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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mama Masha's kitchen - quick hits - amazing bakes

I stumbled upon this little formula, when my husband started traveling a lot on business, and I wanted to vary my meals without relying too much on takeout and on box meals. This series of baked dishes are all cooked the same way, but you can very the components almost endlessly, so it doesn't get boring. Pick one ingredients from each group below, layer them in a casserole dish, season to taste and cook at 400 deg F for 30 minutes.

Ingredients

- The meat base: a fish filet (tilapia or flounder), shrimp, pork chops, or skinless boneless chicken breasts.

- The starch: thinly sliced potato, orzo pasta, brown or white rice (pasta and rice need to be pre-cooked to almost ready).

- Zingy vegetables: thinly sliced onions or garlic.

- Other vegetables: coarsely sliced carrots, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini

- A touch of sweetness: sliced apples or beets.

- Other stuff: mushrooms,shredded cheese, sour cream or mayo.

- Herbs: rosemary, basil, dill, parsley, chives

- Spices: onion salt, coarse salt (try different varieties like Himalayan pink or Red Alaea), ground pepper, paprika

Prep

- Spray a casserole dish or baking dish with baking spray. Pick your meat base and lay it out at the bottom of the dish in a layer.

- Sprinkle the meat layer with your spice of choice. Notice, the suggested meats are all fairly bland on their own, but they all take on flavor really well.

- Arrange the starch of choice around the meat.

- Arrange zingy vegetable slices on top of the meat.

- Layer sliced up sweet veggies on top of the zingy layer and sprinkle with coarse salt. In addition to adding a surprising pop of salty to the sweet, the salt makes things juice, which contributes to the mix of flavors.

- Put other veggies around the meat and sprinkle some herbs on top.

- Top with shredded cheese and sour cream or mayo.

- Bake on 400 deg F for 30 minutes.

Possible combos

- Bacon-wrapped tilapia baked with potatoes, onions and apples, spiced with sea salt, dill and parsley.

- Pork chops layered with onions and bell peppers, baked with orzo pasta, mushrooms, and shredded cheese.

- Shrimp baked with rice, garlic, and beets with onion salt and sour cream.

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