit.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ranch Chicken

Here's another super easy main dish to make. 

8 pieces of chicken (a whole cut-up chicken works great)
1/2 packet of ranch salad dressing mix (powdered)
1 tsp lemon pepper

1. Rinse chicken under running water and pat dry.
2. Mix Ranch salad dressing mix and lemon pepper together.
2. Put the chicken in a large baking dish and season with the mixture.
4. Bake for about 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees.

That's really all there is to it. I got the idea from my Extreme LC Meals On The Go cook book. 

Egg Muffelets

So, what is an Egg Muffelet you ask? Well, I figure it's a cross between a muffin and an omelet. A bit slow to make them, but not a lot of work. Just little things.

Eggs - You will need about 1 egg for 3 muffelets, so plan accordingly.
Veggies - Whatever veggies you want to put in your muffelet. I use peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms
Cheese - Cheese to sprinkle on top
Meat - Whatever meat you like in your muffelet. I like sausage, ham, bacon, or turkey
Milk or Cream - Optional

1. Saute your veggies in a skillet or on a griddle so they are nice and tender.
2. Cook up the meat as desired.
3. Put the eggs in a bowl and scramble with a fork, adding in the milk or cream if you desire.
4. Grease the inside of a muffin tin or use other muffin methods like the cups like we have.
5. Put the meat crumbles and veggies in the bottom of the tin or cup.
6. Pour the eggs on top, being careful not to over fill them.
7. Top with some shredded cheese if desired.
8. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, checking every few minutes after the first 20.
9. Take out of the oven when done and let sit for a few minutes to firm up.

It's really quite simple and you can customize it to whatever you want to put in. Makes a nice breakfast and is more filling than just some eggs.

Italian Pork Chops

Here's a nice simple recipe for some wonderful pork chops.  Some of the best I have made on the grill.

6-8 pork chops
1 bottle Italian Dressing
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Mix the Italian Dressing, Parmesan Cheese, Salt, and Pepper in a large bowl.
2. Put the pork chops in either a large dish or gallon zip-lock bag and pour in the marinade.
3. Let marinade from 30 minutes up to several hours.
4. Remove from marinade and grill over high heat for a couple minutes per side to get a nice sear on the outside, then lower to medium heat until cooked to your liking.

That's it. It's that simple and they turn out fantastic. Just don't overcook them on the grill or they will be too dry. If you want a nice side, just add some zucchini and onions on the grill as well in a grill basket and toss with some olive oil as you cook the pork chops. It's a very easy addition to the meal.