Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Soup

Sarah found this recipe on Facebook the other day and thought we should make it sometime. Since we usually do "casual" on Christmas day and have our nice meal on Christmas Eve, this was suggested especially since I was thinking of making mac & cheese but we just had that. This is an Alton Brown recipe and got mixed reviews here. Sarah and I really liked it, Bob and Whitney both said it was good (but it sure sounded like a qualified good to me). I would make it again. I served it with a loaf of sesame bread. *note that the beans need to be soaked 4 hours or overnight*

Christmas Soup
serves 6-8

1 lb kielbasa, sliced 1/4 inch thick, on the bias
vegetable oil, as needed
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb dried red kidney beans, soaked for at least 4 hours or overnight
2 quarts chicken broth
1 lb red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 oz fresh kale, washed, rinsed, and torn into 1 inch pieces
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper

Brown the kielbasa in a 7 quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat until most of the fat has been rendered, about 15 minutes.Remove the kielbasa from the pot and set aside. if you do not have at least 2 teaspoons of fat add enough vegetable oil to make 2 teaspoons. Cook the garlic in the fat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the beans and chicken broth and cook covered for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes stir in the potatoes, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss the kale into the pot, cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes or just until it is tender but not mushy. Sprinkle with the vinegar and pepper; stir to combine. Return the kielbasa to the pot and cook just until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

Another find on pinterest that was a hit here. I had my doubts that Bob would like it since he doesn't generally like creamy soups but he really liked it, Sarah really liked it. I think I'll be making this one again. Actually maybe next week.

Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup
serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch chunks
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 c flour
4 c chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 c half and half

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.

Melt butter in the stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Note: you can also use already cooked chicken. Cut or shred your chicken into bite size pieces, skip the first step and add the chicken where noted.

Recipe from Damn Delicious.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stuffed Peppers

This is my cousins recipe and it's so good! I haven't made stuffed peppers in quite a while. They were calling my name tonight though so I went looking for the recipe. I could have sworn I posted it but apparently not; at least I knew where to find it. I'll warn you, either get 8 peppers to serve 8 or use half the stuffing mixture and save half for another time. Enjoy!

Stuffed Peppers
serves 4 (or 8)

4 green peppers, halved
1 cup rice, cooked
1 lb Italian sausage
1 lb hamburger
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, diced
14 oz can diced tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 c Parmesan cheese
mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375*. Boil the peppers for 4 minutes, drain and put in a 9x13 dish.

Meanwhile in a large skillet brown teh Italian sausage and hamburger with the Worcestershire sauce. Add in the diced onion and saute until the onion turns translucent. Mix in tomatoes, tomato sauce, and season with basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 8 minutes. Stir in rice and Parmesan cheese.

Add mixture to each of the peppers and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.

Ever so slightly modified from Fab Fatale.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pork Pot Pie

I'll admit it, this dinner was an experiment and from the start Sarah was protesting. Quite a lot. I had some leftover pork, we still have lots of apples from our apple picking trip, and I wanted to use both and make a pot pie. I also had one sweet potato I was going to throw in. Since it's fall, pork + apples seemed like a good idea, add in the sweet potato, some chopped onion, make an apple cider gravy. Yum. Did I mention that Sarah complained a lot? Said she doesn't like pot pies. Yeah, she changed her mind pretty quick when we sat down for dinner. This can either be baked in a cast iron skillet, which is what I did, or it can be put into a pie pan and baked.

Pork Pot Pie
serves 6

1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp oil
2-3 small apples, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, cooked and diced
1 to 1 1/2 lbs pork, cooked and diced/chopped
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
2 c chicken stock
3/4 c apple cider
salt & pepper
pie crust, either homemade or store bought

Make the gravy first - Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook until light brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and apple cider. Whisk and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 425*. In a cast iron skillet saute the onion in the oil until softened and add the apples. Saute for a few more minutes then add the cooked sweet potato and pork. Stir, then add the gravy, stirring to combine everything; cook until bubbling. At this point you can either add the pie crust directly onto the skillet or you can put the pork mixture into a deep dish pie pan/casserole dish and top with the pie crust. Cut a few small vents in the crust. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbling and the crust is lightly browned.

apple cider gravy recipe came from Rachael Ray

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cleaning the Pantry

It had to be done. The pantry was a mess, stuff was getting lost in the back (even though my pantry isn't that large), I had to clean it. Today was a good day. My daughter was off at her community college class so I had the morning free to make more applesauce and clean the pantry.

I threw away a lot of stuff, mostly old cold cereal and old tea. Neither last forever, at least not tasting fresh. My recycle bin is pretty full with old boxes now. Last time I "cleaned" out the pantry I think I just went through and organized. This time I truly cleaned it out, tossed the old food, put some things out in the garage, and reorganized it. We'll see how long it stays this way. I wish the pantry was not as deep and bigger, that way things wouldn't get forgotten about in the back.

Now that the pantry is done at some point I'll have to tackle the other places where food is stored. Actually I just need to clean and reorganize the whole kitchen...a project for another day.

Before, a disorganized mess

After - SO much better

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken and Orzo Skillet

I found this recipe in the newspaper and for once I saw it and made it within about a week or so. No clipping the recipe, waiting months and months and never making it. This is an Ellie Krieger recipe, which means generally healthy. It tasted really good as well. The original recipe says 4 servings but it made more like 5-6. This is the best kind of weeknight recipe - fast, pretty easy, only one skillet to dirty. It's also one that I think you could change up pretty easy, depending on what you have on hand. I think it'd be really good with baby spinach and tomatoes. I may have to try that next time.

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken and Orzo Skillet
serves 5-6

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 lb chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 oz (1 1/2 c) orzo pasta
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 1/2 c no-salt-added chicken broth
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 heaping cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large deep lidded skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned, 2 minutes total. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and chicken, transferring the chicken to the plate once it has browned.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet, then add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the orzo and rosemary and cook, stirring until the orzo is well coated with the oil and lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, until the orzo is about halfway cooked.

Stir in the zucchini and cook, covered, until it is just tender, about 3 minutes, then return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet along with the tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes or until the tomatoes soften and the chicken is cooked through. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

from The Washington Post

Monday, September 12, 2016

College Eats

My older daughter is in her second year at college. We've played around with her meal plan (her school only has two options), started with the "bigger" one last fall then changed to the "lower" one in the spring. She's still on that one which basically gives her 10 meals a week. We talked last night and figured out how it will work. Her biggest issue is breakfast. She's not a breakfast eater in general and doesn't like many breakfast foods. This semester her first class is at 8:00 two days a week, 8:30 two days, and 10 the other day. On Tuesdays (an 8:30 day) she is in classes until mid-afternoon so she really needs to eat something in the morning and also have a snack handy to eat in between classes. She's saving her dining hall meals for lunches and dinners (she also gets points to use in the snack bar which she'll use some days for lunch/dinner) so we needed to come up with some easy, dorm friendly, portable breakfast ideas. She's got a fridge and microwave in her room and she's checking on what the dorm kitchen has although I'm not sure how often she'll make use of that just because of time.

I wanted to get these ideas down here so that they can be easily found again when she needs them. Since she's not a big breakfast food person we're also thinking outside the breakfast box for ideas.

Baked potato - russet baking potato, shredded cheddar cheese, small sour cream, salt & pepper; stab the potato with a fork, microwave for 5 minutes, check for doneness and microwave longer if needed. cut open and top with cheddar cheese, a small spoonful of sour cream, salt & pepper

Quesadilla - tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese, deli ham, baby spinach; put a tortilla on a paper towel, top with cheese, ham, and spinach (optional), and top with another tortilla, microwave for 30 seconds, slice and eat

Scrambled egg - egg, splash of milk or water, salt & pepper; scramble egg in glass bowl/measuring cup and add the milk or water and seasonings, microwave for about 90 seconds; the eggs can be eaten as is or added to a burrito

Breakfast burrito - tortilla, scrambled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa; lay out the tortilla, spread the eggs in the center and top with cheese and salsa; fold over one edge of the tortilla, then the two sides, and roll up

Breakfast burrito #2 - tortilla, scrambled eggs, baby spinach, salt & pepper; lay out the tortilla, spread the eggs in the center, season with salt and pepper, top with spinach and roll burrito as above

Apple and peanut butter - slice an apple and serve with peanut butter, a cheese stick on the side and maybe a small handful of almonds

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Taco Pizza

Last week I was home by myself again but for the last time of the summer. I decided on Friday to make tacos, nothing else really appealed. I had plenty of taco meat leftover but no one was interested in tacos earlier this week. After some thinking I remembered that long ago I made taco pizza and that sounded good for tonight. I paired it with black bean and corn salad and it worked out very well. Best thing was that Bob said I should make the pizza again.

Taco Pizza
makes 2

cornmeal pizza dough
2-2 1/2 c flour
1 package of yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 c warm water
2 Tbsp cooking oil
3/4 c yellow cornmeal

3/4 c ground beef
1 c chopped onion
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix or equivalent of your own mix
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 c shredded lettuce
2 c chopped tomatoes
2 medium avocados, chopped
1 8-oz container sour cream

For the dough: combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the warm water and oil. Mix with a dough hook until well combined, then add the cornmeal. Mix and add more flour if needed to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes total). Divide dough in half, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Grease two 11 to 13 inch pizza pans or use a pizza stone. Roll/shape each half of the dough into a circle. Build up edges slightly and prick generously with a fork. Do not let rise. Bake in a 425* oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook ground beef and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain. Stir in tomato sauce and taco seasoning; heat through. Spread the ground beef mixture over the hot crusts. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake about 12 minutes or until the cheese melts. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and avocados. Cut into slices and spoon sour cream onto each slice.

from Better Homes & Gardens Pizzas cookbook

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lasagna Soup

I found this recipe somewhere on the web and it is so, so good. It tastes just like lasagna in a bowl. It's the perfect soup for a night like tonight. We got 2+ feet of snow on Friday/Saturday and it's not going anywhere fast, especially the huge piles that have been plowed. A nice warm bowl of soup will be perfect. {I'm way late posting this since it's now July but this soup is delicious and you'll want the recipe come November.}

Lasagna Soup
serves 8

for the soup:
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 28-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c chicken stock
8 oz mafalda or fusilli pasta
salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the cheesy yum:
8 oz ricotta
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

additional cheesy yum:
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, ladle the hot soup over the cheese, and sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top.

from a farmgirl's dabbles

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mongolian Beef

We're at the beginning of a long heat wave and needing to fix dinner on a Friday night I wanted something that was easy and didn't require the oven or grill. I've seen mention several times recently about using the crockpot in the summer and thought I'd peruse my crockpot pinterest board to see if there was something that struck my fancy and seemed summer like. This was quick, easy, and really good.

Mongolian Beef
serves 4-6

1 1/2 lbs flank steak
1/4 c cornstarch
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
3/4 c soy sauce
3/4 c water
3/4 c brown sugar
several squirts of sriracha hot sauce (more or less, depending on how much heat you want to add)
1 c grated carrots
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium green pepper, sliced
green onions, sliced for garnish
rice, for serving

Cut flank steak into thin strips. This is easiest if you freeze it for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Toss flank steak with the cornstarch in either a bowl or ziplock bag.

Add olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and sriracha to the crockpot and stir. Add the carrots, then the steak, stirring to mix.

Cook for 3-4 hours on high/4-5 hours on low, adding the onion and green pepper about 45 minutes before it's finished. Serve over rice, garnish with the green onions.

slightly modified from The Recipe Critic

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Asparagus Love

Summer is here, the living is easy, and the asparagus is good! I know it's usually a late spring vegetable but they still have good looking asparagus in the store so I've been buying it. Recently we've had bacon wrapped asparagus on the grill, pasta with asparagus and bacon, shrimp and asparagus stir-fry, and for lunch today I'm having asparagus, egg, and bacon salad. I do have to say that bacon and asparagus go really well together. Looking forward to more asparagus adventures!

Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-fry

This recipe comes courtesy of Tasty. I saw it on my facebook page the other day and knew it was one I had to try. Last night I was the only one home for dinner so on the menu it went. I love both shrimp and asparagus and this had the flavors of the Orient as well, making it super easy and delicious.

Shrimp and Asparagus Stir-fry
serves 4

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice

In a large frying pan heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan, then season with ½ teaspoon of salt and the crushed red pepper. Cook until the shrimp is pink. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and add the asparagus. Add ginger and garlic, then season with ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir frequently and cook until the asparagus is tender-crisp. Return the shrimp to the pan, then add the soy sauce. Stir until the ingredients are well combined. Just before the dish is ready, add lemon juice, stir once more, then serve while hot.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Sweet and Sour Pork

A while back I bought a pork loin and cut it into smaller roasts. I pulled one out of the freezer on Saturday, cut off three chops to grill, then put the rest back in the fridge. When I was thinking through the menu plan for the week I knew I needed to use up that piece of pork, briefly contemplated cutting it into chops but decided I wanted something different. I was thinking some sort of stir fry would be good. I pulled out my A Wok for All Seasons cookbook by Martin Yan to flip through and found the sweet and sour pork recipe. I knew it would be a hit with the family.

One tip on this one - the meat is cut small enough that it cooks really fast. You really need to have it all prepared before you start cooking.

Sweet and Sour Pork
serves 4

1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 lb boneless lean pork, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1/3 c distilled white vinegar
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c ketchup
1/4 c water
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp soy sauce

1 egg lightly beaten
cornstarch for coating meat
vegetable oil for cooking
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch squares
3/4 c pineapple chunks
cooked white rice for serving

Combine marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add pork and stir to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and set aside.
Place egg and cornstarch in separate bowls. Dip pork in egg, then roll in cornstarch, shaking off excess.

In a wok add oil, 1-2" deep and heat over high heat. Add pork, a few pieces at a time, and cook, turning occasionally, for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Lift out and drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, cook sauce over medium-high heat, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens. When the pork is done, dump out the oil and clean the wok. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil, heat the oil, then add the green pepper and onion. Stir fry these for a few minutes then add the pineapple; stir-fry until the peppers and onions are crisp-tender and the pineapple is warmed. Add the thickened sauce, stir to coat, then add the pork and cook until it's heated through. Serve over rice.

modified from Martin Yan's recipe in "A Wok for All Seasons"

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

This is the strawberry muffin recipe that was trending around Facebook last spring. I made it once, we loved it, then lost the recipe. Thankfully I found it again this spring and have already made it twice. This is a quick and easy muffin recipe; what takes the most time is chopping the strawberries.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c chopped strawberries
3 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400*. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg and mix well.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to the butter mixture. Add vanilla. Gently stir in strawberries.

Spoon the batter into greased muffin pans. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black Bean Soup

We have another snowy day here today and it's been really cold. This soup just hit the spot with it's warmth and spice. It's also super easy to make.

Black Bean Soup
serves 6-8

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chili powder
a good dash of cayenne pepper
a good dash of cumin
4 cans black beans, drained and rinsed OR 1 lb dried black beans, cooked
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 c water
salt to taste
lime wedges (optional)
1/2 c coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)
diced avocado (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Heat oil in Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Cook onion, jalapeno, and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin and cook about 1 minute. Add beans, broth, salt, and water to pot. Bring to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup so about 1/4 of the beans remain whole. Add a bit more water if the soup is too thick. Serve with lime wedges, cilantro, avocado, and sour cream.