Category Archives: Recipes

CSA Hash

Last week we got our first community supported agriculture (CSA) share. In addition to the benefit of getting fresh, local grown (often organic) produce, meats, cheese et al, I really wanted to do this so that I would have to challenge myself in the kitchen. I tend to get into a cooking rut, making the same dish over and over until I’m sick of it, and I know I need to change that.

I’m lucky to have a toddler who is, at least for the moment, pretty adventurous when it comes to food. Indian food, Thai food, salmon, chunks of avocado. She loves all the things green, except for spinach – having gotten over her hatred of green beans in recent months. Of course, what did we get in our share that week? A giant bag of spinach. Sigh. I looked around my kitchen at what I had left from my last big shopping trip, grabbed a bunch of things I knew she would like and figured I could hide the spinach in there and maybe she would accidentally eat some.

I use bratwurst in this recipe since that was my meat of the week and I was out of bacon. Feel free to substitute the meat of your choice or omit it all together. Keep in mind that if you are using bacon, you won’t need to add any olive oil to the pan before you begin frying the potatoes.

CSA Hash (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bratwurst, casing removed and cut into smallish chunks
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Salt and pepper

Heat a cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Add the brat chunks and cook, turning frequently, until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Unlike bacon, pancetta, etc the bratwurst won’t give you a lot of fat to work with, so you’ll need to add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.

Once the olive oil is heated, add the potatoes and let them start to fry without messing with them. Season them with salt and pepper. After a couple minutes, once they’ve started to brown, begin turning your potatoes. Repeat this process for about 15 minutes – they’ll be more evenly browned this way – or until they are most of the way done.

At this point, you can add the onion and zucchini. (Any earlier in the process and it would burn.) Cook for several minutes or until they start to soften. Add the asparagus and give the whole mixture another toss. Cover the pan with tinfoil and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until the asparagus begins to crisp (thicker asparagus will take longer). Stir in the cooked bratwurst and spinach, cooking until the greens begin to wilt and the bratwurst has reheated.

Serving suggestion: top with sliced scallions, shredded gruyere cheese and fried eggs.

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Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

A few weeks ago, the husband and I went on a real live actual date to Square One Brewery, a local microbrewery and distillery. There was the beer cheese soup, which we both enjoyed, practically licking the bowls clean. I went for a big plate of black beans and grilled polenta topped with tomatoes and avocado and sour cream. While mine was delicious, Brian's meal was the winner: braised lamb shanks. I vowed that I would learn to make them myself.Ingredients3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided1 small yellow onion, diced2 celery stalks, diced3 garlic cloves, minced2 lamb shanks, 3/4 to 1 pound eachMoroccan spice dry rub (see below)1/2 cup dark beer (we used Flying Dog's Road Dog Porter)2 to 3 cups chicken stockbay leafFor the Moroccan Spice Dry Rub1 teaspoon cinnamon1/2 teaspoon cumin1/2 teaspoon coriander1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon white pepperSalt and pepperHeat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and celery 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute until fragrant (but don't burn it!) and then transfer to a medium slow cooker.Rub the lamb shanks with the dry rub, making sure it's well coated. Heat the last two tablespoons of oil and sear the meat on all sides until it just starts to brown. Transfer to slow cooker.Remove skillet from heat, deglaze the pan with the half cup of beer (drink the rest of the bottle even if it's eight in the morning) and add that to the pot as well. Add the bay leaf and chicken stock until the shanks are just covered in liquid, somewhere between two and three cups. If you have any leftover spice rub, you can add that now. Cook on low for eight hours.

Now, there is the Very Important Question of what to serve with it. One of the advantages of putting this in the slow cooker so early in the morning is that once the lamb is fall off the bone cooked, I can turn it to “Keep Warm” and then focus on the sides.

Brown Rice With Garbanzos and Raisins
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups liquids: 1/2 cup of lamb cooking liquid and 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1 snack size box raisins
  • Salt and pepper

Combine rice, liquids and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 to 45 minutes (or until done). When there are about five minutes left add the garbanzos and raisins. Turn off heat, let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and then season with salt and pepper

Notes

  • If you’re pressed for time, you don’t need to saute the vegetables and sear the lamb, just add everything to the crock pot. I think it adds a depth of flavor if you do those things first.
  • Feel free to cut the vegetables into large chunks instead of dicing them, especially if you aren’t planning on sauteing them.
  • Strain the liquids and freeze the remaining broth to use later.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Heaven on a plate

We’re trying not to eat out as much as we used to. Unfortunately, there are some things that I never thought I would be able to make at home…until now. Chicken tikka masala is easily my favorite (not-really-traditional) Indian dish. It looks complicated and there are a ton of ingredients, but you should have most of them in your kitchen already.

Ingredients:

For the Marinade:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • juice of half a lemon

Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts. Combine cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl to make a rub. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken liberally with the spice mixture and press gently to make sure it adheres. They should be well coated. If you can see chicken meat, put some spice on it! Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside (for now).

Spice mixture

In a large bowl (or whatever dish you plan on marinating your chicken in – I used a square Pyrex with a lid), combine yogurt, garlic, ginger and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chicken, making sure it’s well coated, cover tightly and refrigerate. It needs to marinate for at least an hour and ideally overnight.

Marinade - please use whole milk yogurt. For me?

For Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons oil (butter, olive oil, etc. – I used grapeseed)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (see notes)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, in juices
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (see notes)
  • salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

You Will Also Need

  • several long skewers, soaked
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

After your meat has been marinating a sufficient amount of time and you’re ready to make dinner, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion until softened, stirring frequently. Add garlic, ginger, tomato sauce and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant – about 3 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced – about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream. Cover to keep warm until chicken is cooked.

While sauce simmers, preheat a lightly oiled grill pan over medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side. Let cool slightly, remove from skewers and place on a serving dish. Cover in warm sauce and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Hello Gorgeous!

Notes:

  • My recipe is a mish-mash of about three different ones I found on-line. Chicken tikka masala can be prepared about a million (slight exaggeration) different ways. You will need a yogurt marinade for the chicken and the sauce is always going to have tomatoes and cream, but you can change up the spices however you like. I like this version because it tastes almost exactly like what I can get at my favorite Indian restaurant.
  • Fresh Ginger: Buy a hunk of root and keep it in the freezer. It’s easy to peel, you can just grate whatever amount you need (still frozen!), rewrap and throw back in the freezer.
  • Garam Masala: Apparently, you can buy a spice blend in the store but I could not find it at any of the ones that I frequent. Fortunately, it can be made pretty easily with stuff you probably already have on hand. This is how I made mine: 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cayenne, one bay leaf (crumbled), pinch of ground cloves, pinch of ground nutmeg and salt. This makes a little more than a tablespoon so I just used all of it in my sauce.
  • Sugar: I used this tiny amount to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. Feel free to omit it if you want to avoid sugar but think of it this way: this is 2 teaspoons for an entire pot of sauce.
  • A note on the chicken: you don’t have to cut it up before you grill it, especially if you don’t have skewers. Leave it whole and either grill it like that or put in a foil lined pan and broil it.
  • Final note (phew): This made a lot (and I do mean a lot) of sauce. I will probably make a second batch of chicken or just eat it straight out of the pot like a slightly spicy (and chunky!) tomato soup.

The Best Cookies Ever

Brian calls these the "Jesus of cookies"

I shouldn’t be eating these. They are full of all of the things I’m trying to avoid: sugar, flour and lots and lots of chocolate. And butter. Delicious, delicious butter. Maybe I will get around to modifying them to be gluten-free at some point, but today I’m baking them for Brian’s office and not for my own consumption. (What’s that? I should have one? Well, okay. And a second? I guess, since you twisted my arm.)

Chocolate and Butterscotch Cookies with Coconut

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet (or dark) chocolate
  • 1 3/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In your trusty red Kitchen Aid mixer, cream together butter and sugar (about 2 minutes on medium speed). Mix in vanilla and eggs.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl (because I don’t have a sifter, yo). Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture until combined. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Form into balls (they should fit neatly into the palm of your hand) and place on parchment lined baking sheets, flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool, eat, die happy.

The dough

Dough balls should fit in your palm

Ready to bake, slightly flattened

Bakers Notes:

  • I have made these half a dozen times and I alter it a little each time. One of the beauties of this recipe is that it’s really easy to make substitutions. You can use all butterscotch chips, all dark chocolate, white chocolate (barf, not my favorite) and any kind of nut you like. Or leave the nuts out altogether.
  • If you find yourself with only one stick of butter (like I did this afternoon, ahem) here’s a good thing to know about measurements: there are 4 tablespoons to every 1/4 cup. Yeah, it’s a pain to measure but it’s doable.
  • I don’t own a cooling rack (blasphemy!) so I just leave the cookies on the baking sheets.
  • This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart

Apple Cider Cake

Fall means apples.  Lots and lots of apples.  If you go into my neighborhood farmer’s market/grocery store, the tables and bins and baskets of apples practically smack you in the face when you walk in the door.  Want a half peck of apples?  It’ll cost you next to nothing.

I like apples well enough, but I’m not a big fan of eating them raw (plain? unsliced?).  I have, on occasion, munched on an apple but I’ve always been an apple slices and peanut butter kind of girl.  Or apple pie.  Or apple muffins.  Or…you get the idea.  Lucky for me, my go-to recipe inspiration gal AndreAnna came up with a recipe for Grain-Free Flourless Apple Spice Bread about a month ago.  It sounded perfect.

Last week, I was all set to make it and had, in fact, started cooking the apples, when my internet went out.  I couldn’t get to the recipe – I hadn’t left my browser open – and I didn’t want to wait for my service to maybe possibly in three days be restored.  So, I winged it.  And then this week, I decided to try it a little differently again.  Check out what I came up with:

What you need: Cloves, nutmeg, maple syrup, apple juice, baking soda, baking powder, nut butter (I used almond this time, but if you want sweeter go with peanut butter), cinnamon, one egg, two apples.

Peel those apples

Core the apples and then cut them into chunks (it doesn’t have to be too small).  Place them in a small sacuepan

Time to make cider!  Add apple juice, cinnamon and whole cloves to the saucepan.  Stir, making sure the apples are well coated with spices.  Heat on low until they are nice and soft.

While the apples are getting mushy, it’s time to get everything else together!  Dump a whole 16 ounce jar nut butter of your choice into a mixer.  Beat until smooth

Time for the egg!  Beat that until it’s combined with the nut butter.

Add the maple syrup, baking soda, baking powder, more cinnamon and nutmeg.  You know what to do, beat that stuff together too!

Those apples should be done cooking by now, so drain them but reserve the cooking liquid.  Also, fish out the whole cloves since you don’t need those anymore.

Mash ’em up.  Once they’ve cooled a bit – you don’t want to scramble that egg – stir the mashed apples into the rest of your mixture.

Almost done now.  Take a tablespoon of the reserved (also cooled) cooking liquid and add that.  I highly recommend drinking the rest, YUM.

Put your batter into a greased pan and bake at 325 on the bottom rack for 30-35 minutes.  It’ll go in looking like this…

…and come out looking like this.

It’s done when a toothpick – or a dried spaghetti noodle – inserted into the center comes out clean.

It’s pretty much perfect on it’s own with maybe a pat of butter.  If you used the almond butter and it’s not quite sweet enough for your taste (it wasn’t for me), go back to this recipe and use that frosting.  Delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • a few whole cloves
  • 2 cups nut butter (almond or peanut)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a saucepan, combine apples, apple juice, cloves and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Make sure the apples are coated with the spices.  Cook on low heat until soft and mushy.  Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, remove the cloves and mash the apples.

In a mixer, beat the nut butter until smooth.  Beat in the egg.  Add the remaining ingredients, the cooled apples and 1 tablespoon of reserved apple cooking liquid.  Stir until well combined.

Pour into a greased pan (confession: not sure what size mine was, but I would guess it was an 8×12) and bake on the bottom rack for 30-35 minutes.  Adjust your time depending on the size of your pan.  It’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Serve with butter or frosting of your choice.

Happy weekend everyone!

Squash

Easiest Mashed Butternut Squash

  • 1 medium butternut squash (~2 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of milk
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and slimy pulp.  Discard because, gross.  Place squash cut side down in a microwave safe dish (I use a 9×9 square Pyrex) and add a quarter inch of water.  Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until the insides are tender.

Scoop out the flesh into a bowl and add the butter, brown sugar and salt and pepper.  Start out with a very teensy tiny amount of milk and mash everything together.  Add more milk as needed and then taste.  I usually add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, but it is completely up to you.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

My love affair with acorn squash began when I discovered this recipe for a cranberry and apple stuffed version.  I was looking for something new for a side dish and this fit the bill perfectly.  And then AndreAnna, once again, provided me with delicious dinner inspiration in the form of a ground beef stuffed version.  Check out her original recipe and then come back here for my take on it.  I made it once according to her recipe, but there were a few things I wanted to change to better suit my tastes.  Below find an updated ingredient list, I’ve bolded my changes:

  • 2 medium sized acorn squash
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (I was out of fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • grill seasoning (Brian added maybe a 1/2 teaspoon after everything was done and it really improved the flavor)
  • 1 apple, diced (I left the peel on)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (I’m a pecan-aholic and I prefer their flavor to that of walnuts)
  • 2 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese (so confession, I used a cinnamon flavored cheese from Trader Joe’s but I think this would be amazing with some sharp cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg (I don’t have allspice!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Okay, got it?  Now go back here for your step-by-step recipe.  Thanks again AndreAnna for inspiring my culinary creativity!

“Spaghetti”

Finding alternatives to pasta, one of the staples of my old diet, has been really hard.  Guess what, though?  There is this magical vegetable (gourd?) known as spaghetti squash.  It is so simple to cook too, even easier than real spaghetti in my opinion.  That is, if you can manage to get it chopped in half!  Once you’ve accomplished that feat – possibly with an axe – and removed the seeds/pulp, place it in a microwave safe dish with a quarter inch of water (just like the butternut squash) and microwave for 8 minutes.  Take a fork and start scraping out the innards.  It will look just like spaghetti.  YUM!

Recipe inspiration: Spaghetti Squash with Maple Syrup and Shallots and Pesto Chicken over Spaghetti Squash.

So, what do you like to do with squash?  Any links you’d want to share with me?

Five Second Lunch

Well, it’s technically more like five minutes.

As someone who used to live off of lunch meat and cheese sandwiches for lunch because they took no time at all, it’s been hard for me to come up with quick and easy meals to make for myself during the day.  Lorelei is generally okay playing by herself for a little bit, but beyond five – maybe ten – minutes and she starts to get really cranky.  This morning – last night? – I was thinking about what I had in the fridge and this is what I came up with, apologies for the lack of measurements:

Spinach Salad with Fresh “Fruit”

  • 2 Chicken breast tenderloins
  • Greek seasoning
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baby spinach (duh), a few cups worth
  • 4-5 medium or large strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • handful of grape tomatoes, diced or whole depending on your preference
  • goat cheese

Season chicken tenders with greek seasoning.  Grill.

While the chicken is cooling, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar (I used about equal parts) and a dash of greek seasoning to make your dressing.  Toss with your spinach, strawberries and tomatoes.  Arrange on salad on plates.  Add diced chicken and crumbled goat cheese on top.  Yummy.

Serves two.  So good, so easy and a good way to use up leftover produce from other recipes.

Indulgence

Even though we’re trying to be good by eating in most of the time, what’s the fun of that without the occasional dessert.  Well, since I’m almost never in the mood to make anything too complex, I was lucky to remember a recipe I saw on food network back during my last months of pregnancy when I was mostly laid up at home with my bum ankle: ricotta cappuccino.  I know it sounds kind of weird to make a dessert out of ricotta – Brian was worried it would taste too much like he was eating lasagna – but trust me, it is delicious.  Find the original recipe here and below you will find my recipe, slightly tweaked:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Splash of vanilla extract (I didn’t measure but probably about a teaspoon)
  • 1 (15 oz) container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 2 Chocolate-flavored biscotti, crushed
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cocoa powder

Place sugar and vanilla extract in blender (cause I don’t have a food processor *sad face*) and pulse until combined.  Add the ricotta (and yes, you need the whole-milk kind otherwise the consistency will be all wrong) and espresso powder and blend until smooth.  Side note: this is probably easier in a food processor, my blender certainly had problems, but it can be done.  Spoon the mixture into 4 small coffee cups and place in the fridge.  Let chill for at least one hour.

Remove from fridge, dust the top with cinnamon, cocoa powder and crushed biscotti.

The servings are not all that big, but trust me you will feel full and your sweet tooth will be satisfied.

Guinness Stew

…or the greatest thing in the history of ever.  According to my husband.

A couple weeks ago, I was really inspired to make me some chicken noodle soup.  What does this have to do with stew?  I’ll get there, you just have to stick with me.  I knew exactly where to turn for a good recipe.  AndreAnna is my crockpot hero.  I have always been reluctant to use them and I only had a tiny one person version that came free with our George Foreman grill.

Where was I?  So, I made the soup with store bought stock.  It was fine.  Very good, even.  However, I aspire to be the kind of housewife that has homemade stock in her freezer at all times.  To do so, I needed a real crockpot.  I went online, did research, asked for advice on Twitter.  Despite all that, I went to TJ Maxx and used my giftcard on what they had there.  Which was a 4-quart model.  I only paid three dollars of my own money for it thought, so I consider this an excellent deal.

I decided to test out my mad crockpoting skills on a recipe that is loosely based on the one you can find here.  I won’t leave you hanging though, I’ll tell you exactly what I did so that you can enjoy it as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil (cause I can’t read recipes apparently and thought the original said 4 Tbsp when in fact it said teaspoons)
  • 1 lb stew meat
  • 1/2 lb sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp (rounded) all-purpose flour
  • 1 bottle Guinness (divided)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add stew meat and brown on all sides.  Transfer to your crock pot.  Return the skillet to medium heat (do not drain any fat or juices).  Add the mushrooms and saute until they look deliciously brown.  Sprinkle with flour, stir to form a roux.  Add half your bottle of Guinness.  Stirring to reduce foaming, bring to a boil.  Cook until thickened, a few minutes.  Transfer mixture to the crockpot.

Add remaining ingredients: onion, garlic, carrots, mustard, bay leaf, S&P.  Pour in the rest of the beer.  (Side note: I wasn’t thinking when I made this and when everything went in it seemed like half the bottle wasn’t enough so I put the whole bottle in.  It’s going to be a bit more soupy with the whole bottle, so don’t add the extra if you want it thicker.)  Cook on low until beef is very tender, approx 6 hours.  You can leave it on warm for several more hours and it will just keep getting better.

Serve over mashed potatoes or chunk some red potatoes and throw those in while you’re cooking along with the onions, etc.

Then call and thank me for the deliciousness you have just consumed.