Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Honestly, I think one of the best things I've ever discovered is how delicious roasted vegetables are. I had a real yen for roasted Brussels sprouts, so I decided to make them as a side dish to the pulled pork sandwiches I made this week. YUM!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
A variation on this recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa)

2 pounds frozen Brussels sprouts, defrosted
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Cut Brussels sprouts in quarters. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer them to a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp outside and tender inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the Brussels sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt (I like these salty like French fries) and serve hot.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pulled Pork Sandwich

This isn't my first pulled pork sandwich recipe. I'm sure it won't be my last. It's very tasty, and I feel a bit bad that I don't know exactly where it came from. It was given to me in a book for my last birthday by a good friend of mine. So pulled pork sandwich recipe-maker, wherever you are, here's to you!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Courtesy of ???

2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 boneless pork butt or shoulder (about 2 1/2 pounds), trimmed
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
Hamburger buns

In a small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the paprika, chili powder, cumin and pepper; set aside.

Lay pork on work surface and sprinkle on all sides with spice rub; rub well into meat. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Unwrap pork and place in slow cooker with chicken broth. Cover and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours. Remove pork from slow cooker and cut into large chunks; let stand for 20 minutes or until cook enough to handle.

While pork is cooling, pour cooking liquid into a fat separator. Pour de-fatted liquid into small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. Whisk in vinegar, ketchup and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Cook until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes; set aside.

Using forks or your hands, pull meat into shreds, discarding excess fat, and place in bowl. Stir in sauce and put 1/2 cup meat on each bun. Serve immediately.

Winter Minestrone

Another lovely warm comfort food for this chilly season. Hearty and healthy.

Edited to add: We tried this with kale instead of Swiss chard, and it was REALLY good. It makes the soup even heartier though, so I had to add more broth to make it less of a stew and more of a soup.

Winter Minestrone
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled, cubed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth
1 ounce piece Parmesan cheese rind (this is really worth it, so try to find it if you can)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato; sauté for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and rosemary sprig. Simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of the broth in a processor until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan cheese rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer until the potato pieces are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Stir in the whole beans and parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Discard Parmesan rind and rosemary sprig (the leaves will have fallen off of the stem.)

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Black Bean Salsa/Vegetarian Soft Tacos

When we lived in California but had moved away from the truly awesome taquerías in the city, I satisfied my Mexican food cravings with a quick trip to Chipotle. I loved their veggie soft tacos and ate them at least once a week... Well, before I got pregnant with Jillie and all of the sudden strongly disliked Mexican food (oh, the horror!). I was bummed when we moved back to Pennsylvania and realized that there is no Chipotle in very close proximity to our house (though they do seem to be popping up closer than they had been a year ago, woo!). So... As they say... Necessity (or, in this case, craving) is the mother of invention...

I made this black bean salsa for our holiday party this year and had so much leftover that, since it had pretty much the same ingredients as my favorite version of Chipotle's veggie soft taco filling, I'd try to use the leftovers to satisfy my craving... And it worked beautifully! Not only is it delicious, but it's possibly healthier. Score!

Black Bean Salsa
Courtesy of Paula Deen


2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16-ounce) package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Cover and chill overnight. Taste and add salt, pepper or more lime juice as necessary.

To make into soft tacos, add:


Flour tortillas
Mexican shredded cheese
Sour cream
Any other toppings that strike your fancy

Put 2 tortillas on plate. Add salsa and cheese. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Add sour cream and any other toppings, fold, and enjoy!

Chicken-And-Dumpling Soup

I really wanted some chicken soup. I don't know if it was a lack of it over the last several months or the cold weather or what, but I wanted it and was on the hunt for a new recipe to try. And I found one. One that's quite delicious, if a little on the prep-heavy side, due to the large amount of root vegetables there are in this recipe. But a little grunt work never hurt anyone, right? And it's worth it for a delicious bowl of chicken soup.

Michael Symon's Chicken-And-Dumpling Soup
A variation on this Michael Symon recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 bulb celery root, peeled and finely diced
1 turnip, peeled and finely diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 bulb fennel, finely diced
Kosher salt
10 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 pounds chicken
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, carrots, celery root, turnip, rutabaga, onion, diced fennel and a large pinch of salt; cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, fennel seeds, thyme and bay leaves; bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and simmer for 2 hours. Remove the chicken and let cool. Shred the chicken and set aside.

About 15 minutes before the chicken has finished simmering, prepare the dumplings: Combine the milk, stick of butter, 1 tablespoon tarragon, the nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat; add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, to make a thick dough.

Bring the soup to a boil. Form the dough into dumplings (a small ice cream scoop is perfect for this); drop into the soup. Cover and cook until the dumplings float to the surface, about 10 minutes.

Add the chicken meat, parsley and the remaining 1 tablespoon tarragon to the soup; stir carefully and divide among warm bowls.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Comfort food. No doubt about it.

Edited to add: Make sure that you bring the turkey mixture to a boil before you set it to simmer. The picture I've added was when I didn't do that, and you can see that the result is very soupy. I've done it before when I let the mixture thicken a bit, and it's much more solid and, in my opinion, pleasant to eat.

Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Courtesy of Rachael Ray


3 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cubed
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 pound smoky bacon or turkey bacon, chopped
1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, available in small cans on spice aisle of market (You may substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons each sweet paprika and cumin combined)
Coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons, 5 or 6 sprigs, fresh thyme leaves
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream, divided
3 tablespoons butter
1 large egg, beaten
10 to 12 blades fresh chives, chopped or snipped

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, salt it, and cook the potatoes until tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Heat a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to the skillet. Add bacon and brown it up, then add ground turkey to the pan and break it up. Season the turkey with smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and thyme. When turkey browns up, add onions, carrots, celery. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, then add red pepper and peas; cook another 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and combine. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream and combine. Simmer mixture over low heat.

Preheat your broiler to high.

When potatoes are tender, add a ladle of cooking water to the egg. Drain potatoes and return to the warm pot to dry them out a little. Add remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, butter, half of the chives, and salt and pepper. Smash and mash the potatoes, mashing in the beaten, tempered egg. If the potatoes are too tight, mix in a splash of milk.

Pour turkey mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top turkey with an even layer of smashed potatoes and place casserole 5 inches from hot broiler. Broil the potatoes until golden at edges and remove the casserole from the oven. Garnish the casserole with the remaining chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oregano Roasted Chicken, Chicken Salad, Homemade Chicken Stock, and Tortilla Soup

Like everyone else, I'm looking to save some money. So I thought maybe using one whole chicken to make 4 things would be helpful. So here's what I did...

Oregano Roasted Chicken
A variation on this Taste of Home recipe

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1 lemon
1 head of garlic
1 roasting chicken (6-7 lbs)
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Combine butter, salad dressing mix and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cut head of garlic in half; place it and the lemon halves in the chicken cavity. Place chicken on a rack in an ungreased roasting pan. Spoon butter mixture over chicken.

Cover and bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with oregano. Bake, uncovered, for 1.5 to 1.75 hours or until meat thermometer reads 165ºF.

Remove chicken from roasting pan; let stand for 5 minutes. Strain drippings. Cut one chicken breast half into 1-inch cubes (should be about 2 cups). Cover and refrigerate cubed chicken breast and 1/4 cup drippings for Tortilla-Vegetable Chicken Soup. Remove the rest of the chicken from the carcass and set aside for Chicken Salad. Save carcass for Chicken Broth.


Chicken Salad

Leftover roasted chicken (about 3-4 cups)
1-2 celery stalks, diced
1/4-1/2 cup red onion, diced
Thyme leaves from 2-3 springs, stripped from stems and chopped
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Stone-ground or Dijon mustard (depending on your preference)
Salt and pepper, to taste

This is a very loose recipe, as it really depends on your preferences, and I've just included mine. I add as much of the mayonnaise and mustard as will make it a moist enough chicken salad.


Crockpot Chicken Broth
A variation on this recipe

1 chicken carcass, stripped of meat and fat
2 small onions, quartered
1 head of garlic, separated and peeled
1 celery bunch, roughly chopped
4-5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4-5 thyme sprigs
2 bays leaves
6-8 cups water

You can use any leftover raw vegetables you have on hand. I've found that the ones I listed give the flavor that I like the best, but it's obviously up to you what you want to add.

Place chicken carcass in bottom of crockpot stoneware. Place vegetables and herbs around chicken. Fill stoneware 3/4 of the way full with water. Set crockpot to Low and cook for 10 hours.

Strain contents of stoneware. Let broth chill completely in the refrigerator. Skim off any fat that rises to the top and package for storage in refrigerator or freezer.


Tortilla-Vegetable Chicken Soup
Courtesy of Taste of Home

3 flour tortillas (fajita-sized), cut into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup chicken drippings, optional
1 cup chopped celerty
3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups chicken broth (I used homemade from the chicken carcass)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups beef broth
1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
2 cups frozen corn
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, optional

Place tortilla strips on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, skim fat from drippings. In a Dutch oven, sauté celery, carrot and onion in oil until tender. Stir in the chicken broth, black beans, beef broth, tomatoes, chicken, corn, seasonings and drippings if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Serve with cheese if desired and tortilla strips.

A new year, a new blog

I'm not very good about keeping up with my random thoughts blog, so I thought I'd try writing about something that I deal with all the time and interests me a lot... FOOD!

Admittedly, my relationship with food is not always fantastic, but I'm working on that. I'm hoping this little "vent" of recipes (as well as hopefully some sharing of them) will help me realize what foods really work for me and which ones don't.

So look! Another food blog! Enjoy. :)