Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Not Your Grandma's Minestrone

My husband is a big fan of minestrone. Huge.

If I'm being honest, he just is enamored with all Italian food. When I mentioned maybe wanting to attempt minestrone from scratch, he got all weird and giddy.

At some point as I was assembling an ingredients list, he asked if I was going to put meat in it. My answer was no, of course, because there isn't meat in it. His response....well, could there be? Sure, dear. Whatever you want.

Then I made it and it was delicious.


Fair warning, there is a lot of prep work that goes into this, so give yourself time for the peeling and the chopping. Start to finish this takes approximately 2 hours. I forgot to get spinach, which is supposed to be in it. Tasted fine without it, but you could add it if you want.

If you want to omit the meat, no big deal. If you want to omit the pasta, I would cut the water by a cup or so.

Taken the next day, so more of the water has been absorbed by the pasta.
Was "soupier" last night.
- 1/2 cup butter
- one large yellow onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cups of green beans, cut into small sections
- 3 medium or 2 larger zucchini, chopped
- half a head of cabbage, chopped
- 2 cans diced tomatoes (whole can, undrained)
- 2 tbsp dried beef bouillon
- 9 cups water
- 1/2 pound small pasta
- 1 16 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed
- 1 16 oz. can white cannelini beans, rinsed
- 12 ounces italian sausage, browned and drained

It's a list. I know. Sorry.

Saute the onion, celery and carrots in the butter in a large stockpot until the onion is clear and the carrot and celery just start to brown. Add the green beans, the zucchini, the cabbage, the tomatoes, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add pasta directly to the pot. Bring back up to boiling, then reduce a little. Simmer for about 20 more minutes. Brown the sausage in a separate pan, then add it and the beans to the pot.

Stir everything together and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

If you cook it too long, the vegetables will all get soggy and the noodles overdone, so err on the side of less time rather than more.

Makes about 12 servings.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bread Pudding

I decided to make this for the first time yesterday, which ended up being good timing since the royal family will be welcoming a new member anytime!

I found some recipes online, but didn't have everything that any of them called for, so I did what I typically do and just made it up.

The kids are fairly sure I just invented the most awesome thing in the world. I'm going to let them think that for as long as it works.

Bread Pudding
- 1 loaf of bread, torn into small pieces (I used whole wheat, the loaf that got squished on the way home from the grocery store)
- 4 cups of milk
- 7 eggs, beaten
- 4 tbsp butter, melted
- 2 tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 cup raisins (optional)

Tear bread and put into a 9x13 casserole pan, combine with raisins. Beat eggs and melted butter together, then add sugars and milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour milk an egg mixture over bread, pressing bread down into the liquid until everything is saturated.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dry Rubbed BBQ Glazed Pork Ribs

I hate ribs. Honest. The idea of gnawing something off a bone just makes my stomach turn. As much as I hate ribs, I make them. I've made them the same way for years, but after staying up way too late one night watching some BBQ competition show, I decided to try it another way. I scoured the internet for dry rub recipes, and eventually did what I always do - made it up.

I made three full racks and this is all that was left. The people say they were amazing. I'll believe them.

This is a lengthy-ish process, so plan ahead.

Dry Rib Rub
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp course ground salt
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1/4 cup paprika
- cayenne pepper - anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tbsp depending on how much heat you want

Mix all dry rub ingredients together. This is sufficient to coat three racks perfectly, so if you're making less, store some in a container before use.

Remove membrane from the backside of the ribs and cut each rack into thirds or fourths.  Cover all sides generously with rub, pressing into the meat with your fingers. Wrap each portion tightly in aluminum foil.

Place foil packets directly on oven racks. Bake in preheated 300 degree oven for two hours, the remove and let sit for about ten minutes. While waiting, preheat grill to high heat.

Unwrap and grill ribs on high, about five minutes on each side, glazing with BBQ sauce of your choice. We used a honey sauce for most of them, and Famous Dave's Devil Spit for those who like it hot.

Ribs should have a nice glazed crust on them.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Curried Chicken Salad

This is one of those things I fell in love with after eating the version from Whole Foods, knowing there was no way I could ever justify the cost of it already prepared.

So, I scoured the internet for ideas and this is where I ended. I ate it last night wrapped up in lettuce but it's just as good on a roll or plain.

this is a terrible picture, but you get the idea

Curried Chicken Salad
- 2-3 grilled chicken breasts, cooled and chopped
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 whole apple, diced
- 2/3 cup raisins (or 1 cup quartered grapes, or a combination of both)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or other nut)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- cayenne pepper to taste
- salt and pepper to taste

Chop chicken, celery and apple. Mix curry powder into mayo thoroughly, then toss it with the chicken, celery, apple, raisins and nuts. If desired, add cayenne pepper to desired heat level, then salt and pepper to taste.

Ideally, you make it ahead a few hours and let it sit in the fridge so the flavors can all combine.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Technically, they aren't really refried beans because they aren't refried, but you get my drift.

I decided a while ago to attempt making these from scratch, and like most cooking endeavors, I immediately kicked myself because they were light years better than the canned ones.

Fortunately, they are easy to make....requiring just a little bit of work and a lot of time.

Slow Cooker Refried Beans
- 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
- 8-9 cups of water
- a few cloves of garlic, minced
- a pepper, minced (I used one whole jalapeno)
- one onion, diced
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cumin

Throw it all in slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 8 hours. If the water reduces too much, add a little bit back into the cooker.

Strain beans and mash, adding some of the cooking water if necessary for texture.

Friday, March 15, 2013

French Onion Soup

This has always been one of my favorites, but I never attempted to make it at home because I anticipated that the kids would stage a mutiny and refuse to touch it. I'm happy to report that they all ate it and liked it!

If you are sensitive to onions at all and they make you tear up, you might want to get a pair of goggles to wear while you're cutting and sauteing them.  Don't say I didn't warn ya.

French Onion Soup
- 4 medium/large onions, sliced thinly
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- red wine (can use cooking sherry)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 9-10 cups beef broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- crusty bread, cut into thick slices
- cheese (muenster, Gruyere or mozzarella) 

Melt butter in large stock pot, then add onions and garlic, saute until completely soft.  Add thyme and bay leaves, then about half the bottle of wine.  Simmer until wine reduces almost completely.  

Remove bay leaves, and add flour, stirring to distribute it evenly.  Pour in broth, bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer about 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the soup is simmering, lay bread slices flat on cookie sheet, then cover with cheese.  Broil until bread is toasted and cheese is melted and browning.  

Put soup in serving bowls and lay toasted cheese bread on top.  


Friday, February 22, 2013

Monterey Chicken & Parmesan Potatoes

You know how when the meal you had planned to make for the night is ruined because one of your kids ate half the ingredients already?


I frantically searched the almost empty pantry, trying to decide what to make, then was suddenly grateful for a fairly large repertoire of meals I can make.

This is what we had, and all the people were happy.  Rejoiced the fact that they'd gone and messed up my planned dinner because this was better anyway.

Monterey Chicken & Parmesan Potatoes 

This is inspired by a dish they serve at that restaurant with a giant chile pepper hanging in the entry way.  I didn't make garlic mashed potatoes to go with it this time, I made parmesan potatoes instead.  Served 6 with leftovers.

For the chicken, you need:

- 4 chicken breasts
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 1 can Rotel (or any tomatoes with chiles)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- olive oil
- salt & pepper

Butterfly chicken into 8 thin pieces.  Brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Grill, pan fry, bake or broil it until it's almost done. (however you prefer)  While that is cooking, cut bacon into small pieces and cook completely in another pan.

When chicken is almost done, arrange it on cookie sheet.  Top with Rotel, bacon and cheese.  Broil until chicken is done and cheese is melted - about five minutes.

For the potatoes, you need:

- 5 medium potatoes, any variety
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1-2 tsp garlic salt

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Using a baking sheet, melt butter and spread evenly on sheet.  Sprinkle with cheese and garlic salt.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and lay them cut side down on the baking sheet.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, then remove from oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil for at least 10 minutes.  Remove carefully from sheet so you don't scrape off the crunchy cheese layer.

Some of My Most Popular Posts