Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Braised Lamb Shanks

My summer cookbook purge continues.

This recipe is Maundy Thursday/Passover lamb meal.  In our good years, we celebrate a Christian Seder on Maundy Thursday.  The main course is lamb.  My notes in the cookbook?  "Best lamb I've made."  Depending on the year, all my kids will eat this.

Makes 4 - 6 servings

Braised Lamb Shanks
adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker

4 - 5 lbs lamb shanks, trimmed of fat
3 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t cumin
1/2 c beef stock, chicken stock, or water
1/4 c dry white wine (optional, if don't use, increase water by 1/4 c)

Optional sweet pepper garnish (I've done this before, but I've also omitted it)
1 yellow pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 T parsley, coarsely chopped
1 c crumbled feta cheese

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 T of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat  Sear the shanks, in batches of necessary to prevent overcrowding, when the oil is hot, until golden brown on all sides.  Transfer to a plate.

Pour most excess fat from the pan and heat again.  Add the onion, celery, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and saute until vegetables are soft and golden, about 8 - 10minutes.  Pour the stock and wine into the pan and stir to dislodge any yummy browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and place the lamb shanks on top.  Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours (my slow cooker cooks fast on low. I only cook this for 5 hours on low.  Know thy slow cooker and cook accordingly).  The meat should be very tender.

If desired, to finish, heat a skillet over medium heat and warm 1 T olive oil.  Add the bell peppers and salute until just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

To serve, top with sautéed bell peppers (or if not using bell peppers, just with top with the fresh chopped parsley) and a sprinkle of feta.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Easy One Pan Roast Chicken and Stuffing

Sometimes, a holiday comes around and you just don't want to make an entire turkey and dressing.  A whole turkey is a big deal and feeds a large crowd, so the years it is just may family and my in-laws for Christmas, I make this dish instead.  It feels like turkey and dressing, but it is easier and feeds more small group I am cooking for better than a 12 lb turkey.

Start the bread cubes and crumbs a day or two before you want to serve this, just like you would with regular dressing.  If your family likes more dark or white meat, just adjust the chicken parts you want accordingly.

Serves 8 - 10

Easy One Pan Roast Chicken and Stuffing
adapted from Perfect One-Dish Dinner by Pam Anderson

10 -12 c 1/2" bread cubes (from a nice crusty French or Italian loaf if possible), dried overnight
2 c finely ground bread crumbs, dried overnight
1 1/2 T dried basil
1 1/2 T dried oregano
1 T salt
1 T black pepper
2 t fennel seeds
1 1/2 t orange zest
2 T olive oil
4 chicken leg quarters (with bones and skin included)
2 - 4 chicken breasts (with bones and skin), halved cross wise (this takes a little force!)
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 medium onions, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 c golden raisins (regular raisins are ok too, as well as dried apricots)
1/2 c parsley, minced
2 eggs
1 qt chicken stock

Mix together 1/2 t basil, 1/2 t oregano, 1 T salt, 2 t pepper, fennel, orange zest, and olive oil in small bowl.  Smear over each piece of chicken.  Heat a large heavy roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat.  (If you are not sure about doing this to your roasting pan, do these stove stop steps in a large skillet, be sure to scoop all skillet juices into the pan as well before roasting the chicken).  Heat a bit of olive oil in the roasting pan and sear chicken, skin side down at first, until chicken is nicely browned on both sides, about 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, cook the sausage in pan until it is no longer pink.  Add onions and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, about 8 - 10 minutes.  In large bowl, mix together bread cubes, bread crumbs, sausage mixture, raisins, parsley, and remaining oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Whisk eggs in a separate bowl and then add chicken stock, whisking it with the eggs.  Pour over bread cubes and sausage mixture.  Toss to coat and let stand for 10 minutes to let liquid absorb.  If mixture looks dry, add extra chicken stock or milk.

Dump bread cube mixture into roasting pan.  Top with chicken, skin side up and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Shortcut Choucroute

There's about to be an onslaught of new recipes.  I'm cleaning out my cookbooks (7 cookbooks will be leaving my house in the next couple of weeks).  Thus, in the next couple of weeks I need to copy down the handful of recipes from each cookbook that I actually make.

First up, a hearty, winter, one-pot meal. This is not a meal I typically make because of the massive amount of meat it calls for.  However, for serving a crowd of meat eaters easily, this one is great.

This serves 8 - 10, depending on how much meat people eat.  To make it serve more, just add more potatoes.

Shortcut Choucroute
adapted from Perfect One-Dish Dinners by Pam Anderson

2 T olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 crisp, green apples, cored and chopped
4 thin slices prosciutto
10 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
2 lbs sauerkraut, drained
1 - 2 c dry white wine (If using less wine, increase chicken stock)
1 qt chicken stock
1 lb bratwurst, cut diagonally into 8 pieces
2 lbs smoked pork chops or ham (I used ham), cut into 8 pieces
1 lb kielbasa, cut into 8 pieces
8 - 12 small red (new) potatoes, halved

Heat oil in a large heavy roasting pan set over two burners on medium high heat.  Add onions, apples, and prosciutto and cook until tender and golden brown 5 - 10 minutes (If you don't want your roasting pan on the burners, do this in a large skillet).  Add cloves, bay leaves, and sauerkraut, and cook for a few minutes to blend flavors and heat sauerkraut.  Add wine, chicken broth (if doing this in a skillet first, bring to a boil at this point, then transfer to a roasting pan and add meat), and meat.  Bring to a boil, cover tightly with foil, and transfer to a preheated 350 degrees oven.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover carefully, add potatoes, and cook an additional 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Green Chorizo, Kale and Potato Tacos

The combination of a CSA box and the need for fast or make ahead meals causes me to branch out to recipes I may not normally try.  This is one of those.  Tacos with kale?  What the what?  We loved this recipe!

I varied greatly from the original recipe, mostly because I was supposed to let the homemade chorizo sit over night for flavors to combine.  I kinda missed reading that part and marking it appropriately on my weekly menu.  When I was prepping my supper ingredients before swim practice, I looked over the recipe and read refrigerate over night.  Oops.  For a variety of reasons, I combined the first four steps which would have taken substantial time into one short, much quicker step.

We still loved the recipe!

I'm contemplating doing a Taco night when it's my night to cook at our extended family's beach week (unless someone else wants to cook--then I'm completely fine with giving up my taco night plans!).  This would be on the menu, it's that good.  It comes together rather quickly when you skip and combine steps like I did.  Or, you could actually refrigerate the chorizo over night and have a much more intensely flavored sausage.

Serves 4 - 6

Green Chorizo, Kale, and Potato Tacos
adapted from Food and Wine magazine

1/8 t whole black peppercorns
1/8 t whole coriander seeds
1/8 t dried oregano
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 clove
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
1 small poblano chile (optional)
1 c lightly packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 T red wine vinegar
3/4 lb ground pork

1 lb small potatoes, sliced crosswise and cut into 1/2" rounds
1/4 c olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 lb kale, stems discarded and leaves removed
12 warm corn tortillas
crumbled queso fresco
sour cream

To make the chorizo:  in a small skillet toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds, oregano, bay leaf, and clove over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to spice grinder and finely grind them.  In the same skillet, roast the garlic cloves over high heat, turning until tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes.  Cook, then peel.  Finely grind the garlic in the spice grinder (if your spice grinder will handle such things).  If you are using the poblano (we didn't because the kids don't like spice), char all over, either using a gas flame, broiler, or gas grill.  Place in a bowl and cover tightly.  Let sit for 10 minutes, then peel, stem and side the chile.  Finely chop.  Combine poblano, garlic, spices, parsley, red wine vinegar, 1 1/2 t salt, and ground pork.  If you are on top things, tightly cover pork and refrigerate over night.  If you haven't read the recipe through until right now, skip the refrigeration part and continue on.

Toss the potatoes with 1 T olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 20 - 30 minutes, or until golden and tender, turning potatoes once.  While the potatoes roast, heat 3 T olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the garlic and pork mixture  and cook over medium high heat until meat starts to brown, breaking up large clumps with a wooden spoon.  Add the kale and toss until it fits nicely into the pan (because it's wilted).  Add one cup of water.  Cook over medium low heat until the kale the is tender and the chorizo is cooked, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Fold in the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve:  Spoon some of the kale, chorizo, and potato mixture into the center of a warm corn tortilla.  Top with a sprinkle of queso fresco, sour cream, and salsa as desired.  Roll up and eat.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Italian Sandwiches

Unfortunately, in these days of juggling swimming, baseball, and soccer, we have eaten not at home more than once--we've eaten at the swimming pool, at baseball games, and in the car.  I know, not ideal, but it is the reality of early swim season.

Compounding the scheduling problem is the fact that my kids get basic sandwiches most days for lunches--peanut butter and jelly for one and meat, cheese, and lettuce for the other.  When I feed kids on the go, I try to avoid making them eat the same meal twice in one day.

These sandwiches are an answer to that.  They use "fancier" meat and cheeses.  There's a layer of roasted red peppers which make almost all sandwiches better and we use special, chewy white bread instead of the whole wheat fare of lunches.

This is a staple in our early swim season menu and adaptable enough to customize for all of my five silly eaters.  Ideally, I would make this the morning that I wanted to eat it and let them the sandwiches sit all day so their juices absorb into the bread.  However, I don't think my kids would go for that (and I'm just not that with it), so I make them right before we eat them.

This will serve 4 - 6, depending on the size of your sandwiches.  Just change amounts for the number of people you are feeding.

Italian Sandwiches
adapted from Sunset Magazine

1 - 2 ciabatta loaves (I love Whole Foods olive oil and sea salt ciabatta loaves for this)
1/4 - 1/2 c olive tapenade (black, green, or a mixture)
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 lb Italian deli meats, such as salami, prosciutto, coppa, etc (I like the Costco Italian deli meat tray)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced as a thinly as possible
1 roasted red bell pepper (either home roasted or store bought, jarred)
6 leaves basil, torn into small pieces

If everyone you are feeding will eat an identical sandwich, the easiest way to make this is to slice the entire ciabatta loaf in half horizontally.  Spread bottom half with the tapenade.  Drizzle the cut side of the top half with vinegar and oil.  Arrange the meats on top of the tapenade, followed by the mozzarella, red pepper, and basil.  Place top half on top of filling.

If everyone likes their own version of this sandwich (like in my house), first slice the ciabatta into the desired serving size for each person.  Then cut each slice into half horizontally and add desired sandwich fixings.

If you are me, you eat these immediately and don't press at all.  However if you have more forethought, proceed with the recipe.

Once sandwiches are made (either way you are doing it), wrap with foil or plastic wrap.  Place a heavy cutting board or cast iron skillet on top of sandwiches and weight with 2 - 4 lbs (think of cans of beans, six pack, etc).  Let sit 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Unwrap and serve

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Laab with Pasta

As is the theme with all my May recipes, this is another good swim practice recipe.  It is made quickly and there's nothing complicated about it.  It is good energy for the kids with some pasta to help hold them over to breakfast.

When I first read this recipe, I was a little unsure--turned out it was great.  My budding vegetarian wasn't a fan of this, but the other kids liked it fine.  I am learning the key to different eaters is not mixing everything all together at the end.  I served the laab in one dish and the angel hair in the another and everything worked out.

This serves 5.

Laab with Pasta
adapted from Food and Wine

1/2 lb angel hair pasta
1 T olive oil
1 T sesame oil
1/2 c sliced almonds
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced (optional)
1 t minced, fresh ginger
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 c fish sauce
4 scallions, including green tops, chopped
1 c coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 lime juice plus 1 lime cut into wedges

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions.  Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.  Transfer to a serving dish.

In large pan, toast the almonds over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes (I find the best way to test nuts for doneness while toasting it to smell them.  Once they develop a rich, fragrant smell, they are usually ready to remove from the pan).  Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside.  

Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium high heat.  Add half the jalapeño, if using, ginger, beef, and a teaspoon of salt.  Cook the meat, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Remove from pan from heat and stir in the sesame oil, fish sauce, scallions, mint, and lime juice.  Transfer to a serving bowl.

To serve, put pasta on plates and top with beef mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining minced jalapeño, if desired, sliced almonds and serve with lime wedges.  

Monday, May 19, 2014


There are a few recipes I've been making forever and just have never blogged.  This is one of those.  Every time I want snickerdoodles, I scour this website.  Finally I remember, no, the recipe isn't here.  Then off to visit Deb (in her Smitten Kitchen) I go!

In the idea of saving some time, I am finally posting the snickerdoodle recipe here.  This would be a favorite cookie of two of my family members, one of which who has been known to convince her friends to give her their snickerdoodles.  On those occasions, I call her my Stinkerdoodle (well, and other occasions too).  It is a term of endearment in our house.

I make the whole batch at once and then freeze them.  When I pack lunches, I simply open up the freezer and viola!  A cookie for everyone!  By lunch time they are just the right temperature and taste much fresher than if they had been on the counter for a week.

Quick, before the school year is over, go make snickerdoodles and put one (or two) in your very own stinkerdoodle's lunch!

This makes 3 - 4 dozen cookies depending on how big you make them.  I tend to make them on the smaller size. (You can eat more that way!)

Stinkerdoodle's Snickerdoodles
adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen who found this recipe from Martha

2 3/4 c flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
16 T (1 cup or 8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs

1/4 c sugar
2 T ground cinnamon

Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In a large bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer), combine butter and 1 1/2 c sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes depending on how powerful your electric mixer is.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs.  Beat to combine.  Pour in the dry ingredients and beat just until everything is incorporated.  Chill the dough for an hour or more, to make them easier to roll--otherwise they stick to your hands a lot.

In a small bowl or plate, combine 1/4 c sugar and ground cinnamon.  Form dough into balls (either using 3/4 oz (size 40) ice cream scoop or teaspoons (the eating kind).  Roll in the cinnamon sugar and place on baking sheet.  Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 10 minutes.  Cookies should be set in the center and begin to crack (they won't brown--don't even try to brown them because they will be overdone!).