Asian Meatloaf & Meatloaf Banh Mi Sandwiches

This is one of those dinners where the leftovers ended up being even better than the original dinner! Whenever I make meatloaf, I always make enough so that we have meatloaf sandwiches the next day. Bahn Mi sandwiches are a family favorite so I knew adding this meatloaf to the mix would be a hit. They all loved the meatloaf on its own, but the sandwiches got even more praise.

The meatloaf was inspired by my Asian Chicken Meatballs.  I thought if an Asian meatball is so tasty, why not meatloaf? I went with beef and pork for this to get the best flavor and texture. I like using organic grass fed ground sirloin for the beef. It is nice and lean and has great flavor without the fat. You don’t need a fattier meat for this because there are so many flavorful ingredients and it stays plenty moist from the added veggies. The hoisin glaze on top also adds great flavor!

Here are a  few tips I have learned along the way for meatloaf:

  1. You need plenty of salt. My rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon per pound of meat.
  2. Egg and bread crumb ratio to meat is also important. I like 1/3 cup bread crumbs and 1 large egg per pound of meat.
  3. Mix all of your ingredients before adding the meat. That way you are just combining the meat with all of the good stuff and it mixes more evenly without over working the meat. That is why my recipe has you whisking the wet ingredients/eggs together and mixing veggies/breadcrumbs together before adding the meat.
  4. Get some good disposable gloves for food handling and use them to mix with your hands! It is very difficult to mix a meatball or meatloaf together without using your hands…and handling raw meat is kinda gross.
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Mixture of breadcrumbs, milk, and sautéed veggies all ready for meat to be added. Eggs, plus other wet ingredients are also whisked together to pour over meat before mixing.

For the first night’s dinner I served the meatloaf with some green beans, baby bok choy, and jasmine rice.

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Asian Meatloaf

Makes 4 hearty servings with enough left over for 4 banh mi sandwiches

For a printable version of this recipe, click here

Ingredients For Meatloaf:

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped small
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped small
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, chopped small
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp asian hot sauce (like Sriracha)
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (I like to use organic, grass fed ground sirloin)
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Optional garnish: sesame seeds and chopped green onion

Ingredients for the Glaze:

Whisk all of the ingredients together and set aside to glaze meatloaf

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • Asian hot sauce to taste (I use a couple teaspoons)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and shiitake mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple more minutes being careful not to burn garlic. Remove from heat and add the chopped green onion (reserving some to garnish later) and the chopped cilantro. Let the mixture cool.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the sesame oil, hoisin, hot sauce, soy sauce, and salt. Whisk together until combined.
  4. In a large bowl, add the panko bread crumbs and milk and mix well to soften the bread crumbs. The milk should be completely absorbed by the bread crumbs.
  5. Add the cooked and cooled vegetables to the bread crumbs and mix well. Add all of the meat, the wet ingredients, and plenty of fresh ground pepper. Mix everything together with your hands (I like to use gloves!). Try to mix without squishing the meat together. You don’t want to compact it too much.
  6. Line a baking sheet with foil and form the meat mixture into a loaf. Top with half of the glaze. Bake for 1 hour 15 min to 1 hour 30 min. You want the internal temperature to reach 160 degrees. About 15 min before the meatloaf is done, top with the rest of the glaze and finish cooking.
  7. Let the meatloaf rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

 

Dinner number 2: Banh Mi Meatloaf Sandwiches…

Or as my 11 year old likes to call them – Banh Meatloaf Sandwiches  🙂

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Banh Mi are deliciously flavorful Vietnamese sandwiches that are made with grilled chicken or pork, pickled veggies, and good crusty bread. They are garnished with onions, cilantro, and sliced jalapeños. Sometimes you will see them on trendy restaurant menus with tofu (which is yummy!) or pork belly (even more yummy!). The key is the pickled veggies. You just need a little extra time in advance to make the quick pickled carrots and daikon radish ahead so that they can soak up some of that vinegar-y goodness in the fridge for about an hour (longer is even better).

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Pickled carrots and daikon radish

This sandwich is a serious flavor party. I’m actually sort of drooling over my own photo as I type…and I just ate these yesterday. You may want to make this meatloaf just for this purpose.

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Here is my version of a Banh Meatloaf Sandwich:

  1. Make some quick pickled carrots and daikon – Mix 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar with 1 cup water, 1 tbsp kosher salt, and 2 tbsp sugar in a mason jar or glass bowl. Add 1 large carrot cut into matchsticks (or packaged, shredded carrots) and 1 medium daikon radish cut into matchsticks. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to a week.
  2. Use good crusty rolls or cut up a baguette into sandwich size pieces (one baguette will make 3 good size sandwiches). Toast for a few minutes in your oven or toaster oven. Slice through the bread part of the way through so that the halves are still connected and tear out a little of the inside of the bread so that you have plenty of room for filling.
  3. Spread some Sriracha mayo on both sides of the bread (good mayo mixed with Sriracha to taste).
  4. Give your slice of meatloaf a quick sear in a hot oiled pan. Add it to the sandwich along with sliced cucumber, your pickled carrot/daikon, chopped green onion, sliced jalapeños, and some cilantro sprigs.

Sandwich perfection!

 


Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

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In the cooler months, I make soup at least once a week. My big green Le Creuset pretty much lives on top of my stove all winter long. Soup is not only comforting to eat, but I really enjoy making it. I know there can be a lot of chopping and prep involved with a good soup, but I actually like that part. If I can paint a picture for you…Cold night, sweats on, occupied/content children, BIG glass of wine, while making soup = perfect evening for me! I feel like all the work that goes into prepping each ingredient is like adding little “layers of love” to your pot. Kinda cheesy, I know, but that is how I feel about soup.

This soup really turned out to be so delicious. The little bit of cream and yogurt give it a richness that is satisfying without being over the top. It is definitely a “lightly” creamy soup, not a thick and creamy one. The wild rice is the star of this soup and it gives it such great flavor. To save time, I bought an organic rotisserie chicken at Whole Foods and it was perfect for this. I like when a little of everything can fit on your spoon, so I cut my potatoes and carrots into smallish cubes and I chopped the chicken into pretty small pieces to match the size of the veggies.

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When you add the yogurt at the end, don’t forget to temper it a bit with some of the warm soup so that it doesn’t separate from the heat. I talk about this trick in my post for Corn Chowder. It is such a great way to add a little rich, creamy flavor without adding too much fat. You can leave out the cream, or add more to suit your preference. Also, remember that salt is pretty key in making a soup taste great. I think the biggest issue with recipes that end up being on the bland side is simply a lack of salt. Salt brings out the flavor of every ingredient in the pot, and getting the right amount is pretty crucial. You can always add, so go slowly. And keep in mind that chicken stock will vary on salt content so you really have to taste as you go. I used regular (not low sodium) stock for this soup and added about 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

For a printable version of this recipe, click here

Makes 6 – 8 hearty servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • splash of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered or sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup wild rice (5 ounces)
  • 2 medium gold potatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups cooked chicken *See note below
  • 1/2 cup low fat or full fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Instructions:

In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat (I used my 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset), melt the butter and add the splash of olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until they give off all of their liquid (you may need to turn up the heat a bit). Add the garlic and thyme and cook a minute or two more. Add the flour and stir well to incorporate it with the veggies. Cook the flour for a couple minutes letting it brown a little but being careful not to burn it.

Add the stock and the water and stir well scraping up any bits of flour from the bottom of the pot. Add the rice and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot with the lid cracked open just a bit and simmer for about 35 minutes, checking/stirring every 10 min or so to make sure it stays at a low simmer and not a boil.

Add the cooked chicken and cook for about 10-15 more minutes or until the rice done and the potatoes are tender. Temper the Greek yogurt by adding it to a small bowl and ladling about 1/2 cup of the hot soup stock from the pot in with the yogurt. Whisk until smooth, then add to the soup. Next stir in the heavy cream and parsley and turn off the heat.  Check for seasoning and add more salt/pepper if needed. Serve with crusty bread and a glass of buttery chardonnay!

*Ingredient Note* I used the meat from a whole small rotisserie chicken (about 2 lbs) and chopped it into  bite size pieces. It gave me right about 3 cups of chicken. You can chop or shred your chicken…which ever you prefer.


Mostaccioli with Roasted Cauliflower, Cannellini Beans, and Bacon

IMG_1985This dinner came out of one of THOSE nights. You know, the kind where you haven’t planned ahead. All of a sudden it’s 6:00 PM and you are scrounging in the fridge and pantry hoping to come up with something to feed the hungry mob that is your family. Luckily, I found the ingredients to put this together and it was a big hit with the Hubs and the boys. AND it was on the table pretty darn quick.

IMG_1975If you haven’t roasted cauliflower yet, you must try it. It might even turn an a cauliflower hater into a cauliflower lover (or at least liker). A while back I was at a friends house for dinner and she offered my son some cauliflower. He asked, “Is it roasted? I only like my cauliflower roasted”. My sweet little food snob…I was a little embarrassed but also a little proud.

All you need for yummy roasted veggies is a cookie sheet, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a hot oven. I  like to line my cookie sheet with foil so I can just toss it and have one less thing to wash.

IMG_1986I always have several varieties of canned beans in the pantry. I add beans to pasta a lot for a dose of fiber and some protein. Plus they are delicious! The bacon adds a lot to this, and you don’t need to use that much for a big flavor boost. 

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Mostaccioli with Roasted Cauliflower, Cannellini Beans, and Bacon

Click here for a printable recipe

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 large head of cauliflower – washed, cored, and cut into small florets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound of mostaccioli pasta
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • a couple shakes of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup of fresh chopped parsley
  • fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese for serving

Directions:

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees. Once your cauliflower florets are washed and dried, put them on a cookie sheet and drizzle them with olive oil (be generous – about 2-3 tablespoons). Toss them around to coat then sprinkle on some kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, giving them a stir once or twice, or until golden and tender. Line another cookie sheet with foil and cook your bacon slices at the same time as the cauliflower. Keep an eye on it, it should take about 10 – 15 minutes to cook. When the bacon is done to your liking, drain on paper towels and chop or crumble into small pieces.

While your cauliflower and bacon cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for your pasta and cook until al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain the pasta and reserve about a cup of the cooking water.

In a small pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat and saute your garlic for about 5 minutes while the pasta is cooking. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. Add your rinsed and drained beans, the red pepper flakes, season well with salt and pepper (it’s OK to over season this a bit, it’s going to flavor a whole pound of pasta), and cook for about 5 more minutes.  Add a splash of pasta water (about 1/2 cup) to the pan before turning off the heat. This will make a little “sauce” to help moisten the pasta.

In a large serving bowl, combine your cooked pasta, the sauteed garlic and beans, the roasted cauliflower, the chopped parsley and bacon. Add a little more of the reserved pasta water if it seems dry and toss well to combine. Add more salt and pepper if necessary and drizzle the top with a little more olive oil (use the good stuff at this point, if you have it). Serve topped with fresh grated cheese.

 


Lean, Mean, & Green Chicken Chili with Garbanzo Beans

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I know that chili isn’t really a warm weather dinner, but we have had our typical June Gloom around here and a warm bowl 0f chili still hits the spot for me. And, this is not your typical meaty and heavy chili! This chili is light and zippy, thanks to the lean ground chicken and the tomatillos. I used garbanzo beans, which I love, because I had a bag in the pantry. You can used canned too, but it’s so easy to boil up a pot of beans if you have the forethought to do it and they taste a step above the canned ones. You could sub whatever your fave bean is and it would be just as delicious!

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You may know from some of my other posts (like my avocado and tomatillo rellish) that I LOVE tomatillos! They are so easy to cook with and add such great flavor to sauces, salsas, soups and stews. The only prep they need is removing the green husk and rinsing them well in warm water to remove the sticky film that they have. You can roast them whole and blend them for a sauce or chop them up and throw them in a pot like I did for this dish.

IMG_3604A quick saute of some chopped poblano pepper and onion start this easy dish. From there you just need to brown your ground chicken (organic if you can get it!), then add in your chopped tomatillos along with some stock and beer.

IMG_3605IMG_3607Once you bring it to a simmer, you just throw the lid on and let it do it’s thing. After it “stews” for about 30 minutes, the tomatillos will break down and make the perfect green sauce.

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Keep in mind…this is a really mild chili. If you want to heat things up a little, throw in a couple of finely chopped jalapenos or a serano when you are sauteing the onion and poblano. I kept this mild for my 6 year old. My heat loving husband and 9 year old added plenty of jalapeno slices to their bowls.

IMG_1919Jalapenos aren’t the only thing you will want to top this with. Garnishes can make a meal! I topped ours with diced avocado, queso fresco, and some sour cream. GOTTA have the garnishes 🙂

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After I served this, I thought it would have been great over some white rice. I think I will make some to serve it with next time. I did make some little quesadilla roll-ups with these cute mini corn tortillas I found. They were tasty for dipping!

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Green Chili with Chicken and Garbanzo Beans

Click here for a printable version of the recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound tomatillos – husked, washed, and roughly chopped
  • 1-7oz can whole roasted green chilis (like Ortega) – seeds removed and chopped small
  • 1 cup Mexican beer (like Pacifico or Modelo Especial)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 1/2 cups of cooked garbanzo beans, OR 3 cans – rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Optional Garnishes:
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Diced Avocado
  • Crumbled Queso Fresco or shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • Sliced Radishes
  • Sliced Jalapeno pepper

*Cooked white rice to serve over if desired

Directions:

In a large dutch oven, saute the onion and poblano pepper for about 7 minutes. Add the cumin and minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the ground chicken and cook, breaking it up with the side of a spoon, until it is cooked through. Add the salt, chopped tomatillos, chopped green chilies, beer, and stock, and bring to a simmer. Cover and lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the tomatillos have broken down.  Add the garbanzo beans and cilantro and cook until heated through. Taste to see if you need any additional salt – that will depend on how salty your stock is. Serve in a bowl, over rice if desired, with optional garnishes.


Summer Salmon Supper

Balsamic-Soy Glazed Salmon with Corn and Tomato Salad over Arugula

I warned you that there would be some serious blogging this week. I’m just not a happy girl if I don’t get to do this. Putting a post together with pictures of food that my family has enjoyed while drinking a glass of wine is like therapy for me 😉

Max, my 8 year old food critic, declared this dinner as “The best dinner you have ever made me”. As for myself, I would not say it is the best thing I have ever made…but it was darn good. I think that any time you cook with ingredients that are in season and at their prime, your food will just taste really good. Wild salmon is readily available right now and summer corn is delicious and sweet. California avocados are at the market and seem to be ripe whenever you need them. As for tomatoes…well…that’s sort of a sore subject around here. My husband has been working really hard on his tomato garden and so far we have only had a few available to eat. Any day now…I’m sure there will be a windfall of tomatoes and I will be scrambling for recipe ideas. For right now, I had a small handful of these amazingly sweet cherry tomatoes that came from our garden, and the rest came from the grocery store.

The hubby is usually in charge of grilling salmon around here, but with him at work I decided to go with the oven. I’m not much of a griller. You could definitely go that route though if you are good with the grill. The glaze I put on was really delicious. Maybe that’s why my boys loved it so much.

For as many steps as there are to this dinner, I found that it came together pretty quickly and easily. You could do some of it ahead of time too, which would come in handy if you were cooking for company…and this is definitely company-worthy!  The glaze for the salmon and the dressing for the salad could be done in advance as well as prepping the corn.

Balsamic-Soy Glazed Salmon

For the Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 minced garlic clove

In a small sauce pan, whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and garlic over medium heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thick, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool while you cook the salmon.

For the Salmon:

  • 1 two pound salmon filet or 4 individual salmon filets
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Put your oven rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat to 425. Cover  a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Rinse and pat salmon dry. Lay skin side down on the parchment and coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 10-15 minutes. Mine took 15 and was cooked perfectly.

Remove from the oven and drizzle some of the glaze over the salmon. Cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes.

Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • handful of basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears of cooked corn (I rub a little olive oil on mine and put them in the oven at 425 for about 10 min)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped sweet onion or red onion
  • 2 cups of small grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • thinly sliced basil to garnish

Directions

Combine the vinegar, basil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and oil in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth. Can be made in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before using.

Cut the corn from the cob and combine with the onion, tomatoes and avocado in a large bowl. Add 1/2 of the dressing and toss to coat, season with a little more salt and pepper. This can sit at room temp for up to 30 minutes before serving. The flavors get even better as it sits.

To serve this Salmon Supper…

Toss the remaining basil dressing with 4 cups of arugula. Divide the arugula onto plates and top with some of the corn salad, garnishing with the sliced basil. Cut the salmon into 4 filets and put next to the salad. Drizzle more of the Balsamic-Soy Glaze over the salmon. Serve immediately.

Now that’s a Juicy Bite!

 


Kale and Caramelized Onion Pizza

I feel like it’s been a while since my last post. It’s been a little crazy around my house trying to wrap up the school year for both of my boys. Last week was preschool graduation for Finn…serious stuff! And this week is the last week that Max will be a second grader. I am really looking forward to summer and all of the good food that comes with it! I love salads and plan to post as many summer salad dinners as I can. I also can’t wait for our tomatoes to finish doing their thing in our garden so I can come up with some super yummy tomato recipes.

The Kale Pizza was last night’s dinner. I really wanted to post something since it had been over a week, but I really wasn’t in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen. It all started with the left over meatballs that I had made the night before and needed to  use up. What do meatballs have to do with Kale Pizza you ask? Well…I figured I would make a meatball pizza to use up the meatballs but didn’t feel like it was very blog-worthy. Thus was born the Kale Pizza. Something a little different, and a little healthy too. I felt like it would justify the not-so-healthy meatball pizza that we were going to be devouring. BTW…my meatballs are on my top ten list of favorite things that I make (and my family’s) and I will post them some day for sure! They are my Sicilian mother-in-law’s recipe and really good.

This kale pizza is really simple to make. The only thing that required a little time was prepping the kale and sauteing the onions. I have seen bags of washed and trimmed kale at the market lately so you could go that route and save some time. Just make sure you get all the big pieces of the stems out because the are tough unless you cook them for a long time.

 

 

You will use what seems like a ton of kale for this, but it cooks down to a much smaller amount.

 

 

 

All those vitamins and health benefits of the kale MUST counteract the fact that it is layered over creamy ricotta cheese and topped with more cheese…right?

 

 

You will cook your onions until they go from this…

 

 

 

 

 

…to this. It takes about 20 minutes on low heat.

 

 

 

 

 

That big bowl of kale cooked down to this.

 

You will start by spreading some some ricotta on your pizza crust. Then you top it with your kale and onion mixture and some shredded cheese. I used an aged cheddar and parmesan mix that I found at Trader Joe’s. It was really good!

Kale and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Ingredients:

  • One store bought pizza crust (or make your own)
  • 2 small sweet onions, halved and sliced thin
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (sharp white cheddar, Gruyere, or mozzarella would be good)

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees

Start by sauteing your onion slices in a large frying pan with a few turns of olive oil over medium low heat. You want to cook them until they are lightly browned and very soft – about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them and stir every so often to keep them from burning. Lower the heat if they are getting to0 brown. Once the onions are done, add the kale to the pan. You will need to do this a few handfuls at a time and add more as it cooks down. Season well with salt and pepper to taste and cook for about 10 minutes or until it is tender. If you happen to have a splash of dry white wine lying around, you could throw it in the pan and cook for a few minutes more (I always seem to have a splash of wine lying around 🙂 but if you don’t, skip it). Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes while you start assembling the pizza.

To assemble the pizza: Spread the ricotta evenly over the crust. Next layer the onion and kale mixture. Last you will add the shredded cheese. Bake the pizza directly on the oven rack (if it’s pre-baked) for about 10 to 15 minutes. When the cheese is all melted and the crust has browned a bit, you can turn on your broiler and let it brown on top for a minute or two. This gets the cheese nice and bubbly and crisps up a few pieces of the kale…kinda like a kale chips – so good! Let the pizza rest for a few minutes and serve.

Now I know that right about now you are wondering…”But what about that meatball pizza she mentioned earlier??”  Not to worry, I will tell you about the meatball pizza. I basically just threw my leftover meatballs and sauce on a pizza crust and covered it with shredded mozzarella cheese. It was really good!! I did slice the meatballs in thirds first because the were big. The leftover sauce made a perfect pizza sauce. I topped it with a little fresh chopped parsley.

Max actually liked the Kale pizza better than the meatball pizza…and he LOVES meatballs!

 

 


Easy Jambalaya

This dinner came out of my quest to find something to make with this yummy chicken andouille sausage that I had sampled at a local store (Hanson’s Market for my SC peeps). I was “hungry” shopping so of course it tasted like the best sausage I had ever eaten. I have never been the type of cook that makes dinner with a protein, a carb, and a veggie all separate on a plate. Not that we never eat that way… I just usually lean towards cooking one pot type dishes. Since the sausage had a little spice…Jambalaya seemed like a logical way to go. I had never made it before so I searched for a recipe on Food Network’s site and found a good one from Anne Burell. I love that Food Network has reviews so you can see if people were actually successful with the recipe and if they liked it or not. This one got great ratings so I went for it and only had to change a couple of things. You can check out the original recipe at: Anne Burrell’s Gulf Shrimp Jambalaya.

I cut the size of the recipe down a little to suit my family. I also added less heat so the kids could eat it. Anne makes her own shrimp stock in her recipe, I went with chicken stock for mine…no time on a Tuesday night for home made shrimp stock 🙂

I used red and yellow peppers instead of green. I really don’t like green bell peppers. My husband and son love them, but since I’m the chef they get vetoed.

 

 

 

 

 

I added parsley to mine. I add parsley to pretty much everything.

 

 

The onions, celery, peppers, garlic & sausage gettin’ to know each other in the pot.

 

 

Yes…I took pictures of my bay leaves in a bowl. I’m trying to be “artsy” like other bloggers.

 

 

 

Using a little kitchen twine to bundle up some thyme is much quicker than pulling all the little leaves off and chopping it up.

 

 

Easy Jambalaya

Ingredients

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound andouille sausage or polish sausage cut into rounds (I used a 14 ounce package and it was plenty)
  • 2 bell peppers of your choice, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 Spanish onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this makes it medium-spicy. For spicy, go with 1 teaspoon. For mild, use 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 bundle fresh thyme
  • 1 pound medium gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped Italian Parsley
  • sliced green onion for garnish

Directions

Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the andouille and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sausage starts to brown. Add the peppers, celery, and onion to the pan, season with salt and a pinch crushed red pepper. Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the mixture has softened and is very aromatic. Toss in the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and cayenne. Stir in the rice.

Add 3 cups of chicken stock, bay leaves, and thyme bundle. Season with salt and taste it to make sure you are on the way to something delicious. Bring to a simmer over medium/high heat, then cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes or until rice is fully cooked (don’t lift the lid during this time).

Stir in the shrimp, cover and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley. Serve garnished with chopped scallions.



Tostadas de Frijoles Peruanos

Frijoles Peruanos are Peruvian Beans. They are also known as Canary Beans and are actually a product of Mexico. They are lighter in color and a little creamier than Pintos. I have been to a couple Mexican restaurants lately that serve Peruvian beans instead of Pintos and they have become a new favorite of mine. I decided to track them down at the market (it wasn’t too hard…they sell them at my local chain grocery store in the Latin foods department) and make them at home.  They are lighter in color and a little creamier than Pintos. I love all beans, especially when they are made from scratch. They are so easy to make if you have a little patience and taste so much better than canned. I like the to soak them ahead of time to speed up the cooking. Make sure you pick through them to remove any rocks or debris first. When cooking beans, you don’t want to salt them until they are done cooking as the salt can make their skins tough.

After soaking the beans during the day, they cooked up in about 90 minutes. I re-fried them in a little bacon fat…just enough to give them that good re-fried bean taste, not so much that your cholesterol will shoot up. If you are anti-bacon (which would be just plain crazy), you can just re-fry them in a little olive oil. These re-fried beans would be really good in a bean and cheese burrito! After layering the tostada shells with some of the re-fried beans, I topped them with some queso fresco, a little shredded cabbage, a creamy salsa verde (the same one I use on my fish tacos), and some diced avocado. All family members approved and had seconds! The left over re-fried beans even made an appearance in Max’s lunch the next day with some tortilla chips and salsa.

Cooked Peruvian beans (before I re-fried them)

I found these great baked tostada shells from Costco. They tasted great and held up to all of my tostada toppings.

http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/mex-grocer_2211_67968229

Tostadas de Frijoles Peruanos

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of Peruvian Beans (Frijoles Peruanos or Canary Beans), soaked for 4-6 hours or over night
  • 3 galric cloves, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  •  4 slices of bacon
  • Tostada Shells

Creamy Salsa Verde (this is the one I make for my Fish Taco recipe):

  • 1/2 cup of sour cream OR Trader Joes Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite Salsa Verde – I like Herdez brand, Frontera’s, or Trader Joe’s is good also
  • Juice from half of a lime
  • handful of fresh chopped cilantro

Optional Garnishes:

  • Crumbled Queso Fresco, or shredded jack cheese
  • Thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce
  • Diced avocado (squeeze a little lime juice over it and season with salt and pepper)
  • Sliced black olives
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro

For the Beans:

Rinse and drain the beans after soaking. Put in a large pot and cover with an inch or 2 of water. Add the garlic cloves and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stiring every so often and checking the level of the water. If the water drops below the beans, add a little more.  After the beans are tender, season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.

In a separate pan, fry the bacon until it is crisp then remove it from the pan and drain on a plate with paper towels. Discard all but about a tablespoon of the bacon fat and return the pan to medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, add the beans to the pan. Once all of the beans are in the pan, add about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the beans. Using a potato masher, mash the beans so to a partially creamy consistency. You want to leave some whole for texture, but have some smashed to make it nice and creamy. Add more of the bean liquid if necessary. You don’t want your beans to runny, or they won’t stay on your tostada shell. Crumble up your reserved bacon and stir into the re-fried beans.

For the Creamy Salsa Verde:

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and creamy

To assemble the tostadas:

First put a layer of the beans, then top with some cheese. Add the cabbage and creamy salsa verde next. Top with the optional garnishes.

These are a bit messy, but delicious!

Check out some other recipes for Peruvian beans:

Peruvian Bean Soup by Feral Kitchen


Super Easy Three Bean and Farro Chili

This was a really easy week night dinner!  Last week we had a few drizzly and gloomy days so I was craving chili. I figured I better make it one more time before it is too warm and I have to wait for fall.  I wanted to experiment with a meatless chili. I really try to cook meatless  as much as possible during the week. I did use chicken stock in the recipe, but that would be easy to switch to veggie stock if you wanted it to be a true vegetarian meal. I also wanted something quick and easy… this totally fit the bill! AND it gave me another use for my new favorite grain…farro. Farro is a whole grain that looks a little like barley, and retains a soft but chewy texture when cooked.  It is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C, and E, and is low in gluten. When combined with legumes, it becomes a complete protein…perfect for a meatless dinner! For this recipe I used a semi-pearled farro (a portion of the outer bran has been removed) which cooks more quickly than hulled farro (all of the outer bran is left intact). I love the way that the farro gives the chili a texture that makes me not miss the meat! You can buy Farro at health food stores like Whole Foods or Williams-Sonoma. You can also buy it on line at Amazon –  http://www.amazon.com/Roland-Farro-3-lbs-Bag/dp/B0028VZEJQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336406809&sr=8-1

Food Critics’ Rating: Max (my 8 year old) gave this dinner two very enthusiastic thumbs up and highly enjoyed left-overs the next day. Finn (my picky 5 year old)…not so much. He ate it with complaints and kept saying “were is the meat part?”.  My husband really liked it.

I bought this at Hanson’s market – San Clemente’s local health store

Cooked Farro

I have seen a lot of vegetarian chili recipes with sweet potato so I wanted to try it in mine. I am the only person in my family who likes sweet potato so I decided to do it on the side and add it to my serving to avoid any complaints. I diced up 1 sweet potato and tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted it in my toaster oven at 45o degrees for about 25 minutes. It came out delicious and added a yummy sweetness to the chili.  I’m sure it would cook fine if you did it with the chili, but this way the non-sweet potato eaters in the family wouldn’t complain. I love the way it tastes roasted so I would probably just do it this way all the time.

Roasted Sweet Potato

So…here is the recipe to this super easy almost vegetarian chili:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup semi-pearled farro

1 quart of organic chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep this completely vegetarian)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped

1 large red pepper, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 seven ounce can of whole Ortega chiles, drained, seeded and chopped

2 teaspoons of cumin (I don’t love cumin, so I only use 1 teaspoon)

1 – 2 tablesppons of chili powder (depending on how hot you like your chili)

1 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 can each of kidney beans, black beans, & garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

a couple shakes of tobasco

Optional garnishes:

crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, chopped scallions, avocado, black olives, sour cream

Method:

In a small saucepan, cook the farro in 2 cups of the chicken stock. You may need to rinse the farro first – check your package directions. Add farro and stock to pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff with a fork. Set aside while you make the chili. In a large Dutch oven, saute the onion and pepper in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the green chiles, cumin, and chili powder and mix well. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. If you want to serve this with the sweet potato you can prepare it while the chili is cooking. Dice one or two sweet potatoes into cubes and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a conventional oven or toaster oven at 450 for about 15-20 minutes. After the chili simmers for 20 minutes, add the beans and cooked farro and mix well. Add a few dashes of Tobasco sauce for some extra heat and flavor, taste to see if you need salt or pepper – depending on how salty your chicken stock is you may not need it…I needed about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Serve with any or all of the optional garnishes.


Spicy Italian Sausage and Seafood Stew

I made this last week when my brother-in-law and sister-in-law were visiting. We had a bit of gloomy weather and I wanted to make some comfort food. This dish is very similar to a cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew), but a little simpler to make. It does take a while to cook…it needs some time on the stove for the flavors to develop and the wine to mellow, but you can do almost all of it ahead of time so it is a great dish for company. I used a seafood blend that I found a local seafood shop that had a mix of calamari rings, shrimp, and bay scallops. They also sell a mix like this at Trader Joe’s. The addition of spicy Italian sausage to this gives it great flavor. Don’t leave out the fennel…it really adds something to this dish! If you haven’t cooked with fennel before…here is a good video I found that shows you how you trim and prep a fennel bulb:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Woq5xV7G_N0

Also, I’m sure it would be a punishable crime to serve it without some really good crusty bread 🙂

Chopped onion and shallot

Fennel Bulbs

Chopped fennel

"Cento" brand imported Italian tomatoes

Serve this with a good Pinot Grigio

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb (also called Anise), trimmed and chopped
  • One medium sweet onion (like maui or walla walla), chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
  • 2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4-5 small yukon gold potatoes, diced into cubes
  • one 35 oz can of imported italian tomatoes blended into a puree in a food processor or blender
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 p0unds of  a mix of shrimp, scallops, and calamari
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley

Directions

In a large heavy soup pot (like a dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, onion, and shallots,  and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add the sausage and break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine to the pot and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the canned tomatoes that have been pureed, the chicken broth, tomato paste, potatoes, thyme, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper (remember that the sausage and chicken stock will add some salt so taste as you go). Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for about an hour keeping in at a constant simmer and stirring occasionally. After an hour of cooking, check to make sure the potatoes are tender. At this point, you can let the stew cook a little longer which just helps the flavors to develop more if you have the time. If you are ready to serve, add all of the seafood and cook for a few minutes until it is cooked through. The seafood cooks really quickly and you don’t want to overcook it. It really only needs 3 -5 minutes of simmering. Turn off the heat and add the chopped basil and parsley (save a little to garnish) and re-season with salt and pepper if it needs it. Ladle into soup bowls and top with additional parsley and basil. Serve with good crusty bread and some good olive oil for dipping.

If you want to make this a day in advance (which would probably make it taste even better), cook it all the way up to just before adding the seafood and let it cool and put it in the fridge. The next day you just need to bring it to a simmer and add the seafood.

Serves 8