In The Kitchen

It’s been unreasonably cold here in Colorado for the past few days, so much so that most school districts were closed yesterday and a significant number were closed today. While the weather we are having is NOTHING like the weather the my friends are experiencing in Illinois I have become somewhat spoiled and am no longer used to the bitter cold temps.

I’m 3 for 3 in terms of cooking dinner this week and I have to say that it’s pretty freaking awesome. Sadly I know that this won’t continue with my crazy schedule but if I can get it together and use the crock pot a few times a week I think this pattern can continue to an extent. Last night we made baked spaghetti and it was delicious! I’d like to thank the lovely Paula Deen for the recipe, especially since it contained…no butter! We tweaked the recipe a bit and it was still awesomely delicious!

Baked Spaghetti (adapted from Paula Deen)

  • 4 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 diced green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 small bay leaves
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 box uncooked thin spaghetti
  • fresh mozzarella sliced into circles
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 16 oz. grated parmesan

In a large pot sauté onions, peppers and seasonings until the onions are soft and translucent. Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Cook until browned, with no pink color left. Drain the fat from the meat and add it to the large pot. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes. While it simmers cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Take a 13x9x2 inch pan and cover the bottom with sauce. Add a layer of spaghetti and two handfuls of cheese. Repeat the layers ending with the sauce. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Top with mozzarella circles, place it back in the oven and continue to let it cook for another 20 minutes.

Serve with a green salad and garlic bread!


Tortilla Soup

  • Canola oil (enough to coat the pot)
  • 2 cans rotel tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 6 C. Chicken broth
  • 4 chicken breasts, poached and shredded
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder

In a large pot sauté the onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper until soft. Add in the tomatoes, broth and seasonings (I don’t measure I just sprinkle!) Let simmer for 30 minutes, then add in the corn and the beans. *( you could add in the chicken now but I’ve found that since we like to eat this for leftovers for quite a few days the chicken isn’t as good. If that’s the case then keep the shredded chicken in a separate bowl and add as you eat!) Let simmer for a few more minutes then serve in big bowls.

Top with cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips or crumbled chips, green onions, fresh tomatoes, cilantro or anything else!

 

It’s freezing here in Denver! With a fire roaring in the fire place I’ve spent the afternoon holed up on the couch writing papers and reading. This last semester of school is by far the busiest I’ve been in a long time. Student teaching + 3 classes = one boat load of work to get done. With classes being cancelled this afternoon I was able to throw something together in the crockpot and let me tell you it was DELICIOUS!

I’ve discovered a new blog and while I’ve only made one recipe from here it is definitely going to get thrown into the meal rotation. I’d forgotten about my dear old friend the crockpot but I can assure you that it’s going to be making a debut at least once a week for now with the very busy schedules we have around here.

Definitely try out this recipe it rocked!

Apricot Chicken (adapted from HauteApplePie)
1 18 oz jar of apricot preserves
4 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
12 chicken thighs ( I used boneless, skinless)

Cut off excess fat from the chicken and place in slow cooker.  In a separate bowl, mix the apricot preserves, mustard, soy sauce and ground black pepper. Pour sauce over chicken.  Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours. I cooked it on high for 3 hours and then another 1.5 hours on low and it was great.

Remove chicken from the crock pot and shred. Serve over couscous or rice and pair with a salad or some fresh broccoli.

 

 

Shepard’s Pie! SO good, so quick and easy and even better the second day. I chopped up some leftover brisket, whisked together a quick gravy and made mashed potatoes. 30 minutes tops until it hit the table and this will certainly be a go to left over meal for me, especially with the cold weather settling in! I don’t have a true recipe to share with you but here’s what I did (it was quick and really I threw together what I had.)

Chopped leftover brisket (probably about 12 slices)

A bag of yukon gold potatoes, boiled and mashed with a bit of left over water, an egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of sour cream and a drizzle of half and half. Oh and don’t forget salt, pepper and paprika (or any other spices that sound delicious.)

1 bag of frozen peas and carrots

Butter, beef broth, worcestershire sauce and flour to make a quick gravy

Toss the brisket into a glass pyrex baking dish, pour the gravy over it, toss in the frozen veggies and top with potatoes. Bake in oven at 350˚ for 10-12 minutes until potatoes have a nice crust on them and the dish is hot.

 

Now this is not a very pretty picture but I forgot to snap some pics while I was throwing this together and of course I didn’t get a shot while it was looking nice in the pan. This was thrown into a bowl and reheated and I think that it tasted even better than it did fresh out of the oven!

 

Ingredients:

4 zucchini

4 ears of corn

4-5 tomatoes (small to medium in size, I used 5 early girls and wish I had a few more)

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

1. Cut zucchini in half, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Throw on the grill and remove when cooked.

2. Place corn on the cob on the grill, allow to cook (mine took about 15 minutes with the husks half on)

3. Cut zucchini into small pieces

4. Cut corn off the cob

5. Dice up tomatoes

6. Toss together in a bowl and season with pepper and more salt if needed.

Serve with dinner!

Gazpacho!

It’s HOT! I needed something to make that didn’t involve the stove, or going out to light the grill for that matter. Taking a survey of my counter tops and refrigerator I realized that I had an abundance of cucumbers and tomatoes. I instantly decided upon gazpacho and decided to adapt a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa here.

Fresh ‘maters from the market are the best

Leave the peel on!

Here’s the recipe!

  • 8-10 pickling cucumbers, skin scrubbed (you can also take the skin off if you want)
  • 1 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess! ( I used a hand held chopper since I don’t have a food processor and it worked great)

After each vegetable is chopped, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving.

Enjoy! What do you do to beat the heat in the kitchen?!

 

Valentines Day!

So I’m delayed here but I’m so busy that I’m not surprised! School is keeping me on my toes and my one day a week with 1st graders is so great but just adds to the work that I’ve got going on. We had a nice low-key day on Sunday and kept the celebrating to a minimum. After all we let each other know the I love you’s on a day-to-day basis and going out to dinner on Valentines Day is always a nightmare. PLUS we’re holding out for Denver 5280 Week (restaurant week!) and I for one can’t wait! However on Valentines Day we spent the day indoors, relaxing and enjoying the Olympics. I whipped up a frittata for brunch and it was delicious but I forgot to take pictures! However here’s the recipe if you want to replicate it for yourself (the beauty of this is you can throw almost anything in to the dish that you’ve got in your fridge or that sound good!) We threw some spinach, sausage and goat cheese into the cart at the store on Saturday so that’s what I made the frittata with and it was really good.

Sausage, Spinach and Goat Cheese Frittata

1 tbsp. butter

6 eggs

1 C. milk

1 bag spinach

1/4 C. goat cheese

2 sausage links

salt and pepper to taste

heat the oven to 350˚

saute spinach quickly, run under cool water and squeeze out all excess. chop into small pieces

crumble the goat cheese

cook the sausages and slice into discs or bite size pieces

crack eggs and whisk together

combine eggs with spinach, cheese and sausages and stir together

heat small oven proof skillet (I used a cast iron one!)

add the butter and let it melt, make sure the pan is nicely coated so the frittata won’t stick when it’s done!

pour in the egg mixture and slide into the oven for 30-45 minutes. check for doneness after 30 minutes. remove from oven when cooked and enjoy!

*serve with a simple green salad and a nice loaf of baguette for a great brunch!

next time I make one I’ll remember to take pictures

The rest of our day was spent lounging and boy was that great! It was cold and dreary outside and couching just seemed like the ideal thing to do. We had Whole Foods to thank for our dinner that night (well at least the ingredients!) The boy whipped together a bruschetta that would make Julia Child proud! He was inspired after watching Julie and Julia and it was delicious…the key was the toasting of the bread in a cast iron skillet on the stove. This summer he promises to recreate it many times with the delicious tomatoes from the farmers market (and that moment can NOT come soon enough!)

Next up came the artichokes, boiled with some lemons and then served with melted butter and a mayonnaise dipping sauce…I just love the artichoke hearts. I still wonder why I always gave them up when I was little. I clearly didn’t know what I was missing!

Next up in our feast were scallops wrapped in bacon with a very tasty apricot/horseradish secret sauce which is pictured with the chokes, it’s the sauce on the left and let me tell you, it is heavenly. It goes perfectly with those bacon wrapped scallop packages of love! We also enjoyed some nice heart-shaped crab cakes that were really good (thanks WF!)And finally my beautiful flowers that the boy gave me :) Have a great weekend! Until next time…cheers!

 

TGIF and Pot Roast!

What a busy week it’s been! School is back in session and I’m actually feeling more hopefully about finishing sometime in the near future (like next May!) This semester I get my first experience with a teaching internship which is essentially a part of my student teaching. I’m at an awesome school in Thornton, CO within the Mapleton District and after my first day there yesterday I do believe that this semester will be a good one. Pair that with some pretty decent classes and the fact that I know my education plan for the rest of my time in school I think it’s been a successful week! I’ll share more at another time about my experiences and school related stuff but I did want to mention it today! However the star of today’s show will be…(insert drum roll please)…pot roast! Oh you already knew that? Ok fine, but I’m really excited about this one! The recipe is adapted fromThe Silver Palatte 25th Anniversary edition written by Julee Rosso and Shelia Lukins. Already my apartment is smelling good and I just popped the pot into the oven a little while ago!

First up is the cast of the show!

Ingredients

Mirepoix

Next up you’ll want to heat your pot with the olive oil and then brown the meat on all sides…

Sizzling away

Then you’ll want to add in the liquids (wine and stock) along with the garlic…

Beef meets chicken stock

Beef and chicken stock meet the wine

Invasion of the garlic cloves

Next you’re going to want to add in the mirepox along with the tomatoes and potatoes so it’s one big happy family in the pot…

Tomatoes join the party

Now it’s really a party, look at all those veggies!

Don’t forget the potatoes! It’s not a party unless they are there

That’s all folks! Now let all those ingredients simmer together on the stove top for a few minutes, put a lid on it and stick it in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. Then remove the lid and let it cook for another 1 1/2 hours. Then serve it up with a nice crusty loaf of french bread and a salad!

Recipe

2 1/4 lbs. chuck roast

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups red wine

1 teaspoon salt

7 whole garlic cloves

1 yellow onion roughly chopped

2 cups peeled carrot pieces

10-12 little potatoes (I had baby gold) cut into halves

2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes with juice

1 cup diced celery

Preheat the oven to 350˚

Heat up your dutch oven or casserole pot with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the meat and sear on all sides until it’s browned nicely.

Pour in the stock along with the wine, garlic, salt and pepper.

Stir it together and let simmer for a minute or two.

Pour in mirepoix along with the tomatoes and potatoes (the liquid should be enough to cover the meat, if there’s not enough just add some more stock)

Bring the pot to a simmer and then cover it and transfer to the center baking sheet in your preheated oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours.

Uncover the pot and cook until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 more hours.

Makes 4 portions

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Until next time…cheers!

 

 

 

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