Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

18 Mar
Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

This is a very quick and easy dinner to throw together, especially if you have your favorite homemade spaghetti sauce stashed in the freezer (nevermindthefacthatIjustgotlaidoffanddon’tneedtimesavingrecipesrightnow). And if you make the ricotta in the morning (or even use store-bought) then you are way ahead of the game! And pssst, did you know making your own ricotta is super easy? I sure didn’t!

Prior to my life-changing event on Friday, I was always looking for dinner shortcuts. When I saw my friend Debbie’s post for Baked Pasta with Meatballs and Spinach, I knew it was something I totally wanted to make, but didn’t have the time to bother with making meatballs. So I did the next best thing and used the meatball ingredients as the base for the pasta. In hindsight, if I had made this in my large cast-iron skillet, I could have just popped it straight from the stove top into the oven! (I didn’t have the foresight, but I’m going to remember this for sure next time.)

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta
Adapted from The Mountain Kitchen

2 cups dried pasta (I used Mostaccioli)
8 ounces ground hot Italian sausage
6 ounces baby spinach
Ground pepper, to taste (some red chile flakes would be great too)
4 cups homemade spaghetti sauce, or your favorite jarred
1 cup shredded mozzarella (not bagged variety)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese (homemade or store bought)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage in a large skillet (cast iron if you have one!) until cooked through. Drain any grease, if necessary. Leaving the sausage in the pan, add 1/4 cup water and the spinach, stirring until wilted. Season with ground pepper, to taste.

Sausage and Spinach

Sausage and Spinach

Add the spaghetti sauce to the skillet, combine, and bring to a simmer.

Sauce Mixture

Sauce Mixture

Pour into a large casserole dish (or leave in in the skillet if using cast-iron), then stir in the cooked pasta, half the mozzarella and half the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and place dollops of the remaining ricotta over top.

Casserole Ready to Bake

Casserole Ready to Bake

Place in oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven to broil and cook until golden brown on top, about 5 to 7 more minutes. Serve immediately. WOW, so much flavor for so few ingredients!

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

Sausage and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Ricotta

BONUS! Here’s Debbie’s recipe for Homemade Ricotta:

Homemade Ricotta

4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar or lemon juice

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

Add 2 layers of cheesecloth (I used meshed cotton veggie bags) over a sieve or strainer on top of a bowl. Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t overboil! Turn off heat and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes. Pour the mixture over the cheesecloth and allow it to drain for about 25 minutes. Then place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Store unused cheese in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Salami over Pasta

11 Mar
Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami Over Pasta

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami Over Pasta

Call me crazy for making this, but it turned out so awesome (to me) that I ate it for lunch THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. Never mind the opinions of the household members.

I had some lingering Calabrese salami and frozen artichokes hanging out in the usual places, and decided to throw caution to the wind and make something up. As it turns out, mixing chicken and salami is not so uncommon (it’s a New Orlean’s dish). Neither is mixing artichokes and salami (pizza, anyone?). Why not marry them all into one dish?? And then serve it over pasta?

This is a delight for the taste buds and even guest-worthy, if you have friends who aren’t intimidated by the bold and adventurous. 🙂

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Salami over Pasta

1 1/4 pounds chicken breasts or thighs (mine were boneless/skinless breasts)
Salt and black pepper for seasoning chicken, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
1/2 cup sliced fennel bulb
5 ounces frozen artichokes (that’s 1/2 bag of Trader Joe’s)
1/2 cup large-diced salami (I used Calabrese, also TJ’s)
1 large stalk fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leafed parsley, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock
Juice of 1/2 small lemon, plus lemon slices from the other half
Cooked pasta of choice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut chicken into large sections, if large. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Over medium-high heat, add the oil and sear the chicken until browned on all sides, a few minutes a side. The chicken will cook more later, so remove and place in a 2-quart casserole dish with a cover.

Veggies and Salami

Veggies and Salami

Add the sliced onion and fennel to the hot skillet for about 5 minutes, stirring until starting to soften and brown, then add the salami and sage. Cook until the salami begins to crisp up a bit. Add the garlic, artichoke hearts, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes.

Beautiful Base for Sauce

Beautiful Base for Sauce

Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping the bits off the bottom. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Then add the flour, again stirring to incorporate. Now pour in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Last, squeeze in the juice of the half lemon.

Sauce Mixture for Chicken

Sauce Mixture for Chicken

Pour the mixture over the chicken in the casserole dish, arrange sliced lemons over top, cover with foil, then with the lid.

Cooked Chicken in Veggie Salami Sauce

Cooked Chicken in Veggie Salami Sauce

Place in heated oven and roast for about 40 to 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions.

Uncover and sprinkle with fresh parsley, for garnish. Serve over cooked pasta of choice (I used angel hair) with plenty of sauce and vegetables. For the leftovers, I found shredded Mozzarella cheese to be a fantastic addition!

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami

Braised Lemon Chicken with Artichokes and Calabrese Salami

 

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Download and Print this Recipe

 

Carne Asada Street Tacos: Sous Vide or Grilled

5 Mar
Carne Asada Street Tacos

Carne Asada Street Tacos

I had a gorgeous hunk of flank steak in our freezer from our quarter cow we bought last year, and carne asada street tacos were calling my name! Typically skirt steak is used for these tacos, but I figured the leaner flank steak would work just as well provided it was marinated in a citrusy sauce for a spell.  I decided to cook this via the sous-vide method, but grilling the steak would work just as great.

Total thumbs up all the way around for the tacos! We had plenty of leftovers for another dinner even with my daughter eating three of them in one sitting. I made some fresh pico de gallo to serve these with along with the avocado, but you can use any condiments of choice for these tasty tacos.

Carne Asada Ingredients

Many of the delicious Carne Asada ingredients

Carne Asada Street Tacos: Sous Vide or Grilled
Adapted from Serious Eats

3 whole dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
3 whole dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 whole chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce
3/4 cup fresh juice from 2 to 3 oranges (I used Cara Cara)
2 tablespoons fresh juice from 2 to 3 limes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
6 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Sea salt, to taste
1.5 to 2 pounds flank or skirt steak
Warm corn or flour tortillas, lime wedges, diced onion, additional fresh cilantro (or Pico de Gallo), and avocado, for serving

Place dried ancho and guajillo chilies in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water. Let steep for 20 minutes until soft and pliable. Drain water, then transfer chiles to a food processor or blender.

Toasting the Cumin and Coriander

Toasting the Cumin and Coriander

Toast the ground cumin and coriander in a hot dry skillet until fragrant and add to the chiles. (You could toast the seeds and grind yourself, but I’m not that fancy.)

Ready to Process the Marinade

Ready to Process the Marinade

Add the rest of the ingredients except steak and condiments. Blend until a smooth sauce has formed. Transfer half of the sauce to a gallon-sized zip-top bag and refrigerate or freeze the other half in a sealed container for future use.

BONUS! Here’s my quick recipe for homemade Pico de Gallo. Double or triple as needed:

Pico de Gallo

1 Roma tomato, chopped
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 jalapeño or serrano chile, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, and let marinate for an hour or so. That’s it!

For cooking via sous-vide method:

Add steak to the marinade in the bag, squishing around to coat.

Steak in Marinade

Steak in Marinade

Vacuum-seal the bag using the water immersion method. Set temperature on the sous vide to 131 F, then place the bag in the pot and cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation. Cook for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, preheat a cast-iron pan on high. Remove the bag from the sous-vide pot, then remove the steak from the marinade and wipe off excess. Discard marinade. Char the steak in the hot pan for a minute or two on each side until well-browned. Transfer to a cutting board and slice thinly against the grain.

Serve immediately with warmed tortillas and garnishes.

Sliced Carne Asada Flank Steak

Sliced Carne Asada Flank Steak

For cooking on a grill:

Add steak to the marinade in the bag, squishing around to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat your grill on one side to the highest temperature. Clean and oil the grilling grate.

Remove steak from marinade and wipe off excess. Place directly over the hot side of the grill. If using a gas grill, cover; if using a charcoal grill, leave open. Cook, turning occasionally, until steak is well charred on outside and center registers 110°F on an instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

Serve immediately warmed tortillas and garnishes.

 

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart with Strawberries and Sea Salt Flakes

26 Feb
No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart with Strawberries and Sea Salt Flakes

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart with Strawberries and Sea Salt Flakes

Are you ready for the Daytona 500??? No? Then why not have some easy no-bake chocolate ganache instead. With strawberries. And sea salt flakes. Did I mention no-bake? 😉

When my friend Jodi posted this recipe on her blog, it went straight to the printer in prep for making this chocolate delight for my family.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I’m not much of a baker of breads and sweet treats. But give me chocolate and sea salt? I’m game! Ooh, and the chocolatey pie crust is made from Oreo cookies. YES. Oreos. Cream filling and all. Shut up, right?

I halved the recipe since I don’t own an 11-inch tart pan that it called for. One that has a bottom that conveniently pops off the bottom no less. I missed this fact in my excitement to make the recipe, and PM’d Jodi asking her how on earth she got the tart out of the pan without destroying it. My tart was served from the dish, to the anxiously waiting mouths of my family and friends. My daughter and her friend dived into it with extra strawberries on top. It may be pretty with the strawberries arranged, but plan on serving extra strawberries with this, yum!

Without further ado, here is the recipe which is way shorter than my preceding ramblings:

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart with Strawberries and Sea Salt Flakes
Adapted from Jodi at The Creative Life in Between

16 Oreo cookies
2 tablespoons butter, melted
6 ounces dark sweet chocolate (I used Baker’s German Sweet)
3/4 cup heavy cream
Sea salt flakes, for garnish
Fresh strawberries, halved-lengthwise
Additional melted chocolate, for garnish

Add the Oreo cookies to a food processor (I used my 2-cup Ninja) and process until they are fine crumbs. Pour in the melted butter, and pulse until the butter is combined.

Pour the crumb and butter mixture into a 9-inch (7 ½ at base) tart dish. Using your hands, pat the crust onto the bottom and up sides of dish. Refrigerate until for at least one hour before preparing and adding filling.

Pressing the Pie Crust

Pressing the Pie Crust

To make filling, break up chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl. Add the heavy cream to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Immediately pour over chocolate. Allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate for a minute or two, then slowly whisk the mixture until smooth and fully incorporated. Pour into the chilled, firm crust. Refrigerate for four to six hours or overnight.

Lightly sprinkle sea salt flakes over the chocolate, then arrange the strawberry halves over top. Drizzle additional melted chocolate over all, if desired. This serves about six.

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart

No-Bake Chocolate Ganache Tart

 

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

The Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

19 Feb
Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

Hey wait a minute! Don’t click away just yet! I know the word Campbell’s and Experiment in the same line might lead you to run away in culinary terror, but this was a mission. A mission to replicate this red and white childhood favorite can of good ole’ American soup without all the nasties in it. Well, as many as I possibly could without compromising the original goal. I kind of crack myself up, as the tomato soup’s goal last week was to NOT taste like the canned version. No wonder my husband never understands me.

If you look up recipes for “copycat” Campbell’s bean with bacon soup, you will find in the recipe comments that many readers say it didn’t taste anything like the soup in the can. Then if you look at the ingredients they used, then the ingredients on the can, it’s no wonder.

Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup Ingredients

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Ingredients

I printed out the ingredients label and studied it to come up with a reasonable facsimile. Besides water, pea beans is the first ingredient. According to Wikipidia: “in the USA the name ‘pea bean’ is also used to describe small white common beans.” Well the beans from my local bulk food store section seemed to fit this perfectly, as the name on the bin was “small white beans.”

Tomato puree was a no-brainer, I used tomato paste and water. Bacon and carrots? Yep, I can do that. I skipped over all the unknown and nasty stuff, and then saw dehydrated onions. I had a whole spice jar of those! Most other recipes used fresh onion, in addition to celery and garlic. As much as I wanted to use all of those, I had to stick to my guns on this one.

Another thing unique to the canned variety is that the carrots and bacon are just wee bits in the soup, not huge chunks.

campbellscondensed-bean-with-bacon1

With that in mind, I pulsed both the carrots

Minced Carrots

Minced Carrots

and bacon into minced bits in my Ninja processor before cooking together. I didn’t bother rinsing the Ninja before adding the bacon.

Minced Bacon

Minced Bacon

Sugar is also mentioned twice, so decided to some add brown sugar too, but not too much.

My last dilemma was yeast extract (Marmite anyone?) and natural smoke flavoring. A bit of googling told me that soy sauce has the same umami and flavor profile as yeast extract. My bottle of liquid smoke wasn’t as “natural” in ingredients as I would have desired, but it was Stubb’s so I gave myself a pass on that. I left those out until all the other ingredients had a chance to meld in the slow cooker all day, then would do a taste test. Plus bacon has a smoky flavor, and I used ham stock instead of water, which also has a smoky flavoring. Time would tell.

The Results? Drum roll please…

Close — VERY close! The texture was not quite right as I should have removed some beans before pureeing the soup, but I was so excited to use my new immersion blender that I totally bypassed that step.

But when you crunchle in a bunch of saltine crackers, the texture doesn’t matter much at that point because the soup is Mmm, Mmm, Good!

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

1 pound small dried white beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 cup finely minced carrots
6 slices bacon, finely minced
2 tablespoons dehydrated minced onion
3 tablespoons tomato paste plus one cup water
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
4 cups homemade ham stock, or water
Low-sodium soy sauce, to taste
Stubb’s liquid smoke (or other brand), to taste

Cook the minced carrots and bacon together in a skillet over medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp, about 15 minutes. It kind of freaked me out because the bacon fat never really released, did the carrots soak it up? At this point add the minced onion then cook for a few more minutes, stirring.

Dehydrated Onion Added to Mixture

Dehydrated Onion Added to Mixture

Once the onions look fairly hydrated, add the tomato paste and water, plus the brown sugar and stir to combine.

Tomato Paste Added

Tomato Paste Added

Pour the mixture (which vaguely resembles baby food) into a large slow cooker, then add the ham stock or water, and beans. Stir to combine then cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours, or high on 4 to 6 hours until the beans are tender. Add additional water as needed. At this point the bacon grease did release, which I removed from the top. It was only about 2 tablespoons.

Soup Before Pureeing

Soup Before Pureeing

Using an immersion blender, puree about half the soup. You can also do this in batches in a blender.  For a really smooth consistency for the base, remove some of the beans before pureeing, then add them back in.

At this point I did a taste test. It still needed some smoky flavoring, so alternated a few dashes at a time between soy sauce and liquid smoke. I stirred and tasted, ate a saltine cracker in between, until I found the right balance. Use caution with liquid smoke, as it is very strong. I might have added one drop too much.

Serve hot in bowls, with lots of saltine crackers on the side. I assembled a quick Caesar salad on the side since this was our dinner. If anyone makes this, please let me know what you think. Did this even come close to your expectations?

Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup Experiment

 

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Homemade Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese, of Course!)

11 Feb
Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

I have been wanting to try my hand at homemade tomato soup for years, especially since we grow and can our own tomatoes. When my friend Suzanne over at Pug in the Kitchen posted this recipe, I knew it was time. Besides, I had a can of San Marzano tomatoes that had been in my pantry over a year, and what about those 20 pints of canned jars of tomatoes I forgot about in the garage? How did I forget about canning those from the fall? I grabbed a few for my pantry lest I forget again.

This soup comes together quite easily after some initial prep. And if you are wondering how long it takes for tomatoes to caramelize in a hot oven, it takes 18 minutes according to the smoke alarm that went off during my 20-minute timer. I suggest using a vent fan during this process. 😉

My husband was amazed at the taste of this soup. According to him, it did not taste like tomato soup from a can. Errrmmm… We’ll leave it at that. Oh, and don’t forget to cook up some ooey-gooey grilled cheese sammies for dunking! We used sourdough bread and a combination of Monterrey jack, sharp yellow cheddar, and pepper jack that was leftover from Super Bowl. This makes about 3 to 4 dinner-size servings.

Homemade Tomato Soup
Adapted from Tomato Soup at A Pug in the Kitchen

1 28-ounce can San Marzano or good quality tomatoes, liquid reserved
1 pint homemade canned tomatoes (about 1 large cup fresh), liquid reserved
Ground pepper and sea salt, to taste
Olive oil, for tomatoes and vegetables
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
Small piece of Parmesan rind
3 large leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Additional basil, chiffoned for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place all the drained tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Season to taste with ground black pepper and sea salt. Roast until caramelized or until your smoke alarm goes off (18 to 20 minutes).

Roasted and Caramelized Tomatoes

Roasted and Caramelized Tomatoes

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, carrot, and onion and cook until they start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook about a minute more until fragrant. Add the roasted tomatoes and the reserved tomato juice (About 2 cups, add water if you don’t have that much. My canned tomatoes had a lot of of liquid.) Also add the bay leaf and cheese rind. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender. Remove the bay leaf, then add the chopped basil. Taste for seasoning.

Simmering Soup

Simmering Soup

Pour into a large blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender if you have one. I need one!) Return soup to the pot, then add the butter and cream and stir until incorporated. Keep warm while you griddle up some grilled cheese. Ladle into bowls, top with additional basil, and serve immediately with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Homemade Tomato Soup

Homemade Tomato Soup

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Game Day Recipe ~ Amish Onion Patties

4 Feb
Amish Onion Patties

Amish Onion Patties

Do you need a last-minute game day appetizer but don’t want to run to the store? Here’s a quick and easy recipe that is short on ingredients but HUGE on flavor! You more than likely have everything you need for this in your fridge and pantry. The taste is incredibly hard to describe, but they certainly were not what I expected. Like amped-up onion rings, only better.

I searched high and low on the interwebz for the origin of this recipe, but can only guess it’s from a printed Amish cookbook. I found it initially in my FB feed from a third party advertisement. I followed the recipe except for the amount of salt (I halved the salt, as written below) and the oil called for. When it came to cook the patties, I coated my hot cast iron skillet with a thin layer of oil, then replenished between batches. No need to deep-fry these puppies, they turn out great without all that extra fat!

My husband kept calling them potato patties. No, there are no potatoes in this. Well then they must have eggs in them! No sweetie, no eggs either. Pretty much just flour, milk, and LOTS of sweet onions. Even if you don’t watch the Big Game, you can still enjoy some Amish Onion Patties for any occasion!

Amish Onion Patties
Origins Unknown

3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion (I used Walla Walla)
High heat oil, for cooking (I used grapeseed)

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients ~ I give you a boring flour shot just to prove that I DO cook with flour, on occasion.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add milk and stir to combine; the batter will be thick. Add the onions and mix thoroughly.

Onion Patty Batter

Onion Patty Batter

Heat a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom. Drop spoonfuls of onion batter into the skillet, then flatten with the back of a spatula.

Patties Ready to Flip

Patties Ready to Flip

When the bottom is brown and crispy and releases easily from the skillet, flip over and brown the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. This will take a few batches. Enjoy with your favorite sauce! I thought they were good enough on their own plain. I served these for dinner with my Garlic Parmesan Chicken Tenders, which were baked while cooking the patties.

Amish Onion Patties

Amish Onion Patties

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

Meals from Raiding the Freezer

28 Jan
"And what meal shall I select from the freezer today?"

“And what meal shall I select from the freezer today?”

I’ve been on a self-imposed cooking haitus this week. I decided to scour the freezer for all the leftovers we had stockpiled in there from our snowbound two months, and discovered I had NO LESS than 8 meals in the freezer I decided we should heat up and eat before they were freezer burnt and long forgotten.

I made a list on our fridge white board we usually use for our shopping list, and have been gradually eating them and wiping them off. I can’t help but make meals for 4 to 6 or 8 people (some kind of hangup from growing up in a family of 8), and with my daughter gone most of the time, we simply can’t eat the same meal more than two nights in a row (or sometimes every other night). Many of these just needed a side salad, bread, or veggies/potatoes.

I have compiled for you my freezer list meals, along with links to the recipes for them. (Or similar recipes or part of one, and some are adaptations of prior recipes I’ve posted.) I’ll get back to more recipes and cooking soon! Enjoy!

Lasagna Soup

This freezes really well! Just as good, if not better later with loads more fresh-grated Parmesan cheese.

One-Pot Lasagna Soup

One-Pot Lasagna Soup

Beef Stroganoff

A classic with a healthy twist. No canned soups! The version in our freezer was a wonderful meal made with shredded cooked beef that my husband made instead of ground beef, but similar concept.

Homemade Ground Beef Stroganoff

Homemade Ground Beef Stroganoff

Smoked Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Another Italian-based soup recipe that freezes well and gets the same raves as the day you made it!

Smoked Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Smoked Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Cabbage and Chicken Soup

I made this same type of soup, but used shredded chicken instead of ground beef. Try it, you’ll like it!

Mexican-Style Beef and Cabbage Soup

Mexican-Style Beef and Cabbage Soup

Turkey and Turkey Gravy

Traditional roasted turkey leftover from New Year’s dinner, with gravy made from the turkey carcass stock. Here I give you the recipe for the stock.

Turkey Carcass Stock

Turkey Carcass Stock

White Chicken Chili

One of our favorite winter comfort foods. I know it’s many of my friend’s favorite too! I used white beans instead of black beans for the leftovers in the freezer but I’ve posted both versions before, but this one has the printable PDF.

Creamy Chicken Chili and Beans

Creamy Chicken Chili and Beans

Sous Vide Meatloaf with Bacon

I made this with a several pieces of ground up uncooked bacon in it and cooked via the sous vide method. Wow, talk about a flavor bomb! I am linking up to Conor Bofin’s recipe, as his inspired me to make my mom’s meatloaf with bacon and sous vide method. I did not write my own post about it.

Mom's Meatloaf

Mom’s Meatloaf

Spicy Chicken Florentine

Well I know I just posted this, but it IS in the freezer and we need to finish it. Just two small lunch-sized servings left. 🙂

Spicy Chicken Florentine

Spicy Chicken Florentine

Spicy Chicken Florentine

21 Jan
Spicy Chicken Florentine

Spicy Chicken Florentine

We survived the Snowmaggedon/Snowcapolypse where I live, where over 60 inches of snow has dumped on us in the past month and a half, an event that hasn’t happened here since 1901 according to records.

Snowmaggedon

Snowmaggedon ~ A friend joked this looked like a bunch of pregnant woman got snowed on while sitting around our firepit. Those were empty chairs before the snow.

We had a near tragedy, where a school’s gym roof collapsed entirely, but overnight when thank goodness nobody occupied it. In the morning it is usually teeming with kids waiting for the school bell to ring. It wasn’t discovered until all the kids had boarded buses for school, so all parents were notified to pick up their children immediately at all schools in town. Schools were closed for 8 days after that until all snow was removed from 38 school roofs (9 million square feet) and structures inspected and deemed safe. Whew! Dodged the bullet on that one!

Snow or no snow, we certainly had to eat during this event, and here is one of the recipes I came up with during our snowbound days with what I had on hand. This is a thumbs-up recipe from the hubby, yay! My only regret is not making more sauce, so I’ve adjusted the recipe below for that. I served this over cooked rice. Nummy and warming!

Spicy Chicken Florentine

For the casserole:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Ground black pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
16-ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

For the sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 cup dry good-quality sherry (or chicken broth)
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup grated block cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated block Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the chicken breast thin, and season with the pepper and salt or Mrs. Dash.

Fileted and Seasoned Chicken

Fileted and Seasoned Chicken

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and half the garlic and sear the chicken filets on each side until browned. Remove and set aside.

Browned Chicken

Browned Chicken

Add the drained tomatoes to the skillet along with rest of the garlic and simmer for a few minutes. Pour the tomatoes and garlic in the bottom of an oil-sprayed two-quart casserole.

Tomatoes and Garlic

Tomatoes and Garlic

To the skillet, add the spinach and the rest of the butter plus a large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until butter is melted and spinach is heated through and incorporated. Layer on top of the tomatoes.

Spinach and Tomatoes

Spinach and Tomatoes

Next layer the chicken on top of the spinach.

Chicken Layer

Chicken Layer

For the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, mustard powder, and white pepper, whisking until a paste forms. Pour in the milk and sherry or chicken broth, whisking constantly. Simmer over gentle heat while stirring until the sauce is to desired consistency. Pour the sauce evenly over the casserole.

Casserole Ready to Bake

Casserole Ready to Bake

Sprinkle the grated cheeses over the dish, then top with the Panko breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, until casserole is heated through and top is browned and crispy. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Spicy Chicken Florentine

Spicy Chicken Florentine

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

24 vs. 48 Hour Sous Vide Chuck Roast

14 Jan
24-Hour Sous Vide Chuck Roast

24-Hour Sous Vide Chuck Roast

I’ve been slowly learning the best methods and temperatures to cook meat via the sous vide method. For those of you not familiar with this, I’ll give you a cheat link over to Wikipidia: Sous Vide Cooking.

So about three weeks ago I decided to cook a piece of chuck roast for 48 hours at 149 F, but about halfway through the cooking time my foodie friend and sous vide guru Stefan gave me the sage advice that I would achieve the results my hubby desired in said chunk of meat by cooking it only 24 hours at a higher temperature. Horrors, what was I to do? So I threw caution to the wind and bumped it up to 165 F for the last 24 hours. It came out out fall apart tender and my husband said it was the best chuck roast he had ever tasted.

I had only used half of the chuck roast, so two weeks later I decided to try only 24 hours at 165 F for the second half. It was very tender, but both of us thought the first one had the perfect texture. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely delicious, the first one was just amazingly absolutely delicious. Was this a controlled experiment? Heck no. I had too many differences with what I did. Was the first chuck roast the better half of the roast? (It was a 6-pound roast initially.) The first one I only seasoned it then seared in a hot cast iron skillet. For the second one I seasoned it then dusted it heavily with flour before searing, as I wanted a thicker gravy than the first one. Did the flour have anything to do with the texture of the meat? I have no idea. But I did get a thicker gravy!

Anyhoot, since I bothered to take the pictures, I’ll go ahead and step you through the process I did for the second roast. Who knows? Maybe it will prompt you to pick up a sous vide circulator and try it out!

24-Hour Sous Vide Chuck Roast with Gravy

1 3-pound chuck roast
Seasoning spice mix of choice
Ground black pepper and salt
Flour
1 tablespoon high heat oil, such as grapeseed oil
1/2 cup homemade beef stock

First, fill a large pot with water, insert the sous vide circulator, and set the heat at 165 degrees F.

Seasoned Beef

Seasoned Beef

Season the beef liberally with a spice seasoning mix of choice. I used Santorini Sunset seasoning (available from Kouzouna’s Kitchen). Grind a bunch of black pepper over it, and lightly salt if your seasoning mix does not contain salt. Pat the roast all around with flour until it is thoroughly coated.

Coated with Flour

Coated with Flour

Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat and add the tablespoon of oil. Sear the roast on all sides until it is browned and crusty.

Seared Chuck Roast

Seared Chuck Roast

Place the roast in a gallon zip-top freezer bag, then remove all the air by zipping it almost shut and slowly immersing it into the pot of water until all the air is sucked out of the bag, then finish sealing the bag.

Ready to Cook for 24 Hours

Ready to Cook for 24 Hours

Cover the pot with cling-wrap to prevent evaporation. Now go find something to do for the next 24 hours, like eat your dinner, watch a movie, sleep, get up and do laundry, or whatever you find yourself doing for the next day.

Cooked Roast and Juices

Cooked Roast and Juices

About 20 minutes before you want to eat the roast, turn off the sous vide, remove the bag from the pot, and remove the roast from the bag, saving the juices in the bag. Set the roast aside on a plate and cover with foil while you make the gravy.

Showing off my Poppa's Hook

Showing off my Poppa’s Hook ~ I love my meat hook!

Pour the juices from the bag into a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the 1/2 cup beef stock to it. Bring the sauce up to a simmer, and whisk constantly while keeping a simmer until the gravy has reduced and thickened.

Making the Gravy

Making the Gravy

To finish the gravy, add a half tablespoon of very cold butter and stir it in until just melted. Strain the gravy through a sieve (I also line it with mesh or cheesecloth) into a serving bowl.

Smooth Beef Gravy

Smooth Beef Gravy

Serve the fall-apart tender meat with the gravy and sides of vegetables. We had rosemary buttered baby potatoes with green beans.

24-Hour Sous Vide Chuck Roast

24-Hour Sous Vide Chuck Roast

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

 

 

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