Monday, October 18, 2010

No Name Stew?

What to call this? Certainly not a soup, possibly a stew? It's very thick and satisfying. Chock full of delicious healthy stuff! This is another effort to cook from my pantry. The only thing I bought was the ground turkey!

1 large onion diced
1 medium butternut squash diced
1-2 cloves garlic - minced
2 red potatoes - diced
canola or olive oil
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t Italian Sausage seasoning

1/2 lb ground turkey

1 can chicken stock (or 2 if not using beer or wine)
12 oz beer or wine
1 can cannellini beans

spinach 3-4 ripped up handsful

pasta - 2-3 servings (I used angel hair and broke it into about 1.5" pieces.)

Brown onion over fairly high heat. Add in butternut squash and brown that as well. Then add in potato and brown that. Add in ground turkey and brown that!

Add in liquids and beans and simmer for 1/2 hour or so.

Add in the spinach and pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente. Taste and add salt if necessary. Top with parmesan cheese and get all warmed up through your whole body!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Peach Chutney and more!

The canning bug has bitten. I feel like between the sewing, baking and canning I really do belong out here on the prairie (albeit 100 years ago).

A recent weekend yielded peach chutney, tomato jam, and 8 lbs. of tomatoes "put up" in the freezer. I also canned 3 pints of peaches in a lovely honey water recipe I found online. I am going to link to the recipes as I only very slightly modified the chutney one. (I didn't have allspice or mustard seed, so I omitted the allspice and put in ground mustard - about 1 1/2 T. I didn't put in quite as much brown sugar and only used about 2 1/2 cups vinegar and 1/2 cup water and no pickling spices.)

For the tomatoes I got some fancy Ball Brand freezer jars from Farm and Fleet - a BARGAIN!, cooked down the tomatoes a bit, and filled 4 jars (including what I spilled, darn it…) I got 10# of canning tomatoes for $10 from the lovely Amish tomato ladies at the Farmers Market in Urbana on Saturday. They were in wonderful condition and we ate several. I have gotten "canning" tomatoes before that were pretty rough looking. I am planning to go back this Saturday and get 20# as I have beautiful visions of making chili and spaghetti sauce this winter with delicious summer tomatoes. I think I will make some more tomato jam in 1/2 pint jars as well. I used 4 oz. jars this time which are actually quite tiny in retrospect. My mom LOVES tomato jam and these days we can only find it at Curtis Orchards which is only open from the end of July through December.

I also made bread salad (it has a fancy Italian name which I am sure Lisa knows!) which is one of my favorite things. I love mushy bread, always get my Italian Beef in Chicago "dipped".

Bread Salad

1/2 baguette - mine was nice and stale so much so that I could only crush it. That was fun! If your isn't so stale, toast it slowly in the oven until hard then coarsely chop
2 medium to large fresh tomatoes skinned and chopped - I do this over the bowl so I don't lose any juice (I will use 3 next time.)
1/2 sweet onion minced
1-2 T lemon juice
1-2 T good quality olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Mix up the dressing and let sit while you are peeling and chopping the tomatoes. Mix everything together and let the bread soak up the juices. Yum. I love this the next day but you REALLY have to like mushy bread!

As I said above, next time I will use even more tomatoes. You could also add sun dried tomatoes, or do this with halved cherry or grape tomatoes. Other additions that would be nice are fresh mozzarella, feta, pitted black olives, capers, or anchovies.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


The Lawyer, the kids and I went blueberry picking at Pontius Farms on Saturday. If you haven't been - this is a lovely place owned by very friendly folks. I highly recommend it. We spent about an hour picking - luckily Maya and I found some bushes in the shade as she had a sunburn from daycamp. We found that the straggly looking bushes usually had the best berries and the lush ones with many green leaves not so much. I don't know a THING about growing blueberries. Maybe folks before us just didn't want to check out the straggly looking ones?

We were amazed to find we had picked 5 pounds (EXACTLY) of berries between the four of us. I took them home, washed the ones the kids didn't eat in the car, made a pie and still hadn't made a dent in them. I summoned up my courage, headed for County Market and got pint jars and Sure-Jell (I got the "less or no-sugar" type). The insert in the Sure-Jell package was great! Full of tips and hints and recipes. I followed their recipe and process exactly and ended up with 4 pints of delish blueberry jam. I've always heard that canning is a HOT process and oh my yes it is! Everything went relatively quickly though - I only had to process two batches.

I also picked some rhubarb from the Lawyer's garden and made freezer jelly with that. That was SO easy! Slice up the rhubarb, let it sit overnight in sugar, cook briefly and add some (lemon) jello. I am skeptical about the Jello but I couldn't find any recipes with plain gelatin….. We haven't dug into that yet but I'll keep you posted.

Next time I will get 1/2 pint jars and probably invest in a larger pot to process them in. I used my dutch oven which fit 3 pint jars at once. I may, GASP, even get a canner cause I really want to do some veggies too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Wow - I have been cooking but it seems like the same stuff over and over…. grill grill grill. I did make some YUM sweet potato fries the other day though:

3 large sweet potatoes cut into fries
2 T olive oil
1+ t Chili 3000 (or your favorite chili powder)

The timing was kind of odd because I was cooking other stuff at the same time. I think if you did these at 400 for about 45 minutes - stirring about every 15 minutes - it would approximate what I did. MAN were these good!

My latest obsession is Cherry Republic. We recently returned from Leland, MI and this was one of the highlights of the trip. It's a lovely compound full of blooming flowers and contains a café, a store, a fudge shop and a wine shop. The store was paradise for my children. Seemingly every item they sell was out in sample form. I got the cherry pepper jelly and the cherry salsa. Maya got a cherry soda and the kids both got candy. We got a big bag of dark chocolate covered cherries for Scott and he has, I'm pretty sure, hidden them away so he can enjoy them by himself! The wine shop has continuous tastings of both wine and cherry sodas. I think we will be ordering cherry peanut butter and lots more jellies and salsas. The barbeque sauces were very tasty too!

If you ever find yourself in NW Michigan, do yourself a favor and head to Cherry Republic. Afterwards, toddle down the street to Art's Tavern and treat yourself to a whitefish burger and onion rings for lunch.

Happy Travels!!!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

More Penzeys!

I'm hooked. I admit it. Check it out.

My latest package had Italian Sausage spice, Greek spice, MORE Breakfast Sausage spice, Grey Sea Salt, Buttermilk Dressing mix and a sample (free!) of Southwest Seasoning.

Today I made:

Turkey Italian Sausage

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 large sweet onion diced
1 T olive oil
1 heaping T Italian Sausage spice

Brown onion in oil with spice. I also had some fresh mushrooms to use up so I threw those in too. Add in turkey and brown well. I snitched and this is sooo wonderfully good.


Stuffed Zucchini

5 small-ish zucchinis
1/2 sweet onion diced
1/2 T Greek seasoning
2 t olive oil
1/8 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheese - I used asiago

slice 4 zucchinis in half lengthwise and in half. slice a small strip off the skin side so they sit flat. Make V cuts and hollow out the middles to make boats. Reserve what you take out.

Salt and bake boats @ 375 for about 20 minutes in a sprayed pan.

Meanwhile, saute onions, spice and the remaining chopped up zucchini and the reserved middles until nicely browned. Add in bread crumbs.

When boats have cooled a bit, stuff with zucchini onion mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 10 minutes.

Serve warm or hot.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Easy recipes for a Sunday

I do like to cook a lot on the weekends. It really frees up my weeknights for more fun things - you know - like laundry!

This is what I made today:

Turkey Meatballs - we will have pasta and meatballs with lots of onion and mushrooms in the sauce later this week

Corn and Bean Salsa
1 can corn drained
1 can black beans drained
1/2 yellow pepper chopped
1/2 Vidalia onion chopped finely
1/2 jalapeno seeded and minced
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 t chili powder (I'm in love with Chili 3000 from Penzey's)
juice of one lime

mix, let sit and eat as a salad or use to top burritos or tacos.

Beef Taco filling

This is my new favorite way to make taco filling.

1 lb ground sirloin
1/2 chopped Vidalia onion
1 t Chili 3000

saute until onion is cooked and beef is nicely browned.

Add in:

1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup salsa - I use medium hot

simmer for 1/2 hour on very low heat. Use for tacos, burritos, enchilada bake. So yum. This is also so good with chicken thighs: Use four boneless skinless thighs and brown well with onion and chili powder. Double stock and salsa and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and shred. Reduce liquid and add back in shredded chicken.

Beans Like My Mama Makes

1 can vegetarian baked beans
1 can butter beans (drained)
1 can kidney beans (drained)

1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup mustard (I used grainy and yellow as I am running low on both!)
1/4 cup brown sugar
several shakes of hot sauce - I love Louisana hot sauce

Put in crock pot and cook all day. We will eat these tonight with grilled turkey tenderloin and roasted potatoes.

Hope you had a great weekend too!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Seth's Mussels

Scott and Maya took off for Indy this past weekend and I told Seth he could have whatever he wanted for dinner - he wanted us to cook something together.

He is SO my son. He got on Tastespotting and came upon a recipe for Mussel Curry. He thought about that and decided he would rather have mussels like he had when he was in France with his grandmother two summers ago. So - here it is:

Seth's Mussels

½ bottle dry white wine
chicken stock (in about the same quantity)
½ large white onion - chopped
3 cloves garlic - smashed through press
1 t olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until nicely browned. While we did this we discussed:

* adding the garlic last so that it doesn't scorch
* how browned food equals flavor

Add in the liquids and simmer for at least an hour. Here we discussed how reducing liquids makes them have a more concentrated flavor. We debated adding some tomatoes but decided against it.

Add in 2 lbs* mussels (in the shell). We found some frozen ones at Schnuck's that turned out quite nicely. Cook for just about 5 minutes. Not too long!

Serve with slices of baguette, goat cheese and sliced tomatoes. Use the bread to sop up the juice. While in France Seth learned how to use an empty mussel shell as pincers to remove the mussels from the shell (hmmm - I feel a song coming on!)

* I forgot to check the weight of the mussels. These were vacuumed packed on one layer - about 10x5 inches?

This was a lovely spring meal with WONDERFUL company!

Friday, April 02, 2010

old recipes

I haven't had too much time to post lately - but enjoy this and the following recipes next winter please!

Italian Pot Roast

1 small shoulder roast - well trimmed

1 diced onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic - put through press
1 t olive oil
1 large can good quality crushed tomatoes
red wine ~ 1 cup

Saute veggies and spices in olive oil until nicely browned. Add in tomatoes and wine and simmer until wine cooks through.

Meanwhile, heat dutch oven and brown roast well on all sides. Top with sauce and roast at 300 for 3+ hours - checking about every ½ hour. I couldn't find my lid so I just covered with a piece of tin foil. The house smelled amazing Friday afternoon!

Remove from oven, shred beef and serve with a hearty pasta shape such as rigatoni or ziti and topped with good quality Parmesan.

The leftovers for this are delicious. Since Maya loves baked pasta I made that with this sauce last night and it was just heavenly on a cold snowy night.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shrimp Gumbo

I love any type of gumbo - I think it's cause of the okra - I love "seedy" things....

Here's a good one for WW AND Mardi Gras!

Shrimp Gumbo

2 T olive oil
2 T flour

1 t olive oil
one large onion diced
1 bell pepper (any color - I used red) diced
1 c + celery - diced
1 c + carrot - diced
3+ cloves garlic - put through press

cook olive oil and flour over slowly, over medium low heat until nicely browned to the color of peanut butter.

Meanwhile, saute veggies and spices until browned.

Add in:

1 can diced tomatoes
1 carton chicken or veggie stock
1-2 T hot sauce depending on taste and strength of sauce. I put in about 2 T - we have been using the hot sauce from Aldi of all places! It is nicely spiced - but not too much and has a great taste.

Simmer for 1+ hours.

Add in:

1 bag frozen okra

Simmer for another hour or so.

Add in:

1 lb raw peeled shrimp

Increase heat and cook until shrimp is pink.

Taste - adjust seasonings and serve over rice (traditional) or corn bread (what my kids like!)

Happy Lent. What are you giving up? My brothers always give up whiskey and bald women.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Two Posts in One Day!

stay tuned for more. I've injured my shoulder and am down for the count today!

This is the best dinner ever. And I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that I didn't eat it until 8 pm after a full day, 30 minute workout and 11 points up to that moment!

Tortellini Soup (serves 4)

3-4 cups chicken stock (I dug into my freezer supply)
1 bag dry tortellini to yield about 4 cups cooked
roasted garlic (I roasted a bunch of veggies this past weekend and this was from that stash)
1 t oil

Heat oil and add in garlic. Smoosh the garlic around so it breaks up. Tear kale off thick stems and add to oil.

Cook the tortellini and drain.

While the tortellini is cooking, add chicken stock to kale and let simmer.

When tortellini is ready, ladle 1 cup into bowl and top with kale/stock. Top with good quality parmesan if you wish (for 1 more point).

This yields a huge bowl of satisfying soup for 5-6 points!

Greek Chicken and Pasta

This is a great company meal. Very easy to make (in fact Seth did most of it as I have done something unfortunate to my shoulder) and sooooo tasty. We had it with Maya's Cheese Triangles which she made with only a little help from my mom!

Greek Chicken and Pasta

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs - cubed
1 large onion - diced
1 clove garlic or garlic powder
1 T olive oil
1 container grape tomatoes
1 can artichoke hearts - cut up
1/2 - 3/4 cup roasted red peppers (I used jarred ones)
1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
juice of one lemon
1/2 chunk feta cheese
black pepper
1 box pasta (I used rigatoni - prepared al dente)

Saute onions in oil with garlic. Add in chicken and brown well. Deglaze with lemon juice and wine. Add in other ingredients except pasta and cheese, simmer over low heat until chicken is done and you are ready to eat. This is why I recommend chicken thights instead of breasts - they will not dry out like breasts do.

When ready - put in serving bowl and top with cheese. Serve with pasta.

Tasty with the cheese triangles! A romaine salad would be nice and some crusty bread. (we did not have these - but it sounds good!)

7-8 pts/serving - serves 6 (you will have leftover pasta)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


so.... sigh.... you should have seen this coming.....

Weight Watchers.

I did Weight Watchers about 6 years ago with lots of success. Unfortunately, I am back again. One of the things I love about WW is eating real food and still being able to cook.

So - here was dinner last night and lunch today. It was frankly better today at lunch - next time I will TRY to make the teriyaki sauce a day ahead.

Chicken Teriyaki with Rice and Veggies

½ t canola oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1-2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 t crushed ginger
couple shakes hot pepper flakes
3 T brown sugar
1 T honey
1/4 cup water
2 T corn starch

Heat oil and add in garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Add in everything else except 1/4 cup water and corn starch. Let simmer while you cook the chicken and veggies.

20 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bag "stir fry" veggies - frozen (make sure to get them with NO noodles)
1 onion
1 t canola

Slice onion and brown in oil. Add in chicken and get a nice sear on both sides. Add in some water or stock if it seems dry. When chicken is almost cooked - add in veggies and cook until they are hot and the chicken is done. Add about 1/4 cup of the sauce and heat through.

Serve with rice. I would have made brown rice but everyone refuses to eat it but me. So I suck it up and eat white. I made 1 ½ cups of uncooked rice. Not sure how much that ended up being when it was cooked

This a was a GREAT dinner, very filling and satisfying. I managed to get it on the table well before I had to leave at 6:30 for PTA. Did I wish I had fresh veggies? Yes - but it's January and a weeknight.

Three of us ate dinner from this and I was able to make three nice 8 point lunches with the leftovers. It was even better today at lunch. Sometimes i make the mistake of not eating enough at lunch - but this was perfect. Very filling and I think it would have been fine too with a little less rice. This was SO easy and beats those frozen dinners with a stick!