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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary

I wanted to make a sweet potato side dish that didn't taste like the Thanksgiving kind of sweet potatoes we normally eat. I was also serving them next to the honey roasted chicken, which is sweet, so I decided adding rosemary and treating them more like normal mashed potatoes might work.

This was really the perfect match for my spicy honey roasted chicken.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Place sweet potatoes in saucepan and cover with water, add salt. Bring to a boil, and boil until potatoes are tender. Strain potatoes, add back to pan, and add remaining ingredients. Mash them all together until smooth.

Spicy Honey Roasted Chicken

There is something dramatic about the presentation of a whole chicken from the oven. I don't take the time to do it very often, and I really don't know why, because it is quite simple, from a preparation standpoint.

I had read a similar recipe to this one sometime back, but when I went to search for it, I couldn't find it, so I had to make it up. The glaze on this really sealed in the juices of the meat, and the flavor of the skin is amazing-crispy, sweet and spicy. Can't wait for my leftover chicken sandwich for lunch, and sweet and spicy chicken enchiladas later in the week !

I served this with a side of rosemary mashed sweet potatoes. At first, Ray was a bit apprehensive about the amount of rosemary in the potatoes, but they were the perfect accompaniment to the sweet chicken.

Spicy Honey Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, cut in half
3 sprigs of rosemary

For the glaze:
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon hot Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Preheat oven to 375.Rub chicken inside and out liberally with salt and pepper, and stuff with lemon and rosemary. Brush a coating of glaze over the chicken, and place in roasting pan with a rack. Bake at 375 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, brushing liberally with glaze every 20 minutes. When internal temperature of meat is 165, remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Sweet potato recipe to follow.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Easiest, Best Vanilla Ice Cream

Ray bought me an ice cream maker last year, because I can't eat a lot of dairy. So the idea was, we would develop some frozen desserts that didn't involve much dairy. But, he loves root beer floats.

So, I searched for an ice cream recipe that was delicious, and easy. I like my ice cream to taste rich, with lots of vanilla flavor. But I didn't like the recipes that required you to cook a custard, or worse, had raw eggs. After much experimentation and flavor testing, this is the best ice cream I have made. And, paired with the root beer we picked up at the Fitger's Brewery in Duluth, it is the best root beer float ever !

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Mexican vanilla
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Mix ingredients together with whisk. Do not use blender. Put in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's recommendations. Remove immediately to freezer container and freeze for at least an hour before serving.

We usually find the vanilla bean paste at Marshalls or TJ Maxx, not very expensive, and it gives the ice cream the specks of vanilla bean without all the cost of the whole bean. Now, use your imagination and add your favorite root beer, flavored liquor, syrup, or espresso. Yummy !

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Smoked Trout Chowder

We went a little overboard buying smoked fish at the Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth, so please forgive the plethora of smoked fish recipes on my blog for the next few days.

When I visited Ireland, every pub had a seafood chowder of some sort, so I ate it every day I was there, but this is the first time I tried to make one. I tasted the three different kinds of fish we brought home, and decided the trout would make the best chowder.

And this preparation was simplied by something I did earlier in the fall. Usually when I buy carrots and celery it is for a recipe of some sort, and it is more than I need. Unless we snack on the raw veggies (which we don't normally), they will rot and I end up wasting them, which really bothers me. The last time, I decided to chop up the remainder and throw them in the freezer for a batch of soup. So, when I was getting ready to make this, my carrots and celery were already chopped, and ready to go. And they do cook a bit faster because the freezing process makes them somewhat soft.

Smoked Trout Chowder
1 stick butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups milk
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes,diced
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded smoked trout, or any smoked fish
Crispy bacon for garnish

Melt butter in large dutch oven. Saute onions and garlic until translucent. Add celery and carrots and cook until tender. Add flour and stir until smooth. Add chicken stock and milk and continue to stir so there are no lumps. Add potatoes and spices, cover and turn to simmer. Let simmer 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Add fish and let simmer 10 more minutes. Serve with crispy bacon on top.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Smoky Spicy Chicken and Noodles

This is another installment of my "Something with Chicken" meals, when I have no idea what dinner might be as I leave for work. I took chicken out of the freezer, and as the day went on, thought about other things we had on hand, and gradually created a meal.

That is really one of the keys to being able to make good, homecooked meals every day, is having some staple ingredients available, and a little imagination. We had about 11 pounds of bacon taking up a monumental amount of space in our refrigerator (now relocated to the freezer), so chicken and bacon sounds good together, right? And I have one solitary jalapeno left. Bacon and jalapenos are two of my favorite foods on earth, so this is really "Lisa's Dinner". I should note this is not very spicy, as my temptation is always to add extra heat. Just a little bacon, and a little jalapeno make this perfect. You could also just use the sauce recipe with pasta and have an awesome dish just like that.

I wanted a creamy sauce to go over noodles, so here it is !

Smoky Spicy Chicken and Noodles
1/4 pound of smoky bacon, cut in pieces
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large jalapeno, diced finely
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces pepper jack cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces egg noodles

In a large skillet, fry bacon until brown and crispy, remove from pan. Season chicken tenders with cumin, salt and pepper, and brown in bacon grease, about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Move to a plate and cover with foil. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock. Start a pot of water to boil at this point for your egg noodles. Add milk and jalapeno to the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then add the cream cheese. When cream cheese is melted, lower to a simmer and add the garlic powder and pepper jack cheese. Simmer while waiting for the water to come to a boil. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. When noodles are done, drained, and stir into sauce, and then add bacon back to the sauce as well. Leave sauce to simmer for another 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with sliced chicken tenders over the top.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Smoked Fish and Spinach Quiche

On our recent trip to Duluth, we made a stop at the Northern Waters Smokehaus. And it would be an understatement to say we overindulged. So now we have quite a bit of various kinds of smoked fish to use up at the house. It is fine for just snacking, but I wanted to add it to some recipes.

I was thinking I could replace it in recipes that called for bacon, and for some reason quiche came to mind. I have never made quiche before, so it is somewhat miraculous that this turned out at all. It was pretty to look at, and delicious, and I get leftovers for lunch today. What could be better !

I used smoked white fish, but you could use salmon, or bacon if you don't have smoked fish on hand.

Smoked Fish and Spinach Quiche

1 9 inch pie crust
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (compacted into the cup)
1 cup shredded smoked white fish
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup diced red pepper
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed

Preheat oven to 375, Press pie crust into a deep dish pie pan. Layer spinach, fish, cheese and red pepper into crust. Using blender or immersion blender, mix together eggs, half and half, salt, pepper and dill weed. Slowly pour into pie crust. Bake for 35-45 minutes until set. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into 6 pieces.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mango Sticky Rice

There is a trick to making this that we learned from a friend who had several exchange students from Thailand. Add only half of the sweet coconut milk mixture first, and the remainder just before serving. I like this best still warm, but it also makes excellent leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Mango Sticky Rice

For rice:
1 cup sweet rice (found in Asian section of your local grocery store)
2 cups water

Bring water to a boil, add rice. Stir, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook 17-20 minutes, until rice is tender.

For sweet coconut milk:
1 can coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, mix ingredients together. Just before the rice is finished cooking, bring this mixture to a boil and boil for three minutes, then remove from heat. Stir half of this mixture into the cooked rice. Cover the surface of the rice with wax paper or foil, and let it cool for 30 minutes (it should still be slightly warm).

While this is cooling, dice 2 ripe mangoes. After the 30 minutes are up, stir in the remainder of the coconut milk mixture, and one of the diced mangoes. When serving, top with the remaining diced mango bits.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ahi Tuna Tacos with Jicama Slaw

I know, this is not the dinner you would picture for a cold, snowy night. But, it's my birthday! And, I was celebrating finally finding a jicama at the store that was smaller than my head ! I thought I would repeat this recipe, since this is one of my favorites.

It is so simple and quick to prepare any time. The only difference between having it tonight and in the summer, is that I had to pan sear the tuna instead of grilling it. But, it is so tasty, why not have a little touch of the tropics in the middle of January ? Make a mango margarita and enjoy !

Ahi Tuna Tacos with Jicama Slaw
For the slaw:

1 small jicama julienned
1/2 large red pepper, julienned
1/2 medium onion, sliced very thin
3 small radishes, julienned
1 jalapeno, diced finely
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons cider vinegar * I used my homemade cilantro, garlic and peppercorn vinegar here, but plain will also work
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 4-5 ounce ahi tuna steaks **we usually use the frozen kind for this, not the expensive sushi grade kind
Fajita seasoning (or, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cumin)
Fresh lemon

Sour cream
Goat cheese or shredded cheddar
Small flour tortillas

Mix together the vegetables for the slaw. Then, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper, and pour over vegetables. Set aside.

Rub tuna steaks with fajita seasoning and salt. Grill over a very hot grill just 3-4 minutes per side. These will cook very quickly. Remove from grill, and slice in small pieces. Assemble tacos with the toppings you like!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Review: The Thirsty Pagan, Superior WI

We initially went to this brew pub to taste some interesting beer and to purchase t-shirts because of the very unusual name. But you can't help but be drawn in by the amazing food and funky vibe of the place.
I was referred here by a member of the women's beer brewing club I belong to, who raved about the craft beer and the pizza. But, we were staying in Duluth, so we had planned to just stop, grab a pint or two, and head back over closer to our hotel for dinner. I am so happy we decided not to do that !

The Thirsty Pagan is well known in the Duluth/Superior area for their pan style pizzas, and interesting craft beer. We sampled several of the beers, as well as some of the food, and were very impressed with the simple, yet creative twist on a "beer and pizza" pub.

First let's talk beer. Thirsty Pagan has several house brews that are always available, as well as some seasonals, and a hand pump that changes periodically. We sampled the Capitalist Pig Russian Imperial Stout and Kick Your Own Ass IPA, both of which were seasonals. The Russian Imperial Stout was a rich, robust stout with a good mouth feel. And drinkable enough that you could have more than one. The Kick Your Own Ass IPA was not as hoppy as some I have tried, but was well balanced with the malt. But I love a good hoppy beer, and I was not disappointed with the India Pagan Ale, which is one of the house brews. It is a nice West Coast IPA, hoppy but not overly so, and I liked it enough to get a growler to go.

There is just a feeling you get from the Thirsty Pagan that makes you want to stay, and hang out with the locals. And the management at this place is feeling comfortable enough in the industrial town to introduce specials onto the menu like an African Peanut Stew, which they unfortunately had run out of by the time we arrived.
We decided to try the pub pretzel, which is served with a bright, zesty mustard sauce. It is a perfect compliment to the India Pagan Ale, I could have eaten the mustard sauce with a spoon ! There are several options for pizza, some specialty pizzas as well as a build your own option. We chose a Pizza Diane, which had a pesto sauce, spinach, cherry tomatoes, chicken, feta cheese and loads of mozzarella. These are enormous pan pizzas. We ordered a medium, because my husband says "I don't want to overeat." We couldn't finish it, the portions are so generous. The crust is perfect, crispy on the bottom and still a bit chewy in the middle. Really, an excellent pan pizza, which are not normally my thing, but I LOVED this one.

We were there for an early dinner, and the place was packed with a mixture of families, and the happy hour crowd. The music even started early, so we were able to enjoy the whole package of local flavor. With their huge collection of vintage beer signs decorating the entire place,cheerful and effficient staff the Thirsty Pagan is definitely an experience not to be missed. We will definitely be back...many, many times. Thanks to the manager Steve for stopping by as well, and completing our introduction to this really spectacular pub.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Duluth Food and Brewery Tour

Just a note to say that we are in Duluth doing a brewery and food tour, and will be posting about all of the great experiences here. Loving all of the varieties of craft beer here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Posole-Pork and Hominy Stew

Many years ago, I tasted this delicious stew at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at a church in South Dakota. The flavors were very delicate, it almost tasted like a tamale, but in soup form.

Since we butchered a pig a couple of weeks ago, and made some homemade stock, I was inspired to try to create that soup. This isn't a spicy stew, like my Pork Chile Verde. And different versions have various garnishes, I have learned from my research, so you could also add cabbage, green onions or sour cream. But I thought it was excellent just like this. And the smell of it cooking nearly drove my husband to tears.

You could do this in the crock pot as well, the pork would become even more tender.

Posole-Pork and Hominy Stew
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pork roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced
4 cups pork stock
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 large can (28 ounces) white hominy, drained

For garnish:
Sliced radishes
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedge
Shredded Cheese

Heat olive oil in large stock pot. Add pork, and sprinkle with the ancho chile powder. Saute until pork is browned slightly, and remove meat from pot. Saute onions and garlic until soft, then add peppers and saute another 5 minutes. Add pork back into pot, along with stock, and spices. Bring to a boil, then add the hominy. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 1/2 hours until pork is very tender. Serve with desired garnishes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rhubarb Ketchup

Yes, I did. I made rhubarb ketchup!

I have made ketchup from scratch before, but I saw a recipe online a while back for rhubarb ketchup, so I thought I would try it. Of course, I had to change it a bit for my own tastes...

The original came out tasting a lot like sweet and sour sauce, so I added a little spice, and more tomato, and canned it, so now we have ketchup for a year, and some to share.

Rhubarb Ketchup

4 cups rhubarb, chopped
3 cups yellow onion, chopped
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspooon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pickling spice, wrapped in a cheesecloth bag
4 cups chopped tomatoes
2 6 ounce cans tomato paste

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large pot. Let them cook down until the rhubarb and onions are tender. Blend with an immersion blender until Smooth. Refrigerate in jars, or can in water bath for 10 minutes.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

From what I understand, you are just supposed to eat crusty bread with Beef bourguignon, but I love mashed potatoes. And not the kind we used to have when I was a kid, I like to mix all kinds of different things into them. I usually leave mine a little chunky, but if you like them more smooth, just add extra milk and use a hand mixer to make them more silky.

So anyone can make roasted garlic mashed potatoes (not that those aren't good), but I wanted to make something different. I looked in the refrigerator, and saw a big jar of home canned horseradish we received from a friend, and that started the wheels turning...

These are not low cal, by any means. But, mashed potatoes are always an indulgence!

Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup whole milk
4 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Drain water from potatoes, Add milk, cream cheese, horseradish and butter and mash to desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a pat of butter.

Venison Bourguignon

Every month, on the anniversary of our wedding day, I prepare a meal to pair with a beer from Three Floyds Brewery. We received 12 for a wedding gift from some very special friends. This month's selection was a Moloko Milk Stout, which is a thick, hearty stout, and it needed a hearty meal to match.

I have always wanted to try to make Beef Bourguignon, it is one of those classic French dishes from the Julia Child cook book. We have deer in the freezer, so I thought it would be even better with venison. And it was delicious, but very labor intensive. So, this is not a weeknight meal, but definitely worth the effort. I served it over horseradish mashed potatoes.

Venison Bourguignon
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces bacon
2 1/2 pounds venison, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1 inch chunks
2 yellow onions, diced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 cup cognac
1 750ml bottle dry red wine (shiraz or pinot noir)
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 pound frozen pearl onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced

Preheat oven to 250. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the oven.

Sprinkle the venison with salt and pepper, and sear the cubes in the bacon fat in single layers, for 3-5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the onionns are golden brown. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back in the pot, add the bottle of wine and the beef broth and stir. Add tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a lid and place in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is tender.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Irish Brown Soda Bread

When I visited Ireland many years ago, we were served this amazing bread for breakfast every morning. It is very intense, unlike any bread you will find here.

I tried for years to replicate it, searched many websites, but everytime I made it, it was, well, like a rock. Most of the recipes are similar in ingredients, so as it turns out, I was missing a technique to make it perfect. A damp towel over the bread in the cooling process keeps it soft and moist, and it brings back a memory of two lovely trips to Ireland.

So thanks to a coworker, I finally have the perfect brown bread recipe. Many versions of this you will find have raisins or black currant added, but this is the one the Irish eat daily. It is very hearty, and best just toasted with butter, and perhaps some homemade jam.

Irish Brown Soda Bread
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white, all purpose flour
14 ounces buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease and flour a Dutch oven. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk gradually to form a sticky dough. Place on a floured surface and knead lightly (too much kneading will allow the gas to escape).

Shape into a round, flat loaf the size of your Dutch oven. Place in the pan, cut a cross in the top of the loaf (the Irish say this will let the "evil spirits" out of the bread). Bake for 30 minutes covered, then remove the cover and bake for 10-15 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is lightly browned. The bottom of the loaf will have a hollow sound when tapped to show it is done.

Remove from the oven, place a damp tea towel over the top of the loaf and cover until cool. Place in an air tight bag. This will only keep a few days, so eat it quickly, and share !

All Grain Brewing-Imperial Double IPA

We have been making wine for several years, and have made two batches of beer from kits previously, with limited success. I wanted to learn to make beer with all grains,because you truly can control the ingredients, there is less chemical intervention than wine and, well, I love beer !

So I joined a women's brewing group called Bitches Brew Crew, and started to learn the art of all grain brewing. After the first meeting, I was hooked ! There is a signifcant investment in the equipment needed, but the good news was, some of the gear we had accumulated for wine making could be repurposed for beer.
In order to make sure I could get Ray as interested as I was, we used the equipment and brewed with one of my new brew gals to make our first batch of all grain beer. I selected an Imperial Double IPA, since I like a very hoppy beer. The process is very labor intensive up front, but the turnaround time for beer is much shorter than wine.

We heated up water to the proper temperature, then we basically steeped the grain for an amount of time, to get all of the flavor and sugars out of it. We boiled the grain "wort" then added a lot of different kinds of hops to this batch, and when you are done, you cool it down, add yeast, and put it in a bucket. Well, that's the condensed version.

It bubbles and ferments for a couple weeks, then you put it into secondary fermentation, which is a big carboy, or glass bottle, for another few weeks. Yesterday we bottled...
And now we have 58 bottles of beer, that need to sit another couple of weeks before we know if they are any good. But, I am confident they will be! And I am already looking for a recipe for the next batch! And thank you to Jennifer Proesel for being such a great mentor.

More to come when we get the rest of our gear...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Picadillo-with Raisins ?

I don't like cooked raisins in anything. The texture is strange, kind of like eating a bug. So I generally will leave them out of recipes that call for them.

But I saw a show that featured this Cuban dish, and was intrigued by the combination of ingredients. Meat, olives and...raisins ? So I did some research online, watched the show again, and started cooking. And I almost didn't add the raisins. This "stew" tastes fine without them, but they definitely add a whole new dimension to the taste. And when I took a bite in combination with all of the other ingredients, I didn't notice their texture.

The poor thing doesn't photograph so well either, so use your imagination, it was very good !


1/4 pound chorizo
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced onions
2 pounds ground bison, venison or beef
1 large red or green pepper, chopped (I prefer red pepper)
2 teaspoons whole cumin seed, crushed
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 15 ounce cans tomatoes with green chilis
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup small green olives with pimentos
1/2 cup raisins

In a large dutch oven, brown the chorizo, do not drain grease. Saute onions and garlic with the chorizo. Add the ground meat, and brown. Add red pepper, spices, tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add olives and raisins. Cover and simmer 30-40 minutes until all vegetables are tender and flavors are well combined.

You can serve this over rice, or with tortillas.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Irish Veggie Pasta (again)

I posted this same recipe, about this same time last year. The new year always makes us want to try to eat a little more heathly, and get more vegetables into our menu.

Living in Minnesota, we don't have access to many fresh vegetables this time of year, so this is a particular challenge for us. But this recipe is a nice combination of fresh and canned, and is so flavorful you won't care if it's not "summer" fresh.

And, I have a picture this time! So try it out! Experiment with the vegetables you have on hand, we used spinach last night in place of turnip greens, and dried garbanzos (cooked before adding, of course).

The story of this pasta, is that my mom ordered pasta when we were in Ireland. Yes, I know, we thought she was crazy. But, when it arrived, it has this very unusual combination of vegetables and a spicy sauce, so I have kept it in my memory, and tried to replicate the flavor here.

Irish Veggie Pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
2 cups beet greens (or any green) chopped
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 quart chopped tomatoes (we used home canned)
1 can chick peas (about 1 1/2 cups), drained
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound fresh pasta, linguine or angel hair work best
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut in thin strips
Freshly grated parmesan

Start pasta water to boil and salt liberally. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil and saute garlic and onions until tender. Add red pepper and continue to saute until tender. Add beet greens, and green beans, and stir until all are tender. Add tomatoes, chick peas and spices and stir until heated through. Turn to simmer. Add pasta to boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes until al dente. Add pasta to the sauce pan, toss to combine and top with fresh basil and parmesan.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Italian Patty Melt

I am not always inspired in advance with an idea for dinner. So, Thursday morning I pulled a pound of Italian sausage out of the freezer, and figured I could come up with something by the time I came home.

As the day progressed, I went through my usual recipe ideas: pasta, but I didn't have any tomato sauce on hand, so that was going to take some time. I could make a cream sauce, but that as going to be rich. Then I remembered a sandwich I used to have at a hole in the wall bar back home. They used to put a breakfast sausage patty in a patty melt, in place of the hamburger. So, why wouldn't Italian sausage work ? We also had some left over marinara in a small dish in the refrigerator that needed to be used up, so this sandwich was born ! I did toast the bread, rather than grill it. It lessens the grease factor from a traditional patty melt, but if you wanted to go the extra mile and grill it in butter, you certainly could!

By the way, there is no picture because we ate them too quickly :)!

Italian Patty Melt
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage, made into 4 patties
4 slices provolone cheese
8 pieces of rye bread
4 tablespoons marinara sauce
4 tablespoons mayonnaise or miracle whip(optional)

Heat a large fry pan with olive oil and saute onions until soft, and set aside. Fry sausage patties until brown, and remove from heat. Toast bread, spread with marinara and mayo, and place one burger on each of 4 slices of bread. Divide onions between the 4 sandwiches, and top with the remaining bread. Serve with chips or fries.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Baked Eggs with Crab, Dill and Cream Cheese

This is a quick and easy breakfast for New Year's! I have posted a recipe for these before, but it bears repeating, because it is good !

Baked Eggs with Crab, Dill and Cream Cheese

5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup lump crab meat
4 tablespoons cream cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Spray 2 ramekins with nonstick spray. Beat together the eggs, salt, dill weed and half and half. Pour into the ramekins, and divide the crab meat evenly between the two. Then, drop the cream cheese in small drops (about 1/2 teaspoons) into the ramekins. Bake 25 minutes, until eggs are just set. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.