Archive for the ‘One Pot Meals’ Category

Snow Day Lasagna Soup

December 9, 2018

It’s been too long!  I’ve done some cooking, some traveling, some eating out in the meantime.  But today is a snow day, which means kitchen time and binge-watching tv.  And, of course, taking video of the puppy’s first snow.  I love days like this!

An ad for something called “Instant Pot Lasagna Soup” came across my news feed last week.  I don’t have an Instant Pot.  I feel no need for one.  There was a link to a slow cooker version.  Getting closer.  But on a snow day, I don’t need a hands off solution.  I’m here.  I have time to stir.  And in this case, that’s the only difference between the slow cooker version and the stove top soup pot version.  The stirring.

How do you make a soup version of lasagna?  Basically, you make the goopy filling you’d make for a regular lasagna and add a bunch of liquid to it.  Soup.  The great thing about it is that the filling part can be anything you want. I used a combination of sausage, beef, and turkey in this one.  If you’d usually make a vegetarian lasagna, by all means, do that. Sub in veggie crumbles instead of the meat. This would be great with zucchini and mushrooms.  And what’s even better is that you don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to fall apart when you cut it.  It’s supposed to be soupy!

Now, let’s talk noodles.  Lots of options here too.  What kind of noodles?  I decided to use lasagna noodles broken into pieces.  You could use rotini or radiatore or baby shells, whatever.  You can cook them in the soup.  You can cook them ahead of time and add them to the pot.  You can cook them and portion them into individual bowls.  What you need to consider is your leftovers plan.  If you’re sure you won’t have leftovers, cook the noodles in the soup.  They’ll take on the flavor of the soup.  If you’re mostly sure you won’t have leftovers, but then again maybe, cook the noodles separately and add them to the pot. They’ll take on some of the soup liquid.  Beware that the noodles in the leftovers might be a little mushy.  If you’ve planned for leftovers, cook the noodles separately and put them in individual bowls.  You can either cook all the noodles you’ll need and just store them separately or you can cook fresh ones each time you have leftovers.

This stuff looks, tastes, and smells amazing.  Coming in from playing in the snow to this aroma is a gift.  Truly.  But I noticed that I didn’t have any vegetables.  And since I’m still not convinced that lettuce won’t jump up and kill me at any moment (Google romaine and e coli if you want more info on that), I decided to add some kale to the pot.  I got some end of season lacinato kale at the farmers’ market yesterday so I chopped and added most of the bunch to the pot.  If you’re going to add a hardy green to the pot, just make sure the soup is at a solid simmer.  You want the greens to cook, not just wilt.  If you’re using a softer leaf like spinach, a wilt will do just fine.

Hey now, you’re saying, the best part of a lasagna is the cheesy goodness!  Worry not.  You have a lot of options in the cheese department too.  You can add a dollop of ricotta to the bottom of each bowl before you ladle the soup in.  You can (and should) top each bowl with mozzarella and Parmesan.  Or both!  In this case I used SausageCraft Della Nonna sausage, which has some cheese mixed right into the sausage.  Yummmm.  If you want to make it extra special, use oven safe crocks so you can brown the mozzarella in the broiler before serving!

If you don’t have a lasagna recipe that you’re already using, feel free to follow this one.  This will make 4-6 servings.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb each, italian sausage, ground beef, and ground turkey
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 oz) or pint jar peeled tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 C dry red wine (save the rest for dinner!)
  • 1-2 t dried oregano
  • 1-2 t dried basil
  • 2-3 C stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • In a medium pot, cook the pasta; set aside

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  • In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil until it shimmers
  • Add the onion and garlic
  • Cook until the onion is soft
  • Add the meat; cook until it’s browned

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  • Stir in the tomato paste

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  • Stir in the tomatoes, wine and spices

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At this point what you’ve got is lasagna filling.

  • Add the stock

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Now it’s soup!

  • Bring to a simmer
  • Cover the pot and cook 30-60 minutes
  • Increase the heat to achieve a low boil
  • Add the kale

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  • Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Add pasta to each bowl; ladle soup over the noodles
  • Add some mozzarella and parmesan

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How was it?

First, it’s exactly as advertised.  It’s lasagna in a bowl!  Nothing to complain about there.  I really like the broken lasagna noodles. My advice – leave the pieces big enough that you really notice them.  It’s much more like lasagna that way.  And as delightful as the mozzarella is, it sticks to the spoon as much as anything.  I don’t like having to scrape it off with my teeth. I might try the leftovers with just the parmesan.  Or maybe cubes of fresh mozzarella instead.

If you’re going to add a kale or chard, add some extra stock or water as well. The greens soak up a lot of liquid and you still want it to be like soup.  I really liked the kale addition though.  I’d definitely do that again.

I’m super happy with my meat choices.  The beef and turkey were very lean and the sausage added just enough fat to add amazing flavor and a silky texture to the broth.  So, not a lot of fat and I didn’t miss it.  But I think I’d be happy with a vegetarian version too.

All in all, the perfect snow day dinner!  All the food groups; warm and comfort-y;  and only a bowl to wash.  I might even have some in the morning after the snow shoveling!

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Farewell Fresh: Potato and Corn Chowder

November 17, 2018

It’s gotten cold here in Virginia.  And I worked pretty hard today – run this morning; housecleaning; and I braved the Kroger the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  There ought to be a badge for that!  But as usual, I bought the stuff I need to make Thanksgiving desserts, but no actual food.  Fortunately I had one more Hello Fresh meal!  Chowder was exactly the right thing for tonight.

There’s a fair amount of chopping in this one, and a fairly long cooking time, but it’s not hard.  The only challenge is adding the milk to the floury vegetables and getting a smooth base.  You’re making gravy here.  Just add a little milk.  Stir until it’s incorporated.  It’ll be thick and glumpy still.  Add a little more.  Stir it in.  There’s a cup of milk and I added it in 5 stages.  By the end it’s very soupy, but it doesn’t have any lumps!  And be sure you bring it all the way to a boil before you start to simmer.  It’s the boiling that helps thicken the chowder.

I simmered it for 12 minutes.  You want the potatoes to be tender, but not soft.  They need to hold their shape.  The corn is yellow and had very large kernels, almost as large as the potato pieces.  It adds a very nice hit of sweetness against the heat of the poblano.  Hello Fresh provided a medium cheddar, which was fine.  On my own I would have used extra sharp. I just like that extra tang.

What’s my favorite thing about this chowder?  The smoked paprika.  It’s a fantastic way to add to add some smoky, almost meaty, depth to a vegetarian dish.  Chowder often has bacon or ham to elevate a dish that’s otherwise mostly potatoes and milk.  No need here.  The smoked paprika does its job.

This is another recipe that makes way more than 2 people need for dinner.  I had a bowl and a half tonight and there are easily 2 and maybe 3 servings left in the pot.  Between this and the orzotto from yesterday (and Thanksgiving!), I’ve got lunch taken care of for the week!

My only word of caution – the poblano isn’t a very hot pepper, but it still stings if you get the juice on your fingers and touch your face.  I speak from experience.

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Hello Fresh “Orzotto”

November 16, 2018

This is meal 2 out of my gifted box – orzotto.  Risotto made with orzo instead of arborio rice.  Clever.

Honestly this is one of the more complicated recipes I’ve made from a Hello Fresh box.  It’s not too difficult, just a lot of cook, remove from pot, set aside.  Requires the stove top and the oven.  And they miss a little on the instructions.  Once you add the liquid (chicken stock concentrate, water and crushed tomatoes) to the orzo it says to bring it to a boil and stir occasionally.  It’s a pretty thick liquid and there’s not a ton of it.  The orzo starts to stick to the bottom of the pot pretty quickly.  I had to stir constantly and vigorously to keep it from sticking.  I also had to add about 1/2 C extra water to get the orzo to cook all the way to al dente.

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The topping is slightly strange.  Shredded mozzarella and panko.  You spread it over the top and put it under the boiler.  Because it’s bread crumbs and a fat you end up with a crust.  Lovely on casseroles, but odd on something that’s supposed to be risotto-esque.  I’d leave that off.  Maybe sprinkle the cheese on top of eat serving.  Leave the panko for another day.

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One more thing.  This is WAY more than 2 servings, as the pasta dishes often are.  To give you a sense, this is a 3 1/2 Q dutch oven.  It’s filled about 1/3 of the way, so nearly a quart of this stuff.  I’m not a small girl and portion control is one of my issues, still, I can’t imagine what Hello Fresh thinks is four servings of this!

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Overall, it’s a good dish. The italian seasoning is a little strong.  It calls for added butter  you don’t need.  What is up with these people and their extra butter?  The chicken sausage is very flavorful, which is good because grated zucchini has no taste at all.  The tomatoes have no salt.  The chicken stock must be low in salt.  Taste before you top and stir some salt in to taste.

Election Night Sheet Pan Dinner

November 6, 2018

It’s election night in America.  Which means a potentially crazy evening for a lot of people.  Kids are out of school since their schools are polling places, which either means they’re home and bored or you have to go somewhere to pick them up.  Maybe you have to vote on the way home.  Maybe that’s your only chance to hit the gym. The polls close at 7pm so returns, predictions, etc start at 7:01.  It gets dark at 5pm so it feels like all this happens at midnight anyway.  Whew.  Oh, and dinner?  Have you had 2 minutes to think about dinner?

Take out?  Entirely respectable.  Or you could throw your entire dinner on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for half an hour while you change clothes and have a glass of wine.  I opted for choice B tonight.  I did my chopping early in the day.  That helps things move along in the evening. (I work from home so this is a luxury I have).  Treat yourself to pre-cut fresh vegetables if that’s better for you. Or, if they’re old enough, assign this task to your kids.  They were home all day. =)

What do we love about sheet pan dinners?  Everything.  There are endless combinations of protein and vegetables.  Endless options for sauces.  And only one pan to clean up.  What do we not love about sheet pan dinners?  There are endless combinations of protein and vegetables.  Endless options for sauces.  The hardest part is figuring out what you’re making.  If you have odds and ends of vegetables, this is a great way to use them up.  I had one sweet potato, half an onion, and half a bag of Brussels sprouts. I had one chicken breast left from a pack I bought for the pups (don’t ask).  Sauce?  I considered balsamic vinegar.  I considered garlic and herb.  I landed on honey mustard because, I have a ton of honey in the cabinet and who doesn’t love honey mustard!

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One tip about these.  If you’re positive that all the vegetables will be done at the same time, go ahead and mix them up.  I usually find that the potatoes take longer than I think.  If you have the vegetables separated by type, it’s easy to remove some while leaving others on the pan to finish cooking.

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We’re halfway through the cooking and already I can tell that the sauce is too soupy.  I kind of wanted a glaze.  I could dump it in a pot and reduce it, but that defeats the purpose of the sheet pan dinner where everything happens on one pan.

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Ok, this didn’t go exactly as planned.  I should have put the potatoes in first.  I’ve now taken out the Brussels sprouts and the smaller piece of chicken and the sweet potatoes aren’t nearly done.  So that’s a bummer, especially since it’s after 7pm and I’m hungry.  Solution?  Eat in courses.  Protein and green vegetable course, followed by the potato course.  Sigh.

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On the plus side the chicken is wonderfully tender.  And with a little kosher salt sprinkled on top, this is a nice sauce with the sprouts.

So, this sheet pan dinner is a solid C, but the concept is still an A!  The next one will be better!  If anyone has a sheet pan dinner they really like, leave the info in the comments!

Tomato Braised White Beans OR White Beans in Dirt

November 1, 2018

I’ve been looking forward to this dish all week.  It just sounded like half comfort food and half elegant dinner.  That said, it’s a slightly strange combination of things and I couldn’t quite figure out the flavor profile.  I’m still not sure I know.  I’ll say it’s 1/4 the recipe and 3/4 the cook.  Let me explain.

I did all my chopping ahead of time.  Worked out the math.  Figured out my substitutions.  Ready to roll.  I’m pretty good about that with recipes I’m unfamiliar with.  Cook the sliced chorizo, got it.  Easy.  Remove the chorizo to a paper towel.  Yep.  Add tomato paste, cumin and paprika to the pot.  Cook “until the mixture is caramelized and dark gold.”  Wait, what?  How does a mixture that starts out red and brown turn into dark gold?  It definitely didn’t.

Instantly black as tar.  This is the point at which I should have started over.  I’m guessing the oil was too hot when I added the tomato paste, but I’ve never seen tomato paste do this.  I didn’t start over.  I soldiered on.

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I added the vegetables. Then stirred in the beans, tomatoes, water and herbs.  I tasted the broth at this point.  Tasted like dirt.  Not a good sign.  From here you boil, add the chorizo, and then simmer 20 minutes.  That means this is going to reduce and the flavors will concentrate.  Concentrated dirt?  Not promising.  Still, I pressed on.

I added the spinach.  Here’s my second mistake.  The recipe calls for sherry vinegar.  I added sherry, which in this pot of very strong flavors, did nothing.  Hello Google.  Yep, sherry and sherry vinegar are not the same.  I could have added 1 part sherry to 3 parts red vinegar except I didn’t have any.  I used balsamic vinegar instead and it made a big difference!  A drizzle of olive oil was also a welcome balance for the dark, dirt flavor of the tomato broth.

In the end this was edible.  I wasn’t even really tempted to pull pizza out of the freezer.  I was suspicious of the spinach, but that added a really nice light greenness.  The balsamic vinegar added a perfect sharpness and the olive oil a beautiful smoothness.  That said, I’m not convinced I’ll eat the leftovers.  All of those lovely flavors really just helped to cover up the fact that I burned the tomato paste in step 2.  But you can’t ever really cover that up completely.

Just a couple of notes for alternatives.  With a little extra smoked paprika I think you could leave out the chorizo and make this a vegan dish.  Or, I think you could also use pepperoni or turkey pepperoni just as well as an easy substitute for the chorizo.

If you decide to make this, I’m going to recommend that you consult this recipe. One, this is a slow cooker version, which is always nice, and two, it’s the right color!

Vegetable Drawer Survivors: Vegan Curry

October 29, 2018

I’ve been traveling for work, as I often do.  I came home to a house with soup and pizza in the freezer and not much else in the way of foodstuffs, as I often do.  I left two items in the vegetable drawer, partly to see how hardy they are:  a head of orange cauliflower and a small bunch of collard greens.  Both survived in pretty fine form.  Both appear in tonight’s dinner.

I’ve taken a liking to chickpeas with cauliflower.  Neither tastes like all that much on its own.  Both take on flavor really nicely.  One crunchy and one creamy, the perfect pair.  It doesn’t hurt that I always have canned chickpeas in the house.  So, that’s how I landed on cauliflower and chickpea curry for dinner.

This is a tomato curry.  Lucky for me, I have a basement full of home canned tomatoes.  They have a brighter flavor than the canned ones you get from the store.  And since you home can in jars, they never have the slightly tinny taste that you sometimes get from an off can of store bought tomatoes. So, the advice is the same as always.  When you have only a few ingredients, use the best ones you can reasonably find and afford.  This curry has strong enough spices that you can get away with slightly more mediocre tomatoes if that’s what you have in the house.

Now comes confession time.  I didn’t have any fresh ginger in the house. I did have the end of a bottle of “squeeze ginger.”  You cannot make this up.  So, I cheated.  I used that instead of fresh.  Here’s the thing.  It’s not really a one for one substitute.  Fresh ginger is only that, ginger.  Squeeze ginger has a little sugar and a little vinegar in it.  Here’s my logic in using it anyway.  A little sugar never hurts against a heavy spice.  The tomatoes have a little acid added to them so they’ll keep in the jars, so a touch more acid from the vinegar would probably be ok.  Sound logic?  Probably not, but it worked for me.

This is super easy to put together.  Took me about 35 minutes including chopping and cooking.  With rice and/or naan alongside, this probably feeds 5-6.  As stew, more like 4.  But I have a major portion control problem when it comes to foods I like, so use your own judgment.

Here’s what you need:

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The very astute among you will notice that there’s a jar of yellow curry paste in this photo.  That’s a HUGE mistake.  I need curry powder for this.  Generally speaking, curry powder is for Indian dishes and curry paste is for Thai dishes.  Curry paste has a bunch of other stuff in it, usually including lime and coconut.  Not a terrific match for Indian curries.  Fortunately I caught my mistake before I started cooking.

This is supposed to be yellow curry powder, but I only had Madras so that’s what I used.

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I’ve never seen collard greens in a recipe for curry, but I had some and an extra leafy green never hurt anyone so in they went!  They add a little bitterness.  Just be sure to cut them in thin ribbons so they’ll cook through.  Remove the stems from the leaves and stack the leaves on top of each other.  Roll them into a cigar shape and then cut the rolls into ribbons.  Here’s what everything looks like chopped.

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Here’s what you really need:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into pieces
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 5-6 small collard leaves, stemmed and cut into ribbons
  • 1 T oil – olive or canola or vegetable
  • 2 t curry powder (Madras or yellow)
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or 1 T squeeze ginger)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-15 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 C water or vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat the oil until it shimmers and add the curry powder
  • Stir the curry powder until fragrant (1-2 minutes)
  • Add the onions, saute 6-7 minutes, until the onions are soft
  • Add the ginger, garbanzo beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, collards, bay leaf and water
  • Mix gently and bring to a simmer
  • Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through, but not mushy – Stir a couple of times as it cooks
  • Remove the bay leaf
  • Serve as stew or over rice

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How’d it turn out?

I made the curry early.  One of my pups has a pack walk tonight.  No time to eat before and no interest in starting to cook after.  So, I cook before and eat after.  Extra time stewing in its own juices never hurt a stew or a curry.

Let’s start with the pluses.  The flavors are fantastic!  It tastes like sunshine.  It’s warm and delightful!  I’m imagining that it will help me get over a cold that’s trying to settle in.  It’ll be even better tomorrow I’m sure.  And it’s beautiful.  The colors are vibrant and warm.

What would I do differently?  First, I would chop the collards instead of slicing them in ribbons.  It was weird to have stringy collards in there.  And maybe next time I’d use chard if I wanted to add a green.  Second, I would serve it over rice, or even grits or polenta.  The broth is really flavorful, but it’s really thin.  It seems too thin for the chunky cauliflower and chickpeas.  And too thin for a curry.  Maybe you could blend some chickpeas with some broth and add it back to the pot, though that doesn’t seem right either.  Maybe some tomato paste cooked in.  I’ll have to try it again to see.

Here’s a link to the recipe that served as tonight’s inspiration.

And if you love cauliflower and chickpeas together as much as I do, here’s a Thai style curry I hope you’ll like too!

Dinner from the dregs: Spaghetti with Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto

October 19, 2018

Factor number one, I’m traveling (again) next week so once again there’s not much fresh food in the house.  Factor number two, tomorrow is my longest run in nearly a year – 13.1 miles.  Factor number 3, I’m way low on protein today.  Like shaky hands low.  All that adds up to pasta with a protein that had to come from the freezer.

A few things I keep in the house as staples for just such occasions of these:  pasta, frozen shrimp, frozen herb mixes and sauces.  If you make your own sauces you can freeze them in small bags or in ice cube trays.  I keep basil pesto, cilantro pesto, collard pesto, charmoula, and a few other things around to jazz up pasta, rice, chicken, seafood.  I’m out of frozen chopped vegetables, but they come in handy too.

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If you think you don’t like pesto, it might just be basil pesto that doesn’t work for you.  Experiment with other combinations and you might find something you like.  Generally speaking a pesto has an herb or leafy green, garlic, olive, a nut, Parmesan cheese.  Google has an endless number of recipes.  This might be the one I used for the Cilantro Pesto I had tonight, though with peanuts instead of almonds.

Not much else to say about this.  You can cook the shrimp in the pot with the pasta to save yourself a pan.  And them about 3 minutes before you expect the pasta to be done.

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Before you drain the pasta, dip out some of the pasta water.  That helps the pesto distribute a little more evenly.  Makes it a little saucy.   I threw a few diced onions in a pan to saute and added those at the end.   No reason except that I had them and they added a little sweetness to an otherwise salty dish.

What you see in the bowl is a solid two servings, even for me.

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Tuesday Wow! Olive Oil-Braised Chickpeas with Swiss Chard and Cumin

October 16, 2018

Let me start by saying it’s been a down in the dumps kind of day.  Crap at every turn.  I could easily have had wine and cookies for dinner and called it a day.  But cooking always makes me feel better so I pulled up my britches and found my way to the kitchen.  My newest cookbook is Dinner:  Changing the Game by Melissa Clark of the New York Times.  I’ve put a dozen or more shreds of paper in there marking recipes I want to look at again.  This is one of them.

This is a surprisingly elegant dish made of really regular ingredients.  I have most of this stuff in my house all the time.  A simple and rustic vegetarian dinner with amazingly complex flavor.  I only made half a recipe and I’m a little bit sad about that.  I could have eaten the whole bowl, no problem.

Here’s what you need for 2-3 servings: (half the original recipe)

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  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 bunch chard (or collards or turnip greens), stems removed
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • salt
  • crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C diced onion
  • 1 can (2C) cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 – 3/4 C stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • hearty bread slices
  • lemon
  • smoked paprika

The original recipe calls for shallots instead of onion, but you work with what you have.

I know this looks like a lot of steps, but it’s really not bad.  I finished the whole thing in 35-40 minutes and I managed to feed the dogs in the middle!

Here’s what you do:

  • Chop greens and stems (separately) into medium sized pieces
  • Heat oil to medium high in a large pot (the greens take up more room than you think)
  • Add garlic, cook until barely golden (1-2 minutes)
    • Note:  If you burn the garlic you’ll have to start over.  It’s super bitter when it’s burned

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  • Add chard stems, cumin seeds, salt, red pepper
  • Cook until stems soften (4-5 minutes)

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  • Add onion, cook 2-3 minutes
  • Add chickpeas, chard leaves, stock.  Mix well.  Cover.

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  • Reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer 10-15 minutes

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  • Puree part of the mixture
    • Use an immersion blender if you have one.  Takes about three squeezes.  That’s what I used.
    • Put 1/3-1/2 in a regular blender if you have that instead.  Don’t blend long.  Just enough to break down the chickpeas
    • Mash the chickpeas with the back of a fork to save yourself cleaning up one more thing.
  • Return the mixture to the pot and stir in

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  • Rub the bread slices with garlic
  • Toast the bread slices
  • Place bread in the bottom of a bowl and ladle stew over it
  • Squeeze lemon and sprinkle with paprika

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How’d it turn out?

I might have licked the bowl.  The garlic, cumin, pepper, lemon and paprika layer themselves throughout the dish.  It’s warm and earthy and bright and smoky.  The texture is creamy without being mushy.  The olive oil is rich and wonderful.  It’s wonderful over crusty bread, but I’d happily eat it over rice as well.  Or by itself, maybe as a side dish for chicken or fish or lamb.

This is a keeper.  I would serve this to guests except then I’d have to share it.  I can only imagine that the leftovers will be unimaginably good.

A Very Fond Farewell to Greenway: Beef and Butternut Chili

October 14, 2018

Frequently you hear me reference things I got at the farmers’ market.  That’s no mistake.  I buy as many things as I can from local farmers.  I like knowing the people that provide my food.  I like knowing that it comes from nearby.  That it wasn’t trucked from hundreds or thousands of miles away.  I like being educated about what’s in season when for my region.  I have a great appreciation for the tremendous amount of work that goes into running a farm.  And a great admiration for the families that take it on.

I have been buying beef from the Clark family at Greenway Beef for a good many years now.  Anyone who has eaten pot roast or London Broil or short ribs or hamburger or chili at my house has eaten Greenway Beef.  The Clarks are lovely people, local to me, and also distribute pork, chicken and vegetables for other local providers.  I’ve grown quite fond of them.  Mike taught me that cooking grass-fed beef requires different things than grain-fed beef.

Recently I learned that Mike Clark has decided to retire.  Well deserved for sure.  Cattle ranching is hard work.  Being committed to providing hormone-free, antibiotic-free meat is no easy thing either.  Getting ready for and showing up at farmers’ markets weekend after weekend is hard work.  But I’m having a hard time imagining not having Greenway Beef around.  Where will I get the best bacon in the world now? (Crabill’s)  Who will sell me white acre peas?  Hamburgers made with some other beef?  Hard to believe.  I stocked up yesterday because it was Mike’s last day at the market.

So, to the Clark family I say, thank you.  I know that the work was hard, but it mattered.  I don’t know that you can ask more than that.  Your life’s work mattered.  Feeding people matters.  I’ve enjoyed supporting your family while you were supporting mine.  Know that you will be missed.  Enjoy your retirement!

So, tonight we have Beef and Butternut chili, thanks to Greenway Beef.

Chili is one of those things that doesn’t really have a recipe.  You can make it any way you like:  beef, pork, chicken, with or without beans, only beans, with veggie crumbles, whatever you like.  This is a tomato chili with beef, onions, garlic, and beans and butternut and green chiles.  Throw in a pumpkin beer, some chili powder and cumin and you’re done.  I make my chili on the mild side so that it works for everyone.  You can always add Tabasco or Texas Pete or jalapenos to kick up the heat if you want.  I serve those things on the side.

A couple of things about the ingredients.  I am very fortunate to have many quarts of home canned tomatoes in my basement.  Canning is a hobby of mine.  The tomatoes are background in this chili, so feel free to use cheap ones.  Save the San Marzanos for something else.  I used an Aleworks Pumpkin beer.  It’s my favorite of the pumpkins.  nice sweetness and pie spice.  It goes well with the butternut.  Use whatever you like.

You’ll see I also used pre-cut butternut.  I almost never buy pre-cut vegetables.  I like being in the kitchen so the chopping doesn’t bother me.  Except for butternut squash.  I hate cutting a butternut squash.  They’re super hard and tend to roll.  And then you have to cut the rind off.  If you’re going to cut your own, use a large and very sharp knife.  No shame in buying the pre-cut though.  I did cut this a little finer so it wouldn’t overwhelm the beef and beans.

Here’s what I used tonight (listed above):

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Here’s what you do:

  • Start with a big, heavy pot
  • Drain and rinse the beans
  • Brown the beef, garlic and onions
  • Mix in 2-3 T tomato paste, cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently

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  • Add a quart of canned tomatoes, with juice
  • Add salt, chili powder and cumin
  • Add beans and green chiles
  • Add cubed butternut squash

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  • There’s not enough liquid in here to cook the butternut well.  Add 1 bottle pumpkin beer or water or stock if you prefer.
  • Bring to a simmer; put the top on the pot, slightly askew
  • Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili thickens
  • If the butternut is too firm, put the top fully on the pot and simmer until it’s done

This is good chili, though not spicy enough for me.  I should have added slightly more chile powder at the beginning.  I like the slight sweetness of the butternut.  The mix of textures with the beef and beans and butternut is really nice.  I served mine with a little Tabasco and some plain greek yogurt.

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It’s Fall Y’all! Stuffed Acorn Squash

October 12, 2018

I’ve been working overseas for the last week.  I arrived home late last night in the remnants of a hurricane to a house without power.  An adventure to be sure, though a tiny inconvenience compared to what people in the path of Hurricane Michael are enduring.

No time today to do any grocery shopping.  Most things in the fridge went into the trash.  Time like this make me glad I keep my freezers stocked to the brim.  The food keeps longer in full freezers.  So, into the freezer for dinner.  Two things:  chorizo and a frozen bag of vegetables, quinoa, and lentils.  I had an acorn squash on the counter.  Dinner done.

I like acorn squash.  It’s perfect for making single servings.  It’s much easier than butternut for cutting through and seeding.  It’s pretty to serve.  The only drawback is that it’s never quite as sweet as I want it to be.  Maybe next time I’ll roast it with a little honey.

I roasted the squash at 375 for 10 minutes and then added the chorizo to the pan.  10 minutes on each side.  In the last 5 minutes of roasting the squash and chorizo, put the veggie bag in the microwave.  Cut up the chorizo and mix with the veggies.  Serve in the squash.  That’s it.

It’s a darn good dinner.  It does take 30 minutes, and the prep is about 6 minutes more.  Totally doable for a weeknight.  And only the sheet pan for dishes!  I recommend turning on the oven when you get home and letting it preheat while you change into your lounge wear.  Take the 6 minutes to prepare the squash and put it on the pan.  That leaves you 30 minutes to have a glass of wine or check homework or read a magazine or start a load of laundry.  You just have to check in every 10 minutes to add the chorizo, or any other sausage, and flip it over.

Keeping those bags of vegetable mixes in the freezer can be a real life saver.  They’re perfect for this kind of dish or casseroles or hash – anything that doesn’t need the vegetables to have any crunch to them.  This one also has protein in it so I didn’t really need the chorizo to make a complete meal, but this dish would have been pretty bland without it.  Leave it out if you want to keep this vegetarian.  Maybe add some extra vegetables in that case.  This bag saved me 10 minutes of chopping and 15-20 making quinoa.  Score!

This meal was nothing I’d make for a dinner party, but it sure was nice to have a real meal without dirtying up the kitchen and without needing a trip to the store.