Dec 10, 2012

Tomato Braised Steak with Fennel Spiced Lentils

Every have one of those days where you want to try something new, but not at the same time? This was my solution to that. I love lentils, and this recipe I've mucked about with for a while, and I adore it. The tomato braised steak is a twist on something I've done before as well. So new, but not new. :D I'm pretty happy with the outcome here.

For the lentils...
1 1/2 cups green or black lentils
1/2 red onion, peeled, root end left on
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
2 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp fennel seeds (or 1/2 bulb fennel)
1 tsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover with water, about two inches above the level of your ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes until your lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and add salt. ADD SALT. Your water should be fairly salty, then let the lentils rest in the salty hot water for about ten minutes. Don't salt before they are cooked. They will turn hard and be really gross.
Lentils with Fennel
Dry lentils with aromatics.
Lentils with Fennel
Covered with water.
Lentils with Fennel
After cooking.

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste (one small can)
1 small can tomatoes, I think mine were crushed
Steak of some sort - I used strip steaks
1 c chicken or beef broth
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

Brown your meat. Remove from pan, don't worry about cooking it through, right now you just want the sear. In the same pan saute your garlic and onion for about a minute. Add the rest of your vegetables. Saute until slightly softened. Pull to the edges and add in your tomato paste, warm through. Add your tomatoes, and stock. Then nestle back in your meat. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for about twenty minutes (depending on what type of meat you've used. Some needs longer, some shorter.) When your meat is done, add in the mushrooms and simmer for just a minute or so. Enjoy!
Tomato Braised Steak
Brown your meat.
Tomato Braised Steak
After your meat has been browned remove and add your veg to the pan.
Tomato Braised Steak
Add the tomato paste.
Tomato Braised Steak
Add your liquid.
Tomato Braised Steak
Add in mushrooms.
Tomato Braised Steak

Dec 3, 2012

Caribbean Stew

Experiment recipe tonight! Sweet, spicy, and filling. It's definitely a different flavor profile for me, and I adore it. Don't kill me for making bisquick dumplings. I know, I know, how could I take a shortcut like that. Well.... I was kind of in a rush to get it done so we could eat. :)

2 large carrots, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large russet potato, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4-1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Ketchup
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 lb chicken - thighs, whole fryer chicken cut up, even chicken breast works.

Bisquick dumplings
2 c bisquick
2/3 c milk
seasonings if desired

Brown your chicken. Remove from pot. Dump in your carrots, onion, ginger, garlic, and bell pepper. Saute until slightly softened. Add in your spices, stir around to warm them up. Add your tomato and potato. Add EVERYTHING except for the dumplings. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for about half an hour. Salt your stew to taste at this point. Then add on your dumplings, cover the pot and let them cook for about ten minutes.

Caribbean Stew
Browned chicken.
Caribbean Stew
Caribbean Stew
Caribbean Stew
Caribbean Stew
Liquids in.
Caribbean Stew
Caribbean Stew

Nov 12, 2012

Clam Chowder

Mmmmmmmm. The only thing that could be better about this is if I lived somewhere that had easy access to FRESH seafood.

Looking for something a little different? Clam Chowder can be homey and inviting if you aren't too intimidated. This recipe uses canned clams, I don't have good access to fresh ones, AND let's be honest, would I have the patience to use fresh? Probably not.

5-10 strips of bacon cut into chunks
4 6.5 oz cans of clams
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 c butter
1 c flour
2 c heavy cream
2 bottles clam juice
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper

In a large pot cook your bacon until crisp. Remove. In the bacon grease saute your vegetables until slightly softened. Remove from pot. Add in butter, melt, and then add in the flour. You're going to create a roux here, so make sure you whisk together and there are no lumps or questionable bits. Keep stirring fairly constantly until the roux as a light peanut butter color and smells nutty and delicious. Add back in your veg, and then add in the clam juice, as well as the clam juice from the canned clams. Add in the cream and bring back up to a simmer but do NOT BOIL. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add in the clams and cook for just a few minutes until they are done. Be careful, they get tough quick.

Clam Chowder
Clam Chowder
Onion and Garlic
Clam Chowder
Add the clam juice and stock.
Clam Chowder

Nov 6, 2012

Chicken with Peppers

olive oil
4-6 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless, cut into fingers
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, one chopped, one sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
5 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped (with all juices)
2 c chicken stock
8 oz mushrooms, sliced or chopped
2 Tbsp fresh flat leaf Italian parsley

In a heavy bottomed pot heat olive oil. Brown chicken - cook almost all of the way through. Remove and set aside. Saute onion in chicken drippings. Once the bottom of the pan has given up all the browned bits, add in garlic and chopped bell pepper. Cook for about a minute then add in the spices. Return your chicken to the pan and cover with stock. Simmer, covered for about twenty minutes. A few minutes before it's done add the sliced mushrooms and sliced bell pepper. Garnish with parsley. Serve over rice.

Chicken with Peppers
Brown the chicken.
Chicken with Peppers
Onions in to sweat and pick up the browned bits.
Chicken with peppers
Yummy yummy
Chicken with Peppers
Add the peppers
Chicken with Penne
Chicken with Peppers
Add back in the chicken and spices.
Chicken with Peppers
Add the tomatoes.
Chicken with Peppers
And the stock.
Chicken with Penne
Add the rest of the peppers and the mushrooms.
Chicken with peppers
Chicken with peppers
Serve with rice.

Nov 5, 2012


Is there anything better than a big steamy warm bowl of gumbo? Probably not much. Gumbo is DEFINITELY a comfort food for me. It's spicy and steamy and rich with all sorts of flavors. I like mine to have seafood, but you can make it strictly with chicken.

1/4 c vegetable oil - use as little as possible here
salt and pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into about 1 in pieces
1 lb italian sausage, sliced
1/2-1 c flour
4 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
10 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 bell peppers, deseeded and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 c Worcestershire sauce (I like a bit more)
2 c italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 c beef broth (OR one box of stock then refilled with water)
1 can crushed tomatoes, with juice
4 green onions, chopped (whites and greens)
1 lb frozen shrimp, no tails deveined

In a heavy bottomed stock pot heat vegetable oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and then brown in hot oil. Be careful, it will splatter. Work in batches so it browns nicely. Once the chicken is all done, brown the sausage in batches. Remove all meat from the pot and add the butter. You want equal parts flour and fat, so add as much butter as you think you'll need to be about 1/2 c. Then add in the flour. Whisk flour and fats together well, you're creating a roux here so it needs to be smooth. We're looking for a fairly dark roux, but don't be worried if you can't quite get dark enough, we've got enough spices going on it will help hide that huge punch of flavor the roux will give. Get it AT LEAST peanut butter colored. Darker is better though. Scoop the roux out of the pot and set aside. Add in a bit more butter, and saute your vegetables until starting to get fragrant and tender. Add Worcestershire sauce, and parsley. Cook about ten minutes then add your stock. Add back in the chicken and sausage, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 40 minutes. Add in tomatoes and their juice, as well as the frozen shrimp. Continue to simmer until the shrimp have turned pink and cooked through. Serve with green onions, some finely chopped parsley, and a scoop of rice.

Saute the chicken.
Simmer simmer simmer.
Serve with a scoop of rice.

Mushroom Potato Stew

It's officially winter. I'm not very happy about it. I don't really enjoy the cold, or cold weather sports, or snow, or sleet, or driving with idiots that aren't cautious. You know what I do enjoy? Stews and soups. You know what else I enjoy? Making dinner primarily out of my pantry.

This recipe is brought to you by Italian Two Easy, Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gran and Ruth Rogers. There are some real winners in that book. There are also some... questionable recipes. Zucchini Squid Spaghetti anyone? It's a book filled with fairly simple foods, and a lot of very easy pairings. Check it out if you like paired down Italian foods. I have changed the recipe a bit to suit my needs, so you'll be getting my version of it.

Olive oil
1/4 c Orzo pasta
16 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced or coarsely chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp sage, chopped (can use 1/2 tsp dried)
4 c beef broth
1 Bay leaf
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice

Cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In the bottom of your pot heat your olive oil. Saute onion, half the garlic, and herbs and cook until soft. Add the potatoes and saute until they begin to brown slightly. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Simmer until vegetables are softened. While veg is cooking in another pan saute your mushrooms with the remaining garlic, you'd like them to have some color, so don't crowd them. Once your mushrooms are browned and your veg has softened go ahead and add the mushrooms and orzo to the pot. Stir together. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

Potato Mushroom Stew
Onion, parsley, garlic.
Potato Mushroom Stew
Add the potatoes and spices.
Potato Mushroom Stew
Potato Mushroom Stew
Potato Mushroom Stew
Saute the mushrooms
Potato Mushroom Stew

Oct 29, 2012

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon

One of the easiest recipes I know, and also one of the best. Always a crowd pleaser, with little to no work. I've eaten double portions of this more often than I should probably admit. That Martha sure knows what she's talking about.

Spaghetti Carbonara - Martha Stewart
1 pound spaghetti
8 ounces (8 slices) bacon, cut 1 inch thick crosswise
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup half-and-half, or cream

Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
Salt boiling water generously; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.
Drain pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture. Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (heat from pasta will cook eggs). Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese.

Pasta Carbonara with Bacon
Pasta Carbona with Bacon
Eggs, creme, parmesan.
Pasta Carbona with Bacon 10-17-12
All ready to eat.

Oct 22, 2012

Penne Pasta with Tuna

Do you ever get tired of tomato sauce? I do. Don't get me wrong, I adore marinara, bolognese, and all things containing tomatoes. Sometimes however, I feel like every time I make pasta I end up with tomato sauce. Lately I've been eating more pasta, because I have it in my pantry and it's fairly inexpensive. Well I discovered when I was ready to make this meal, I had no meat in the freezer to defrost, and no time to hit the store to purchase some. This was born. I'm a big lover of tuna. My very favorite meal (other than pot roast) is my Moms Tuna Casserole. It is creamy and cheesy and full of tuna, it's also not very good for you. I could eat an entire container by myself. Not that I ever have.


Back to the matter at hand. This is... different to be sure. The first bite has that moment of.... wait, I'm eating this? (I think it's the briny flavor of the capers and olives that gives me pause.) And then the flavors melt onto your tongue and it's creamy and tangy and satisfying.

Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 cans tuna, with juices
1 Tbsp capers, drained and chopped
1/4 c Kalamata olives, drained and chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 c cream cheese
Penne pasta

Cook pasta according to package directions. In a medium pan heat olive oil, add onions. Saute until softened slightly. Add garlic, saute about a minute. Add in your tuna, with the juices. Add in capers, olives, and spices. Stir together well. Dollop cream cheese on top of mixture. Let heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Add a bit of pasta water if you need to thin it. Add your pasta and toss.

I added a bit of parsley on top but you don't need to.


Penne with Tuna
Onions and garlic
Penne with Tuna
Add the tuna.
Penne with Tuna
Add olives and capers.
Penne with Tuna
Cream cheese and spices.
Penne with Tuna 10-16-12
Serve over warm pasta.