Barbecue Chicken & Salsa Lettuce Wraps

June 25, 2009 - Written by Diana

My friend Linette had a Black Bean n’ Corn Chicken Salad Sandwich that she posted the other day.  I loved the idea, but wanted something a little lighter instead of a sandwich.  She used Dei Fratelli’s Black Bean and Corn Salsa, which I happened to love and have on hand, and I also added some rice to absorb some of the liquid in the salsa.  The chicken was leftover from our Father’s Day cookout. The barbecue rub added a nice extra bit of flavor to the mix. I freeze my rice when I have extras, so this meal can be a very quick throw together dinner using mostly leftovers.  I need to use different lettuce next time though, because this one fell apart easily.  You can have this as a free form salad also – instead of wrapping the lettuce just layer it on the plate. 

Barbecued Chicken & Salsa Lettuce Wrap Ingredients:

Peel Chicken from the bone into bite size pieces.  Mix together with a jar of Salsa in a bowl.  Place inside a lettuce leaf, a small spoonful of rice, the salsa and cheese.  Roll it up together.  That’s the whole recipe.  If you don’t have a thick enough lettuce leaf it can be messy (we used some garden lettuce – it was a little on the small size) and you might just want to assemble a salad by layering the ingredients.  This is a great work night, or busy night dinner.  When everyone was done, my husband went back and threw the remnants into one last final salad for himself because it was too good to leave anything behind. 

What about you, are you inspired by reading other people’s post?  Do you happen upon something and think – I could do that?  I hope that you try out our Cookerati recipes and ideas and I hope they work out well for you too!

Tuna Pasta Salad

May 23, 2009 - Written by Diana

I had Tuna Pasta Salad for the first time at my cousin’s wedding.  It’s a great cold salad/dinner.  It has been a dish I’ve brought to summer family cookouts, and is something I make regularly over the summer.  Along with the salad (topped with salad finishers), we had Tuna Pasta Salad for dinner last night.  It was so warm in the house, that we ate out on the cooler back deck as the sun went down.  Then my son had another plateful at the dinner table after we came inside.  That made me happy, I worry about him eating enough during track season. We ate the whole salad for dinner and later on snacking, the four of us.  Some days this salad will last two meals, other days only one depending on how hungry we are.  This is one of the recipes I trusted my kids(when they were early teens) to make without supervision so that we’d have a meal ready when I arrived home from work.

Tuna Pasta Salad Ingredients:

Cook up the farfalle, drain and rinse with cold water.  You can throw your peas in with the pasta when you rinse.  I use frozen peas and just rinse them off. After they are drained dump it into big bowl, add mayonnaise until it reaches the right coating.  I like mine just coated, my mom likes her thick, some people like it very dry.  Just dollop it in one spoonful at a time, mix it in until it’s the consistency you like.  Then dump in the rest of the ingredients and combine.  You can serve right away, or cover and put into the fridge to keep cool.  If you leave it in the fridge for too long, the pasta will absorb some of the mayo and you might need to add back in a little more. 

Kale Stuffed Manicotti

May 20, 2009 - Written by Diana

About 2 weeks ago, I had Kale Stuffed Manicotti planned for dinner.  Then my daughter became ill, and I made up a quick dinner using some of the ingredients because I didn’t have time to finish the manicotti.  I finally found time to defrost the fixings and make the meal that I really wanted to prepare that day.  The kale and ricotta were mixed together with the food processor, and gave it a vibrant green color, a really bright contrast to the dark red of the sauce I used on top of the manicotti. (Picture does not do it justice.) I think it’s great to let your food inspire you and my garden is something that helps me to become more creative. I take what I have and see what I can do with it.

kale manicotti Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 ground sweet Italian turkey sausage
  • 1 onion diced
  • A couple of big bunches of Kale, stems removed
  • 2 boxes manicotti pasta
  • A container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 jar Dei Fratelli Tomato Basil Spaghetti Sauce
  • 1 large can (28 oz) Dei Fratelli crushed tomatoes with basil.
  • Preheat oven 400 F. Cook ground lamb, ground turkey sausage, onion, salt and pepper together, drain off grease.  Boil Kale in water until soft. Drain and squeeze out water.  In food processor, put in kale, ricotta, grated parmesan, a handful of fresh basil leaves and pulse.  Mix spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes and two cups water in a large pot and simmer. Ladle sauce into pan (I have a lasagna pan).  Stuff manicotti with kale/ricotta mixture and lay manicotti on sauce.  Keep doing that until you run out of kale ricotta mixture. Pour the rest of the sauce over top of the manicotti. Sprinkle grated manicotti and parmesan on top.  Bake until manicotti is soft and tender.

    I used up  1 1/2 boxes of manicotti – 21 pieces total. This makes a very large amount, so you will have leftovers(lots of leftovers).  You can refrigerate or freeze and reheat as needed.  Since this is track season, cooking big amounts saves us time when we have none to spare. I used uncooked manicotti because it is so much easier for me to handle.  I have trouble with floppy manicotti, so I stuff it uncooked and cook it with the sauce in the oven.  This dinner was fantastic, and the leftovers were perfect for a work night reheat and we still have more left over for another night too. 

    Tuna, Chard & Rice Salad

    May 18, 2009 - Written by Diana

    Last night I threw together a salad that we all loved – almost all loved.  My son likes salmon better than tuna, but still he ate it and still thought it was good (though it might be better with salmon).  I told you about my lovely gadgets that I used to make this delicious meal and now, here’s the recipe to go with it.  Chard is growing well in my garden, so probably my recipes will focus on that for now.  I’m trying to do semi seasonal cooking. 

    Tuna, Rice & Chard Salad 2 Tuna Steaks (sprinkled with Denny Mike’s)

    1 Shallot

    1 clove garlic

    Olive Oil

    Chard –  My daughter brought in a big chard bouquet, but we only used half.

    6 dried figs – chopped

    2 cups cooked rice (I used texmati)

    Mustard Vinaigrette

    Sauté the shallots and the garlic in the olive oil in a grill pan.  Then grill the Tuna on top of that after the shallots and garlic become soft.  We only used half the chard.  Strip the stems off and grilled them with the tuna.  The rinse the leaves and spin them dry then tear them up into salad size pieces.  Using two cups of cooked rice, mix in the chopped up figs, the grilled onions and garlic and the chard stems chopped into inch size pieces, some salt and pepper. Layer the chard, the rice mixture and the grilled tuna.  Top with a mustard vinaigrette. 

    Jennie-O Best Ever (Ground Turkey) Meatloaf

    May 17, 2009 - Written by Diana

    I registered to get the Jennie-O coupon and recipe book during the Biggest Loser, so I’ve been looking at their Turkey recipes online.  I’ve made Turkey Meatloaf before, and their recipe is very similar to mine. Turkey Meatloaf tastes a little different than meatloaf made with ground beef for the obvious reason but it’s still a delicious meal.  You will have less grease in the pan and it is lower in calories and fat, which is a really good thing.  Even though you missed out on the coupon, you can still get their recipe book jots_logo here. 


  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I use Olive Oil)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package JENNIE-O TURKEY STORE® Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (or oats)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup ketchup, divided
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


    • Heat oven to 350ºF. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; cool 5 minutes.
    • Add turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, 1/4 cup ketchup, Worcestershire, salt and pepper to onion mixture; mix well. Pack into an 8- x 4-inch loaf pan. Spread remaining 1/2 cup ketchup over top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until no longer pink in center and internal temperature of loaf reaches 165ºF. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before slicing. Makes 5 servings.
  • Yams & Chard

    May 10, 2009 - Written by Diana

    I had Yams I wanted to use before they went bad, and Chard out in the garden starting to take over and go to seed.  So I put together a dish using both.  My lovely daughter took one look and said – “What are we frikken vegans?  Where’s the meat?”  Sorry guys, this is a meatless meal, but it turned out very delicious.  I like maple syrup, but didn’t want it overly sweet, so I used Maple Syrup wine instead.  My daughter even admitted it was good, and didn’t bother getting herself a meat sandwich. Lots of great vitamins and nutrition in this meal.

    Yams & Chard Ingredients:


    Rinse and tear up chard.  Combine chard and yams in steamer and steam for about 10 minutes.  Heat up oil in large pan.  Saute shallots and garlic until soft. Dump in yams and chard plus seasonings. Heat up a little and serve.  It was pretty darn good.

    Ground Lamb, Kale and Noodles

    May 4, 2009 - Written by Diana

    I had big grand plans for tonight’s dinner.  I was going to make a big batch of food that we could eat off of for a few nights.  Track is taking it’s toll on our dinners, and it’s not pretty.  I picked a huge amount of Kale, I cooked up a mixture of ground lamb and sweet italian sausage.  I shredded cheese.  Then, my daughter’s friend called.  They were at another friend’s house, the second friend’s father cooked up some food, and people were getting sick, including my daughter.  So we went and picked her up, got her comfortable at home and then had to turn around and drive a half hour away to the first friend’s house where my daughter spent the night in order to pick up her stuff and the car.  So much for dinner – I didn’t have time to finish up my preparations and bake dinner.  We’d never eat if I went with my original plans.  So I took some of the ingredients and threw together a quick meal and put the rest aside to assemble another day.  Here’s tonight’s dinner that I served, it turned out to be scrumptious.

    Ground Lamb, Kale and Noodles - CookeratiIngredients:

    Cook up the ground lamb, the onions and the turkey sausage together, drain grease. Throw the kale into a pot of boiling water, let drain, and squeeze the water out.  Roll the kale up and slice it.  Throw the meat mixture, the kale, the noodles, the ricotta into a pot, and toss it together and heat it up.  Throw in some salt and garlic pepper.  My husband said the green sauce was a little different looking for him, but it was delicious. 

    Farfalle with Chicken and Asparagus

    April 27, 2009 - Written by Diana

    I keep using Asparagus and Chevre because I like the combination but also because asparagus is in season.  I have some asparagus growing in a raised bed, but it’s very little, so I supplement with the store asparagus. Of course, then I keep using the asparagus until it is gone because I don’t want to waste any of it.  The only thing I would add is little pear tomatoes, or dried tomatoes for a little more color, but the flavor as it was is very good.

    Farfalle with Chicken and Asparagus Ingredients:


    In a pan with a little more cooking spray – toast pecans and asparagus chopped into bite size pieces(woody stems removed). Drain Farfalle and place into big bowl or back into pot. Throw in chicken and asparagus mixture.  Throw in some crumbled goat cheese, and the herbs chopped.  Sprinkle on garlic pepper , salt and parmesan cheese and mix together .  My husband had seconds then was standing at the stove making noises while he finished off what was left in the pot.  The toasted pecans really made the dish. 

    Taco Casserole

    April 26, 2009 - Written by Diana

    My dinner companions are usually my husband and my son, both who appreciate good regular food more than anything else. I can try to impress them with fancy things all I want, but it’s the ground beef casseroles that set their salivary glands into motion. I had a bag of crushed chips that weren’t good for salsa scooping, so I based my dinner on how to use those up. They didn’t come from the store that way, there was a mishap and they were smooshed good, but that doesn’t mean I throw them away. The flavor didn’t leach out – just the calories, right? You can halve this recipe, we needed leftovers for tonight so I made a good amount – probably 6 –8 servings.Here’s my recipe for Ground Beef Taco Casserole. Ground Beef Taco Casserole


  • 1/2 bag blue corn chips (O Organics )
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 2 packs taco seasoning mix (or your own spices if you prefer)
  • 2 cups corn, or one can, drained.
  • 1 can kidney beans (you can substitute chili beans for a little more spice) – drained (unless flavored)
  • I can diced tomatoes
  • 4 ounces colby jack cheese
  • sour cream
  • salsa (try O Organics chipotle)

    Cook up the ground beef along with the onions and peppers and drain off the oil and mix with the taco seasoning. Layer the bottom of a large casserole dish with the crushed chips, then put the ground beef mixture on top of that. Layer the corn, the beans and tomato on top of that, sprinkle with cheese and cook in a 375 oven until it’s hot and bubbling. Serve with salsa and sour cream. That’s it. If anything, the leftovers were better on the second night.

  • Lamb Roast with Plum Wine

    April 9, 2009 - Written by Diana

    My lamb roast has a secret ingredient – and none of you have it, and you can’t get it either.  A few years ago my sister in law made some plum wine, but it didn’t come out great.  It was too thick and very sweet and not very drinkable, but it was also very plummy.  I tried it out on my lamb one year, and it turned out wonderful.  I tried it again the next year and the next year.  I ran out and bought some japanese plum wine one Easter when we ran out, however although it was very sweet it also very light unlike Pam’s wine.  This year I managed to grab another bottle of Plum wine.  Pam & Jim won’t be here, they’re taking care of some injured in-laws, and we’ll miss them this year, but they’re needed at home.  Pam and Jim – we love you and hope everyone gets well soon.  So my quest is to find the perfect plum wine – or if you have a suggestion for another good wine that would be perfect to pour over my lamb roast.  Pam’s running out of her plum stock.

    This recipe is just a really basic recipe.  I once tried stuffing the lamb with dried fruit, and all the men scraped it off and out before eating, so I don’t do that anymore.  I cook the lamb in a roaster, in order to keep the oven free for other cooking.



    Turn on oven to 325 degrees F. Put lamb into roaster, throw in onions and garlic.  Sprinkle roast with thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Pour plum wine over the top of the roast.  Let the roast cook about 25 minutes per pound.  Add more wine about a half hour before it will be done.  Let the roast sit for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  You can make up a quick gravy from the juices while it’s resting.