Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Southwest Chili

Chili is a big part of any "Manly Mans" diet, especially Bubba and the Crew's. But, what they don't know is, sometimes their chili is actually healthy too. Being on the road as much as we are, it's real easy to gain weight. Sitting around on the bus, noshing on junk food, lack of good sleep, is a winning combination for gaining weight and causing health problems. After all, we aren't exactly spring chickens anymore. I have to keep Bubba and the Crew healthy so that they can perform every night.

That's where the All-You-Can-Eat Soup Diet Recipes come in. I can take the Basic Soup and make it in to all kinds of different, hearty soups; like this Southwest Chili.

Ingredients:

  • 2 CUPS ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SOUP DIET BASIC RECIPE
  • 4 OUNCES GROUND TURKEY BREAST
  • 1/2 TEASPOON CHILI POWDER
  • 1/8 TEASPOON GROUND CUMIN
  • 1/2 CUP DRAINED AND RINSED CANNED BLACK BEANS
  • 1/4 CUP SALSA
  • 2 TABLESPOONS SHREDDED CHEDDAR CHEESE

Directions:

  1. In a nonstick saucepan, cook turkey, chili powder, and cumin 3 minutes until turkey is browned and cooked through, stirring to break up turkey.
  2. Stir in Basic Soup, beans, and salsa; heat to boiling.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Sprinkle with cheese to serve.

   

Greek Fish Stew

Eating healthy doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice flavor. When I cook healthy meals for Bubba and the Crew, I have to make sure that they are full of flavor {that way they don't know that the meal is healthy}. In the winter I always have a pot of soup of stew on the stove, it's something I learned for my Cherokee grandmother. If the Boys are hungry they can serve themselves up some, grab a sammy and Poof a quick meal. 

This tasty, Greek dish reminds me of a hearty fish soup and it's a real taste of the sea.

Ingredients:

  • 2 CUPS ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SOUP DIET BASIC RECIPE
  • 1 SMALL RED POTATO, CUT INTO 1/2-INCH DICE { 3 OUNCES }
  • 4 OUNCES COD FILLET, CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
  • 1 TABLESPOON CHOPPED FRESH DILL
  • 2 TABLESPOONS CRUMBLED FETA CHEESE

Directions:

  1. PLACE POTATO IN A SAUCEPAN WITH WATER TO COVER; HEAT TO BOILING. REDUCE HEAT; COVER AND SIMMER 5 MINUTES OR UNTIL TENDER. POUR OFF WATER.
  2. ADD BASIC SOUP AND FISH FILLET; HEAT TO BOILING. REDUCE HEAT; COVER AND SIMMER 3 MINUTES OR UNTIL FISH TURNS OPAQUE. GENTLY STIR IN DILL. SPRINKLE WITH FETA CHEESE TO SERVE.

 

Minestrone Soup

This is a delicious variation of  my All-You-Can-Eat Soup Diet Basic Recipe. I make the basic recipe and the put it into containers, some go in the fridge and the rest go in the freezer for when I need them. Oh, I don't tell Bubba and the Crew, that they are actually eating healthy when I make something with the basic recipe. If they knew I would have a riot on my hands!!!

My Boys welcome a steaming bowl of this vegetable-bean soup on a cold winter night. It even tastes better reheated, so its a good choice to make in advance.

Ingredients:

  • 2 CUPS ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SOUP DIET BASIC RECIPE
  • 1/2 CUP DRAINED AND RINSED CANNELLINI BEANS
  • 1/2 CUP WHOLE WHEAT FUSILLI, COOKED AS PACKAGE DIRECTS
  • 2 TABLESPOONS { PLUS 1 TABLESPOON FOR SERVING } FRESHLY GRATED ROMANO CHEESE
  • 1 TABLESPOON CHOPPED FRESH BASIL

Direcitions: 

  1. TO BASIC SOUP, ADD BEANS; HEAT TO BOILING. STIR IN FUSILLI, HEAT THROUGH.
  2. STIR IN 2 TABLESPOONS ROMANO AND BASIL. SPRINKLE WITH ADDITIONAL ROMANO TO SERVE.


 

 

Monday, July 14, 2014

All-You-Can-Eat Soup Diet Basic Recipe

My recipe for the Basic Soup yields such a large quantity -- to make sure you have enough all week -- that it calls for a 12-quart stockpot for preparation. If you don't have one, not to worry -- the ingredients divide easily in half and the soup can be prepared in 2 large saucepans or Dutch ovens, depending on what you have in your kitchen cabinet.

I use this All-You-Can-Eat Soup Diet Basic Recipe for all kinds of variations like: Minestrone Soup, Mexican Chicken Soup, Greek Fish Stew, Southwest Chili, Thai Shrimp Soup, Goulash, Red Beans and Rice Stew, and Vegetable Curry Soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound carrots, sliced
  • 3 medium onions {1 1/2 pounds}, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cans {28 ounces each} whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1 small {1 pound} head of cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and each cut into thirds
  • 1 can {48 ounce} chicken stock
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 medium {1 1/4 pounds} zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 bags {6 ounces each} baby spinach leaves

Directions:

  1. Coat a 12-quart stock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.
  2. add tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up tomatoes with the side of a spoon. Add cabbage, green beans, stock, water, salt and pepper; heat to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to high; stir in zucchini and spinach and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes or untill all vegetables are tender.
PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 50 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 10 MINUTES


Chicken Gumbo Pot Pie

This is another freeze-now, serve-later dish, so I can give Bubba and the Crew a comfy meal on their busiest weeknights. Puff pastry adds an elegant touch to this luscious chicken gumbo. { don't tell my men though } For a simpler dish, prepare recipe through step 7 and serve with rice or cornbread. Spoon half into freezer-safe containers; freeze and thaw per my tips for freezing and thawing.

Ingredients:

  • 4 SLICES BACON, CUT INTO 1/2-INCH PIECES
  • 4 POUNDS SKINLESS BONELESS CHICKEN THIGHS, CUT INTO 1-INCH CHUNKS
  • 2 TEASPOONS SALT
  • 4 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
  • 1/2 CUP ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
  • 2 CUPS CHICKEN STOCK
  • 4 MEDIUM STALKS CELERY, SLICED
  • 2 JUMBO ONIONS { ABOUT 2 POUNDS}, CHOPPED
  • 2 MEDIUM RED BELL PEPPERS, CHOPPED
  • 2 TABLESPOONS CAJUN SEASONING
  • 2 BAGS { 16 OUNCES } FROZEN SLICED OKRA
  • 2 CANS { 14 TO 14 1/2 OUNCES } STEWED TOMATOES
  • 2 PACKAGES { 17.4 OUNCES } FROZEN PUFF PASTRY SHEETS, THAWED

Directions:

  1. In a large cast-iron skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.
  2. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt on chicken. In bacon fat in skillet, cook chicken in batches, 5 to 6 minutes per batch or until beginning to brown. With tongs, transfer chicken to a large bowl.
  3. In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook about 7 minutes or until deep golden-brown, stirring constantly.
  4. Gradually add stock, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps; heat to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring. Remove skillet from heat.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large stock pot, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until hot.
  6. Add celery, onion, and red pepper. Cook about 10 minutes or until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in Cajun seasoning; cook 30 seconds. 
  7. Add chicken stock mixture, okra, stewed tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Stir in chicken and bacon; reduce heat to medium and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink inside, stirring occasionally.
  8. Divide gumbo between 4 ungreased 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plates. Top each with 1 sheet puff pastry, tucking pastry corners under to form a round top. Cut six 1-inch slits in pastry to allow steam to escape during baking.
  9. Bake one pot pie 35 minutes or until puff pastry is golden-brown and puffed. Let stand 5 minutes before serving
  10. Prepare the other 3 pot pies for freezing. See thawing and reheating tips. 

ACTIVE TIME: 1 HOUR
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 35 MINUTES
MAKES: 4 PIES, 6MAIN-DISH SERVINGS EACH



TIPS FOR POT PIES:
To reheat after thawing 24 hours: Heat loosely covered, in a 400 degree oven 30 minutes, uncover and bake 40 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown.

TIPS FOR PLAIN GUMBO:
To reheat after thawing: In a covered saucepan on top of stove, heat to boiling on medium heat, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For Microwave Heating: Heat in microwave-safe bowl, covered, on Low { 30 percent } 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, then on High 5 to 10 minutes, stirring once.


 

 

Winter Vegetable Pot Pie

Pairing hearty, homey vegetables with a white-wine-and-thyme sauce gives this cold-weather classic a subtle sophistication. Topping it all off: a no-fuss crust of golden-brown buttermilk biscuits. If you love winter root vegetables like celery root, parsnips and sweet potatoes then this is a must try for you. Great for Meatless Monday's or as a side dish to any meat, this casserole will have your family begging for more.

Ingredients:

Vegetable Filling

  • 4 large parsnips
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 large celery roots { 1 1/2 pounds each }
  • 1 jumbo onions { 1 pound each }, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Biscuit Topping

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

Directions:

  1. Prepare Vegetable Filling: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel and cut carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and celery roots into 3/4-inch pieces.
  2. In a large bowl combine onion, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, celery root, oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss to coat; spread in an even layer on 2 large sheet pans.
  3. Roast 50 minutes to 1 hour or until vegetables are browned and tender, stirring and rotating pans from lower to upper racks halfway through roasting.
  4. Meanwhile, in an 8-quart sauce pan, heat stock and wine to boiling over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until blended. Reduce heat to medium and stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until liquid thickens, stirring frequently.
  5. Stir in peas and roasted vegetables, then cook 2 to 3 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in cream.
  6. Spoon vegetable mixture in to a 9 x 13-inch baking pan spreading mixture evenly.
  7. Prepare Biscuit Topping: In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, thyme, salt, and pepper until well blended.
  8. With a pastry blender or 2 knives used scissors-fashion, cut in buttr until coarse crumbs form.
  9. With a fork, stir in buttermilk just until mixture forms a dough. with a tablespoon, scoop generous spoonfuls in to floured hand, and gently pat into 2-inch round { 1/2-inch thick } and place on top of vegetable mixture.
  10. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing dough 1/2-inch apart. { There should be 24 biscuits on top. }
  11. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until biscuits are puffed and golden brown and filling is bubbling. Cool pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped dill and serve.

ACTIVE TIME: 50 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 40 MINUTES
MAKES: 8 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS

 

NOTE: THIS CASSEROLE WAS MADE IN A SMALLER BAKING DISH FOR THE PHOTO 

Red Velvet Fried Chicken

Okay, I know this sounds weird, and I was honestly skeptical when I first saw the recipe until I tried it. I mean really who pairs cake with chicken unless the cake is for dessert? I've heard of restaurants dipping their chicken in red velvet cake batter before frying their chicken. But honestly, I'm not going to take the time to make the batter just to dip my chicken in. Go to the shop, buy a single piece of red velvet cake, that's enough to do an entire chicken. Swap out the cake crumbs for you breading and the rest is the same for frying chicken. Easy-Peasy! Although, in my case I have to buy 2 pieces of cake and do 2 chickens because of Bubba and the Crew.

  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 whole chickens, cut into pieces and skinned except for the wings.
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red velvet cake crumbs, about 2 large pieces, I used this recipe 
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying

 DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large cast-iron Dutch oven or deep fryer heat oil to 350 degrees.
  2. Place flour,salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Place eggs and cake crumbs in two more shallow dishes. Set up your breading station in this order flour, egg and cake crumbs.
  3. Cover each piece of chicken in flour, then egg and then cake crumbs.
  4. Fry you chicken in batches, about 5 minutes per side. Turn chicken with tongs. Internal temperature of chicken should read 160 to 165 on a meat thermometer.
  5. Remove the chicken to a paper-towel lined plate or draining rack on a sheet pan.
  6. Chicken can be kept warm in a low-temperature oven, on a rack on a sheet pan, until ready to eat.
  7. Best served with cream cheese mashed potatoes and greens.

 

Potato Gratin with Gruyere

Cheese, who doesn't love it? Bubba says that I shouldn't be let loose in the gourmet cheese department of the supermarket because I'm a mouse. The cheese's all look so good to me and I usually come with more than we could ever eat. So, if I don't eat it all first, I have to find different ways to cook with all the cheese I buy. To me cheese is the ultimate munchie food. This classic French side dish { made with nutty Gruyere cheese } is well suited to accompany roasted meat or poultry. I serve it with Turkey Breast with Spinach-Herb Stuffing and Steamed Broccoli with Gremolata Crumbs. For a perfect Sunday Supper!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded { 1 1/4 cups }

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a shallow 8-cup baking dish. Set aside,
  2. In a 6-quart saucepan, combine heavy cream, cayenne, and salt; heat to boiling over medium-high heat.
  3. Add potatoes and cook 2 minutes or until cream thickens slightly, stirring gently with heat safe spatula.
  4. Transfer half of potato mixture to prepared baking dish; sprinkle evenly with half of Gruyere. Top with remaining potato mixture and Gruyere.
  5. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender and top is golden and bubbly.

ACTIVE TIME: 15 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 50 MINUTES
MAKES: 8 SIDE-DISH SERVINGS

   

Steamed Broccoli with Gremolata Crumbs

I've dressed steam broccoli with a mixture of bread crumbs and gremolata, an Italian garnish of lemon, parsley and garlic that is served as a topping on anything from stews to vegetables. I serve this broccoli with my  Turkey Breast with Spinach-Herb Stuffing. 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TABLESPOONS FRESH LEMON JUICE
  • 1 TEASPOON LEMON ZEST
  • 2 BAGS {12 OUNCES} BROCCOLI FLORETS
  • 4 TABLESPOONS WATER
  • 2 TEASPOONS OLIVE OIL
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC, GRATED
  • 2 SLICES FIRM WHITE BREAD, TOASTED AND CRUMBLED
  • 1/2 TEASPOON SALT
  • 4 TABLESPOONS FRESH ITALIAN PARSLEY LEAVES, CHOPPED

DIRECTIONS:

  1. IN A MICROWAVE-SAFE BOWL, PLACE BROCCOLI AND WATER. COVER WITH VENTED PLASTIC WRAP AND COOK ON HIGH 4 TO 5 MINUTES OR UNTIL TENDER-CRISP.
  2. MEANWHILE IN A SMALL SKILLET, HEAT OIL IN MEDIUM-HIGH. ADD GARLIC AND COOK 30 SECONDS. STIR IN LEMON ZEST, BREAD CRUMBS, AND SALT AND TOSS TO COMBINE; REMOVE SKILLET FROM HEAT AND STIR IN PARSLEY.
  3. DRAIN BROCCOLI IF NECESSARY; TRANSFER TO SERVING BOWL AND TOSS WITH LEMON JUICE. SPRINKLE CRUMB MIXTURE ON BROCCOLI TO SERVE.

ACTIVE TIME: 5 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 5 MINUTES
MAKES: 8 SIDE-DISH SERVINGS


 


Turkey Breast with Spinach-Herb Stuffing

Turkey is one of Bubba and the Crew's favorite poultry. I love turkey because it will feed a crowd, it's totally economical and because it's just as versatile as any other meat. I usually buy turkey breast {unless it's Thanksgiving or Christmas} because a whole turkey takes up so much room in the freezer. I pair this turkey with my Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Steamed Broccoli with Gremolata Crumbs for a fantastic Sunday Supper.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 package { 10 ounces } frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 loaf sliced firm sourdough bread {8 ounces }, lightly toasted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 { 7 pound } bone-in turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare Stuffing:  In 12-inch nonstick skillet, in oil, cook onion and celery on medium 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are lightly browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat; stir in spinach, thyme, sage, 3/4 cup chicken stock, salt and white pepper. Place bread crumbs in a large bowl pour in spinach and toss to mix well.
  3. Pat turkey breast dry with paper towels. With fingertips, gently separate skin from meat on breast, being careful not to break skin. Spread stuffing mixture on meat under skin. Place turkey breast skin side up, on rack in a small roasting pan {9 x 13-inches}. Cover turkey with loose foil tent.
  4. Roast turkey for 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove foil and roast 30 to 40 minutes longer. Start checking for doneness during last 30 minutes of cooking. Turkey breast is done when temperature on meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast {not touching bone} reaches 165 degrees and juices run clear when thickest part of breast is pierced with a knife. {internal temperature will rise 5 degrees upon standing}.
  5. Transfer turkey to warm platter. Let stand 15 minutes to set juices for easier carving.
  6. Meanwhile Prepare Gravy: Remove rack from roasting pan. Pour drippings through sieve into a 1-cup liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Let drippings stand 1 minute to allow fat to separate from meat juices. Skim and discard fat.
  7. Place roasting pan on medium-high and cook 1 to 2 minutes to brown bits on bottom of pan, stirring. Carefully add wine and cook 1 minute. Stir cornstarch into remaining 1 1/2 cups stock and add with meat juices to roasting pan. Heat to boiling; boil 1 to 2 minutes or until gravy thickens, stirring to loosen bits from bottom of pan. 
  8. Pour gravy into gravy boat; serve with sliced turkey. Makes about 2 cups of  gravy.

ACTIVE TIME: 30 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 3 HOURS 30 MINUTES
MAKES: 10 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS


   

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Zucchini and Pepper Ciambotta

Ciambotta is a vegetable stew whose ingredients can vary according to what you have on hand. Bubba and the Crew love it with some prosciutto and crusty bread served alongside. This main-dish vegetable stew also makes a delicious accompaniment to roast chicken, fish, or meat.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
  • 2 LARGE ONIONS, CHOPPED
  • 4 SMALL FENNEL BULBS { ABOUT 1 POUND EACH }, TRIMMED OF STEMS AND TOUGH OUTER LEAVES, THINLY SLICE { SEE TIP } RESERVE FRONDS
  • 2 LARGE RED BELL PEPPERS, CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
  • 6 CLOVES GARLIC, FINELY CHOPPED
  • 2 CANS { 28 OUNCES } FIRE ROASTED WHOLE TOMATOES IN JUICE
  • 8 MEDIUM ZUCCHINI, CUT INTO 1/2-INCH PIECES
  • 2 POUNDS FRESH GREEN BEANS, TRIMMED AND CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
  • 1 TEASPOON SALT 
  • 2/3 CUP LOOSELY PACKED FRESH BASIL LEAVES, THINLY SLICED
  • 2/3 CUP LOOSELY PACKED FENNEL FRONDS, CHOPPED

DIRECTIONS:

  1. IN A 10-QUART DUTCH OVEN OR STOCKPOT, HEAT OIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT UNTIL HOT. ADD ONION FENNEL; COOK 15 MINUTES OR UNTIL VEGETABLES ARE LIGHTLY BROWNED AND TENDER, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY. 
  2. ADD RED PEPPER AND GARLIC AND COOK 5 MINUTES OR UNTIL PEPPER IS TENDER CRISP.
  3. ADD TOMATOES WITH JUICE, ZUCCHINI, GREEN BEANS, AND SALT; HEAT TO BOILING OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT, STIRRING AND BREAKING UP TOMATOES WITH A SPOON.
  4. REDUCE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW; COVER AND SIMMER 30 MINUTES OR UNTIL VEGETABLES ARE VERY TENDER. STIR IN ALL BUT 4 TABLESPOONS BASIL AND 4 TABLESPOONS FENNEL FRONDS; TOP WITH REMAINING BASIL AND FENNEL FRONDS TO SERVE.

ACTIVE TIME: 15 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR
MAKES: 16 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS 

 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Here's a restaurant favorite you can make at home with ease. Beaten eggs and plenty of Romano cheese form a creamy sauce in this bacon-studded pasta dish. I usually serve this as a side-dish to steaks. I add some crusty Italian bread or Garlic bread and a salad of baby greens with my creamy Italian Dressing or my creamy Caesar Dressing. It's a hearty meal that Bubba and the Crew truly love.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 POUNDS SPAGHETTI
  • 2 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
  • 6 THICK SLICES BACON OR 8 OUNCES PANCETTA, CUT INTO 1/4-INCH PIECES
  • 2 SMALL ONIONS, CHOPPED
  • 10 LARGE EGGS
  • 1 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO-ROMANO CHEESE, PLUS ADDITIONAL FOR SERVING
  • 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND BLACK PEPPER, PLUS COARSELY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
  • 1/2 CUP LOOSELY PACKED FRESH ITALIAN PARSLEY LEAVES, CHOPPED

DIRECTIONS:

  1. HEAT A LARGE COVERED SAUCEPOT OF SALTED WATER TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT. ADD SPAGHETTI AND COOK AS PACKAGE DIRECTS.
  2. MEANWHILE, IN A LARGE CAST-IRON SKILLET, HEAT OIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT 1 MINUTE.
  3. ADD BACON AND COOK UNTIL BROWNED. WITH A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER BACON TO PAPER-TOWEL LINED PLATE. POUR OFF ALL BUT 4 TABLESPOONS FAT FROM SKILLET; ADD ONION AND COOK 5 TO 6 MINUTES OR UNTIL TENDER. REMOVE SKILLET FROM HEAT.
  4. RESERVE 1/2 CUP PASTA COOKING WATER. DRAIN PASTA; ADD TO SKILLET WITH RESERVED COOKING WATER AND BACON. COOK OVER MEDIUM HEAT, STIRRING, UNTIL WATER IS ABSORBED. IN A BOWL WHISK EGGS WITH ROMANO AND PEPPER.
  5. REMOVE SKILLET FROM HEAT; STIR IN EGG MIXTURE { HEAT FROM PASTA WILL COOK EGGS }. ADD PARSLEY AND TOSS UNTIL PASTA IS WELL COATED.
  6. SPOON INTO WARM PASTA BOWL; SERVE WITH ROMANO AND COARSELY GROUND PEPPER TO TASTE.

ACTIVE TIME: 10 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 45 MINUTES
MAKES: 8 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS



   

Sausage and Pepper Baked Ziti

With my freeze-now, serve-later dishes, you can give your family a comfy meal even on the busiest weeknight. Cheesy, zesty, and studded with savory Italian sausage, my baked ziti feeds a crowd and then some--without much time spent in the kitchen. This yummy twist on baked ziti will please kids as well as adults.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 POUND SWEET AND/OR HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGE LINKS, CASINGS REMOVED
  • 4 CLOVES GARLIC, GRATED
  • 2 LARGE RED, GREEN AND/OR YELLOW BELL PEPPERS, CUT INTO 1/4-INCH SLICES
  • 1 JUMBO ONION { 1 POUND }, CUT IN HALF, THEN CUT CROSSWISE INTO 1/4-INCH SLICES
  • 1 POUND SLICED WHITE MUSHROOMS
  • 1 CAN { 28 OUNCES } WHOLE TOMATOES, IN PUREE
  • 1 CAN { 15 OUNCES } TOMATO PUREE
  • 1 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1 PACKAGE { 16 OUNCES } ZITI
  • 1 PACKAGE { 8 OUNCES } SHREDDED MOZZARELLA CHEESE
  • 1/2 CUP FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO-ROMANO CHEESE

 DIRECTIONS:

  1. IN A DEEP NONSTICK 12-INCH SKILLET, COOK SAUSAGE OVER MEDIUM HEAT 10 MINUTES OR UNTIL BROWNED, STIRRING AND BREAKING IT UP WITH THE SIDE OF A SPOON. WITH A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER SAUSAGE TO A MEDIUM BOWL.
  2. IN DRIPPINGS IN SKILLET, COOK GARLIC, PEPPERS, ONION AND MUSHROOMS, COVERED, 10 MINUTES. UNCOVER AND COOK 8 MINUTES LONGER OR UNTIL VEGETABLES ARE TENDER AND MOST OF THE LIQUID HAS EVAPORATED. 
  3. STIR IN TOMATOES AND PUREE, TOMATO PUREE, AND SALT; HEAT TO BOILING OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT, STIRRING AND BREAKING UP TOMATOES WITH THE SIDE OF A SPOON.
  4. REDUCE HEAT TO MEDIUM-LOW; COVER AND COOK 10 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.
  5. MEANWHILE, HEAT A LARGE COVERED SAUCEPOT OF SALTED WATER TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT. ADD PASTA AND COOK 2 MINUTES LESS THAN PACKAGE DIRECTS.
  6. PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. RESERVE 1/2 CUP OF THE PASTA COOKING WATER. DRAIN PASTA.
  7. RETURN PASTA AND RESERVED COOKING WATER TO SAUCEPOT; STIR IN TOMATO SAUCE. ADD MOZZARELLA AND RESERVED SAUSAGE; TOSS TO COMBINE. 
  8. DIVIDE MIXTURE BETWEEN 2 UNGREASED 2 1/2-QUART BAKING DISHES. SPRINKLE WITH PECORINO.
  9. BAKE 20 TO 25 MINUTES OR UNTIL TOPS BROWN AND SAUCE IS BUBBLING. LET STAND 10 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.

ACTIVE TIME: 20 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 25 MINUTES
MAKES: 2 CASSEROLES, 4 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS EACH


 

Curried Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Who doesn't like a good Shepherd's Pie? Well mine has a few twists, my adaptation of shepherd's pie delivers a formidable combination of curry-spiked lamb, gingered vegetables, and mashed sweet potatoes. For a hearty dinner or brunch, prepare the pie ahead of time and freeze until you are ready to toss it into the oven.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 MEDIUM SWEET POTATOES { 12 OUNCES EACH; SEE TIP }
  • 2 TABLESPOONS VEGETABLE OIL
  • 2 POUNDS GROUND LAMB
  • 2 TEASPOONS SALT
  • 1/3 CUP ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
  • 1 TEASPOON CURRY POWDER
  • 1 3/4 CUPS LAMB OR CHICKEN STOCK
  • 1 1/2 POUNDS CARROTS, PEELED AND CHOPPED
  • 1 1/2 POUNDS PARSNIPS, PEELED AND CHOPPED
  • 1 MEDIUM ONION, CHOPPED
  • 1 TABLESPOON GRATED, PEELED FRESH GINGER
  • 1 BAG { 10 OUNCES } FROZEN PEAS
  • 1 CUP HALF-AND-HALF, WARMED
  • 2 TABLESPOONS BUTTER

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PIERCE SWEET POTATOES ALL OVER WITH A FORK. MICROWAVE ON HIGH 15 TO 17 MINUTES, UNTIL TENDER WHEN PIERCED, TURNING OVER ONCE.
  2. IN A 12-INCH SKILLET, HEAT 1 TABLESPOON OIL OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL HOT. ADD LAMB. SPRINKLE WITH 1/4 TEASPOON SALT AND COOK 5 MINUTES OR UNTIL NO LONGER PINK, STIRRING AND BREAKING UP WITH THE SIDE OF A SPOON.
  3. STIR FLOUR AND CURRY POWDER INT LAMB IN SKILLET; COOK 1 MINUTE, STIRRING.
  4. ADD STOCK; HEAT TO BOILING. COOK 1 MINUTE OR UNTIL MIXTURE THICKENS SLIGHTLY. DIVIDE LAMB MIXTURE BETWEEN TWO 3-QUART BAKING DISHES AND SPREAD EVENLY.
  5. PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 DEGREES. WIPE SKILLET DRY; ADD REMAINING 1 TABLESPOON OIL AND HEAT OVER MEDIUM HEAT UNTIL HOT.
  6. ADD CARROTS, PARSNIPS, AND ONION; COOK, COVERED, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL VEGETABLES ARE BROWNED AND TENDER, ABOUT 15 MINUTES.
  7. STIR IN GINGER, FROZEN PEAS AD 1/2 TEASPOON SALT. DIVIDE VEGETABLES BETWEEN CASSEROLES, SPREADING OVER LAMB.
  8. SCOOP SWEET POTATO FLESH INOT BOWL AND COARSELY MASH. STIR IN HALF-AND-HALF, BUTTER AND REMAINING 1 TEASPOON SALT; MASH UNTI WELL BLENDED.
  9. SPREAD SWEET POTATO MIXTURE OVER VEGETABLES.
  10. BAKE, UNCOVERED, 35 TO 40 MINUTES OR UNTIL TOP IS BROWNED.

TIP: WHEN MICROWAVING SWEET POTATOES, PICK ONES THAT ARE AS UNIFORM IN SIZE AND SHAPE AS POSSIBLE--OTHERWISE THEY WON'T COOK EVENLY.

ACTIVE TIME: 1 HOUR
TOTAL TIME: 2 HOURS 20 MINUTES
MAKES: 2 CASSEROLES, 6 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS EACH

 

Pulled-Chicken Sandwiches

Sammy's are a great, easy dinner for Bubba and the Crew, especially when they are running out to a gig or in the mood for a late night snack {almost always}. Yeah, I could throw together a cold cut tray, and they could throw me off the bus! I always have a few trick up my sleeve when it comes to pulling together satisfying, hearty sammy's for my hungry "Manly Men". In this recipe, I transform rotisserie chicken into a tangy, barbeque-sauced sammy filling. Add some deli coleslaw, and some carrot and celery sticks, and presto-change o they are happy and I can sleep without worrying.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 LARGE ROTISSERIE CHICKENS
  • 2 CUPS BARBECUE SAUCE
  • 1 CUP WATER
  • 1/2 CUP CIDER VINEGAR
  • 12 KAISER ROLLS, SPLIT
  • 16 OUNCES DELI COLESLAW
  • CARROT AND CELERY STICKS

DIRECTIONS:

  1. REMOVE SKIN AND BONES FROM CHICKEN; COARSLEY SHRED MEAT.
  2. IN A 4-QUART SAUCEPAN, COMBINE CHICKEN, BARBECUE SAUCE, WATER AND VINEGAR. COOK OVER MEDIUM HEAT 5 MINUTES OR UNTIL HOT, STIRRING FREQUENTLY. 
  3. SPOON CHICKEN MIXTURE ONTO BOTTOM HALF OF EACH ROLL, THEN TOP EACH WITH COLESLAW AND OTHER HALF OF ROLL.
  4. SERVE WITH CARROT AND CELERY STICKS.

ACTIVE TIME: 10 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 15 MINUTES
MAKES: 12 MAIN-DISH SAMMY'S


    

Salmon BLT's with Lemon-Dill Mayonnaise

I love BLT's and I love salmon, so why not pair the two? Add a creamy lemon-dill mayonnaise and you have a toothsome take on everybody's favorite sandwich. I keep the skin on the salmon filets when grilling to prevent them from falling apart. Then I remove it before putting together the sammy's . I grill the bread with the salmon for a total out-doors taste.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 CUP HELLMANNS MAYONNAISE
  • 4 TEASPOONS CHOPPED FRESH DILL
  • 2 TEASPOONS LEMON ZEST
  • 8 SALMON FILETS WITH SKIN ON, 1-INCH THICK { ABOUT 6 OUNCES EACH }
  • 1/2 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1/4 TEASPOON GROUND BLACK PEPPER
  • 16 CENTER SLICES { 1/2-INCH THICK } COUNTRY-STYLE BREAD
  • 8 ROMAINE LETTUCE LEAVES
  • 4 RIPE MEDIUM PLUM TOMATOES, SLICED
  • 12 SLICES BACON, COOKED UNTIL CRISP AND EACH BROKEN IN HALF

DIRECTIONS:

  1. LIGHTLY GREASE GRILL RACK. PREPARE OUTDOOR GRILL FOR COVERED DIRECT GRILLING OVER MEDIUM HEAT.
  2. IN A SMALL BOWL, STIR MAYONNAISE, DILL AND LEMON ZEST UNTIL MIXED, SET ASIDE. SPRINKLE SALMON WITH SALT AND PEPPER.
  3. PLACE SALMON, SKIN SIDE DOWN, ON HOT GRILL RACK OVER MEDIUM HEAT. COVER GRILL AND COOK UNTIL SALMON IS OPAQUE THROUGHOUT, ABOUT 10 TO 12 MINUTES, WITHOUT TURNING OVER.
  4. SLIDE A THIN METAL SPATULA BETWEEN SALMON FLESH AND SKIN AND TRANSFER TO A PLATE; DISCARD SKIN IF YOU WISH.
  5. MEANWHILE, PLACE BREAD ON GRILL RACK AND COOK 1 MINUTE ON EACH SIDE, UNTIL LIGHTLY TOASTED.
  6. SPREAD LEMON-DILL MAYONNAISE ON 1 SIDE OF TOASTED BREAD SLICES. PLACE 1 LETTUCE LEAF, FOLDING TO FIT, ON EACH OF 8 BREAD SLICES.
  7. TOP WITH 2 TO 3 TOMATO SLICES, 1 SALMON FILET, 3 PIECES BACON, AND ANOTHER BREAD SLICE.

ACTIVE TIME: 15 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 26 MINUTES
MAKES: 8 SANDWICHES

 


Cajun Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf is something that everyone loves, especially Bubba and the Crew. For Sunday Supper, Cajun Meat Loaf, paired up with Mashed Potatoes with Browned Onions and Creamed Spinach  for a soul-satisfying meal.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 TABLESPOONS BUTTER
  • 4 CARROTS, PEELED AND FINELY CHOPPED
  • 2 LARGE ONIONS, CHOPPED
  • 2 LARGE STALKS CELERY, CHOPPED
  • 1 LARGE RED BELL PEPPER, FINELY CHOPPED
  • 4 CLOVES GARLIC, GRATED
  • 4 POUNDS GROUND MEAT FOR MEAT LOAF {BEEF, VEAL, PORK}
  • 4 LARGE EGGS
  • 2 CUPS FRESH BREAD CRUMBS {ABOUT 4 SLICES BREAD}
  • 1 CUP PLUS 4 TABLESPOONS KETCHUP
  • 1/2 CUP HALF-AND-HALF
  • 2 TABLESPOONS WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE
  • 4 TEASPOONS SALT
  • 2 TEASPOONS GROUND CUMIN
  • 1 TEASPOON DRIED THYME
  • 1 TEASPOON GROUND NUTMEG
  • 1/2 TEASPOON CAYENNE
  • 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND WHITE PEPPER

 DIRECTIONS: 

  1. IN A LARGE CAST-IRON SKILLET, MELT BUTTER OVER MEDIUM HEAT. ADD CARROTS, ONION, CELERY, AND RED BELL PEPPER; COOK, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL VEGETABLES ARE TENDER, ABOUT 15 MINUTES. ADD GARLIC AND COOK 1 MINUTE LONGER. SET ASIDE TO COOL.
  2. PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 DEGREES. IN A LARGE BOWL, COMBINE GROUND MEAT, EGGS, BREAD CRUMBS.1 CUP KETCHUP, HALF-AND-HALF, WORCESTERSHIRE, SALT, CUMIN, THYME, NUTMEG, CAYENNE, WHITE PEPPER, AND COOKED VEGETABLE MIXTURE JUST UNTIL WELL BLENDED BUT NOT OVER MIXED.
  3. IN A 9 x 13-INCH BAKING PAN, SHAPE MEAT MIXTURE IN TO A LOAF, PRESSING FIRMLY. BRUSH REMAINING 4 TABLESPOONS KETCHUP ON TOP OF LOAF. BAKE 1 HOUR 15 MINUTES. CHECK FOR DONENESS IF NOT DONE BAKE AN ADDITIONAL 15 MINUTES. LET STAND 10 MINUTES TO SET JUICES FOR EASIER SERVING.

ACTIVE TIME: 20 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 35 MINUTES
MAKES: 16 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS


 

Creamed Spinach

Amazingly enough, Bubba and the Crew like Creamed Spinach! Normally, I'm having to hide the veggies, like squash, okra, and peas somewhere in a dish. But when it comes to Creamed Spinach they eat it with no gripes. Even those who swear they hate spinach will be seduced by this mild and creamy dish. For me, a spinach lover, it's heaven by the spoonful.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 TABLESPOONS BUTTER
  • 6 LARGE SHALLOTS, FINELY CHOPPED {ABOUT 1 1/4 CUPS}
  • 4 TABLESPOONS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
  • 1 CUP HALF-AND-HALF
  • 1 1/4 TEASPOONS SALT
  • 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND WHITE PEPPER
  • 1/4 TEASPOON FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG
  • 2 SMALL PACKAGES { 3 OUNCES EACH } CREAM CHEESE, SOFTENED AND CUT INTO PIECES 
  • 6 PACKAGES { 10 OUNCES EACH } FROZEN CHOPPED SPINACH, THAWED AND SQUEEZED DRY
  • 2 CUPS LOOSELY PACKED FRESH ITALIAN PARSLEY LEAVES
  • 1/2 CUP SOUR CREAM

DIRECTIONS:

  1. IN AN 8-QUART SAUCEPAN, MELT BUTTER OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT. ADD SHALLOTS AND COOK, STIRRING FREQUENTLY, UNTIL TENDER, ABOUT 3 MINUTES..
  2. ADD FLOUR AND COOK, STIRRING, 1 MINUTE. WITH WIRE WHISK, GRADUALLY WHISK IN HALF-AND-HALF; HEAT TO BOILING, WHISKING CONSTANTLY.
  3. REDUCE HEAT AND SIMMER, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY WITH A WOODEN SPOON UNTIL SAUCE HAS THICKENED AND BOILS, ABOUT 2 MINUTES. STIR IN SALT, WHITE PEPPER, AND NUTMEG.
  4. REMOVE FROM HEAT; STIR IN CREAM CHEESE UNTIL SMOOTH. STIR IN SPINACH, PARSLEY, AND SOUR CREAM; HEAT THROUGH, STIRRING FREQUENTLY { DO NOT BOIL }.

ACTIVE TIME: 20 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 35 MINUTES
MAKES: 12 SIDE-DISH SERVINGS

TIP: This recipe is easily cut in half for a smaller family.


 

Mashed Potatoes with Browned Onions

On Sundays I try to make a special dinner for Bubba and the Crew. That's when a casserole or a simple to make meal won't do for me. I make a main-dish meat, vegetable side-dish and either potatoes or a pasta side-dish too. If I feel really ambitious I even make a cake or pie for desert. I feed them a really good Sunday Supper, because the next day is Meatless Monday, and I don't have to feel guilty not making meat for supper.

A caramelized onion topping makes mashed potatoes more irresistible. Who knew that was possible?

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 TABLESPOONS BUTTER
  • 2 POUNDS SPANISH ONIONS { ABOUT 6 MEDIUM }, EACH CUT IN HALF, THEN THINLY SLICED
  • 4 TEASPOONS CIDER VINEGAR
  • 6 MEDIUM BAKING POTATOES, PEELED, EACH CUT INTO QUARTERS
  • 1 CUP HALF-AND- HALF, WARMED
  • 1 1/4 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND WHITE PEPPER

DIRECTIONS:

  1. IN A LARGE CAST-IRON SKILLET, MELT BUTTER OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT. ADD ONIONS STIRRING TO COAT. COVER AND COOK 10 MINUTES OR UNTIL ONIONS SOFTEN, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY. 
  2. UNCOVER; INCREASE HEAT TO MEDIUM AND COOK 15 MINUTES LONGER OR UNTIL ONIONS ARE VERY SOFT, BROWNED AND REDUCED TO 1 1/4 CUPS, STIRRING FREQUENTLY. STIR IN VINEGAR AND SET ASIDE.
  3. MEANWHILE, IN A 6-QUART SAUCEPAN, PLACE POTATOES AND ENOUGH WATER TO COVER; HEAT TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT.
  4. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW; COVER AND SIMMER 15 TO 20 MINUTES OR UNTIL POTATOES ARE TENDER. RESERVE 1/2 CUP POTATO COOKING WATER. DRAIN POTATOES.
  5. IN SAUCEPAN, WITH POTATO MASHER, MASH POTATOES UNTIL SMOOTH. GRADUALLY ADD WARMED HALF-AND-HALF, MASHING POTATOES UNTIL FLUFFY. ADD SOME RESERVED POTATO COOKING WATER IF NECESSARY. STIR IN SALT AND WHITE PEPPER.
  6. SPOON MASHED POTATOES INTO A LARGE SERVING BOWL; TOP WITH ONION MIXTURE. STIR BEFORE SERVING.

TIP: CONSIDER MAKING EXTRA BROWNED ONIONS--THEY MAY BE AS POPULAR AS THE POTATOES!

ACTIVE TIME: 15 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 50 MINUTES
MAKES: 12 SIDE-DISH SERVINGS


 

Chili Pot Pie with Polenta Crust

Homemade Chili is always a good choice for feeding a crowd. It's easy to prepare, pretty easy on the budget, and everyone likes chili. I take mine a step further and make Chili Pot Pie. Polenta is the ultimate quick-dinner trick. Cornmeal simmered in the microwave in a mixture of water and milk becomes a creamy crust for a fun and tasty chili pot pie.

 

INGREDIENTS:

        CHILI

  • 2 TEASPOONS OLIVE OIL
  • 1 1/2 POUNDS WELL-TRIMMED BONELESS BEEF CHUCK, CUT INTO 1/2-INCH PIECES
  • 3/4 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1 MEDIUM ONION, CHOPPED
  • 1 MEDIUM RED BELL PEPPER, CHOPPED
  • 3 CLOVES GARLIC, GRATED
  • 1 SERRANO OR JALAPENO CHILE, SEEDED AND FINELY CHOPPED
  • 2 TABLESPOONS TOMATO PASTE
  • 3 TABLESPOONS CHILI POWDER
  • 1 TABLESPOON GROUND CUMIN
  • 1 CAN { 28 OUNCES } WHOLE FIRE ROASTED TOMATOES IN JUICE
  • 2 CANS { 15 TO 19 OUNCES EACH } RED KIDNEY BEANS, RINSED AND DRAINED

        POLENTA CRUST

  • 2 CUPS WHOLE MILK
  • 1 1/2 CUPS CORNMEAL
  • 3/4 TEASPOON SALT
  • 4 1/2 CUPS BOILING WATER

DIRECTIONS:

  1. PREPARE CHILI: IN A 12-INCH CAST-IRON SKILLET, HEAT OIL OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL HOT. SPRINKLE BEEF WITH 1/4 TEASPOON SALT.
  2. ADD BEEF TO SKILLET IN 2 BATCHES AND COOK 4 TO 5 MINUTES PER BATCH OR UNTIL BEEF IS BROWNED ON ALL SIDES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY AND ADDING MORE IF NECESSARY. WITH A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER BEEF TO A BOWL WHEN IT IS BROWNED.
  3. AFTER ALL BEEF IS BROWNED, ADD ONION, RED BELL PEPPER, GARLIC, AND SERRANO TO THE SAME SKILLET AND COOK OVER MEDIUM HEAT, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL ALL VEGETABLES ARE LIGHTLY BROWNED AND TENDER, ABOUT 8 MINUES.
  4. STIR IN TOMATO PASTE, CHILI POWDER, CUMIN AND REMAINING 1/2 TEASPOON SALT; COOK 1 MINUTE, STIRRING CONSTANTLY. 
  5. RETURN BEEF AND ANY JUICES IN BOWL TO SKILLET. ADD TOMATOES WITH THEIR JUICE, STIRRING AND BREAKING UP TOMATOES WITH SPOON; HEAT TO BOILING OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT.
  6. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW; COVER AND SIMMER 1 HOUR AND 15 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY. 
  7. ADD BEANS AND COOK UNCOVERED, 15 MINUTES LONGER OR UNTIL MEAT IS TENDER.
  8. MEANWHILE, PREPARE POLENTA CRUST:  AFTER ADDING BEANS TO CHILI, IN A MICROWAVE-SAFE DEEP 4-QUART BOWL OR CASSEROLE, COMBINE MILK, CORNMEAL, AND SALT UNTIL BLENDED; WHISK IN BOILING WATER.
  9. COOK IN MICROWAVE ON HIGH 12 TO 15 MINUTES. AFTER 5 MINUTES OF COOKING, WHISK VIGOROUSLY UNTIL SMOOTH { MIXTURE WILL BE LUMPY AT FIRST }.
  10. STIR 2 MORE TIMES DURING COOKING. WHILE POLENTA IS COOKING PREHEAT BROILER.
  11. WHEN CHILI IS DONE, SKIM OFF AND DISCARD FAT. SPREAD POLENTA EVENLY OVER CHILI IN SKILLET.
  12. PLACE SKILLET UNDER BROILER 6 TO 8-INCHES FROM SOURCE OF HEAT AND BROIL 3 TO 4 MINUTES OR UNTIL POLENTA CRUST IS LIGHTLY BROWNED, ROTATING SKILLET IF NECESSARY FOR EVEN BROWNING.
  13. LET PIE STAND FOR 10 MINUTES FOR EASIER SERVING.


ACTIVE TIME: 30 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 2 HOURS 20 MINUTES PLUS SATNDING
MAKES: 10 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS




POLENTA CASSEROLE

IF CORNMEAL IS INVOLVED BUBBA AND THE CREW, DON'T REALLY CARE WHAT IT'S CALLED. COUNTRY FOLK LOVE THEM SOME CORN MEAL!!! ME ON THE OTHER HAND, I LOVE ME SOME POLENTA. THIS CASSEROLE DELIVERS COMFORT WITH CREAMY POLENTA AND A HEARTY TOMATO RAGU STUDDED WITH SPICY SAUSAGE AND EGGPLANT. I ALWAYS DOUBLE THE RECIPE SO I CAN FREEZE TWO CASSEROLES FOR LATER.

Ingredients:

  • 24 OUNCES HOT ITALIAN SAUSAGE, CASINGS REMOVED
  • 24 OUNCES GROUND BEEF CHUCK
  • 2 JUMBO ONIONS { 1 POUND EACH }, CHOPPED
  • 4 GARLIC CLOVES, FINELY CHOPPED
  • 2 CANS { 28 OUNCES EACH } WHOLE FIRE ROASTED TOMATOES IN PUREE
  • 2 SMALL EGGPLANTS { 1 POUND EACH }, CUT INTO 1/2-INCH PIECES
  • 8 CUPS WATER
  • 3 1/2 CUPS CHICKEN STOCK
  • 3 CUPS CORNMEAL
  • 1 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1 1/2 CUPS FRESHLY GRATED PECORINO-ROMANO CHEESE

Directions:

  1. IN A 6-QUART DUTCH OVEN, COOK SAUSAGE AND GROUND BEEF OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT 5 TO 6 MINUTES OR UNTIL BROWNED, BREAKING UP MEAT WITH A SPOON. 
  2. WITH A SLOTTED SPOON, TRANSFER MEAT TO A LARGE BOWL.
  3. TO THE SAME DUTCH OVEN, ADD ONION; COOK OVER MEDIUM HEAT 8 TO 10 MINUTES OR UNTIL TENDER. STIR IN GARLIC; COOK 30 SECONDS.
  4. ADD TOMATOES WITH THEIR PUREE; HEAT TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT, BREAKING UP TOMATOES WITH A SPOON. 
  5. REDUCE HEAT AND SIMMER, UNCOVERED, 10 MINUTES. ADD EGGPLANT AND MEAT; COVER AND COOK 5 MINUTES OVER MEDIUM HEAT. 
  6. UNCOVER AND COOK STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL EGGPLANT IS TENDER, ABOUT 10 MINUTES LONGER.
  7. PREPARE POLENTA: IN A MICROWAVE-SAFE-8-QUART BOWL, WITH A WIRE WHISK, COMBINE WATER, STOCK, CORNMEAL, AND SALT. 
  8. MICROWAVE ON HIGH 15 TO 20 MINUTES OR UNTIL CORNMEAL MIXTURE IS VERY THICK.
  9. AFTER FIRST 5 MINUTES OF COOKING WHISK VIGOROUSLY UNTIL SMOOTH; THEN WHISK 2 MORE TIMES DURING REMAINING COOKING TIME. REMOVE FROM MICROWAVE; WHISK IN PECORINO.
  10. MEANWHILE, PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. SPOON 2 CUPS HOT POLENTA INTO EACH OF FOUR 1 1/2 QUART SHALLOW FOIL CASSEROLES. 
  11. SPREAD POLENTA OVER THE  BOTTOM AN UP THE SIDES OF CASSEROLES. SPOON EGGPLANT AND MEAT FILLING OVER POLENTA. SPREAD REMAINING POLENTA AROUND EDGES TO FORM A RIM IN EACH CASSEROLE.
  12. BAKE TWO CASSEROLES 30 MINUTES OR UNTIL HOT. LET STAND 10 MINUTES FOR EASIER SERVING.
  13. PREPARE TWO CASSEROLES FOR FREEZING.

ACTIVE TIME: 40 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 2 HOURS
MAKES: 4 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS PER CASSEROLE


   

Saturday, July 12, 2014

SALSA VERDE ENCHILADAS

I LOVE CASSEROLES, THEY ARE EASY TO THROW TOGETHER AND FREEZE REALLY WELL. THERE IS A UNIVERSE OF CASSEROLES OUT THERE TO CHOOSE FROM. I'VE FOUND THAT ALMOST ANY DISH IS CAPABLE OF BECOMING A CASSEROLE.

IN THIS DISH STORE-BOUGHT ROTISSERIE CHICKENS AND SALSA VERDE MAKE THESE ENCHILADAS A DELICIOUS WEEKNIGHT FIX; I ALWAYS MAKE EXTRA TO FREEZE FOR LATER, TO HAVE WHEN WE NEED THEM. TOPPED WITH SOUR CREAM AND CHEESE, MAKES THEM ALL THE BETTER.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 ROTISSERIE CHICKENS
  • 4 JARS { 16 TO 17.6 OUNCES EACH }, MILD SALSA VERDE
  • 12 GREEN ONIONS, THINLY SLICED
  • 1/2 CUP FRESH LIME JUICE
  • 1 CUP LOOSELY PACKED FRESH CILANTRO LEAVES, CHOPPED
  • 32 { 6-INCH } CORN TORTILLAS
  • 1 CONTAINER { 16 OUNCES } SOUR CREAM
  • 1/2 CUP CHICKEN STOCK 
  • 2 PACKAGES { 8 OUNCES } SHREDDED MEXICAN CHEESE BLEND { 4 CUPS }

DIRECTIONS:

  1. REMOVE MEAT FROM CHICKENS AND COARSELY SHRED; PLACE IN A LARGE BOWL { YOU WILL NEED 11 CUPS, RESERVE ANY EXTRA FOR ANOTHER USE }. DISCARD SKIN AND BONES. STIR IN 1 CUP SALSA VERDE INTO CHICKEN TO EVENLY COAT.
  2. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES. GREASE TWO 9 x 13-INCH BAKING DISHES; SET ASIDE.
  3. IN A LARGE SKILLET. HEAT REMAINING SALSA VERDE, GREEN ONIONS, AND LIME JUICE TO BOILING OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT. BOIL 2 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY. 
  4. STIR IN 4 TABLESPOONS CILANTRO; KEEP WARM OVER VERY LOW HEAT.
  5. WITH TONGS, PLACE 1 TORTILLA IN SALSA VERDE MIXTURE; HEAT 10 SECONDS.
  6. PLACE ON WAXED PAPER; TOP WITH ABOUT 1/3 CUP SHREDDED CHICKEN MIXTURE. ROLL UP AND PLACE SEAM SIDE DOWN IN PREPARED BAKING DISH. REPEAT WITH REMAINING TORTILLAS AND CHICKEN MIXTURE, ARRANGING 8 IN EACH DISH.
  7. STIR SOUR CREAM AND STOCK INTO REMAINING SALSA VERDE MIXTURE IN SKILLET; SPOON OVER FILLED TORTILLAS. COVER 2 DISHES WITH FOIL AND BAKE 15 MINUTES
  8. REMOVE FOIL; SPRINKLE 1 CUP CHEESE  AND 1 TABLESPOON CILANTRO ON EACH CASSEROLE. BAKE 5 MINUTES LONGER OR UNTIL CHEESE MELTS.
  9. MEANWHILE, SPRINKLE REMAINING CHEESE AND CILANTRO OVER THE OTHER TWO CASSEROLES AND PREPARE FOR FREEZING.

ACTIVE TIME: 50 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR 10 MINUTES
MAKES: 4 CASSEROLES { 4 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS EACH }



 

SHRIMP PASTA PRIMAVERA

When Bubba plays certain gigs, I cook for the crowd, it's sort of a ritual we have. Bubba has a big following in Arizona and in Texas, he's a really good performer. I'm not saying that because I have to, or because I'm partial to him, I'm saying it because I get told it all the time. Anyways, when we are in Texas, and I'm serving food at the gig, this is one of the dishes I cook. This colorful pasta is a great recipe to whip up for guests. I serve it with a salad of baby greens and lots of crusty Italian bread. 

Ingredients:

  • 32 OUNCES { 2 PACKAGES } MEDIUM SHELL OR BOW-TIE PASTA
  • 8 MEDIUM CARROTS, SLICED DIAGONALLY INTO 1/8-INCH-THICK SLICES
  • 2 CUPS BROCCOLI FLORETS { 1 OUNCE BAG }
  • 2 CUPS 2-INCH PIECES ASPARAGUS { 8 OUNCES }
  • 12 OUNCES SNAP PEAS OR SNOW PEAS, STRINGS REMOVED, OR 2 CUPS FROZEN PEAS
  • 2 CUPS HEAVY CREAM
  • 2 TEASPOONS GRATED FRESH LEMON ZEST
  • 2 TEASPOONS SALT
  • 1 TEASPOON GROUND BLACK PEPPER
  • 2 POUNDS UNCOOKED FROZEN OR FRESH LARGE SHRIMP, WITH TAIL PART OF SHELL LEFT ON
  • 6 PLUM TOMATOES OR 4 MEDIUM TOMATOES, COARSELY CHOPPED
  • 2 CUPS LOOSELY PACKED MIXED FRESH HERBS, SUCH AS BASIL, MINT, DILL, AND ITALIAN PARSLEY LEAVES, COARSELY CHOPPED

Directions:

  1. HEAT A LARGE COVERED SAUCEPOT OF SALTED WATER TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT.
  2. ADD PASTA TO WATER IN SAUCE POT; HEAT TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT AND COOK 3 MINUTES. ADD CARROTS, BROCCOLI, AND SNAP PEAS TO PASTA; HEAT TO BOILING AND COOK 3 MINUTES LONGER.
  3. REMOVE 1 CUP PASTA COOKING WATER; SET ASIDE.
  4. DRAIN PASTA AND VEGETABLES IN COLANDER WHEN PASTA IS TENDER YET STILL SLIGHTLY FIRM { AL DENTE }; SET ASIDE.
  5. IN THE SAME SAUCEPOT, HEAT CREAM, LEMON ZEST, RESERVED PASTA COOKING WATER, SALT, AND BLACK PEPPER TO BOILING OVER HIGH HEAT, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.
  6. ADD ADD FROZEN SHRIMP AND COOK 5 MINUTES OR JUST UNTIL SHRIMP TURN OPAQUE THROUGHOUT. { IF USING FRESH SHRIMP, COOK 2 TO 3 MINUTES. }
  7. ADD PASTA AND VEGETABLES TO SHRIMP MIXTURE IN SAUCEPOT. ADD TOMATOES AND MIXED HERBS AND TOSS TO COMBINE; HEAT THROUGH AND SERVE.

ACTIVE TIME: 15 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 50 MINUTES
MAKES 12 MAIN-DISH SERVINGS