Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the category “Soup, Stews and Sauces”

Southwestern Pasta

I like black beans. I like pasta very much. I wanted to combine them together to make a delicious meal for my family. It turned being my family’s favorite meal. I even thought I had some delicious food and a nice meal to cook.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of pasta
  • 1 can  of black beans
  • 1 pack of smoked sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 jars of salsa
  • corn
  • cilantro/avocado for garnish
  • queso fresco
  • salt/olive oil for pasta

Directions: Pasta

1. Cook pasta according to pasta box

2. Add salt and olive oil to water when boiling

 

Directions: Sauce

1. Cut sausage about equal sizes

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2. Cut peppers about the same size as sausage

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3. Add sausage and pepper to pan

4. Saute sausage and pepper until brown

5. Rinse beans

6. Add beans

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7. Add salsa

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8. Stir and heat through

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9. Serve

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Results

We did a bit of a pick your own assembly.  Ana served her pasta and sauce separately, while I added cheese, cilantro, avocado and corn to top it off. This was a win from a dinner perspective.  There were even secondary uses applied – you can use it to stuff mini sweet pepper and bake with some more cheese.  Cait liked that version even better.

 

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Chicken Parmesan

This week Ana asked to make chicken parmesan.  I took the easy way out and suggested we use already breaded chicken cutlets. I figured it would be easier for Ana to manage with those, given the risk of hot oil and multiple pans.  Although I did give her the option in the grocery store to get chicken breasts and carefully slice them in half.  She opted not to do it.

Ingredients

  • chicken cutlets (we had 12 cutlets for 5 people)
  • crushed tomatoes (2 28oz cans)
  • cheese (mozzarella, parmesan)
  • basil
  • oregano
  • garlic
  • pepper
  • adobo
  • spagetti
  • olive oil

 

Directions (Sauce)

1.  open crushed tomatoes

2.  pour in pot

3. heat sauce over medium heat

4. crush 4 garlic cloves into sauce

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5.add basil & oregano (cup hand to measure)

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6. heat & taste

 

Directions (Chicken)

1. open chicken

2. season chicken with adobo & pepper

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3. cook chicken on olive oil (so it doesn’t stick) until golden brown (each side)

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4. flip chicken

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5. put in pan (do not stack)

6. add sauce & cheese (we mixed the parmesan and mozzarella together)

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7. put in oven

8. broil 2-3 minutes

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Directions (Pasta)

1. add water to pot

2. add olive oil

3. wait until boiling

4. add salt & pasta

5. stir pasta 3 minutes

6. wait 3 more minutes

7. drain & eat

 

Results

We served it with a nice salad and good bread.  Ana did a really good job.  Everybody really enjoyed it and said she could make it again.  Ana was incredibly proud of herself (as she should be) and gave herself a round of applause.  She wouldn’t let me post that picture.

Homemade Soup

Why is it that people are a little afraid of making homemade soup? It doesn’t make much sense to me. Homemade soup is extremely nutritious and you can customize it to your liking without any real effort. It is also a really good vessel for using leftovers, things from the freezer or fresh ingredients. You can make it over a couple of days, overnight in a crockpot, in a couple of hours or really quick if you have ready ingredients on hand.

Chicken soup is the most common for me, but that’s because I tend to cook chicken regularly and keep the pan drippings and chicken carcasses. I tend to add the pan drippings to a container with other pan drippings. One thing to note here though it that you really need to be careful about how much pan drippings you add to your soup stock. It is very easy to go from perfectly flavored to almost too rich.

For today’s soup I used two small chicken carcasses. The first thing I did was pull as much meat off the bones as I could. This allows you to use that meat for the soup later, plus any additional meat that you were not able to liberate until after the stock making process. I added a quartered onion (skin and all), 3 carrots, 3 celery hearts (leaves and all), a couple of slices of ginger, the rest of an open bottle of white wine and covered it all with water. I let it simmer for 3-4 hours and put it in the fridge overnight. I strained the stock into another pot, and picked off any additional chicken. I then let the stock reduce for about an hour and tasted it for flavor (at this point, I have added no additional seasoning). My tastings led me to add about a cup of pan drippings and let that simmer as well. Now it’s ready for all the goodies we want – we’re doing chicken, carrots, celery, kidney beans, peas and corn, maybe some cous cous. I’ll let you know in the directions below.

Directions

1. Bring 6-8 cups prepared (or purchased) stock to a boil

2. Chop raw veggies you plan on adding – carrots and celery for us

3. Plan what else you are adding. We are adding kidney beans, frozen peas and corn, frozen turnips, and some cous cous. There is a little orchestration going on here as you need to make sure everything gets the proper cooking time, without overcooking anything. For me, this was adding the carrots and celery and simmer for 20 mins, add beans and cous cous (3 scoops – about 1/2 cup) simmer for 2 more mins, add peas and corn and chicken.

4. Based on the relative cooking time of your goodies, add them to the pot

5. Taste and season constantly (using my standard Adobo, pepper, oregano, thyme)

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Results

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My daughters gave me Chopped style running commentary on my soup. It even won Chopped! That’s so exciting. But it definitely made us warm on this cold winter day.

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.

Hartman Yellow Tomato Sauce

 

My husband is a big apocalypse believer and has been teaching himself all sorts of survival skills, including gardening, breadmaking, beer brewing, as well as many others.  He has been quite successful with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and scotch bonnet peppers.  On this particular day, we were suffering from an abundance of tomatoes so decided to can some sauce.  My husband decided he wanted to help, and in the process learn how to do this.

Ingredients

Several pounds of tomatoes (these are hartmen yellows)

Water

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves garlic

some fresh basil for flavor

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Rinse tomatoes

2.  Cut tomatoes in half

3.  Cover tomatoes with water

 

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2.  Simmer on low for 1-2 hours until tomatoes break down

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3.  Strain tomato water and solids through sieve (mine dates to my grandmother and has a solid wooden pestle to push the tomatoes through)

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4.  Keep rotating pestle (or handle), periodically scraping the sides, until all that is left is skins

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5.  Bring tomato sauce to boil over medium heat

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6.  In a blender, combine onion and garlic

7.  Add onion and garlic to tomatoes and let cook down to the consistency you enjoy

Note:  If tomato sauce is slightly bitter, add a tablespoon of sugar.  Additionally, we added the basil a little early in the process.  I would recommend waiting until the last few minutes to toss that in.

8.  We sanitized our jars, added the tomato sauce, and boiled in a water bath for 55 minutes, per the Ball canning directions.

Results

We tasted it before we canned it and were pleased with the results.  We haven’t broken open up a jar of the previously canned sauce, but I’m sure it will be tasty.  We did have a few people solicit a jar of it.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had enough to share yet.

 

Fresh Peach Cobbler Take 2 with a Rum Caramel Sauce

My husband enjoyed his momma’s peach cobbler so much, he picked up peaches from the farmer’s market.  Like usual, I decided ahead of time to mix it up a little, but I didn’t quite realize how much I’d have to do so.  It was sort of a series of unfortunate events that turned out better than expected. It seemed that my cupbards were a little bare of the original ingredients.  So I improvised.

We invited some friends over, and therefore I had a reason to make the peach cobbler.  I had been holding off for time reasons as well as not wanting to make an entire pan for just me and my husband.  This is definitely a recipe that needs you have the ingredients prepped before you start.   I didn’t quite do that which accounts for many of my issues.  Although had I done it, I don’t know that it would have turned out the same.  I got the pan out, put it in the oven to preheat with the butter.  I got my stool out so I could reach the flour, and determined I didn’t have any whole wheat flour.  No worries, I used only all-purpose flour.  I reached for the sugar and found I had only brown sugar.  So I used that, but cut it down significantly.  As you might have figured out, I’m a big fan of adding alcohol to food.  This especially applies to baked goods.  My intentions were to let the peaches soak in about 1/2 cup of rum, but I misjudged and poured 3/4 of a cup.  There was only a little bit left in the bottle, and I didn’t want to waste it so I added that as well for a total of 1 cup rum.  I followed the recipe pretty well after that.

I had some leftover cobbler and was heading to a girlfriend’s birthday party.  This friend has quite the sweet tooth so I thought I would make a batch of caramel rum sauce to accompany it. I followed this recipe pretty closely, with the exception of the one necessary substitution (and no, it was to add more rum).

Peach Cobbler

Original Ingredients

9×13 pan

1 cup of whole wheat flour

1 cup all porpuse flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups of milk

6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup butter

Dagny’s Ingredients

9×13 pan

2 cup all porpuse flour

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup of milk

1 cup rum

6 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup butter

Directions

1.  Put butter in pan and put pan in oven while its pre-heating to 350 degrees

2.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk together

3.  Pour batter in on top of melted butter

4.  Layer fruit across entire pan

5.  Bake for 1 hour, check cobbler for doneness.  It may need an extra 15 minutes

Caramel Rum Sauce

Ingredients

2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/3 cup milk

1 cup water

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup rum

2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

1.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, milk, corn syrup and water in a heavy saucepan

2. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly

3.  Cook for additional couple of minutes

4.  Remove from heat and add rum, vanilla and butter

5.  Stir to mix in butter

6.  Let stand at room temperature until cooled

*Can be stored in fridge up to 2 months

Results

The peach cobbler was definitely different than my mother-in-law’s, but it was equally good.  It went perfect with a little vanilla ice cream, or dipped in the caramel rum sauce.

Fresh Peach Cobbler, Green Chili Sauce and A Week in the Country

My husband’s family hails from Oklahoma and while my kids go back a few times a year, I only ever visit ever few years.  Since I had the time and I hadn’t been in a while, I decided I would venture out for a week.  I could meet my nephew, who is almost 2, and enjoy the 100+ degree heat.  Although, when I arrived a little over a week ago, it was cooler in Tulsa than it was in Washington, DC.

My in laws live in Oilton, a little town about an 1 and 1/2 hours from Tulsa.  They live in a 3 bedroom house with outbuildings for a library and an art studio (my mother in law is a writer/teacher and my step father in law is a master pastelist).  There are also 2 chicken coops and a decent size garden (below picture is of the garden with 1 chicken coop and the library in the background).  My mother in law does a lot of canning and freezing of fruits and vegetables for the winter. For this particular visit, and apparently for about the last month, they have been living with limited cell signal and no satellite internet.

My mother in law started our vacation by asking if anyone would be interested in going to the farmer’s market on saturday morning.  I love the farmer’s market and volunteered, until she told me that she’s wasn’t going to “shop” but rather to sell some of the 15+ dozen eggs she had in her refrigerator.  She adds about 9-12 eggs a day, and my family did their part to keep inventory in check (3-5 eggs between my girls, 2 for my husband, 1-2 for me, plus the 4-5 for my in laws).  Fresh eggs have much more yellow yokes and the egg whites tend to much thicker.

Needless to say, she sold 7 dozen eggs but brought home 1/2 bushel of fresh peaches, 6 pounds of okra and 20 pounds of tomatoes, which she canned almost immediately.

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These were some of the best peaches I have had in a really long time. I definitely indulged myself with 4-5 peaches a day.  My mother in law also used some of these peaches to make a very delicious Peach Cobbler.

Sharon’s Peach Cobbler (although I should probably attribute it to her mother)

Ingredients

9×13 pan

1 cup of whole wheat flour

1 cup all porpuse flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups of milk

6-8 peaches, peeled and sliced (this can be any fruit you want, however the juicier peaches seemed to work better than the blackberries.  If you choose to use berries, I would recommend macerating the berries with a little bit of the sugar)

1/4 cup butter

Directions

1.  Put butter in pan and put pan in oven while its pre-heating to 350 degrees

2.  Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and milk together

3.  Pour batter in on top of melted butter

4.  Layer fruit across entire pan

5.  Bake for 1 hour, check cobbler for doneness.  It may need an extra 15 minutes

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I am not a big desert person.  I don’t really like chocolate or anything too sweet.  This had a perfect balance of sweetness and fresh fruit.

In addition to the fresh peaches, I also was spoiled with lots of garden fresh tomatoes.

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These cherry tomatoes were brought over by a friend.  These were really good too, but I had to compete with my youngest daughter for these.  When I left, there was just a handful left for her.

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Fresh Green Chili Sauce

I have mentioned before that enchiladas are one of my specialties.  Within the last year, I found a way to bring store bought green chili sauce up to my liking and have incorporated that into my enchiladas.  Despite the fact that I made enchiladas on July 4th, I made them again while we were in Oklahoma.  When I raised the question on what I should do about the green chili sauce, I was volunteered the use of a couple of bags of frozen green chilis from New Mexico.  I was then left with the task of figuring out how to turn that into fresh green chili sauce.

Ingredients

3 garlic cloves

5 tomatillos

1/2 onion

2 cups frozen green chilis

1 jalapeño

1/2 cup cilantro

juice of one lime

1-2 green tomatoes

Directions

1.  Chop ingredients to size appropriate for food processor or blender

2.  Blend until all ingredients are finely chopped

2.  Add salt/pepper to taste

Results

It was as simple as that.  I did learn that the chilis I used had quite a kick.  Unfortunately, I was starting to cook pretty late in the evening and I was concerned about getting people fed rather than taking pictures.  The sauce was vibrant and bright.  If I had more time, I would probably have put into into a saucepan and let it simmer together for a little bit.

All in all, it would was good visit.  We had access to some fantastic farm fresh food and good company.

Crockpot Lamb Stew

I picked up bone-in lamb for stew meat at the grocery store imagining the rich, flavorful stew I could make from it. Of course, I didn’t actually have a recipe though. I knew I could do this in my crockpot on one of our busy evenings. When it came time to look for a recipe, I came across this one by Munchie Musings. Originally I thought I would defer the whole dredging in flour and browning, but after reading her compelling arguments on the additional flavor I changed my mind.

My vegetable choice had to do more with my family and my own personal tastes than anything else. Potatoes, onions and carrots are standard stew vegetables, but I enjoy mushrooms and my oldest daughter is a huge fan of fingerling potatoes, especially after she grew them last summer. So, I did fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, baby bellas, pearl onions and parsnips (recipe recommended the last two). I wasn’t sure what my girls would say about the parsnips, but they didn’t even notice them. They must have thought they were white carrots or another type of potato.

Ingredients

2 pounds bone in lamb meat

Adobo

Fresh cracked pepper

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 oz bottle Guiness

1 1/2 cups fingerling potatoes

1 cup baby carrots

1 cup baby portabellas

2 med parsnips, peeled and chopped

3 cups water

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 tablespoons cold roux (olive oil and flour)

Directions

1. Cut lamb meat off bone and into bite size pieces

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2. Toss lamb meat with flour, Adobo and pepper

3. Heat olive oil in large pan and saute lamb meat until brown

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4. Once all meat has been browned, brown bones

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5. Deglaze pan with Guiness, scraping bits off the bottom of pan

6. Put lamb, bones, beer, scrapings and all vegetables in crockpot

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7. Season vegetables with Adobo, pepper and thyme

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8. Cook on low for 6.5 hours, until the meat falls off the bone and vegetables are tender

9. Add roux and let sit on warm for another 30-60 mins

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Results

I got exactly what I expected.  A rich, hearty stew with tender meat and perfectly cooked vegetables.

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