Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Ropa Vieja

After about 6 months of being without TV I was sitting around watching the Food Network. My husband and I got caught up in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. One of the featured recipes was for Cuban ropa vieja – translated to old clothes. It is a tomato, onions and peppers based slow cooked shredded beef recipe. It looked delicious. I was a little bored with what I had been cooking lately and bought a skirt steak for either carne Asada or ropa Vieja.

I found a lot of different recipes for crockpot ropa Vieja, with varying ingredients. I ended up gravitating to this one at Paleomg because I had all the ingredients in the house.

Ingredients

~2 lb skirt steak
1 red peppers cut into strips
1 medium onion sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
3 tbl capers
3-4 cloves garlic
Cumin, thyme, oregano and adobo to season

Directions

1. Slice peppers and onions and layer in bottom of crockpot
2. Season steak liberally on both sides
3. Lay steak on top of vegetables

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4. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and capers

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5. Cook on low for 8-9 hours
6. Use two forks to shred beef
7. Eat alone or serve over rice

Results

This was really good. My kids liked it, I liked it and my husband ate two plates of it without rice or anything other accoutrements. It was so good that I totally forgot to take a picture of it.

Baked Potato Soup

I love a good baked potato soup. I had never made it before although I figured it really couldn’t be that difficult. But the other night after dinner I had 3 little and 1 big leftover baked potatoes. We don’t eat a lot of hash browns or breakfast potatoes so I started dwelling on what I was going to do with them.

As a general rule, baked potato soup can’t be that hard to make. It has a cream and roux base and usually includes bacon and sometimes cheese. I skipped the bacon because I didn’t feel like dealing with an entire frozen packet. And once I skipped the bacon, I figured I would jut lighten it up a little with stock, adding cream at the end.

Ingredients
3 small and 1 large baked potatoes (you can really use whatever you have leftover, or bake a coupe extra)
Olive oil
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk or cream
Adobo, thyme, oregano to taste

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan
2. Dice onion and toss in pot
3. Cook onion for 2-3 minutes
4. Meanwhile, peel and cube potatoes
5. Toss potatoes into pot and stir
6. Slowly add vegetable stock
7. Use potato masher to mash potatoes a little bit
8. Add remaining stock and crushed garlic
9. Being to a boil and simmer 15 mins
10. Add in seasoning to taste
11. Add cream
12. Mix thoroughly and cook for additional 5-10 mins

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Results
This soup was very hearty and filling. It tasted like a baked potato soup should, without the weightiness of the cream based roux. I would definitely encourage everyone to use their extra potatoes like this.

Green Chile Salsa

It has come to that part of the year where you begin to wonder about when the first frost is gina to take out your tomato plants. For us that hasn’t quite happened. Our tomatoes plants are still flowering and ripening fruit. About 2 weeks we heard the temperature was going to drop significantly so I stripped most of the worthy size tomatoes off the plants, regardless of their ripeness. I’ve used this in the past successfully for salsa, so it seemed like a good idea. I added in some tomatillos and mixed peppers.

Ingredients

~4 cups tomatoes (I used whole green and yellow hartmann)
1 jalapeño
6 mixed Cubanelle peppers
6 tomatillos
1 medium onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 cilantro
Juice of 1-2 limes
Salt, pepper, cumin, oregano to taste

Directions
1. Wash tomatoes and remove any bad parts
2. Peel tomatillos and rinse off sticky residue
3. Peel garlic and onions, cut onion into quarters
4. Place vegetables in pans and drizzle with olive oil

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5. Roast vegetables at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. You should start to see a char on the peppers. It is helpful to stir up tomatoes half way through cooking time.

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6. Blend the vegetables in batches, adding cilantro and lime juice
7. Bring salsa up to a boil a simmer for ~10 minutes
8. Add seasoning to taste
9. Put on water to boil for sterilizing jars and lids
10. Sterilize jars and lids for 5 mins
11. Remove jars and add salsa
12. Put jars back in hot water bath and boil for 25-30 mins
13. Remove from hot water bath and cool jars for 12 hrs before storing

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Results

This salsa has a lot of flavor but did was not spicy at all. The problem is it is difficult to know the spice level of the mixed peppers so I was a little cautious. Next time I might have to go to an international specialty grocery store. I can’t wait to break these open and use in my salsa.

Apple Brie Quesadilla and Broccoli Squash Soup

My family really likes broccoli, so I buy a lot of it and we eat a lot of it.  In recent years, I have gotten in the habit of keeping the stems and stalks and using them for soup.  It does require a little prep time to peel the stalks of the fibrous outer layer, however you end up with a better soup at the end.  If you choose not to peel it, you will need to strain it so you do not end up with strings of fiber in your soup.  The broccoli stalks last for a pretty long while in your vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.

It was a nice rainy day today and I had a little extra time so it seemed perfect to make up that pot of soup.  Besides tonight was leftover night anyway as we have lots of food in the refrigerator we need to eat.  It just makes sense to add something else.

Broccoli Squash Soup

Ingredients

5 broccoli stalks

1 14 oz package frozen butternut squash (this can be made with squash in any form – fresh, frozen cubes or variety)

1 small onion

3 garlic cloves

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Adobo, tumeric, cumin to taste

Directions

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1.  Peel the broccoli stalks of the fibrous outer layer – The easiest way to do this is to start from the bottom up and cut off smaller stalks as you going, peeling each one individually

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2.  Cut the peeled stalks into roughly the same size chunks (you want it to cook evenly)

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3.  In medium pot, add broccoli, garlic cloves, onion (cut in into equal size parts – I had about 8), squash and vegetable stock

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4.  Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, until broccoli stalks are tender and squash has defrosted

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5.  Use blender to puree all the ingredients, return to pot

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6.  Season to taste with adobo, cumin, tumeric

Results

Broccoli squash soup is incredibly simple, delicious and versatile.  You can flavor it with any flavor combination from curry spices (as I have done) or Italian spices (oregano, basil, etc).  You can add cream, or roast the vegetables beforehand.  It is healthy and hearty.

Apple Brie Quesadilla

I stumbled across this in a food network recipe on 5 dinner meals in 45 minutes.  It sounded pretty interesting and I just happened to have some granny smith apples that I needed to eat.

Ingredients

1 tortilla

1/2 granny smith apple

4-5 slices brie

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon mustard

Directions

1.  Cut apple in halve and use mandolin to cut thin, even slices

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2.  Drizzle with olive oil and grill for 3-4 minutes in grill pan, over medium high heat, until marks appear

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3.  Layer tortilla with brie and grilled apples

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4.  Grill quesadilla in grill pan for additional 3-4 minutes on each side, until grill marks appear and cheese melts

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5.  Mix maple syrup and mustard together to drizzle over top

Results

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This meal was perfect.  It was the right size, and it balanced out the rainy weather perfectly.

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