Category Archives: Dinner

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo

This Gumbo is one of my all time favorites, and here’s why.  A long long time ago, before my own little consciousness popped into existence, my dad learned how to make gumbo when he lived in New Orleans, from a restaurant he fondly refers to as a hole in the wall; off the beaten path.  The restaurant itself was a little dirty maybe, but had the best lip smacking fresh seafood around, and has surely long since closed. However, it gave out a gumbo recipe to my dad who has Chicken Gumbohad the legendary gumbo continued into existence, by transplanting it states away and years later into my delighted awareness and shortly thereafter my stomach. As far as I know it is not legendary to anyone else but me and my family yet, so let me know if this gumbo becomes legendary to you :D. My dad has been making gumbo for our family for years with his fresh east-coast catches; a trio of shrimp, oysters, and crab meat. It takes a little work, especially to harvest and prepare all that seafood, but it is ridiculously good. I am talking best meal of your life good.  Sadly, my husband has not come to understand just how delicious seafood is, so for him, I made a chicken version of gumbo with a few extra vegetables to enhance the complexity it would lack from the lack of seafood, and that is the recipe you will see below. Believe it or not, it rivals the seafood version. I think I am going to make this for the annual Hoover family ski trip with my in-laws and friends this year. All picky eaters will rejoice! No person left behind at dinner time! The vegetables come out so tender and flavorful, you don’t even know you are eating them.

IMG_2880Chicken GumboChicken GumboChicken GumboIMG_2912Chicken Gumbo

With an afternoon to spare, I enjoy making this gumbo with a glass of sweet tea in hand and  listening to some tunes.  Even better yet is making gumbo with my dad, the gumbo pro himself.  He makes a beautiful golden roux, simply browned flour and butter, taking care not to burn it. If you burn your roux, throw it out and start over. A burnt roux will ruin your whole recipe and waste all your other precious ingredients.

Rue<See that golden color, remember that color.

I hope this amazing recipe makes up for the last few post-less months. I know, its been more than a few….like six, but we have been busy buying and moving to a new house and going to a new school and getting a new job, etcetera, etcetera. Exciting stuff. I would say, it is just about as exciting as this gumbo.

Enjoy!, and try not to fight over the left overs the next day.

Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Cajun
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Chicken, chicken sausage, sweet bell peppers, and okra served over rice. Pairs great with a side of garlic bread. So good, you will think you're in New Orleans.
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 can okra, 8 oz
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 pack Korr home style chicken stock (alternatively 2 chicken bullion cubes)
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 14oz chicken sausage
  • 1 tbsp Filé powder*
  • salt and pepper and red pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • rice
Instructions
  1. Boil 4 cups water in soup pot.
  2. Sift flour in melted butter and brown on medium-low heat in nonstick skillet, stirring constantly until golden brown. Keep a close eye on this part, it is very easy to burn, and very important to the flavor of the while dish. Add to boiling water and turn the soup pot's heat to medium.
  3. Sauté onions in olive oil until brown and add celery and peppers. Sauté for another 5 minutes then add to soup pot.
  4. Drain okra and add to soup pot.
  5. Sauté chopped chicken sausage until brown and add to soup pot.
  6. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes on raw chicken thighs after removing the skin.
  7. Turn skillet on the highest heat possible and let chicken thighs sear on each side for 2 minutes each then add to soup pot.
  8. Remove thighs after 20 minutes and remove meat from bone, set aside.
  9. Let soup cook on medium-low for about 2 hours, or until vegetables are tender. Cover or add water as needed.
  10. minutes before serving, add filé powder and thigh meat to soup pot and simmer. At this point, don't forget to make your rice
  11. Serve your gumbo in bowls over a heaping scoop of rice and some garlic bread on the side.
Notes
*Filé powder is a herb made from the dried and ground Sassafras tree leaves

 

Baked Spaghetti Bread

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Bread

Baked Spaghetti Bread

I adapted this recipe from http://www.rhodesbread.com/blog/blog/braided-spaghetti-bread, and I haven’t looked back. Left over spaghetti never tasted so good.

Baked Spaghetti Bread

The presentation combined with the delcious-ness makes it an instant crowd pleaser. So, I like to make it for get-togethers, and people seem to be so impressed by the simple braided crust and then are impressed by how yummy it is. I’ve tried experimenting with different seasonings and cheeses or making it without ground beef.  I’ve found it is pretty much impossible to mess this recipe up, unless you burn it, drop it on the floor and the dog gets to it first.

This is just a fun and delicious way to make left over spaghetti special.  Many times though, I make spaghetti specifically for this recipe.

Baked Spaghetti Bread

Roll out dough, put spaghetti and cheese in the center. Cut slits in the dough and add a little pesto if you have it. Baked Spaghetti BreadStart folding

 

Baked Spaghetti BreadCriss-cross!

Baked Spaghetti Bread

Baked Spaghetti BreadKeep going.  Baked Spaghetti BreadAlmost done! Baked Spaghetti BreadEasy as pie!

Baked Spaghetti Bread

Add some Italian seasoning & sprinkle on some Parmesan….

Baked Spaghetti BreadBake and serve!

Baked Cheesy Spagetthi Bread
Recipe type: Casserole
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Loaf Rhodes Bread Dough or 12 rolls of frozen bread dough
  • 2 cups left over spaghetti (spaghetti noodles covered in meat sauce)
  • 6 oz shredded cheese (mozzarella and/or asaigo and/or romano)
  • 1 tbsp Italian spices (basil/oregano/thyme)
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp pesto (optional)
  • Extra sauce for dipping
Instructions
  1. Let frozen dough defrost in refrigerator overnight, on counter for 2 hours, or if pressed for time, microwave on low until workable.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  3. Roll out dough on floured surface to the size of your cookie sheet or about 12x16 inches
  4. Transfer dough to buttered cookie sheet
  5. Add left over spaghetti in a heaping strip along center of dough, leaving about 3-4 inches on both sides. Add shredded cheese on top.
  6. Cut about 20 slits in each side toward center, stopping ½ inch before reaching spaghetti. Make sure number of slits on each side are equal.
  7. Add a smear of pesto on each strip (optional).
  8. Start on one end and stretch strip over to the other side, at about a 45 degree angle.
  9. Then bring strip on other side back over crossing the first strip at about a 45 degree angle. Keep alternating strip in criss-cross pattern until finished. Fold end up towards center if necessary.
  10. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning then parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.
  12. Serve with extra sauce for dipping if desired.
Notes
Rhodes bread dough is found in the frozen section. Alternatively use about 12 frozen rolls of dough to substitute for 1 loaf
Use two Rhodes bread dough loaves and add more spaghetti/meat sauce to serve 6. Add 10-15 minutes cooking time.

 

Baked Spaghetti Bread

Simple Curry

Simple Greek Yogurt Curry

Simple Curry

Greek yogurt is so wonderful. It is full of protein and probiotics.  I often use it to replace all kinds of ingredients  in recipes. Depending on the recipe, I may use it to replace heavy cream, milk, or even ice cream such as in a smoothie.

Simple Curry

I always use greek yogurt when making curry, I feel like it mellows out the spices. The first time I made this curry was for my boyfriend (now hubby), in college.  I had never tried curry, but smelled it at some restaurant and craved it.  We tried it, and are never going back.  The flavor is rich and it transforms what ever vegetables I need use up into a exciting meal.  I throw in chicken if I have it or cayenne pepper if the hubby is feeling spicy, and I like to serve it over thin rice noodles.

Simple Curry

Greek Yogurt Curry
Author: 
Recipe type: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Versitle easy curry
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp gram masala
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder or 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1½ cup greek yogurt
  • 2-3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 cups chopped vegetables (I used mushrooms, cauliflower, and carrots)
  • 1 chicken breast (optional)
  • rice or rice noodles
Instructions
  1. DIce onion and brown in olive oil for 15 minutes in large nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add spices (garlic, curry, and gram masala) to onions and contuine sauteing for 3 minutes.
  2. Turn heat down to medium low and mix in 2 cups milk, yogurt, tomato paste, and vegetables and simmer for 1½ - 2 hours or until desired tenderness of vegetables. Add more milk as needed to keep sauce from drying or burning.
  3. Optionally, add cut up chicken breast and simmer for 20 more minutes.
  4. Serve over rice or rice noodles, cooked according to package instructions.

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Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad

This salad is exciting. Using cabbage as the base I loaded it up with colorfully fun healthy veggies. That’s right, I called vegetables fun.  I had a bunch of veggies in the fridge pleading with me to be used before they went bad, including mushrooms which I always always have in the fridge.  A wasted mushroom is a sad day, and I had a whole cupful of mushrooms just days shy of the  slime stage so something had to be done STAT.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Have I mentioned my addiction to mushrooms?! Its bad, I put them in and on everything. I have never ever ordered a mushroom-less pizza. I don’t know why I love them so, but I do. It is an irrational love. I can’t quite put my finger on it why they taste so good, and I am compelled to add them to almost every savory dish that comes out of my kitchen, but hey, many a people have been caught up in all kinds of irrational love way wilder than my mushroom love.

I digress.

Back to this delicious roasted salad.

Roasted Vegetable SaladRoasted Vegetable Salad

To make it more filling, I added potatoes to the mix. I found an assortment of red, white, and purple fingerling potatoes at a local store that sells cheap local produce called the Vegetable Bin. They have been in business for a century, and for good reason. I mean, who can resist buying purple potatoes?!  I also can’t resist buying their locally made sourdough bread.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Roasted Vegetable Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Roast vegetable salad serves 6-8 people depending on if it is a side or main dish and left overs are easily reheated.
Ingredients
  • ½ head cabbage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup sliced carrots
  • 1 small squash
  • ½ zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped potatoes
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon
  • 1tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 415F
  2. Mix together lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  3. Chop up cabbage into wedges, about 2-3 inches long. Dice onions, and chop up the rest of the vegetables to the size of your preference, no bigger than ½ inch x ½ inch thick.
  4. Put the vegetables together in large bowl then pour olive oil mixture over it and stir gently as to not break up the cabbage wedges too much.
  5. Put mixture on cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake at 415F for 40-50 minutes, flipping vegetables with spatula about every 15 minutes.

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Vegetable Pesto Pasta

Veggie Pesto Pasta

Vegetable Pesto Pasta

One of my favorite stores is World Market.  When Scott and I are bored and looking to get out of the house, World Market , is a place we both agree to go look around in. It has some fun neat stuff such as soap that smells really really good, cool decorations, and of course my favorite- unique interesting foods from different parts of the world.  I found some delicious looking basil pesto this week-end and so I put it to the test.

fresh vegetables

Of course, I started with a lovely line up of fresh veggies. How could anything go wrong. It makes me happy to coat vegetables with the deliciousness of pesto so that my hubby will eat it.

Vegetable Pesto PastaVegetable Pesto Pasta

Vegetable Pesto Pasta

After taking our pup to the dog park,  Kindo spent the afternoon snoozing on the couch, Scott spent the afternoon gaming, and I happily spent the afternoon dreaming and cooking up a couple pesto recipes.  I love pesto; it is rich and creamy from the olive oil and bursting with the flavor of green ground spices.  It is not spicy, just flavorful, so I added it to some biscuits made moist by ricotta cheese and some easy to make vegetable pasta.

Vegetable Pesto Pasta

Veggie Pesto Pasta
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Spaghetti with pesto, abundant veggies, ricotta & parmesan cheese
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 small yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 8 oz mushrooms (1 pack)
  • ⅓ cup wine
  • 1 pack cherry tomatoes
  • ½ lb spagetthi (1/2 pack)
  • ½ cup pesto
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • ricotta cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Dice onion, chop mushrooms, mince garlic, and thinly slice bell pepper then sautee in nonstick pan with olive oil over medium heat
  2. In the meantime, thinly slice zucchini and squash, cut cherry tomatoes in half, then add to pan along with wine. Let the liquid cook off while preparing the noodles.
  3. Heat a pot of water over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add spaghetti or preferred pasta and cook according to package instruction.
  4. Drain pasta and mix with pesto. Mix in the vegetables.
  5. Serve each plate with 3 heaping tablespoons of ricotta cheese and a heavy sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

 

Vegetable Pesto Pasta

Vegetable Pesto Pasta
Vegetable Pesto Pasta
Mandu: Korean vegetable dumpling

Mandu: Korean Vegetable Dumplings

Mandu: Korean vegetable dumpling

MANDU is the Korean word for dumpling. And they are one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. Ever.

Ever.

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I went to South Korea thinking I liked spicy food. Yeah right!  A couple bites of anything red over there would put my whole GI track in over drive, would keep my system cleaned out for weeks, and burn my tongue for dayssss.  Apparently every child grows up eating super super spicy food so that their tolerance for spicy food is off the charts by the time adulthood rolls around. I am not exaggerating. I quickly learned to avoid anything that was red, aka coated in the spiciest spicy red chili pepper sauce in the world. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but just a little.

Dumplings however were zero spicy.

P1040107 P1040168 P1040218 P1040269 P1040271 P1040284 P1040293 P1040297 P1040305 P1040376 P1040385P1040326My time in South Korea, for an exchange program during college, was a simply amazing once in a lifetime experience. I was able to meet some beautiful people (inside & out) whom I miss dearly, learn about an ancient fascinating culture, see the landscape of a most beautiful country, and try some really good food (that wasn’t red).  My favorites were pumpkin soup, doughnuts filled with sweet bean paste, bulgogi, pajeon,and of course my #1 favorite was mandu-Korean dumplings!  Whenever I had the chance to eat dumplings, I was all over it.  So of course, when I came home, I wanted to reproduce and share that amazing tasting food with my family.  I searched high and low for a good Mandu recipe, but none were exactly what I was looking for.   Combining ideas from several recipes and remembering some specific ingredients from the little dumplings I loved, I made the Mandu of my dreams.

I’ve always held this belief when it comes to cooking; if I love the ingredients, then I will almost definitely love the results. So it follows that I am in love with these dumplings.

The first time I made dumplings, I used equal parts ground pork, ground beef, and tofu for the base and that was oh-so-delicious, but this time I wanted wanted to make a vegetable dumpling.  It is partly because I want to be healthier, partly because my husband doesn’t like pork, and mostly because I despise touching raw ground meat. The nurse-germaphobe in me does not want to touch anything gross without some nice latex gloves on.  I will touch any and absolutely anything with gloves on, but I am fresh out of those on the home front.

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I also consulted my dear friend Seo Yeon for some extra Mandu making tips to make the perfect Korean Dumplings.

 

 

These dumplings were pretty easy to make, but take a good bit of time to   individually fold each dumpling.   The dumpling skin packs in the store come with 60 so that does indeed make for quite a bit of folding, but the good news is they can be frozen for later and are just as delicious!

IMG_2347IMG_2349IMG_2350Just mix up all the prepared ingredientsIMG_2355 and start folding.  Put a heaping teaspoon in the center of the skin then rub some water with a finger along the two top edges.  Then, fold in half and press the edges together.  When sealed, turn the dumpling upright and wrinkle the edges towards the center, making them look wavy.IMG_2358
After making the dumplings, you can boil, steam, pan sear, or add them to soup.  They are versatile and make a quick easy meal when frozen.  To freeze, just put dumplings on a floured pan in the freezer, making sure each dumpling is not touching another. Once completely frozen, an hour or two, throw them all in a freezer bag and removed desired amount when ready to eat.  Just add a couple minutes to cooking time, about 3-5 minutes for all methods.

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The dipping sauce is almost as important as the dumplings.  Just mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.

I doubled this recipe and mixed the other half of the filling in chicken stock and water to make an Asian soup to go with the dumplings for dinner.

Mandu: Korean Vegetable Dumplings
Author: 
Cuisine: Korean
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Korean Vegetable Dumplings. Makes 60 dumplings
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • 1 pack mushrooms, 8 oz
  • ½ cup cooked chopped vermicelli rice
  • ½ cup finely chopped cabbage
  • ½ cup green onions/chives
  • ½ tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 oz tofu
  • 1 pack dumpling skins (about 60)
Instructions
  1. Microwave tofu 1 minute and squeeze out liquid in paper towels. Add tofu to bowl and mash with fork.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame seeds, sesame oil, finely chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, cooked & finely chopped vermicelli rice, diced mushrooms, and finely diced green onions and then mix well.
  3. Place heaping teaspoon full of mixture in center of dumpling skin and rub wet finger over two adjacent sides a couple times. Fold dry edges over on top of wet edges and pinch closed. For looks, press the two opposite corners ups towards the center, which makes the edges look wavy.
  4. Boil desired amount of finished dumplings for 2 minutes and serve with dipping sauce (sauce recipe in notes).
  5. For extra dumplings, place on floured pan (not touching each other) in freezer for 1-2 hours. Once frozen completely, transfer to freezer bag. Good for 4 months.
Notes
The dip: mix equal parts water, soy sauce, and rice vinegar then sprinkle top with sesame seeds and ginger.

 

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Gnocchi Verde

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Gnocchi Verde translation: green dumplings.  These Italian dumplings are made green by copious amounts of spinach and made delicious by cheeses and spices.

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Italian food has always been my favorite.  I went over to Italy one summer a little shy of a decade ago for a short exchange program to learn about art and culture, but my favorite part ended up being the food, of course. That is where I first tasted creamy gelato (everyday), fluffy pillows of traditional gnocchi, and truffle pizza.  Between the rich sauces, pasta, olive oil, and cheeses, they got it right!

So when my dear friend IMG_2310Carla-Bean gave me a adorable little Italian cook book published in the 1960’s soon after my return from Italy, I was thrilled.  I have been meaning to make this Gnocchi Verde recipe from this cook book, ‘Recipes: The Cooking of Italy,’ for the longest time, and now I am wondering why I didn’t do it sooner?!  Making these little spinach dumplings was a fun little adventure. I made a few changes, and they turned out ridiculously delicious.  Mhhhmmm.

IMG_2241You just cook down some spinach, mix in cheese, spices, flour, and  egg, then let the mix chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Then, pop small scoops in boiling in water for a few minutes. Then put the drained dumplings in a buttered casserole dish, sprinkle with moreIMG_2242 cheese and broil long enough for the cheese to start to brown.  I served the gnocchi verde over some pasta with Italian-spice enriched spaghetti sauce and sauteed portabello mushrooms.  I also served wine with the dish, because it would not be fully Italian with out some sweet wine. My husband said he felt like he had gone to a fancy Italian restaurant. Score!

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Gnocchi Verde
Recipe type: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Spinach Cheese Dumplings
Ingredients
  • 9 oz chopped fresh spinach
  • 4 tbsp butter (divided)
  • ⅓ cup ricotta cheese
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites
Instructions
  1. Melt half of the butter (2 tbsp) in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add chopped fresh spinach then saute until almost all of the moisture has evaporated and the spinach begins to stick to the pan.
  3. Add ricotta cheese and cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  4. Transfer cooked spinach and ricotta cheese to a bowl and mix in flour, egg whites, nutmeg, garlic, pepper, and half of Parmesan cheese (2 tbsp).
  5. Let mixture chill in fridge for about an hour, if the mixture is not fairly firm, mix in 1-2 more tbsp flour.
  6. Boil water and drop in rounded spoonfuls, about 1 heaping tablespoon. Do not overcrowd the pot so you will have to do a couple batches. Expect some loose spinach to come free of the dumplings in the boiling water, but the main dumplings will be intact. Let them boil 5 minutes then remove with slotted spoon and place on plates with paper towels.
  7. Turn oven on to broil and pour 1 tbsp melted butter in casserole dish. Place dumplings in dish and pour remaining melted butter (1tbsp) on top of dumplings. Then sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese (2 tbsp) on top.
  8. Put casserole dish in oven and broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese starts to brown. Watch closely.
  9. Serve immediately over pasta with spaghetti sauce.

 

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Easy Shepherd’s Pie

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This meal is perfect to make on a weeknight. It is super easy to make and requires just a few flavorful ingredients.  The most time consuming part is boiling the potatoes.  Using box mix potatoes would make it ready in a flash, though I used some good old fashioned potatoes.  The potatoes in this dish were like the icing on the cake.  These mashed potatoes were mixed with butter and cheese, scooped on top with an ice-cream scoop and then broiled to create a nice brown look and flavor. Yes, potatoes, please, get in my belly. I did use smart balance butter (less saturated than regular butter), sharp cheddar cheese, and unsweetened almond milk in the potatoes to make me feel better about eating this hearty comfort food. IMG_2149 A few months ago, my husband went out to eat with a friend and reported enjoying this dish called shepherd's pie at a restaurant downtown.  I tucked that little knowledge nugget away in my mind and decided to make it for our Valentine's Day celebration dinner, along with some gooey dark chocolate brownies.  I know, it's a little early to be celebrating, but I have to work Valentine's Day and the rest of the weekend. With 12 hour long night shifts, that means I will be MIA. No cooking those days. IMG_2154 Our little early celebration was a smashing IMG_2074success.  Between bites of pie, he told me this was so much better than the shepherd's pie he previously thought was so good. He ate so much, his stomach bulged.  Haha, mine did too, especially with a dark chocolate brownie for dessert!  I just love being able to make the man I love, love coming home to a lovely dinner. That's a lot of love, but hey, its Valentine's! IMG_2173IMG_2184  
Easy Shepherd's Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Irish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Makes two large portions of a savory beef, vegetable, and gravy mixture that is topped with cheesy mashed potatoes. The ultimate comfort food.
Ingredients
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 can, 14.5 oz, peas & carrots
  • 1 can, 6.5 oz, mushrooms
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp Mrs. Dash seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Boil halved potatoes and start browning meat
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F
  3. When meat is no longer pink, add salt, Mrs. Dash seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir well.
  4. Turn beef burner down to low and add flour, stir, then add water. Then add cans: drained mushrooms and drained peas & carrots.
  5. When potatoes done, or easily able to be pierced with fork, removed from water and take skins off. Mash and mix in milk, cheese, butter, and pepper to taste.
  6. Add meat and veggie mixture to casserole dish(es) then top with mashed potatoes
  7. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes. Serve. Will need more oven time if dish prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.
  8. (optional) Broil for 2-3 minutes to brown top
Notes
I used two large individual serving sized casserole dishes and then used an ice-cream scoop to top meat with mashed potatoes. After baking, I broiled for a couple minutes to make the potatoes brown on top. Be careful broiling because it will burn in a skinny minute.

 

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Cabinet Raid Chili

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We had another snow day. An the WiFi was out. Look at all that snow.  Our southern infrastructure just wasn’t prepared.

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So that meant no hunting on the internet for a chili recipe.

I had beans and ground meat so the cabinet was raided for the rest.

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I have made dozens of variations of chili, and this one turned out to be my favorite. It may be because I sneaked in an extra can of veggies (zucchini), or because I simply used many of my favorite spices including cocoa powder (shush, my husband doesn’t know yet) and kept tasting until perfection.

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I served it with shredded cheese, sour cream, and bread made with greek yogurt. It was nice and spicy, but the sour cream cooled it down.  The hubby gave his seal of approval. IMG_1769

And Kindo wistfully sniffed the air.

IMG_1522 That pup is just so gosh darn precious, I can’t stand it.

Cabinet Raid Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Copious amount of hearty spicy chili, freeze left overs in single serve containers for easy lunches or quick dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 onion
  • 8 oz cooked zucchini (1 can)
  • 16 oz diced tomatoes (2 cans)
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 2 tbls tomato paste
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 lb. ground meat
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (spicy)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp powdered sage
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • shredded cheese (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Dice onion and brown with meat until meat no longer pink and onions translucent
  2. Add spices cocoa powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, basil, sage, chili powder, and pepper then brown for 5 more minutes
  3. Add zucchini (this is the only can you should drain the liquid off), tomatoes, Rotel, tomato paste, black beans, pinto beans, and spiced browned meat to crock pot
  4. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours
  5. Serve with shredded chesse, sour cream, and warm bread.
Notes
You can also cook this in a soup pot on low covered, stir occasionally-every half hour or so for 4 plus hours.

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Venison Gnocchi Casserole

 

IMG_1147Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to watch some cooking shows, and one episode had me craving some good ol’ hearty chicken noodle soup.  I went off to the store and bought my celery and carrots and was mentally drooling over the idea of a warm soup with crusty bread for dinner.  I told my husband my exciting dinner scheme, and he said “no way, I had it for lunch at work yesterday, I would love some spaghetti though,” with a big charming smile. Normally that smile wins me over, but he literally wants to eat spaghetti once a week and then have the left overs for another half a week. The man seriously loves spaghetti.  I decided to create a casserole that would satisfy both of our cravings, Venison Gnocchi Casserole, complete with spaghetti sauce, potato dumplings, carrots, and celery.

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IMG_1111First, I gathered my fresh ingredients, and boiled the potatoes while simmering diced onion,celery, carrots, garlic, and fresh herbs in olive oil and wine until the onions looked translucent and the whole house smelled wonderfully delicious. I usually use what ever wine I have on hand . If it tastes good to me when I have a glass, I may as well use it in my cookin’ too. In this recipe I used a mildly sweet white wine.

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Then, I made the gnocchi, which is not for the faint of heart because it takes a bit more time than simply boiling some noodles. I first fell in love with the wonderful little delicate dumplings in Italy on a study abroad back in high school.  I was told it was too complicated to make and was best left to the experts.  That did not deter me.  After a few trails and errors, I have found a recipe that takes my taste buds back to Italy. It turns out, it is fairly simple; only four ingredients.  You just have to have the proportions right and enough time to make it.

Here is a link to the gnocchi recipe all by it self so you can make it for other dishes. It is the perfect side, and is especially great with pesto.

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IMG_1145Then mix it all together with some spaghetti sauce,  browned deer meat, and cheese, then bake.   This casserole turned out to have a taste factor on a whole other level of yum, full of complex favors and textures.  I guess it is fitting that this is my first recipe on my blog, because it is pretty epic. Kindo thought it smelled good too.

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Venison Gnocchi Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Casserole
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup wine
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano (substitute 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil (substitute 1 tsp. dried)
  • ½ cup carrots
  • ¼ lb. ground deer (or meat of your choice)
  • 1 cup spaghetti or tomato sauce
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • For the gnocchi
  • 1lb. potatoes ( about 3 small/medium or 2 large potatoes)
  • egg white
  • 1 tsp. salt (optional)
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut potatoes in halves and boil until soft when poked with fork, about 20-30 minutes. Be careful not to over boil as to make the potatoes full of water. This will make the dough very sticky later and trying to compensate with more flour will just make them too dense. Set potatoes aside in bowl to cool. Keep the pot of boiling water on the stove for later use. Take skins off and mash thoroughly.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, dice carrots, celery, and onion. Mince basil, oregano, and garlic. Sauté on medium heat in olive oil, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until it starts to brown and oil burns off. Then add wine and simmer on low until onions translucent and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes.
  4. Pour celery/carrot/onion mixture in separate bowl and saute ground venison until brown throughout. *
  5. To make the gnocchi, first get that pot of potato water boiling again. Then put mashed potatoes in mound and pour egg on it. Mix in with hands and then knead in salt and flour, adding a little bit at a time, knead thoroughly. Dough should feel slightly sticky.
  6. Separate dough into 5 handfuls and roll each into long ropes, about 1 inch diameter. You may need up to ¼ cup more flour, to dust your hands and the dough, while rolling out.
  7. Cut the dough ropes into ½ inch pieces. To prevent the dough from sticking to the knife, coat knife with a little olive oil. Optionally, you many press a fork coated in oil in the side to make indentations to help it hold sauce and make it pretty, but I did not for this recipe.
  8. Drop about 20 of the dumplings into the boiling water, crowding will make them stick. When it floats to the top, about 1 minute, it is done! Remove from water with slotted spoon into empty bowl. Repeat until all dumplings are boiled, then pour off any remaining water from bowl of dumplings. Mix in sautéed veggies, ground meat, ½ cup mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and spaghetti sauce then pour in casserole dish. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.
  9. Bake in covered casserole dish for 20 minutes. Uncover and broil until cheese starts to brown on top. Broiling should only take a couple of minutes (2-3) so watch the dish the entire time so it does not burn.
  10. Serve with fresh basil garnish and rolls. Enjoy!

 

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*Note-I actually browned a whole pound of deer meat and mixed with a whole jar of spaghetti sauce then just froze the extra not used in the casserole for an easy future meal of spaghetti.