Turkey Ragu 2

One of the more interesting aspects of capturing your recipes online is seeing how your recipes change over time.

“I made your sauce.  I followed the recipe but it doesn’t taste the same.

So I look at my original Turkey Ragu recipe.  Sure enough, I made it differently today.  Too many episodes of Food Network in your head changes your recipes.  Just my opinion but I’m sticking with it.

So I look at The Boss and say, “How about a fresh batch of meat sauce?”

And this is how I made it today with the changes from Ragu One in bold.

Turkey Ragu 2

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced plus 1/2 to 1 T garlic granules

1/2 cup sweet onion, diced

1 medium carrot, fine dice

1 celery stalk, fine dice

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 fresh green pepper, finely diced

1 pound ground turkey (use 93/7)

2 T dried basil

1 T dried oregano

Pinch of Thyme

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup white wine

1 28 oz can tomatoes diced San Marzano style with juice

1 28 oz can tomatoes, crushed

1 6 oz can tomato paste

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Brown sugar

1.  Heat two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over high heat in a large saucepot.  I prefer the taste of Spanish olive oils and Borges is my favorite.  If you can’t find Borges look for the Star brand which is made by the same company.  Substitute your favorite regular olive oil if desired.

2.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and green pepper.  Saute for a few minutes until limp.

3.  Add more olive oil to prevent sticking and add the ground turkey.  Break up the meat and brown.  Add basil, oregano, and thyme and continue browning until the herbs become aromatic.  With the heat still on high, add the wine and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated.

4.  Add the can of diced tomatoes with juice.  Toss in the bay leaves, mushrooms, and green pepper.  Stir until well mixed and lower heat to medium.  The sauce ingredients should be bubbling mildly.  Leave uncovered until the tomatoes release their juices and the liquid in the pot is mostly evaporated.  This step concentrates the flavors and will take 15 to 20 minutes.

5.  When the sauce becomes thickened, add the can of crushed tomatoes and the can of tomato paste.  Stir to incorporate well.  Partially cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for a minimum of one hour.

6.  Taste for seasonings and add more basil or oregano if desired.  Salt and pepper if you must but there is plenty of salt in the canned tomatoes.  If the tomatoes are highly acidic, add brown sugar a half teaspoonful at a time until the acidity is reduced to your liking.  A little bit of sugar will cut the acidity and add smoothness to the ragu.

7.  Find some cooked pasta and plenty of grated cheese.  Eat!

 

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

1 T olive oil
1 butternut squash (1½ lb.), halved and seeded
1 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
1 4.5 ounce can diced green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp. )
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Enchilada sauce (homemade or canned)
8-12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool, scoop into a bowl and mash.

2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté until soft. Add chiles and garlic. Cook 1 minute.

3. Stir in mashed squash, cream cheese, cumin, and nutmeg. Turn the heat off and mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer tortillas followed by the squash mixture, then cheddar cheese. Repeat, ending with cheddar cheese as your final layer on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the sides start bubbling and the cheese is melted and gooey.

5. Serve with your usual Tex-Mex sides and condiments. Extra cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, green onions, jalepeno peppers, salsa, chips, beans, rice. Or a side salad works too but not as satisfying.

I sometimes forget this blog is about recipes.  I get off on a tangent like mislabeled seafood or nasty who knows what’s in them chicken nuggets from China.  FOCUS!  It’s about the food, the recipes, and the memories.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to make a squash enchilada  casserole when fall rolled around and the hard squashes started appearing in the market.  I was always amazed at how tasty this dish was without any meat in it.  Like all great family recipes this one exhibits the following classic characteristics.

The kids didn’t like it when they were little and I never wrote the recipe down.  I’m sure if I wanted to waste an hour or two I could find the original recipe yellowed and faded, taped to a 3 x 5 card somewhere.  I also know that when I find the original recipe it won’t be how I make it now.  Why bother looking? I do recall the original recipe called for some cooked potato added to the squash mixture.  I also recall the original did not have green chilies in it.  So here you go. This recipe is from memory.  I hope it tastes good.

I can’t believe this is my 100th post.

TIPS

 If you like (or need) an extra kick, sub a heartier pepper for the green chilies.  Need protein?  Add a can of black beans, rinsed and drained, to the middle layer of the casserole.  Monterrey Jack would be a nice sub for the cheddar.  Or Smokey Chipotle Cheddar might work too.  (I have a chunk of this in the fridge and it’s looking for a recipe).  But most of all, have some fun with this recipe.

Update 11.17.14

I know, two days after posting and I’m making changes already.  Step 4 –  for the middle layers, tortillas, squash mixture, cheddar cheese, repeat.  No enchilada sauce.  The red sauce goes only on the bottom of the pan and on the top layer of tortillas.  The final layer is tortillas, enchilada sauce, and shredded Monterrey jack cheese.  Yellow corn tortillas are fine but I used white corn tortillas.  I only needed ten tortillas.  You’ll get eight generous servings from this casserole.  I made some quick enchilada sauce with a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and some chicken stock.  You can leave out the chicken stock if you’re a picky vegetarian.  You can leave the cheese off too but I won’t take any responsibility for how your casserole turns out.

Poached Chicken

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
  • 1 medium carrot, French cut style
  • 1 medium rib celery, French cut style
  • 1/4 large onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 2 T dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Place chicken in a pot just large enough to hold chicken breast halves and add enough water to barely cover.

  2. Add carrot, celery, onion, lemon, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, white pepper, and salt.

  3. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.   When the liquid is almost to a boil, reduce heat to low.  Cover and continue to simmer for around 20 minutes.  If the breasts are large, simmer an extra five minutes.

  4. After 20-25 minutes, turn off the heat.  Leave the cover on the pot and allow the chicken to cool in the broth for around 15-20 minutes.

  5. You’re done.  Remove the breasts from the broth.  Debone, skin, and slice.

I thought it would be fun to document my thought process when deciding upon what to make for a meal.  We were completely out of milk so I had to go to the store.  Note the date of this post.  We are less than a week away from November and the temperature was damn near 90 degrees.  It might have even topped 90.  Despite having reservations for brunch, we had to wait for our table today.

“Would you like a table outside?”

 

“Thank you but Hell No.”

I digress.  So I’m at the store and I pass by the bagged salad section.  Remember, it’s nearly November.  Stacked up and looking fresh were a bunch of salad kits seductively named Endless Summer.  I kid you not. 

Chicken breasts bone-in were on sale for $1.99 a pound.  Dinner. Done.

I guess the title of this recipe really should be Bagged Salad with Chicken.

White Chicken Chili

“I’m not dressed.  Could you water the front patio plants?”

“Yes dear.”

It was rather cool outside this morning.  Fall is definitely in the air and the morning chill made me think of chili.  Since I had just finished breakfast, chili was not an option this morning.  We were leaving on a short road trip in about an hour.  No time to make chili.

I decided to add another chili recipe to the blog!  For years I’ve made a white chili culled from two different recipes.  One recipe definitely came from the NY Times while the source of the second is unknown.  One recipe called for tomatoes; the other recipe didn’t.  So in my grand tradition of never following recipes exactly I have had to pull out two separate recipes to make this chili.  Fading memories instruct me on what to put in and what to leave out.  Fearing the worst, I figured I better write this down before I forget.

Tips:

This chili tastes better without tomatoes but if you like tomatoes in your chili, add a can of diced tomatoes.  It won’t be white anymore.  It will be pink.  Pink chili???

I prefer boneless thighs to boneless breasts but either works well.  If you’re using fresh cilantro, add it as a condiment at serving time.

This chili, like most chili dishes, tastes better the second day.

This chili also tastes better when you drink a good craft beer while cooking it.

I’m serious.

White Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs boneless chicken cubed
  • 1/4 C seasoned flour (salt pepper)
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 1 green pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 Tsp dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • red pepper flakes, dash
  • Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 16 oz can organic white kidney or Great Northern beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Combine flour and salt, and pepper in a gallon size plastic baggie.  Add the chicken, close the bag, and shake well until all of the chicken pieces are well coated with the flour mixture.
  2. Heat 2 T olive oil in a large stock pot over high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.  Lower the heat to medium high to avoid burning the chicken.  You will get pieces of flour and chicken stuck on the bottom of the pan.  This is OK.  Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low.  Add 1 T olive oil, onion, garlic green pepper, cilantro, cumin, and oregano.  Saute 5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth and scrape the brown pieces from the bottom of the pot.
  5. Add chicken, green chilies and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes.  If the mixture starts to get too thick, thin out with more chicken stock.
  6. Five minutes prior to serving, add the beans.  Simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until the beans are warmed through.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with your favorite hot sauce, peppers, grated cheese, etc.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw – (NOT) Bon Appétit

via Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw – Bon Appétit.

There are a bunch of clipped recipes in the cookbook holder by the stove.  This Bon Appétit recipe has been there since 2009, February 2009 to be exact.  We love this recipe for a quick and healthy meatless meal.  Earlier today I glanced at the recipe to make sure all ingredients were on hand because you always have at least one ingredient missing.  I just don’t want the missing ingredient to be missing after I start cooking.

Wait a minute!  This isn’t how I make this dish!  OK, full stop.  No more writing.  I will make my tacos tonight and then write the recipe down.

6:41 PM CST update

I’ve left the link to the original recipe.  I was right.  I make this dish differently than I did five years ago.  So here we go.  I also made some fresh guacamole and to be perfectly honest, the flavors are intense, the textures varied, and it…is…HEALTHY.

1 15-ounce can organic black beans, drained, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (maybe more)
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and 2 teaspoons canola oil
1 whole lime juiced, 1/4 lemon juiced

1/4 cup diced red onion, 1 clove garlic minced

pinch oregano, dash celery salt (trust me on this one)

2 cups organic green cabbage, thinly sliced
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortilla shells, crispy
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Your favorite hot sauce or salsa

  1.  Drain and rinse the black beans, set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, saute the onion and garlic until soft.  Add oregano, cumin, and garlic. Saute until the spices are fragrant.
  3. Add the well drained black beans.  Add lemon juice. Heat until warmed through.  Mash the beans with a spoon but leave it chunky.  Season with celery salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the olive oil and juice of one lime.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add a dash of sugar to cut the acidity if needed.
  5. Add the green onions, cilantro, and cabbage.  Mix well and set aside.

This recipe will make enough for 4-6 tacos.  If you need more servings, double the bean recipe and buy more taco shells. You will not need to double the cabbage slaw portion.  You’ll have plenty.

Construct your tacos.  Place some beans in the taco shell, followed by salsa, feta cheese, and slaw.  If you are using guacamole, put in on your taco last.

TIPS –

We recently discovered La Tiara authentic Mexican taco shells from Gladstone Missouri.  Yeah, I was thinking the same thing as you until I tried these shells.   Use fresh cabbage and not the bagged sliced slaw next to the bagged salads.  In a pinch, go ahead and use the bagged stuff.  But once you use fresh cabbage, you won’t go back to the bag version.  This taco recipe is perfect for a Meatless Monday.  May I suggest oven roasted sweet potatoes and corn for sides?

Turkey Meatloaf

By now you know the story: I never ate meatloaf growing up and rarely, if ever, made meatloaf when the kids were kids.  Funny things happen to you when you work from home.  I’ve learned how to take short mini-breaks of about five minutes to do prep work for dinner.  It helps to give yourself brain breaks during the workday and you also get a head start on dinner.  You reduce eye strain and the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.  And did I mention you get a head start on dinner?  So the other week I found myself staring at a package of ground turkey that I found on sale, wondering what to make for dinner.

Meatloaf!  I went with a recipe that I sort of recalled from watching too many Food Network shows and stuff I had in the fridge.  Mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) formed the base of the flavor profile.  Thyme pairs well with turkey.  I was set to go.

Turkey Meatloaf

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery diced

2 carrots diced
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
2 eggs
3/4 cup bread crumbs, Panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. Saute until just soft, remove to a large mixing bowl and cool.
  3. When the vegetables are cool, combine all of the remaining ingredients together.
  4. Form the meat mixture into a brain shaped loaf in an oiled oven tray or baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Tips –

If you have the loaf in the fridge for any amount of time prior to baking, take the meatloaf out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking.  Bringing the meatloaf back to near room temperature reduces the possibility of under-cooking your dinner.  Do not use ground turkey breast.   There is not enough fat and your meatloaf will turn out dry.  Regular plain old ground turkey is a mixture of white and dark meat, skin, and fat.  Trust me, it tastes better.

Mashed potatoes is mandatory.  You can add a vegetable or salad and no one will care.  But mashed is mandatory.

This meatloaf makes great leftovers for sandwiches.

  

Portabello Mushroom and Spinach Frittata

Portabello Mushroom and Spinach Frittata

Yum!

We were in Texas this past weekend.  While in Fort Worth, my sister-in-law kept threatening to make a frittata for breakfast.  We all told her, no.  We’re having a huge lunch.  We ate a lot today already.  Please don’t make a frittata.

The frittata was never made but I’ve had frittata on the brain since.  So I made one tonight.  I found a basic recipe and then went off in the direction of whatever was in the fridge.  Yesterday I bought some baby portobello mushrooms and fresh spinach.  Why not?  I’ll post the recipe if it tastes good.  That’s right, we haven’t eaten yet.

But if this frittata doesn’t hit the mark, that’s right, no recipe.

UPDATE 04.02.14

The filler was killer.  I’m posting the recipe.

  • 8 large eggs
  • Salt And Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion,  sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  • 2-3 large baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced medium thickness
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced, deseeded

Preparation Instructions

Preheat the broiler.

  • Beat together the eggs with the salt and pepper.  Stir in the Parmesan and set aside.
  • In a medium oven-proof non-stick skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden brown. Add mushrooms and saute until the shrooms start to release their liquid.  Add spinach and garlic, and stir to cook with the shroom/onion for a couple of minutes.
  • Lower heat to low and continue to saute until the vegetables have stopped releasing their liquids.  This will take 5-10 minutes.  Set aside and cool.
  • In the same skillet, heat remaining olive oil on high until just smoking hot.
  • Pour in the egg mixture and occasionally tilt the pan to allow some egg to drip to the bottom of the skillet. Lower heat to low.
  • When the egg mixture begins to set, add the vegetables and distribute evenly.  Add the tomatoes on top.
  • Simmer on the stove top until almost fully set.  This will take 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Pop the skillet under the broiler until the eggs are set and  remove once you achieve a nice browned top.
  • Allow to cool in the skillet for 10 – 15 minutes.  When cool, transfer to a serving plate.  Slice.  Eat.