I can’t believe I’ve reached the last few weeks of summer and posted only posted TWO recipes to this blog. Bad food blogger, bad!
Perhaps I should give myself a bit of lee-way; it’s been a busy and at times difficult summer. Between a stressful job, a house full of much-loved guests, and a spouse with multiple broken bones from a sports injury, there hasn’t been much time to sit down and breathe, let alone focus on blogging (or much of anything else). Only after quitting my job, bidding fond farewell to our wonderful guests, and putting my hubs on the road to recovery has life finally slowed down to an easier pace. Halle-freaking-lujah!
Of course, I’m one of those people that – despite wanting a break for months – has to fill their first waking moment of free time with activity. In this case, I was only 10 minutes into relaxing on the couch with some Investigation Discovery (it’saddictiveAF) before deciding to have a casual peek at my recipe collection. Casual peek quickly transformed into detailed research, which then morphed into a cooking and baking agenda for the next four months (and a shopping list as long as a novel). And so went my rest time; I was on my way to the market before the murder had even been solved. It was nice knowing you, R & R!
All credit for this beautiful salad recipe goes to Cafe Delites, one of my favorite blogs of all time. The garlicky honey mustard dressing is the BOMB.COM – I’m not a mustard fan by any means, yet I devoured this salad in under 5 minutes! It also makes an unbelievably delicious marinade for the chicken – my husband already requested that I make this again soon. It’s a definite keeper – enjoy!
HONEY MUSTARD CHICKEN, BACON + AVOCADO SALAD
Yields: 4 servings
For the marinade/dressing:
⅓ cup clear honey
3 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp smooth + mild Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
Salt, to season
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
For the salad:
¼ cup diced bacon, trimmed of rind and fat
4 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, washed
1 cup sliced grape or cherry tomatoes
1 large avocado, pitted and sliced
¼ cup corn kernels
Whisk marinade / dressing ingredients (through salt) together to combine. Pour half into a shallow dish, submerge chicken and marinade for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Refrigerate the reserved marinade to use as a dressing.
Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan (or grill pan or skillet) over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing. (Grill in batches to prevent excess water being released. Dispose of used marinade.)
Wipe pan over with paper towel; drizzle with another teaspoon of oil and fry the bacon until crispy.
Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices, corn and chicken.
Whisk 2 tablespoons of water into the remaining dressing and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle the bacon over the top and season with salt and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.
It’s been a long, lonnnng time since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m happy to be back with new recipes (the result of lots of summer cooking and baking!) this week. Hopefully this post kick starts my lazy blogging bum into gear, and I’ll be back with more recipes in the weeks and months to come!
This spicy homemade chili has been a family favorite for years. Adapted from the recipe for Boilermaker Tailgate Chili on AllRecipes.com, it’s also been my go-to meal for the happy occasions this summer that we’ve welcomed family and friends to our home in southern Germany. Despite the rather intimidating number of ingredients listed, this chili couldn’t be easier to prepare for a large group of weary, jet-lagged world travelers desperately in need of a protein boost. And if the protein doesn’t wake them up, the flavor surely will – this chili is spicy with a capital S. I personally like to take my spice level to the brink of hospitalization, but feel free to tinker with the amount of chili powder added if pepper-induced sobbing just isn’t your jam. (I recommend 2 tablespoons instead of 1/4 cup for those with less heat tolerance.)
And finally, let’s talk about cornbread. I LOVE cornbread. I’ve tried every conceivable type of cornbread known to man or woman, and this recipe is HANDS DOWN the best. It has the rare combination of perfect flavor (not too sweet, not too bland) and perfect consistency (not too cake-like, not too dry). I can’t imagine a better accompaniment to this spicy chili. Enjoy!
HABANERO TURKEY CHILI WITH HONEY BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD
Yield | 12 servings
For the chili:
2 pounds ground turkey
1 pound hot Italian sausage
4 (15 ounce) cans chili beans in sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1-2 habanero peppers, seeded + minced
4 cubes beef (or chicken) bouillon
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2-1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp white sugar
Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, to serve
For the cornbread:
½ cup butter
1 tbsp clear honey
2/3 cup white sugar
2 fresh eggs
1 cup buttermilk
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
To make the chili:
Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground turkey and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
Pour in the chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, habanero peppers, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder and remaining ingredients (through sugar). Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, topped with shredded cheddar cheese (or refrigerate and serve the next day).
To make the cornbread:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter and honey in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Have you ever discovered a really delicious dish at a restaurant, savored every last bite, and then spent the next few hours/days/weeks/months thinking about it, craving it, and wishing you knew how to make it just as good (if not better!) at home?
Have you ever caved in, dragged a loved one to breakfast/lunch/dinner, and gone back to said restaurant for justonemorebite, only to find out those fools have sold to new management and your beloved dish is no longer on the menu? Well, I’ve gotta tell you – it hurts. It hurts bad.
This is that dish.
I stumbled across it on a date with my husband in San Diego’s Little Italy several years ago, and have never really been able to get it out of my head. How did they make those gnocchi so soft, so delicate? How did they manage to make their sauce so rich and creamy, yet so light? What culinary trickery was this, and how oh how could I be trained in their ways?
Then it was gone. All gone. I was left with a profound feeling of loss that is difficult to articulate. It turns out that was just hunger, but man I was disappointed. I began scouring the Internet for gnocchi recipes, and was instantly intimidated. You want me to do what with a potato?! It wasn’t until I stumbled across this version made with ricotta and flour that I got up the nerve to get my gnocchi on.
I don’t know what I was so afraid of! This brilliant recipe is both delicious and actually really easy, if you’re not afraid to get your hands a little dirty (or doughy, to be exact!). Paired with toasted walnuts and a simple, dreamy Gorgonzola sauce, this gnocchi is a perfect, incredibly tasty copy of that dish in San Diego. Phew!
What are some of your favorite restaurant dishes that you’d love to recreate at home?
RICOTTA GNOCCHI WITH TOASTED WALNUT-GORGONZOLA SAUCE
3 to 4 ounces crumbly Gorgonzola cheese (not creamy or dolce)
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, to serve
To make the gnocchi:
Place ricotta, flour, salt, egg and Parmagiano cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir well, until a wet dough forms.
Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead until it feels pliable and smooth (approximately 2 to 3 minutes).
Divide dough into six equal portions. Roll each portion into a long rope the approximate width of your index finger, stretching as you roll (it’s okay if the ropes rip, as you’ll be cutting them into small pieces in the next step).
Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces. Using a fork turned upside down, gently press the tines into each piece (this will later help the sauce cling to the gnocchi).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
[You’re not finished with the gnocchi yet, but this is a good time to turn to the sauce for a moment!]
To make the sauce:
If not yet toasted, place the walnuts in a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 minutes (if walnuts are already toasted, skip this step). Set aside.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and saute for two minutes. Add the cream, Gorgonzola, 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
[Now, back to the gnocchi!]
While the sauce is thickening, carefully drop gnocchi into the boiling water. They will immediately sink to the bottom, but within 2 minutes will start floating to the water’s surface. At this point, your gnocchi is DONE – immediately remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, transfer to the simmering sauce, and toss to coat.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with chopped parsley and remaining 3 tablespoons Parmagiano cheese, and serve immediately.
2016 is off to a very chilly start in southern Germany – the perfect excuse to snuggle up in front of the fireplace, to wear cozy slippers all weekend long AND to dig deep in my recipe box for new and delicious soups and stews. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for traditional Hungarian gulyás since the beginning of the month, when my husband and I shared fond memories of a brilliant culinary holiday in Budapest for New Year’s Day 2012. The experience had been a first for both of us – his first goulash ever, and my first that wasn’t made with the loving hands of my adorable Polish grandmother. My husband polished off three bowls in one sitting on our first night in Pest, then continued to enjoy it everywhere we went in Hungary’s capital for the rest of our holiday. I hadn’t made it since, but this past weekend – snowy and well below freezing – seemed like the perfect opportunity to walk down a delectable memory lane.
Gulyás (goulash) – a soup or stew made of meat or vegetables, seasoned with paprika and a variety of other spices – is the type of recipe that exists on a very wide taste spectrum. In other words, I’ve never run across a goulash that contains the exact same ingredients in the exact same quantity as another. While sweet, high quality Hungarian paprika is essential, and other additions – onion, garlic, caraway seeds, and bell peppers – are fairly standard, the contents can otherwise be tailored to an individual palate. I tossed in some of my husband’s favorites – tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beef cheeks and red bell peppers – but encourage you to use the flavors and textures you enjoy. Serve with csipetke (small, pinched egg noodles, also known as spätzle in Germany) or a thick, crusty loaf of bread on your next chilly winter’s day – you won’t regret it!
2 red bell peppers, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
2 fresh carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
5 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)
Melt the lard in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until slightly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the paprika. Add the beef and garlic, return to the heat, and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
Add the bell peppers and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, beef broth, bay leaf, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 40 minutes (see note). Add salt to taste.
Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, csipetke or thick, crusty bread.
Note: If you’re using a tougher cut of beef, cook the beef first, without the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, for 30-45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 40 minutes, until the beef is tender.
You didn’t know, right? Well, it IS kind of a secret. It’s not like you’ve been getting pummeled with all things pumpkin-flavored, pumpkin-scented, and pumpkin-hued since August, yea? Did anyone even bother to tell you it was FALL?!
Truth be told, I like pumpkin. In fact, I f___ing love pumpkin. I haven’t met a pumpkin recipe I don’t like, and eagerly await Fall each and every year so I can go cray on the pumpkin baking. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin doughnuts. Pumpkin custard. Pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin cheesecake. Pumpkined pumpkin, with pumpkin. I want it all.
It might therefore come as a bit of a surprise that – before this week – I had only once tried my hand at a savory pumpkin dish. Why waste perfectly good pureed pumpkin on something that isn’t, well, filled with equal parts sugary deliciousness and creamy yummosity? Because, my friends, sometimes perfectly good pureed pumpkin can be mixed with chicken, bacon, sage and garlic, and make the dreamiest baked pasta EVER.
I had my doubts about this recipe. I don’t care for onions, and wasn’t convinced I would like the combination of chicken, bacon, and pumpkin. Silly me – this was SO tasty. My husband – who also doubted he’d like this – was instantly hooked as soon as he took a cheesy, velvety, pumpkiny bite. It is the perfect Sunday dinner; while a little extra cooking time is needed, you’ll have delicious leftovers for days!
It’s good to see you, pumpkin season. Stick around for a while, won’t you?
Crumbled, cooked bacon (as little or as much as you want)
To make the sauce:
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Cut the onion into thin slices and add to the melted butter. Keeping the heat on medium-low, cook the onions until they are caramelized and deep golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. For a little extra sweetness, add a splash of white wine as they’re cooking.
While the onions are caramelizing, puree the garlic, pumpkin, chicken broth, milk, olive oil, salt, sage, nutmeg, and pepper in a blender until smooth. Add to the caramelized onions in the pan and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chicken, cooking for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center. Remove from the water; when cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into the pumpkin sauce. Add the crumbled bacon, if desired.
To make the pasta:
Cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping a little early so they are still firm enough to hold their shape in the oven. Drain.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Toss the cooked pasta, chicken, bacon and pumpkin sauce with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Transfer to a greased baking dish, top with remaining cheese and cover with greased foil to prevent sticking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Let stand a few minutes before serving.
While most people lament the arrival of cooler temps in the waning days of summer and early days of fall, I couldn’t WAIT to unearth and dust off my collection of soup recipes this week. After three wonderful – but very hot – years in southern California, Germany’s crisp mornings, drippy afternoons, and windy evenings are utter perfection in my book. Soup weather, how I’ve missed thee!
I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for Zuppa Toscana F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Oh my goodness – it did not disappoint! This is quite simply one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten. The combination of spicy Italian sausage, melt-in-your-mouth potatoes and slightly crisp kale is heavenly. And the broth – oh, the broth! Perfection! My husband and I intended to eat this as leftovers over the course of a few days, but alas, it did not see a second day. Yep, we ate all 12 servings. Two people. In one day. We’re still sad it’s gone, and speak of it fondly. It is that good.
1 bunch fresh kale, stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional), to serve
In a large pot on medium-high heat add the ground sausage and crushed red pepper flakes. Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage until it is browned and fully cooked through. Pour the cooked sausage into a large bowl and set aside.
In the same pot add the olive oil, chopped onion, and bacon until the onions become translucent and begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Add garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
Add wine to the pot and stir well to de-glaze. Combine water and Better than Bouillon chicken base, mix well, and add to the pot.
Add potatoes and cook until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. (Note: You may wish to add more salt, but be careful – the chicken base is very salty. Taste for saltiness after each addition.)
After the potatoes are done, add the cooked sausage back into the soup. Using a large spoon, skim off most of the fat from the sausage that floats onto the surface.
Add the fresh kale and stir in to allow the leaves to soften slightly. Reduce the heat to low and add the heavy cream. Stir.
Add freshly ground black pepper, if desired.
Garnish each serving with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.
“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” -Rumi
This statement hit me like a ton of bricks – in a good way! – when I heard it yesterday. This move from California to Germany has really tested my ability to ‘go with the flow’ – to let things fall into place without excessive hand-wringing, all-consuming worry, and internal meltdown on the scale of Fukushima. Where will we live? What will we do until our car arrives? How will I pay my student loans if we don’t have a second income? I can’t understand what anyone is saying!!!
Long story short, I need to chill the f___ out. I need to stop worrying. I need to stop dreading that every situation – finding a home, buying a car, getting a job, learning the language – is going to be difficult. I need to stop assuming that things won’t “work out”; that there will be nothing but hiccups, roadblocks, and doors slammed in our faces. I need to be strong enough and prepared enough to deal with the occasional challenge or disappointment – because there will be some, inevitably – but not ruminate about their eventuality. I need to take a deep breath, keep my chin up, and smile. I need to be positive, hopeful, and determined. I need to remember that I am extraordinarily blessed – with wonderful friends, the most loving family (furbabies included!), and a wealth of amazing experiences. Life truly is rigged in my favor. I need to start living it that way!
So, back to food. I was surprised and delighted to find a small kitchenette in our temporary accommodation here. It has just about everything I need to continue cooking and baking for our family until all of my pots, pans, and gadgets show up with our household goods in November. #rigged! The preparation space is a bit on the wee side, so I’m trying to keep our meals simple and healthy; this dish fit the bill on both counts!
The original recipe – from Food.com – listed the garlic as “optional”. Optional?! In my world view, garlic is never optional, and should be doubled whenever possible. I even swapped out Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for the garlic and herb variety. Sure, I’ll have raucous breath for a few days, but I’ve shared the wealth with my husband and so far we’re canceling each other out. That’s how it works … right?
This dish is easy to prepare and takes less than 30 minutes start to finish. My husband – who visibly cringed when I said “we’re having something vegetarian tonight” – gobbled up two of these as soon as they were cool enough to eat. So did I, despite never having been much of a tomato fan. Give them a try – you won’t regret it!
Slice the tops off the tomatoes and set aside. Scoop out the seeds and pulp from the tomatoes with a teaspoon, being careful not to cut through to the base or sides. Chop the pulp and keep the seeds, but discard the hard, central cores.
Place the pulp and seeds in a medium bowl. Add the parsley, garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, and pepper and mix gently to combine.
Place the hollowed tomatoes in a buttered casserole dish, and fill with the bread crumb mixture.
Drizzle the top of the tomatoes with olive oil. Bake until the tops are browned, approximately 20 minutes.
Today’s feature is a guest post from my favorite baking goddess – my lovely mum Marilyn – who graciously offered to make this delicious lamb curry during a recent visit to our home in California. The original recipe (from Food.com) is S-P-I-C-Y – just the way I like it! – but can be adjusted for those with less adventurous palates. You may also substitute chicken breast for lamb, if looking for a more budget-friendly family meal. The combination of spices – cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and garam masala – is delectably fragrant while cooking, and absolutely heavenly (if someone fiery) while eating. I would definitely make this curry again, and encourage you to give it a try as well. Enjoy!
I’ve been quite keen to make this pasta ever since discovering the recipe in the January 2012 edition of Olive magazine. Chorizo, garlic, tomatoes, fresh herbs, breadcrumbs – how can you go wrong?! As a matter of fact, you can’t go wrong with this dish, as it’s quite possibly the easiest and quickest homemade pasta I’ve ever tossed together (literally).
What is pangritata, you may ask? A mixture of breadcrumbs and fresh herbs lightly toasted in olive oil, pangritata (or ‘poor man’s Parmesan) is the ingenious invention of southern Italians eager to add flavor and texture to pasta without the added expense of fine cheeses and other ingredients. In this recipe, pangritata is made from the crumbs of a day-old ciabatta loaf and fresh rosemary, although other hardy, aromatic herbs – including thyme and sage – are also excellent substitutes. Toasted pangritata adds great color and crunch to this hot and flavorful dish, one that goes from fridge to table in less than 20 minutes!
SPAGHETTI WITH CHORIZO + ROSEMARY PANGRITATA
150 grams dried spaghetti
100 grams chorizo, diced
Pinch of red chili flakes
1 fresh garlic clove, finely sliced
150 grams fresh cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions. While cooking, heat two tablespoons in a pan and add chorizo. Cook over medium-high heat until starting to crisp – approximately 3 to 5 minutes – then add chili flakes, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes just start to burst, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm one tablespoon olive oil. Add breadcrumbs and toast, stirring often, until crisp and golden. Add rosemary and stir through.
Drain the spaghetti and tip into the chorizo pan. Toss together with 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes, if desired, then sprinkle with rosemary pangritata to serve.