Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vegetable Beef Meets Minestrone Soup!

I have been trying really hard to use the ingredients that I already have on hand to avoid going to the store. I wanted to make Vegetable Beef Soup for dinner tonight, but I'm sort of short on fresh vegetables (like potatoes, carrots, & celery) so I compromised by using some frozen veggies & some pasta & legumes. What I came up with is a cross between Vegetable Beef Soup & Minestrone. The thing I love about cooking is that you can improvise in so many ways. Change it up however you want, but this is what I did:


1 lb beef tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup flour

salt & pepper

olive oil

1/2 a red onion, diced

1/2 a yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 a pasilla pepper, diced

2 cups frozen mixed veggies (broccoli, corn, carrots, peas, green beans)

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

4 cups beef broth (plus water if you need to thin it out in the end)

1 can kidney beans (or Northern white, garbanzo, pinto, black, etc)

1/2 cup barley

1 cup whole wheat farfalle pasta (I had a half a box on hand, so thats what I used)

oregano, thyme, sage to taste (about a teaspoon each, but you can add more in end if you want)

1 tbsp onion soup mix (the broth was a little broth, so I added this to kick it up a little bit)

Parmesan cheese, for garnish


Put the beef, flour, salt & pepper in a zip lock bag and shake to coat the meat. Heat two turns of the pan of olive oil in a saute pan and brown the beef in batches. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat 2 turns of the pan of olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, & garlic and saute until soft: 5 or 10 minutes. Add the frozen veggies and warm them up slowly on low heat, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the beef, tomatoes, kidney beans & barley. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add the pasta and spices, bring to a boil, then simmer for another 20 minutes or until the barley & pasta are al dente. Check for spices and if necessary, add more, plus the onion soup mix and about 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Stir and serve with more Parmesan for garnish.

Serves 6-8.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini (recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse, with a few small changes)


  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced (I used shiitake & maitake varieties)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream (I didn't have have enough cream, so I used 1 cup cream, 1/2 cup evaporated milk, & 1/4 fat free)
  • 12 ounces pasta, cooked al dente per packages directions, set aside
  • 1 pound cubed or bite-size shredded roast turkey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 (5 1/2-ounce) bag potato chips, crushed


Saute the onions in 3 tablespoons of the butter & the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add the mushrooms, Essence, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and have released their liquid, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and vegetable stock and cook, stirring, until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Add the cream/milk and bring to a low. slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and very flavorful, 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch casserole or baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside.

When the sauce has thickened, add the noodles, turkey, parsley, salt, black pepper, and Parmesan to the skillet and stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer to the prepared casserole and top with the potato chips. Bake uncovered until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Ingredients for Carnitas:

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, mashed

3 - 4 lbs pork shoulder roast

1 grapefruit

1 orange

1 lime

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tsp each: cumin seed & oregano

salt & pepper

Corn Tortillas

Cilantro, red onion, & avocado for garnish


Saute the onions & garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the pork roast and sear on all sides on high heat. Carefully squeeze the citrus over the top of the roast and add in the spices. Turn down heat, cover the roast with water, bring to a boil. Simmer on high for 15 minutes, then turn down to a low simmer for 2 hours, or until the water starts to evaporate and the pork becomes tender enough to shred apart with two forks. This could even take 3 hours, depending on the size of the roast. I like my pork to have a crispy outside, so I do it low and slow.

Serve the shredded pork with tortillas, cilantro, red onion, avocado and hot sauce. I also like to serve Rancho Gordo Pinto Beans on the side. (Recipe can be found on my 10/26/10 blog post for Chicken & Black Bean Tostadas...just substitute Pinto Beans for the Black Beans).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken & Black Bean Tostadas

I soaked my Rancho Gordo Midnight black beans for about 6 hours today and just put them on to simmer for about 3 hours. I also put some chicken breasts in the crock pot with some salsa, chicken broth, oregano, & cumin. My house smells good! Everything should be ready by 6:30. I'm making tostadas with the chicken & salsa. Need to work on a better way to get pictures on here so that they are bigger! Will post recipes & pics later on.

I haven't gone running in 10 days. Ugh. I just haven't been able to get myself motivated. My clothes/shoes are laid out, so maybe I can muster enough energy to at least walk the dogs and run 2 miles tonight before dinner. My next half marathon is in 12 days. I'm so excited to meet Zoe in person! We've been online buddies for over 3 years; she lives in England. Her and her husband are coming out to run the US Half Marathon with us. Both Corey & I have come to just love Zoe & her husband Dave. We're going to have fun. But I'm not sure that any of us are quite ready to run the entire 13.1 miles. Well, actually, I just ran the Nike Womens Half 10 days ago (last time I ran! lol) so I'm sure I could run it, but everyone else is planning on doing lots of walking, so walk I will. I hope to get at least 6 miles of running in that day. We'll see!

Ok, well, I am getting tired of just posting recipes, so I wanted to do an actual blog entry for once. :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stuffed Pork Chops & Butternut Squash

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch kale leaves, stems & ribs removed, chopped fine (use whatever greens you want)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 4 slices ham (I used rosemary ham from Trader Joes)
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 4 thick-cut pork chops for stuffing


Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add kale (or spinach, swiss chard, etc) , 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the Italian seasoning; cook, stirring, just until kale is wilted, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Place the pork chops on a flat work surface; cut a slit horizontally to the bone so chop can be opened like a book. Stuff each chop with 1/4 of the kale mixture, the ham, & the shredded cheese. Secure chops with toothpicks.

To cook and serve:

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet. Add chops; cook 2 minutes per side or until browned. Place chops in single layer in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bake the chops in the oven for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when inserted in the pork. Remove chops to a platter; cover with foil. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes in warm place before serving.

Serve over a bed of butternut squash. I just sauteed Trader Joes frozen squash with olive oil until it was hot.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dragon Bean Pasta Fagioli w/Cheesy Garlic Bread

*adapted from The FoodNetwork Magazine, but I made a few changes of my own*

Active time: 45 min/Total: 2 hr 25 min/Serves: 4-6 (I served 4 and theres a ton leftover)


5 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1/4 t red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1 t finely chopped fresh rosemary (from my yard! ;)

1 2-oz piece pancetta (optional, but I recommend it!)

5 canned whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

1/2 t oregano

Fleur de Sel

3 lbs fresh dragon/cranberry beans, in pods, shelled (or 1 c dried cranberry beans, soaked overnight. I used fresh dragon beans)

2 bay leaves

1 piece parmesan cheese rind, plus 1/2 c grated parmesan, and more for topping

2 c small shell pasta

1 bunch kale, stems & ribs discarded, leaves chopped

1/4 c roughly chopped fresh parsley (I omitted this cuz I didn't have any)

Freshly ground pepper


1. Heat 3 T olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and pancetta, if using, and cook 2 mins. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes; season with oregano & salt. Add the beans, 3 quarts water (if you can use chicken or veg stock, I say go for it), the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 hour 30 mins to 2 hours. (Mine took a full 2 hours)

2. Uncover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 mins. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 or 6 mins. (The soup should be thick and creamy; thin with water, if necessary. I didn't need it)

3. Remove the bay leaves, parmesan rind and pancetta, if used. Add the grated parmesan, parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. Top with more olive oil and parmesan. Check seasonings. I added more salt.

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Halve a loaf of Italian bread lengthwise, then crosswise. Mix 3 T olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/4 t dried oregano; brush on the cut sides of the bread and toast 10 mins at 400. Mix 2 T grated parmesan and 1 cup each shredded asiago & cheddar; sprinkle on the bread and bake until melted, about 15 more minutes.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Polenta with Chunky Tomato Sauce



1 cup dry corn grits

3 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp butter

Bring water to a boil, add the corn grits, simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring, until the grits pull from the side of the pan. Stir in butter, let sit for at least 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate, cut into portions. Fry each portion in butter and/or olive oil on medium for about 4 minutes per side, or until just brown. Set aside.

Chunky Tomato Sauce:


2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 bell pepper, chopped

4 mushrooms, diced

2 carrots, sliced

6 large tomatoes, chopped (I like to use mostly red, with a few yellow or orange tossed in for variety)

2 tbsp tomato paste

8 fresh basil leaves, cut up

2 tsp oregano leaves

Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil, saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushroom,, & carrots for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomatoes, paste, basil, and oregano, bring to a boil, then simmer on low for at least 20 minutes, until the tomatoes break down. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a portion of the polenta, garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

*you can use any kind of onion, bell pepper or tomato that you prefer. You can also "eyeball" the measurements to your taste: more or less of each ingredient, etc. If you simmer the sauce for too long and it gets too thick, add a little water*

*this goes really well with hot Italian Sausage*

*mushroom lasagne recipe coming soon*

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grandma Tillie’s Polish Spaghetti Recipe

I taught my daughters how to make this today, and they asked me to write it down. Its all in my head and I just remember watching my Grandma Tillie and my Dad make it for as long as I can remember. I believe the only reason its called “Polish” is cuz of the meat.


2 T Olive Oil

4 carrots, sliced thickly

1/2 an onion, diced

1 small bell pepper, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 14 oz can of tomato sauce

3 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

1 tsp each: oregano & basil

3 bay leaves

salt & pepper to taste

1 or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced

Leftover meat from the freezer. I used some ribs and tri-tip, but you could use chicken, pork chops, ham, whatever you have handy. This is the Polish part! :)

Rigatoni noodles, cooked according to package.


Saute the onions, bell pepper, and carrots in the olive oil for about 7 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook another 2 or 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook another minute. Add the canned tomatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for about an hour. Now add the fresh diced tomatoes and the meat and simmer covered for another hour. If it seems thick, add water, beer, or wine to thin it out. I always check the spices at this point and usually end up adding a little bit more oregano & basil.

Serve over hot cooked pasta with grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cinncinnati "5 way" Chili

Saw this on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives and did my best to recreate it.

1.5 lbs ground sirloin
1 large can stewed tomatoes
1 TBSP each: crushed garlic, oregano, basil flakes
2 TBSP ancho chili powder
2 cups water
Salt & Pepper
1 can red kidney beans
Red onion, diced
Bucatini pasta, cooked according to package (I'd use capellini next time)
Shredded Cheddar cheese ( I used white Cheddar)

Brown the beef in a large sauce pan, season with salt & pepper. Drain. Return to pan. Add a l tomatoes, spices, & water. Bring to boil, simmer for about 40 minutes or until it cooks down. Check seasoning and add more salt, pepper, & oregano if needed.

Layer in a bowl: Bucatini pasta, meat sauce, sprinkle of kidney beans, cheddar cheese, & onion. Serves 4

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Baked Potato Soup

(Borrowed from AllRecipes.com)

My kids love this Baked Potato Soup and its whats for dinner tonight!


  • 6 bacon strips, diced
  • 2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Minced fresh parsley


This recipe's Ingredients were scaled to yield a new amount. The directions below still refer to the original recipe yield of 4 servings.
  1. In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I was about to give up cooking after screwing up the stuffed bell peppers that I made last night. And then my Ad Hoc Home cookbook by Thomas Keller arrived this morning. I'm re-inspired.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Capellini Pomodoro w/Prawns

Step 1. Marinate the prawns.

10-14 frozen raw prawns, tail-on, deveined
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (evoo), plus 1 TBSP
1 TBSP crushed garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to your liking
1 TBSP Hungarian paprika

Rinse prawns in running water until defrosted, devein the bellies (optional). Mix the next 4 ingredients in a glass dish, put the prawns in a zip lock bag, our marinade over them, then let them marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Heat 1 TBSP EVOO over med high heat, toss the prawns in, and cook about 3 minutes per side until pink. Set aside.

Step 2. Italian "Salsa" (Pomodoro Sauce)

1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 each red & yellow heirloom tomato, chopped into chunky pieces
1 TBSP crushed garlic
8 large basil leaves, cut into ribbons
salt & pepper
Whole Wheat Cappellini pasta, cooked

Heat the olive oil over low heat, toss all ingredients into pan and just warm through. Put the hot pasta in 2 individual serving bowls, spoon some sauce on top of the pasta, then arrange 5-7 prawns on top of that, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over it, and enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Parasols New Orleans

We just got back from New Orleans and since we were going to be there, we specifically wanted to go to places seen on Triple D. We walked 45 minutes through some cool, eerie, and interesting neighborhoods to get there all the way from downtown. Tiny little hole in the wall....the food was delicious....not what I was expecting it to taste like even though I had seen the show. I had the roast beef po'boy and my husband had the Italian sausage. We went through many napkins and a lot of Louisiana Crystal Hot Sauce. I give it 5 stars and will definitely return to New Orleans and to Parasols!!!! :)