I know this seems sacrilegious -- to make bolognese without meat, but I just had to offer up a vegetarian version of this dish. I created a version that uses chicken thighs and mushrooms, which is a family favorite. However, I wanted to go one step further an omit the meat and poultry all together.
Mushrooms are not my favorite thing to eat, but in a dish like this, they offer that meatiness and umami flavor that is greatly desired. Even though I know mushrooms are present in the sauce, they aren't hitting me over the head with their presence.
This sauce requires about 2-3 hours of simmering time for the flavors to develop. You could make this in a crockpot set on low over 8 hours. It's delicious over pasta or polenta. And definitely serve with a glass of chianti and crusty bread.
You won't miss the meat here. Trust me.
*For this recipe, I love to use a food processor to chop up the vegetables. You can pulse the onions and garlic together until finely chopped; same with the mushrooms.
Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour the hot water over. All the mushrooms to soften, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and reserve the mushroom water and the mushrooms. Finely chop the rehydrated mushrooms. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add the rosemary and season lightly with salt and pepper; sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the crimini and porcini mushrooms. Reduce heat slightly to medium low and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste; cook for 3-4 minutes (helps bring out the flavor). Deglaze with the red wine; allow to reduce slightly. Pour in the tomatoes and rinse the can out with about a cup of water. Add the tomato water to the mixture. Stir in the mushroom water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to low. Simmer for 2-3 hours. The sauce will reduce by about a third. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with pasta or polenta.
The best way I can get my children to eat their veggies is through soup. My daughter loves nearly any soup I put in front of her -- squash, leek and potato, and tomato soups. Whenever we eat at Panera Bread, she always orders Black Bean soup, providing it is on the menu that day.
Black Bean soup at Panera is thick and rich in bean flavor. It's been one soup I haven't been successful in copying. Maybe it's because I don't like my soup to be that thick. Or maybe they have some secret ingredient in it that I don't have access to.
But it hasn't stopped me or my husband from trying to make a good black bean soup. You know, one that will pass our daughter's taste test. Currently, my husband is in charge of cooking for the kids. So, while I'm away, working in another town, my husband is the chief cook and bottle washer at home. He has named Friday, "Pizza Night," and Thursdays are "Taco Night." He's even gone so far as to make his own sourdough pizza crust. And he attempted to make black bean soup.
It turns out, he needed a soup to with his "soup and sandwich night," whatever night he has designated that to be.
The soup was a success. It's flavorful, thanks to the bacon and hits all the right notes. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe, but it is a great all-around soup. Great with sandwiches or just a slice of crusty bread.
Black Bean Soup
Garnishes: sour cream and avocado
In a medium size stock pot or soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan and chop into small pieces.
Leaving the bacon grease in the pan over medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and serrano chili. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Season with cumin and chili powder. Add 3 cans of the black beans and the vegetable stock. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
Using a hand blender (or food processor), puree the soup until semi smooth. Add the last can of black beans. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve with sour cream and sliced avocado.
It's February and winter is winding down. Well, unless you live in Montana where winter seems to go on forever. So, for those cold, rainy (or snowy) days that lay ahead, here is a soup recipe to warm your soul.
For this recipe, I used a rotisserie chicken purchased from the deli at my local grocery store. I like using rotisserie chickens for many recipes from enchiladas to soups. Even though I love roasting my own chicken and having a great meal, I like these deli chickens for quick weeknight meals. Of course, you can use raw chicken in this recipe. Just add the chicken (diced) at the beginning of the cooking process when you are sautéing the onions and garlic. You can also use any type of leftover cooked chicken you have available.
Make this recipe your own. I'm offering you the building blocks...
Cream of Chicken and Rice Soup
In a small sauce pan, combine 2 cups stock and rice. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes.
While the rice is simmering, combine the olive oil and butter in a stock pot placed over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and add the flour and stir to make a roux. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to low. Add the cooked chicken and the rice (including the liquid). Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in the milk. Add the kale/chard and parsley. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with warm, crusty bread.
While I love a good beef burger, sometimes I want to be a bit healthier, so I go with black bean burgers. Plus, my kids would rather have black bean burgers, as odd as that may sound. In fact, they request these more often than not.
The recipe calls for cooked forbidden rice, which is a black rice that can be found in most supermarkets with a bulk food or organic section. If I know I'm making these burgers during the week, I make sure to serve the rice with another meal and make a little extra to save for the burgers. However, you do not need to use forbidden rice in the recipe. There are many different types of rice that can be substituted. My only suggestion is to choose a whole grain rice (brown rice, etc). In a pinch, cooked quinoa could be substituted as well.
And... as with all my recipes, this one can be tailored to meet your family's tastes. My family loves spicy food, which explains why I always use chili peppers whenever possible. If your family prefers mild flavors, you can omit the chipotle peppers and add whichever seasonings you want.
Black Bean Burgers
Makes 4 burgers
Place the onions, garlic, and chipotle peppers in a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to finely chop the pieces. Add the black beans, rice, salt, pepper, and cumin. Pulse several times to puree the mixture. How smooth you want the mixture is up to you. I prefer the burger to have a little texture, so I only pulse a few times to make it semi-smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the bread crumbs.
Heat the olive oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat. Form the bean mixture into patties. Cook on each side for 2-4 minutes or until lightly browned. Add cheese if desired. Serve on toasted buns with typical burger fixings.
What's for brinner? Waffles, of course.
You might be wondering, what is brinner? Well, brinner is breakfast for dinner. You know, like how brunch is breakfast and lunch. We first heard of "brinner" several years ago on a little show called "Scrubs." Since then, my husband and I have made it a point to have "brinner" on a regular basis. But you just can't have any simple brinner like cold cereal or danishes. No, it has be to substantial - a full meal. While we love pancakes, sometimes you really want a waffle instead. Waffles are crispier versions of pancakes and this recipe makes them even heartier. Serve with fresh berries, maple syrup (the real stuff), and bacon (of course) and you have a delicious meal. Breakfast for dinner. Brinner.
These waffles are full of whole grains and are incredibly filling. One waffle is quite enough for each person.
Oat and Almond Waffles
Makes 4 standard size waffles
Preheat the waffle iron according to manufacturer instructions.
In a food processor, pulse together the oats and almonds until coarsely ground (not powder fine, but a little more coarse than that). Place oat mixture in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
Pour about a 1/3 cup (depending on the size of your waffle iron) in the center of the preheated iron and press the lid down. Cook waffles according the iron's manufacturer's instructions.
Serve with fresh berries, maple syrup, and anything else you desire. We love bacon or sausage with our waffles.
It's spring and it's time for us to dust off the grill and start cooking outside! There isn't a better way to break in your grill than to cook up some hamburgers.
Now, I like a good beef (grass-fed, of course) burger, but my family does not always want to eat red meat, leaving me to become creative in which meat I cook. So, I like to use chicken thighs whenever possible. They grind up well and have a lot of flavor (way more than breast meat).
To grind up chicken thighs, you will need to use either a food processor or a meat grinder (like the attachment for a KitchenAid Mixer). Otherwise, you will be chopping up chicken thighs with a knife, which will be time consuming.
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican food section of the grocery store. They add a nice smokey flavor to the burgers along with a little bit of heat.
Chipotle Chicken Burgers
Makes 4-6 burgers
Place the chicken thighs in a food processor. Pulse several times to roughly chop up the meat. Add the garlic, onion, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper. Pulse several times until blended and the meat is chopped up.
If using a meat grinder, run the chicken through the coarse blade. Then mix it with finely chopped garlic, onions, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper.
Form meat into patties. Cook on a grill or on the stove, about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature of the burger reaches 165ºF. Add cheese if desired. Serve on a toasted bun with all the regular burger fixings.
Forget Chipotle. Or Qdoba. Or any other tex-mex restaurant. You can make delicious carnitas at home using either an oven or crock pot. I give you both versions below.
This recipe makes enough for leftovers and then some. I typically freeze the leftovers to make posole or chili at a later time. I can safely say for my family of 4, I can get at least 3 full meals out of this recipe, making it worth the full day of cooking and price of the pork shoulder.
Additionally, the recipe calls for dried chilis. You can usually find these in the produce section of the grocery store (or in the ethnic section of the store). If you are lucky enough to live near a Mexican market, you can find all you need there. The Spice House and Penzey's Spices both sell dried chilis, too, if you want to order online.
To grind chilis and whole spices, you need a coffee or spice grinder. The flavor is much more intense when you grind your own chilis compared to the ground spices found at the store. To clean the spice grinder after each use, grind white rice to a powder in the grinder. It should pick up most of the remaining spice.
Toppings for the carnitas:
The night before cooking, dry rub the pork shoulder. In a small bowl, combine the 2 tablespoons chili powder and 1 tablespoon salt. Rub the entire pork shoulder with the spice mixture. Place in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 300ºF.
Place the pork in a Dutch oven or roasting pan. Add the dried chili peppers, oranges, garlic, peppercorns, Juniper berries, cumin, and 2 teaspoons salt. Pour in enough water to cover the pork should by 3/4. Put the lid on (or cover with foil). Bake for 4-5 hours or until the pork is very tender and shreds easily.
Crockpot method (the perfect method for those who work):
Place the pork in a large cockpot. Add the dried chili peppers, oranges, garlic, peppercorns, Juniper berries, cumin, and 2 teaspoons salt. Pour in enough water to cover the pork should by 3/4. Put the lid on. Cook on low for about 8 hours or until the pork is very tender and shreds easily.
Finish the carnitas:
Remove the pork from the liquid. Strain the liquid (discard the solids) and pour it into a Dutch oven or other large pot. Skim off some of the fat that has accumulated on top. Allow the pork to cool slightly (maybe 20 minutes). Shred the pork with forks (or with your fingers) and add it to the pot with the cooking liquid. Season with the remaining seasonings. Add salt if needed. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or so.
Serve with the toppings. Freeze leftovers for up to 6 months.
I'm guessing you probably wouldn't put brussels sprouts in a soup. In fact, I was never a big fan of brussels sprouts until I realized that they didn't need to be boiled to death and doused in vinegar (the way my mom served them). All they needed was to be made correctly and served with bacon. Because bacon makes everything taste better. Including brussels sprouts. Bacon is the gateway drug for vegans and vegetarians.
So, here we have a hearty brussels sprout soup. I had leftover chicken and potatoes to use up, but you can make this with raw chicken and potatoes. It will just need some extra cooking time.
Hearty Brussels Sprout Soup
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bacon and render down until crispy. Remove bacon from the pan. Set bacon aside.
Add the shallots and garlic to the hot oil. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, chicken, and stock. Reduce heat to medium low and cook the soup until the potatoes are fork tender (for raw potatoes, about 15 minutes). Stir in the cream. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
Serve topped with the bacon bits.
Think of a frittata as a quiche but without the crust. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.
I like to make frittatas when I need to clean out the fridge. You know, when you have vegetables hanging around in the crisper that have seen better days but you know you can still use. Soups, are also a good way to use up vegetables but sometimes you want something a little more satisfying. Or perhaps you really want eggs. Lots of eggs. Who knows.
At any rate, frittatas can be made with any combination of eggs, vegetables, cheese, and meat (if desired). There isn't a rule for these, just use your imagination and whatever you have laying around. Well, ok, within reason. I'm not sure raisins or chocolate belong in frittatas.
This recipe is for a southwest style frittata. I sometimes make them using eggs, bacon, veggies, and goat cheese (delicious, too!), but today I had chorizo hanging around ready to be cooked along with onions and peppers begging to be used up. So, what I'm saying is, you can use this recipe as basic template -- keep the egg and half and half ratio the same but vary up the meat, veggies, and cheese.
And use a cast iron skillet. Best non-stick pan around, especially the more you use it.
Yield: 1 (10-inch) frittata
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or other oven proof skillet -- one that eggs won't stick to), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and sauté until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Break up the sausage into smaller pieces as it cooks. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the chard and sauté until it starts to wilt down, about 1 minute. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour the mixture into the pan. Stir to combine and evenly distribute the eggs and filling. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Bake in the oven until the top is lightly golden brown and the center is firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.
Cool slightly and serve.
One of my all-time favorite meals is roast chicken. In fact, if I had to pick my last supper, it would be roast chicken with ratatouille. Seriously good, comforting eats.
Before I really started cooking, I was intimidated by a few basic recipes -- biscuits, pie crust, and roast chicken. Seems odd, right? Well, my mom may have been a good cook when I was a kid, but I don't ever remember her roasting a chicken or making pie or biscuits from scratch. Don't get me wrong, she could throw together a mean casserole and maybe pot roast but she was always in a hurry to get dinner made.
So, when it was time for me to start learning how to cook some basic recipes, I turned to Julia Child (basic French), Marcella Hazan (basic Italian), and the Betty Crocker cookbook (basic everything). Seriously. Honestly, if I had to keep one cookbook, it would probably be Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking. It's a classic and one that every budding chef should have.
Hazan has a recipe for lemon roast chicken that is one of the easiest recipes around. Over the years, I've used the same basic recipe but put my own spin on it.
In the recipe, the chicken will cook in 1 hour. One piece of cookware that is essential for this is a cast iron pan. If you don't have a cast iron pan, go out and buy one. They are not expensive and will last a lifetime. Best non-stick pan out there. You can get away with using another oven safe pan but cast iron will retain the heat much better.
Roast chicken is best served after it has rested for about 20 minutes after cooking. Serve with a side of vegetables -- your preference. You can make gravy from the pan juices, if you so please, but I am not providing instructions on that. Honestly, this chicken doesn't need gravy.
Preheat oven to 490ºF. Place your oven-proof pan in the hot oven for 20 minutes.
While the pan is heating up in the oven, get your chicken prepped. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Tuck the wings under the breast. Using your fingers, make a pocket between the skin and breast. Spread the half of the olive oil mixture under the skin of the chicken so that it touches the meat directly. Spread the other half the olive oil mixture on the skin of the bird. Stuff the rosemary stems and the lemon wedges in the cavity of the bird. Tie the legs together with the butcher string; cut off excess string. Set aside until the pan is ready.
When the pan has been heated, carefully remove the pan from the oven and place the chicken, breast side up in the hot pan. Put it back in the oven and roast for 35 minutes. Turn off the heat (resist the urge to open the oven) and leave the chicken in the oven for an additional 30 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. When it reads 165ºF in the breast (170º in the thigh), the bird is done. (In case the bird is not cooked through, turn on the oven and roast at 350ºF until the chicken is at the proper temperature, about 10-15 minutes longer.)
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Lentils: Pantry Gems by Marcy Gaston