Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Banana, Peach, and Black Bean Empanadas

Wow, it's amazing how a little ridicule can motivate. She is kind of annoying. Like how we work out our issues in the blog-sphere? Mostly, I don't like the idea of this blog being named after only one of us. I'm doing this for the family. Holding it together.

So how about some peace making empanadas? The first time I made them it was far from peaceful. The dough was sticky and took forever to roll out, and after all that work they were tough. I think I chucked one at the dog. I finally gave up and bought some Goya wraps (found in your freezer section). Now I actually want to keep making them again since I only have to make the filling! And this recipe from a friend makes a great filling, I just added the peaches but you can use any fruit really. Zesty and sweet.

So Lora, stuff one of these in your mouth. And enjoy!

Banana, Peach, and Black Bean Empanadas

Vegetable oil
1 firm medium sized banana diced
1 small peach diced
3/4 cup diced onion
1 can black beans, drained
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 thawed package Goya discos
1 cup monterey jack cheese

Heat about 2 T oil in skillet. Add banana and peaches, saute for about a minute. Transfer banana to paper towel to drain. Add onion to skillet, saute for 3 min. Add beans, cilantro, and seasonings. Cook until hot and mash mixture with potato masher until course paste. Season with salt and a couple of splashes of water or broth to loosen mixture and add moisture.

Preheat oven to 425. Place 1 heaping T of mixture in middle of each disco and top with cooked fruit and cheese. Pastry will stretch to cover when folding over. Seal edges with a little water and a fork. Bake until golden about 15 minutes. Or, if you want to live on the edge you can fry them!

I serve with plain yogurt blended with cilantro and hot sauce.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Perfect Pancakes

I'm on the verge of making an executive decision.

I think I'm going to change the name of this blog to: Lora's Eats.

I've been abandoned by my co-pilot. My co-anchor. My sister with whom I shared the womb.

The womb, people!

OK, I'm over it. I've just covered my emotions with a pancake.

They make everything better, don't they?

So, about a year ago I went on the hunt for the perfect pancake recipe (yes, sorry I've been holding out on you for that long!). I was tired of the mixes I had tried and all the recipes I had come across.

Then, it happened. Jessica posted her favorite recipe on Facebook and it was everything I wanted; full of flavor (without needing a ton of toppings or syrup), light, fluffy and tender.

This is the basic recipe, and then below it I've shared a spin I put on it this past weekend (pictured above). We've been trying to eat more healthy around here. I think these pancakes hit the mark. Even though, pancakes could never be considered "health food", I felt better that I at least attempted to make them healthier. If you come up with any good variations, please share! I think I'm going to use pumpkin puree instead of the cider next time (and add a bit more almond milk).


Good Old Fashioned Pancakes (their words, not mine)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl and set aside to cool.

Whisk together dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then fold the wet into the dry - just enough to incorporate the two. Do not over mix or the pancakes will not be tender.

Cook pancakes (duh) using your preferred method and serve with pure maple syrup.

Apple Cider Pancakes

1 1/2 cups white wheat flour (I use King Arthur's)
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (for added protein, to offset all the sugar in the cider - and add a zingy flavor)
1/4 almond milk (if you don't usually buy it, it's great for baking. Or anything but skim can be used)
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled

Same instructions as above.

Serve with roasted pecans, walnuts or almonds & pure maple syrup.

Original recipe found at All Recipes.com.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

3 Minute Pasta

I'm posting this because Tracey is lame. Even though she has three recipes lined up to post, she keeps going to bed at 8pm and leaves no time for this place. Well, I say there is no excuse great enough...except for an adorable 6 month old who like to wake up and just giggle at 5:45 am.

I know this because Tracey and I took the kids on an adventure in the woods this week and witnessed the cuteness and giggling wake-up call first hand. I don't know how she does it.

Vi and I returned home from our time away happy, tired and hungry. I had a box of penne and a can of garbonzo beans in the cupboard and decided that had to make a meal since I certainly wasn't shuffling out to Wegmans on this cold, dreary night.

I call this 3 minute pasta because that's how long it takes to prepare after the pasta is cooked. Hey, most of Rachel Ray's meals aren't actually achievable in 30 mins unless you have a production crew and three arms. :p

This turned out really yummy so I wanted to share. Great dish to throw together when you need something fast and comforting.


Lemon Chickpea Pasta

1/2 lb penne - cooked until al dente
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can chickpeas - rinsed
Zest of one lemon
2 dashes dried oregano
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, washed
1/2 cup grated parm
Dash hot pepper flakes
Salt & pepper

Cook pasta. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta and add evoo to hot pasta pan. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Add chickpeas, sauté 1 min. Add remaining ingredients and add pasta back to pan. Stir well until heated through (add another splash of evoo if it's too dry). Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with more cheese.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Lime Kale Chips & Spicy Dip

Momma G tried her darndest to get me to eat broccoli as a kid. I didn't just not like it. I haaaated it. I may or may not have been spanked for "hiding" a large hunk of it in my milk glass at one time, and then lying about its whereabouts. What's that greenish thing in my milk, you asked? Silly parentals. It's moldy milk, of course! Better throw that out too.

I've grown to like broccoli (strange seeing as we had such a traumatic start). Another green thing I've grown to like...kale. And it kinda reminds me of the flavor of broccoli. Which is also funny because I wouldn't have even known what to do with it a short while ago. I've been doing this funny thing lately when i go to the store or farmer's market. I throw stuff in my cart or basket that I've never bought before but i know is good for me. It forces me to try new things and I'll have to eat them before they go bad or I'll feel guilty.

I've only made kale chips a handful of times, and believe me when i declare their deliciousness! Baking kale this way miraculously makes it so crunchy! You can't tell from the pic, but these little guys are thin little crispy, salty wafers and you won't be able to keep them around very long after baking them.

I was having a craving for something spicy and salty today and rummaged though the fridge. I found a lime, a head of kale (that was one day away from being toss-able) and some Greek yogurt. Hmmmm...

I've made kale chips with lime juice before (thanks to this helpful blogger's suggestion), but never with just zest. I like it better with the zest because i think the juice makes them a bit soggy. And I thought a spicy dipping sauce would go well with them. If you haven't tried Sriracha sauce before and you like spice - you should try it. It's in the Asian aisle. It has such a delicious flavor, in addition to the spice.

This little snack has all the saltiness, crunch and flavor that one expects from a snack - with zero guilt and a side of nutrition.

I guess Momma G was right. Eating veggies can be delicious. But don't tell her I said that.

Crispy Lime Kale Chips

1 head kale, washed, dried and torn away from the stem into bite-size pieces
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle of salt
Zest of one lime

Preheat oven to 300.

Place kale pieces on large (or two small) cookie sheets. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle on the zest and salt. Toss gently with your finger tips until all the kale is coated with a little oil.

Bake 15 or so minutes (check them) until slightly brown and crunchy.

Spicy Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp sriracha - start here and then taste and add till you get the right heat level
2 tsps lime juice or more if you like
Sprinkle of salt

Mix together. Taste and adjust. Serve.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie

I found myself crying when I read this story posted a few weeks ago by a popular food writer and blogger. Her request to honor her husband's memory by making this peanut butter pie (his favorite dessert) inspired me.

This recipe is a keeper so I wanted to post it here. I made it last week, and I shared it with people I love. I recommend you do the same. I guarantee they'll love you back.


Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies

4 tablespoons butter, melted

4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped peanuts

2 cups heavy cream

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup creamy-style peanut butter

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan or a glass pie plate.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Fold 1/2 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture. Pour the filling into pie plate/pan. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Serve with remaining whipped cream and chopped peanuts.

Adapted from Jennie's Kitchen.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chopped Caprese Salad w/ Warm Onion Dressing

My sister Shawnie is an inspiration. Look at this thing! Are ya kidding me?!

When she was 11, she would fake illness to stay home from school. I know that is neither unusual nor inspiring, but her motive was both. She wanted to bake. And not cookies or rice crispie treats. She baked challah bread. Have you ever made it? Me neither. It's too complicated.

Shawnie has an innate ability to cook and bake. She is always coming up with new, delicious recipes, and I was lucky to be over for dinner when she created this masterpiece.

Isn't it breathtaking? I'm thinking of enlarging this photo and putting it on my boring white living-room wall.

It's as delicious as it is beautiful. And a wonderful way to use tomatoes for a late summer dinner.

Thanks for the dinner, Shawn, and for your inspiration.

Love ya-


Shawnie's Chopped Caprese Salad & Warm Pearl Onion Dressing

1 1/2 - 2 cups peeled, fresh pearl onions (here's an easy way to peel them)

Marinate them overnight in:

1/2 c. EVOO
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips
2 tsp garlic powder
sprinkle of salt
few turns of the pepper mill

Salad fixins (vary amounts based on number of servings):

4 large red tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 pint mixed colored tomatoes (or less, depending on number of servings)
1/2 - 1 lb soft mozzarella, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Your favorite store bought or homemade croutons
Large bunch of basil, chopped

Before serving, pour marinated onions and marinade into saute pan. Cook over med-high heat (stirring frequently) until onions are caramelized.

When ready to eat, arrange salad fixins on platter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle warm dressing over the top. Sprinkle with the chopped basil.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Calalou and Basil Soup

It's been too long since I posted. No excuse other than my cute 4-month old. :) Haven't cooked any very interesting foods for awhile. Figuring it was high time I stopped with the excuses and started cooking real food again!

I remember when we had a farm share last year Lora and I had greens coming out of our ears. Kale chips, soups, greens and beans where our go-to recipes for all the excess. Last week a friend shared her favorite "greens" soup recipe and I had to try it. So the great part is this recipe would work with any green you want to cook down and get out of your fridge! I added tomatoes and basil because that's what I add to everything in the summer. Wish I had this recipe last year!

When I went to the market last week I expected greens to be at every stand. It was bizarre, nothing. No spinach, swiss chard, kale... nothing!! Guess its only a spring thing, but our farm last year produced all of it all summer long.

Well, It was the last thing on my list and Abel I were racing to see who could spot green first. Finally, I saw some collard greens and another big huge barrel full of this light large leafed green. The woman behind the bench was watching me, "You know what that is, Honey?"
"No." I replied. "Is it good in soup?"
"Why, yes!" She beamed. "It's calalou."
So there you have it. It's delicious but anything else you have in your fridge will work too.



Calalou and Basil Soup
makes 2 hearty servings so you probably want to double or triple it!

2 large handfuls of any green leafy veggie, deveined and rinsed
7 or so large leaves of basil
1 large onion chopped coursely
3 cloves garlic sliced coursely
olive oil
2 fresh tomatoes chopped into course chunks or 1 can diced tomatoes
2.5 cups chicken broth or more if you like thinner soup
salt and pepper

Saute onion and garlic in about 4 Tablespoons olive oil for 2-3 min over medium heat. Add greens and basil and cook until tender. Add tomatoes and chicken stock, bring to a boil. Cook down for a few minutes and flavor with salt and pepper. Blend in food processor or blender until smooth, add more stock if needed and heat through before serving. A swirl of heavy cream would be great but I didn't have any... was still good. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Maine Corn & Fish Chowder

I took a cooking class in Bar Harbor, Maine last week. The instructor, Sharon Joyce, shared recipes for blueberry muffins, popovers, steamed mussells, and this chowder. Sharon explained the traditions and food culture of the region, while whipping up a feast for the class, with our occasional assistance.

This chowder recipe was my favorite of those shared (all were delicious, but I think this is the one I'll make with the most regularity - um, sans lobster). This recipe is almost 100 years old (if not older), and was given to Sharon by a woman who worked as the head house keeper to a very wealthy Maine family many years ago. When the family would travel for business or pleasure, they would always request this chowder (with corn or white fish) for their first meal after arriving home. It's so simple, no bacon (sniff) or stock, I can see why it was a go-to dish.

Even though it was warm outside, I made this chowder while we were still in Maine so we could capitalize on the low-cost seafood. I am SO jealous of Mainards and their ability to buy lobsters and still afford to eat for the rest of the week.

I love this recipe because you can also make it with haddock or grouper - more realistic for an upstate New Yorker.

This is a loose chowder, so if you are looking for a thick one, you'll have to find a different recipe. I don't think adding a roux to this one would work well. It uses water for the majority of the liquid.

This recipe is so simple and can be made really inexpensively as a plain corn chowder. It's one of those "file it and make it in a pinch" type recipes.

Thanks to Sharon for sharing her stories and recipes!


Maine Corn & Fish Chowder

1 large onion
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
2 potatoes - such as yukon gold, peeled
Fresh thyme, or pinch of dried to taste (it doesn't need any herbs, but I had thyme on-hand so I added it)
Fresh corn from two cobs and/or a couple of filets of white fish
1-2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream

Saute 1 large onion chopped in 2 tbsp butter, until translucent (do not brown)
Add 2 garlic cloves, minced (honestly, I added this. you can't make ANYTHING without garlic!!)
Saute for 2 mins and add 2 large yukon gold potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Stir the potatoes and coat with the butter and onions
Add water just to cover potatoes and simmer (do not boil) until potatoes are tender
Add fresh corn, and/or white fish chopped into bite-sized pieces
Add whole milk to cover the corn and/or fish (about an inch or so)
Simmer for 7-9 mins until corn and/or fish are cooked through
Salt and pepper to taste
Add 1/2 cup of cream and simmer for a few minutes more.

Serve with crusty bread or Maine's traditional popovers!

If you happen to have a lobster - this is how we cooked it before we added it to the chowder:

Place a 1 1/2 - 2 lb lobster in the freezer, for approx 30 mins prior to boiling (seen as a humane way to end the little guy/gal's journey on earth)
Bring a large stock pot filled with water to a rolling boil
Salt the water heavily
When the water is at a rolling boil, place the lobster in the pot and cover with a lid
Set your timer for 12 mins
Once the timer rings, place the lobster in a shallow bowl and allow it to cool for several minutes, until you can comfortably handle it.
When cool, pick it up and crack the tail away from the body. The green goop inside should be removed (once thought edible, it's no longer recommended you eat it). The body of the lobster actually has hardly any meat, and it's not really worth the effort of getting at it. Pull the tail meat out and chop. Crack the claws and pull out the meat. The leg meat can be eaten by cracking them at the joints and then using your teeth to push the meat into your mouth (kind of like a freezy pop - but much more delicious).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

whole wheat rhubarb streusel muffins

Aren't these purdy? They taste as good as they look.

Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that wonderfully transforms once it's cooked. Raw, its bitter and tough. Heat brings it to life, and morphs it into something so delicious. Kinda like when I throw my cranky, grumpy 4 year old into a warm bath...

I realize this is the third sweet recipe in a row...sorry. It's all beans or sugar around here.

Many of you know that our family has recently increased by 1. T's sweet little baby boy has captured all of our hearts. ;) I thought another sweet recipe would be perfect way to celebrate his awesomeness.

These muffins are delicious, moist, not overtly sweet and moderately healthy! They call for white wheat flour, which I've been using to make bread lately (post to come). It's a great option for those who are opposed to full-fledged wheat flour, and it's right next to the white flour at the store so it's easy to grab.

I used vanilla yogurt instead of the author's recommended sour cream. I also added a bit more rhubarb than recommended. Next time I'm going to add 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries or blueberries - just because.

Follow a recipe verbatim? That's just too much like following the rules.

Here's the link to the recipe. Thanks Smitten Kitchen! Sooooo yummy.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

Headline news:

Momma G breaks her silence...

The Pie Queen is going to let you in on her secrets. Grab a pen.

And, yes, you should be excited. We (I) don't call her the Pie Queen for nothin'.

Oh, and BTW, I don't have to make pie because my sisters and mom do it so well, and I reap all the reward. ;) But you must make pie. You must make this pie. Typically I post recipes here so I don't forget them. But, I'm posting this recipe so that YOU don't forget it. So you can make if for me (again and again).

Momma G never made pie in a round pie plate when we were kids. Pie came in square slabs. That's right. She made a yard of pie crust and baked pie in an extra-large cookie sheet. Yup, a sheet of pie. A sheet pie. A round 9" pie only feeds 4 in our family. And we had 5. And I got spanked once for sneaking in the kitchen and picking 80% of the streusel topping off of one her legendary apple steusel sheet pies. All I can say: It was worth it.

In fact, my mother's pie is so well regarded in our family that it's requested for birthday and Christmas presents. Gramps always requests this lemon meringue or the apple, and Poppa G just asks for "pie". They eat the entire pie themselves, with a quart of milk. I don't blame them a bit. Oh, and my gramps is going to be 87 this year, healthy as an ox. That's good pie.

So here it is, people...enjoy! Thanks, Mommasita!

Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie

(Original recipe by Julie Miltenberger)

Prep: 20 min. cook: 24 min. Bake: crust at 425 for 20 min; pie at 325 for 33 min. Refrigerate: after cooling for 1 hr.

1 pastry crust for a 9 in pie


3 to 4 "large" lemons

1 and 3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

6 egg yolks room temp. (save whites for meringue. careful not to get any yolk in the whites meringue will not whip well.)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut up


6 room temp egg whites ( i use 7 with a little extra cream of tartar to get a really high meringue)

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

1. Heat oven to 425. Fit pastry in 9 in. deep pie plate. Roll dough under and crimp for fluted edge. Check for cracks in dough repair then prick dough well, with fork; Line with thin foil

fill with dried beans or pie weights. ( I found pie weights at the Christmas Store. They worked wonderfully!)

2. Bake at 425 for 12 min. Remove foil and weights or beans. Put crust back into oven for 8 more min or until golden.....COOL

3. Grate 2 tbls lemon rind set aside. Squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons(no seeds please). Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in saucepan. Stir in 2 1/4 cups water and lemon juice. Cook over med. heat,

whisking, 15 to 20 min or until thickened and bubbly. Cook another 2 to 3 min. stirring. Remove from heat

4. Beat egg yolks lightly in a small bowl, stir 1/2 cup hot lemon mixture into yolks quickly, then stir this yolk mixture back into full lemon mixture in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for

1min. (DON'T OVERCOOK) Take off heat add butter and grated lemon rind. Pour into baked cooled crust.

5. Reduce oven temp to 325

6.Meringue: Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl (not huge) until foamy. On high speed, beat in sugar one tablespoons at a time, until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over pudding mixture, spreading to edges to seal meringue to the crust. Swirl into peaks.

7. Bake on lower rack at 325 for 25 to 30 min. cool on rack ( away from drafts, something I learned through the years) for at least 2 hrs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hrs.( Better if more) before slicing.

This recipe has been tried in my kitchen 4 times and each time was a success. If you follow each step exactly you can not go wrong. I do not recommend boxed or already made crust for this pie.Won't work! Besides this pie deserves a wonderful home made crust. I use an old Amish recipe, that I switched up a bit. But any homemade crust will do.

The Lemon rind in the pudding and the butter make the pie really special and Yummy. ENJOY!

Love, Momma G

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Marshmallow Treats

This book Tracey references in her Tortilla Snowflake recipe, inspired this special treat. I was looking for an Easter treat, and these little bird nests looked so cute, easy, and delicious. The recipe in the book used candy coating. I thought, why mess with that when this was the perfect opportunity to leverage the delicious butter/mallow binder in rice crispie treats? So I stole the ingredients and wrapped it in something else, and added a dash of almond extract. Of course!

Vi and Abel had a great time helping with these. Vi's idea of help was eating every crumb of flake, noodle or rouge egg that hit the table. She's lucky she's so cute.

Happy Easter!


Spring Marshmallow Treats

3tbsp unsalted butter
1 package large marshmallows
2 tsp almond extract
Blue and green food coloring
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 package small malt eggs

Place 1 cup sweetened coconut and a considerable number of drops of green food coloring in a zip lock bag. Shake until coconut is completely coated. Set aside.

In large pot, melt:
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 package marshmallows

2 tsp almond extract
Dashes of green and blue food coloring, until the desired shade

Stir in:
4 cups corn flakes

Shape mixture into small nests. Press thumb in center of each while still warm.

Sprinkle coconut in center of each nest and press small malt eggs into nest.

Store extras in air-tight container.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages & White Beans

I had a meeting until 5:30pm today, and as I embarked on my crazy commute (from basement office to basement stairs, take a right) a delicious aroma began to fill my nostrils. That smell that draws you in and makes you instantly hungry. Nothing like the aroma of a delicious dinner to erase the stresses of the day from your mind. If not for a few moments.

Rich and Vi threw this together. It's a recipe from my new favorite cookbook Perfect One-Dish Dinners. Ok, it's my new favorite, yet this is only the second recipe we tried. 99% of the pages are dog-eared. Pointless, I know.

I realize that 10 out of the last 15 recipes we've posted here include beans. At risk of further alienating some of our readers (sorry you two), I give you another post with beans. If you haven't tried any of the other bean recipes here, I implore you to try this one. So much flavor, so easy, so cheap, kids eat it. Do it.


Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages & White Beans
Serves 4ish (her recipe serves 8, we paired down the sausage, tomatoes and beans. Basically, it's scalable.)

1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian Sausage links (kind of figure 2 links per person)
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1 med onion chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp EVOO
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
2 cans white beans (we used cannellini), rinsed

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425.

Toss all ingredients (except beans) in roasting pan and roast until sausages are browned and tomatoes have reduced to a thick sauce (i'd break-up a few at this point), about 45 mins. Pull out, add beans, mix lightly, return to oven to bake 10 more mins.

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs (see below) and serve. In hind-sight, this would be excellent with crusty bread and crisp, fresh steamed green beans sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Toasted Breadcrumbs
Melt 2 tbsp butter in med skillet on med heat
Add 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Sprinkle with salt
Mix almost constantly and until the crumbs are golden brown (about 15 mins)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gallo Pinto (Rice & Beans, Costa Rican Style)

I met some pretty fantastic people while I was in college. Heck, I married one. The friends I still keep in contact with are kindred spirits and one day, when we are very old, very gray-haired (hmmm...a milestone I've already tackled), toothless, and achy, we'll share a porch-swing at some old folks home near the everglades. Ok, probably not the everglades. Maybe New England, near the ocean. If I somehow earn a boat-load of money between now and then.

My friend Zaida will be on that porch with us (wherever it is). She'll be the one cracking jokes, making sure our lap blankets are on just right, mixing up some antacid cocktails, and zinging me about my socks not matching my panty hose.

Even though we are currently separated by many States, I know if I ever needed her, she'd be here. And she'd bring a big pot of gallo pinto to comfort me. Zaida is Costa Rican, and when it comes to cooking, she can throw. it. down. She taught me to make this dish our senior year, and I now keep the ingredients on hand at ALL TIMES. This is that go-to, I don't have time, I need comfort food-stat, type meal.

Growing up, we always cooked our rice and beans separately (beans were always frijole style). But...once they hit the plate, their marriage was inevitable. Rice and beans are just made for each other...

This rice and beans dish is one of the easiest things I now know how to make. And it's actually pretty insane that something so simple, tastes so amazing. And since I learned Zaida's trick of serving it with a fried egg on top - I can't eat it any other way. When you split the warm yolk over the rice, it adds richness and a buttery flavor to the entire dish. A nice side salad makes this meal complete!

Thanks, Zaida, for sharing this recipe with me, so I could share with others (hi, mom!), and open their eyes to the power and simplicity of rice and beans - together - how nature intended.

Gallo Pinto

1 can black beans (drained)
1 cup rice (see instructions below - also works well with left over rice)
1 med onion chopped (I also add two cloves garlic, minced. shhh...don't tell her!)
1-2 tsp cumin (I had 3 or 4 sometimes, depending on my mood)
Chopped cilantro (to taste)

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan on medium heat
2. Saute onions (and garlic) until soft, about 5 mins
3. Add beans, cumin and cilantro
4. Add cooked rice
Mix all together and let cook for a minute or two so the flavors come together.
Add salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Rice - if you don't have a rice cooker, obviously!

The ratio my mom taught me: 1 extra cup liquid to every cup of rice. So, if you are making one cup of rice, add two cups liquid. Making two cups of rice, add three cups of liquid, etc. For gallo pinto, I usually use one cup of rice (2 cups liquid), but I have been known to frequently double the recipe above, ;)

Add rice and liquid to a medium pot that has a tight fitting lid
Heat rice and liquid over high heat until boiling
The second it comes to a rolling boil (a heavy boil, not a simmering boil) lower heat to low and cover
Cook for approx 15 mins and fight the urge to peak! Do not stir!
Peak at 15 mins. When the rice is cooked through the liquid will be gone, and the rice will be tender when taste tested. If it's still hard, cover again and let cook for a few more minutes.
When cooked, turn the heat off and move to a cool burner. Keep covered until ready to serve.
Fluff with a fork before serving (I use a fork to serve it, actually.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cherry~Blueberry Pie

Yes. I did soften the edges on this picture just a tad. I had to make it look as angelic as this pie tasted.

Abel and I made this the other night to bring to a friends for dessert. It had only been out of the oven a little over an hour when dessert time rolled around and I was a wee bit nervous cutting into it so soon. But we couldn't wait. And I was very relieved when it actually held its shape pretty well! Then, within a few hours it had set up perfectly. Can't say that always happens with my berry pies, so that is why this recipe needed to be written down somewhere other than my brain.

A very tasty spring dessert, if you don't mind using frozen fruit for now. With fresh fruit it could easily be an ace every time. I used frozen sweet cherries and blueberries of the Wegmans- "Just Picked" variety. Danny does it again.

Cherry~Blueberry Pie
Adapted from Peter Sterk (a Foodnetwork.com recipe)

2 cups frozen or fresh cherries (tart or sweet)
2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
4-5 T cornstarch
1 T tapioca
1/8 T almond extract
Your favorite pie crust recipe doubled (mine is below)
1 1/2 T butter to dot fruit (I used honey butter)

Berry Filling

Mix all four cups of fruit in medium saucepan and cover. Place over medium heat until the fruit loses a fair amount of juices, about 5 minutes. Add cornstarch, sugar, and tapioca and reduce heat to simmer and simmer until juice becomes thicker. Adjust amount of cornstarch/tapioca if it still seems very runny. Add almond extract and remove fruit from heat. Place in cold bowl and then put in fridge to cool while making the crust.

Once bottom crust is rolled out place in 9 inch pie plate and put somewhat cooled berries into pastry, dot with butter, place top crust and cut vents in top. Bake at 375 for about an hour or when top crust is golden and fruit starts bubbling through vents.

My favorite Pie Crust via Betty Crocker
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 c plus 2 T shortening
4-6 T ice cold water

Pre-heat over to 425.
Mix flour and salt. Cut shortening into flour mixture until pea sized crumbs form, Add water one T at a time and toss with a fork until mixture can shape into a ball. Cut in half for two crusts. Refrigerate for 15 mins before rolling out on floured surface.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lentil & Sausage Soup (Stew), Two Ways

Not really sure why I don't typically pay attention to recipes on food packaging, but I'm glad I didn't ignore this one. I've been on the hunt for a great lentil recipe (ever since I read they are one of the healthiest things to eat, which explains why my mom fed them to us till they came out of our ears), and ever since we went on vacation and ate the most delicious lentils in the world.

So this recipe isn't nearly as delicious as the lentil salad that we had at Chez Panisse, but it is a hearty, flavorful and an easy way to get more nutrients into your body (and kids seem to like it).

This is pretty much the same recipe that's on the back of the Goya lentil package (found in the Goya section, of course!), I just added more veggies (quantity), more garlic (shocked?), more sausage, added tons of fresh thyme (because, what isn't better with fresh thyme?), and removed the bouillon cube. I've even made this with just water (didn't have broth or stock on hand), I just added some Goya adobo seasoning, and it was really good.

I love this soup because of its earthy, sausage-y flavor. And also because it thickens so well. You can add more stock to loosen it if you prefer, or you can leave it thick and eat it like a hearty stew. For a second dinner, you can put it over noodles, rice or Tracey even put it over perogies once. Great one pot-two dinner thing going on here.

I've made this at least 6 times in the past 2 months, and Rich hasn't asked me to take it off the list yet. That's a great sign. ;)


Lentil & Sausage Soup

1lb lentils (rinsed)
3 glugs of olive oil in a soup pot
1 large sweet onion, minced
4 largish stalks celery, chopped fine
4 largish carrots, chopped fine
10 sprigs of fresh thyme - leaves picked
1lb sausage
3-4 largish cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
8-9 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil for 5-7 minutes until slightly soft (add fresh thyme immediately after all three are in the pot). Sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper. Add sausage and brown. Then add bay leaves and garlic. Saute 2-3 mins more.

Add lentils and saute for 1 min - then add the stock. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and lower to a simmer. Simmer until lentils are cooked through and soup thickens a bit. Add more hot stock if you want it looser. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with warm biscuits or crusty bread.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our Family's Sauce (or a loose translation) + Meatballs!

I say it's some sort of translation because in my family, it changes depending on the day and what's in the pantry. Any way that you throw it together the guarantee is that if you let it simmer for a few hours your house will smell like heaven. No pictures available of the meatballs. We always eat them too fast.

Red Sauce

1-2 lbs of either pig's feet, pork ribs, or pork neck bones
1 large onion minced
5-6 cloves garlic minced
olive oil
medium can of tomato paste
1 super large can of sauce, puree, or many fresh tomatoes pureed, or 5-6 smaller cans combined (some diced if you like chunks)
salt and pepper
2 large whole carrots or splash of sugar
some red wine to taste
dried or fresh basil
rosemary (just a tiny pinch)
parmesan cheese

Salt & pepper the meat. Saute meat in olive oil, about 4-5 minutes per side... not cooked through.
Remove meat and set aside, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. After the onions & garlic are tender, throw in a can of paste and saute it for awhile. Add a little salt and pepper.
After paste has been flavored for awhile, dump in the rest of you tomato products.
Put in two whole carrots to sweeten the sauce. Then about 1 cup red wine at this point and about 1 Tablespoon dried basil, some fresh rosemary (just a little), and the meat at this point. Bring to a boil and then set on simmer. Once it has cooked down check flavor and adjust salt/pepper and add another splash of wine and parmesan.

Let simmer until cooked down... I will taste and season again at this point. After it cooks down enough for the right flavor you can cover until ready to eat.
Add more wine, and parmesan cheese to taste.


1 lb meat (any combo you like)
4 med cloves garlic or 2 large minced very small or pureed with back of heavy knife and some salt
2 eggs beaten
1/2 c Parmesan
3 sprigs fresh thyme, de-twigged
1 c panko breadcrumbs
Canola oil

Mix garlic with beaten eggs, thyme and cheese. Mix in meat until well combined. Add a little salt and lots of pepper. Add breadcrumbs plus a little more if mixture is too wet. Form into 2 inch balls.
Heat sauté pan on med heat until hot and 3 t/l canola oil. Add meatballs and brown for 1 min on all sides then add to sauce. Allow to simmer in sauce for up to an hour.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken, Cheese, and Apple Chili

It's tempting to call this more of a stew but there is chili powder in it and beans, so I suppose it is an actual chili. Cheesy and dreamy chili. There is a slight kick from the mexican chili powder I used but it is well balanced by the sweetness of the apples. Great with a side of toasted tortillas.

I'm not sure what makes the bulk chili powder my mom bought for me "mexican", but the result is probably a little spicier than the traditional. I finally remembered to ask her the name of the company she gets her spices from, and then promptly forgot it. So hopefully she'll comment on here as a resource for anyone looking for some great online spice shopping. I recommend their cinnamon, cumin, and cloves, oh and the above chili powder, of course. And ginger too.

The best part of having toasted tortillas around is that any leftovers are reserved for dessert. Slathered with jam. :)



Chicken, Cheese, and Apple Chili

adapted from Everyday Magazine

2 lbs chicken breasts or tenders cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 apples cut into 1/2 inch peices
1 med onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/4 flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 cans of white beans drained and rinsed
2 cups monterey jack cheese shredded or colby jack blend
toasted tortillas
olive oil

In a dutch oven type pot heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat, add chicken, cumin, and chili powder. Cook for a few minutes and then add chopped garlic, cook another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and transfer chicken to bowl. Salt and pepper the chicken.
In same pot add another 2 T of olive oil over medium heat and cook the apples and onions together until soft, about 6 minutes. Remove apples into bowl with cooked chicken.
In same pot melt butter and add flour. Whisk together for one minute over medium/low heat. Add milk and broth and whisk over medium heat for several minutes until thickened.
Add chicken and apple mixtures and bring to a simmer, then add beans and cheese. Stir until heated through.