It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month I was assigned Sarah's Kitchen - a name that I love, obviously. Sarahs of the world unite! Sarah is from England, but now lives in Texas - which is kind of funny because I'm from Texas and once lived in Ireland (which I realize is not the same as England, but is geographically/culturally similar). Spooky.
Anyway, I was clearly craving a casserole while looking through Sarah's blog because every recipe I was drawn to was one. Like this Stovetop Beef and Penne Casserole, this Eight Layer Casserole, these two Mexican Casseroles, this Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, and this Turkey Tetrazzini. They all looked tempting, but as soon as a saw a recipe for Pastitsio, I was done. This Greek lasagna like casserole is one of my all time favorite dishes. So let's make it!
Start by sauteing onions and garlic, then browning beef. I actually chose to use half beef and half lamb.
When the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste.
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post! This month, my assignment was The Tasty Cheapskate. Food was not a big focus for Jean growing up, neither eating it nor cooking it, which is pretty much the opposite of my childhood. Luckily all that changed for her as an adult. Now she focuses on whole foods and budget friendly family meals. She even did a challenge where she fed her 6 person family on $6 a day! Incredible!
Looking through her blog, I found a lot of yummy baked goods. Like a bunch of different pull-apart breads, but especially this coconut and lime one. Also zucchini bread with lemon or with coconut. And self frosting nutella pumpkin muffins - shut the front door! But despite all those yummy delights, what I really wanted was a nice healthy meal - so my eyes lit up when I saw this Broccoli Barley Casserole. And I was even more excited when I saw that the original recipe used farro, which I have been meaning to start using for a long time, and that it could be made in one pot.
Start by sauteing onions and garlic in a Dutch oven. Then add the farro and allow to toast a bit.
Add in frozen spinach, water, and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone and the farro is tender but still chewy, about 20 minutes.
I was making dinner for a vegan friend of mine and found this quick and easy recipe that sounded good. Using mostly canned products, I was not expecting it to turn out as well as it did (hence no preparation photos). We were both surprised at how much flavor this chili had. I added in some chopped leftover steak for Jasper, and he loved it too. This is definitely going into my records as cheap, easy, customizeable, and well-loved.
Vegan Three Bean Chili with Pesto
adapted from Real Simple
1 tbsp plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian spices, including liquid
kosher salt and black pepper
1 15.5oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 15.5oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15.5oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
3 tbsp pine nuts (you can use a less expensive nut)
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their liquid, 2 cups water, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and bring to a boil.
Add the beans and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
Either finely chop the garlic, pine nuts, and parsley and combine with remaining 1/4 cup oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper in a small bowl OR put everything into a mini food processor and pulse.
Divide the chili among individual bowls and top with the pesto.
I was looking for a dish to bring over to my friend, Melissa, who just had a baby. This recipe immediately popped out at me - one dish, easy to transport, easy to reheat, and lot's of veggies (plus cheese and pasta, of course). There's a reason people are always bringing casseroles! I also liked that it uses a lot of frozen veggies, making it budget friendly and easy to make year-round.
I also may have used it as an excuse to buy this thing, which I have been wanting for a long time - so cute!
So, we start out with ALL THE VEGETABLES. Ever. Just kidding... kind of. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil, then add frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. When those have thawed, add in shredded carrot and zucchini.
I saw this and thought to myself, "not enough vegetables," so I added some frozen peas to the boiling pasta for the last 30 seconds. You can use whatever shape of pasta you like, I thought bowties would be fun and cute. I used Barilla protein plus pasta, because it boasts 17g of protein per 3.5oz serving and veggie dishes can always use some extra protein. I also rinsed the pasta (and peas) in cold water to stop the cooking and get rid of the extra starch (something I only do for pasta salads, and pasta that is going to be cooked again in the oven).
I have made this salad multiple times in the past two years, but never managed to photograph it or blog about it - until now! Which is a shame, because it is so delicious and satisfying, and you could have been making it, too. I'm so sorry! But I'm sharing it with you now, and I hope that you know how serious I am about loving this salad, because I rarely ever make things more than once. I even bought pomegranate molasses for my parents so that I could make this for them!
Special thanks to Melissa at Smells Like Brownies, for making it with me again two years after our first time making it together so that we could photograph it.
First thing is first, you must cook some lentils! I use French lentils for pretty much everything because they retain their shape and texture. Plus, they are a pretty green.
Meanwhile - prep your other ingredients. Chop your vegetables: onion, garlic, bell peppers. I love how colorful the bell peppers are, and how pretty they make the salad. So buy one of those 3 packs that has red, yellow, and orange. It will make you so happy. We also had a little bit of a green pepper left over, so we threw that in.
Also use this time to rehydrate some sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water. The water will become infused with tomato flavor, and will later become part of the dressing - neat! Not pictured - toast some walnuts. It releases the oils and makes them so much more flavorful.
Looking for yet another side to go with your Bacon Bourbon Sweet Potatoes? Check out this pork loin glazed with Dijon mustard, apple butter, and cider and roasted over veggies and sage. It's moist, tender, savory, sweet, and easy to make - plus it's pretty healthy!
I came up with this dish because I needed a protein to go with leftover sweet potatoes, and because I wanted to try out the recipe for the apple butter glaze. We are members of the Frog's Leap wine club, and they sent us a little jar of apple butter along with our last shipment of wine. They also included a recipe for a savory glaze using the apple butter, Dijon mustard, apple cider, shallot, and garlic - it sounded great!
Start by placing a few carrots and an onion in a roasting pan, top with a few sprigs of sage, then pour in a little bit of apple cider (to keep the meat from drying out). Season the pork loin with salt and pepper, and set it on the vegetables and roast it on high heat for 15 minutes.
Then take it out, spread the glaze over the top, and return it to the oven at a lower temp for 45 minutes. And that's it! Rest and slice and you're ready to serve. This is a great dish for fall with flavors that pair with lots of seasonal side dishes. Enjoy!
Melissa and I are back at it! This time it is with a super delicious, and seasonally appropriate, roasted vegetable pot pie that is super comforting and filling. I think even meat eaters will love it - seriously! If you think about it, there isn't that much chicken in a regular pot pie, and it is in tiny cubes that sort of blend in with everything else. So who's gonna miss it? Not me! Especially not when you top it with a killer rosemary and black pepper crust. I'm not kidding, you guys, this crust is awesome. I want to use it for all kinds of savory tart type things. This recipe is labor intensive, so give yourself time. Or make it with a buddy!
So, first step - make the dough for the crust. This involves flour, butter, buttermilk, egg yolks, and (most importantly) rosemary and black pepper. Crack that black pepper yourself, you want the flavor and the unevenly sized bits. The crust is what makes this dish special, so don't skip it!
Next, cut up those veggies! So, so many veggies. We made a lot of editorial choices with this recipe - eliminate pumpkin (who needs it when there is also butternut squash?), boost the brussels, etc... Afterwards we realized (per Melissa's husband) that replacing the carrots with parsnips would have added a nice pepperiness to balance the sweetness of the squash. Good idea, Dave!
If you've been wondering where I've been for the past 2 weeks, the answer is - vacation! I will be writing about that for sure, but before I get to it I want to talk about this pasta that I made before we left. My friend Melissa (you know her by now) was also going out of town, a little before we were, and gifted me several of her home-grown bell peppers and tomatoes. I wanted to use them to do a take on sausage and peppers in pasta form because I'm, well, me.
So I browned some sliced sausage, and then threw in an onion, the peppers, and the tomatoes to saute. Then I tossed in cooked whole wheat penne along with pasta water, a splash of cream, and some Parmesan to make a sauce. And finally, I topped it with some fresh basil and parsley. Fast, easy, and hearty. Thanks Melissa!
I have been really busy and traveling a lot lately, I haven't really been cooking much. When I do, it is usually a quick throw together of some type of pasta, vegetable, and protein. This particular version consisted of tri-color cheese tortellini, heirloom tomato, yellow zucchini, spinach, turkey meatballs, goat cheese, and fresh herbs.
While the water for the pasta was boiling, I sliced the zucchini and chopped the tomato and an onion. I sauteed the onion and zucchini in some goat butter, then added the spinach and let it wilt. I added the cooked tortellini on top with a little pit of pasta water (which helped with the wilting), then threw in the fresh tomatoes and took it off the heat.
Lastly I added some frozen turkey meatballs that I had heated in the microwave (I know, I know - I was in a hurry okay?), some crumbled goat cheese, and some fresh basil and parsley. This was super easy and came together in less than 30 minutes. Plus there was enough other stuff going on to distract my husband from the vegetables - score!
I know it's way too hot out to be making this sort of thing, but I don't care. It is sooooooo good. This is a French onion soup inspired macaroni and cheese with caramelized onions, boatloads of cheese, and a buttery breadcrumb topping with thyme. Yum, yum, yum. Oh yeah, and a little bit of white wine (shoutout to Broken Dreams - my fave white of the moment). I made this with Melissa of Smells Like Brownies and it was one of those magical recipes that is so much fun to make and doesn't stress you out during the process (though that may have been the wine taking effect...).
Step one is to get the onions going, of course. Can't have French onion soup without onions! Pop those bad boys into a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil, butter, and thyme. Is there any better flavor combo than onions and thyme? I like to start them at medium high heat, then reduce heat to medium low once they are translucent.
After 15 minutes, they should look kind of like this. Add a splash of white wine and a sprinkle of salt and keep cooking for another 15-20 minutes. Remember to take out the thyme stems when they are done.