Baked Parsnip Fries

One of my friends posted on Facebook she was making parsnip fries.  I had seen this before but never got around to trying it.  So simple and tasty- why had I not tried this???  You will not miss the potato and this will be your side next time you make that burger.

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Peel and cut your parsnips to fry size.  Mix olive oil and your choice of seasonings.  I used lots of minced garlic with some Italian seasonings (basil, oregano and rosemary).  Put all in a ziplock bag to combine.  I had mine all ready the night before and just allowed it to sit overnight in the fridge.

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Cover a pan with foil and add parsnips in a single layer.

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Bake about 10 minutes, stir/ flip, bake some more.  Done when slightly brown.  Add some salt when you take out of the oven and ENJOY!

Experiment with the seasoning.  Try some cumin and coriander.

Milk with your Tea?

A photo inspired this article.  I meant to save that photo but apparently I forgot.  It came across my twitter or pinterest and was called Milk Tea.  Done by a food photographer, it depicted milk/cream being poured into a cup of tea from a creamer.  It was beautifully taken and I am sorry I can’t give the photographer credit for inspiring me.

This is not the photo, but I needed one so thank you http://www.teaclass.com

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It never occurred to me that some people would never even consider adding milk or creamer to their tea.  Whenever I had tea or saw people having tea it was always served with a creamer containing milk or cream.  Interestingly, it appears this is common amongst the English and guess what?  My grandparents are from England.  So for all those people who laughed at me or gave me that curious look–I was following my heritage.  It should be mentioned that this tradition has been credited to France in various sources stating that Madame de la Sahliere liked her tea with milk.

But the next question lies in why?  Why add milk to tea?  Here are some explanations I have found and a little history.

Some sources state tea sets were made from Porcelain which could easily crack with the pouring of hot tea directly into the delicate cups.  The milk would be added first to temper it. I do admit antique tea sets are rather delicate, but tea back then was steeped before pouring into the cups.  Tea bags were not “invented” and pouring boiling water into a cup like today was not done.  Of course, I am not willing to sacrifice an antique tea cup to test if it will crack with hot tea or boiling water.  The addition of milk was also common to cut the bitterness of the black tea.  Today with all the new flavors I can see that the addition of milk wouldn’t be necessary.  That being said I do like milk or cream in my Earl Grey.  Typically, you would not add milk to white or oolong teas.

The addition of milk before or after the tea also has some history.  It is stated that how you add the milk was a status indicator. Tea was not readily available the way it is today.  Milk on the other hand was cheap and on hand.  Those who were considered a higher social standing and could afford the teas would add a little bit of milk after the tea was in the cup. The less fortunate would put the milk into the cup then add a little tea.

I prefer to add my milk after–not because of my social standing but I do like the “art” of the swirls and colors in the tea.  Also, by adding after you can try the tea so know how much to add.  A strong black tea may taste better with more milk than another.  A funny thought- with coffee I add creamer to my cup first.  The reason:  so I don’t have to stir.  The adding of the coffee mixes it for me.

So all that being said…….it all depends on TASTE and PREFERENCE.

Milk, Cream, Honey, or Sugar……….

 

 

 

American Chop Suey

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American Chop Suey was a staple meal while I was growing up in New England.  It is known by different names across the country.  I found that out when my friend in North Carolina said she was making Goulash.  I thought she was making a Hungarian dish.  Hungarian Goulash is a stew typically made with chunks of beef and seasoned with paprika.  When dinner was put on the table it was the American Chop Suey I know and love.

So where did the name American Chop Suey come from and what other names is this comfort dish known by?  From what I could find, this dish is only known as American Chop Suey in the Boston/ New England area.  I did find a reference that seems to make sense.  Chinese chop suey is a basic mixture of meat and simple vegetables that can be served with rice. American Chop Suey is in its simplest form ground beef, onions, peppers, and tomatoes served mixed with elbow pasta.

What is this comfort food known by you?  I have heard it called goulash as previously mentioned, chili mac, beefaroni, hamburg casserole and some others.  This basic dish is easy to add your own twist or just keep it simple.  If your a beginner cook, this recipe is very forgiving and what is even better you probably have the basic ingredients in the pantry.  The recipe below has a bit of heat to it due to my addition of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies and red pepper flakes.  You can adjust the flavors to your own personal preference.  I just wanted this to be a little jazzed up.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons, Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (I used a green and yellow)
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (feel free to leave out or reduce amount depending on taste)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz can Rotel diced tomato and green chilies
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Sprinkling of sugar
  • Elbow pasta (used about half of 16 oz package)

Directions:

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet or dutch oven.  I like to use a mixture of olive oil and butter for flavor.  Add your onions and green peppers and cook until starts to soften then add the garlic, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.  Saute a few minutes longer- it will start to be very aromatic in the kitchen!!

Add your ground beef (or hamburg as we called it).  Once browned you can add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, and a sprinkling of sugar.  If you don’t want the heat of the Rotel then just use more regular diced tomatoes.

Let all this simmer on low.  While this is simmering you can cook your pasta to just under al dente and then add the cooked pasta to the sauce to finish cooking.

Tips and Optional Additions:

Pasta:  Feel free to try different types of pasta such as cavatappi.  Cavatappi is a great shape for this dish as the meat and veggies get into all curves of the pasta. I recently read an article on cooking pasta for dishes such as this.  Rather than boiling the pasta, heat the water- remove from the heat and add the pasta.  The pasta will soften enough to al dente then you can add to whatever dish your making to finish cooking in the sauce of the day.  I tried it and it worked beautifully.  It doesn’t take long so keep an eye on it still.

Cheese or no cheese:  I didn’t add cheese but you can certainly add it and/or have some on hand for topping individual servings.  Use your own creativity.  In the past,  I have added mozzarella or ricotta which will make your sauce thicker and creamier. If doing this add at the end and stir.  You can also choose to add some cheese like parmesan to the top or I even add a dollop of the ricotta to my individual serving. Sometimes, I even add Feta.

Stove-top or baking:  I prefer just making this on the stove top, however especially if adding some cheese you can put in a 9 X13 pan or if cooking in a dutch oven, add more cheese to the top and pop into the oven for about 15 minutes.

My last “tip” is all about preference.  Do you want it more soupy or like a casserole?  The addition of cheese mixed in is going to make the dish firmer.  It will also thicken slightly as it simmers.  If you are impatient add a little tomato paste (1-2 Tablespoons).   If you were hoping for something with less structure you can add a little chicken broth.

Serve with some nice bread and a salad for a complete meal.

Butternut and Pasta Stew

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The making of this stew came from wanting to make pasta fagioli and using butternut squash.  When making stews and soups I rarely measure anything out.  Actually I don’t typically measure anything when I cook so putting some of these recipes in print has been a learning process.  I am constantly stopping myself to measure so I can tell all of you how much of an ingredient I used.  Cooking is all about taste.  If you have watched any cooking shows you are already used to hearing, “Taste Taste Taste”. Tasting your food constantly allows you to adjust your seasonings to your preference.

So I said this started as wanting to make a Pasta Fagioli but I know this ended up far from that original thought.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground sausage
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 -2 cups each of celery and carrots, chopped
  • Half of a medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 12 oz can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2- 28 0z cans of whole peeled tomatoes, pureed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, thyme
  • Olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Chicken broth, to thin out as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups pasta ( I used orecchiette)

Making stews/soup is relatively easy…sauté meat and veggies, add broth and seasonings- let all blend together by simmering.  Add pasta about 20 minutes before serving time and have some crusty bread ready.

  1.  In your Dutch oven or large pot heat about 2 Tablespoons of EVOO.  Add your sausage and brown.  Remove sausage from pan.  I place on a papertowel lined plate to soak up some of the grease.
  2. Add your onion, celery,  and carrots.  Sauté until onions start to turn translucent and then add garlic and your butternut squash. Continue cooking until squash starts to soften.
  3. Depending on the sausage used sometimes I don’t have a lot of grease, but if you do remove the veggies and wipe out pan.  I have also added my veggies to the meat after browning slightly so there is no right or wrong.  Okay well I am sure some chef will say there is a right or wrong but it is still going to taste good!
  4. Add your sausage to the veggies in the pot.  Add the cannellini beans, the pureed tomato sauce and seasonings.  Let come to boil, turn to simmer and have a glass of wine.
  5. The longer it simmers the flavors will all come together.  If you need to thin it out add some chicken broth.  Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. When you are happy with the flavors turn up the heat and add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente.
  7. Serve with some grated cheese on top and bread.  I choose shaved Grana Padano and Epi bread.  Actually it is Pain d’Epi or wheat stalk bread. Epi is perfect for soups as everyone can break off their own section.
pain d'epi

 

Lemon Butter Chicken

Seeing this recipe floating around on Facebook, I had to give it a try.  The original recipe can be found at DamnDelicous.net.  I did make some minor changes but only because of the ingredients I had on hand.  The recipe using heavy cream and cheese is not light but it is a shame to ‘waste’ the creamy sauce.  Try it over top of some pasta or potatoes.  I love cooking with my cast iron skillet and this gave me the chance. Below is how it looked before it headed to the oven.

Lemon Butter Chicken

Ingredients (my substitutions from the original were the boneless/ skinless chicken thighs and not using heavy cream)

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt cream cheese (originally 1/2 cup heavy cream)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Season chicken thighs with paprika, salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof/cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; drain excess fat and set aside.
  • Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the skillet. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, Greek yogurt cream cheese, Parmesan, lemon juice and thyme.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat, stir in spinach, and simmer until the spinach has wilted and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Return chicken to the skillet.
  • Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 15-20 minutes boneless and 25-30 minutes for bone in.
  • Serve immediately.

If you don’t like your spinach too wilted and cooked you could add after you take out of the oven, as it won’t take long.

Thank you to Damn Delicious or whoever posted their recipe on Facebook…..it was DAMN DELICIOUS!!

 

 

 

Roasted Bone-In Pork Shoulder

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I have been a little MIA due to some knee surgery.  Just didn’t feel like cooking or going out, but I am feeling better and time to get back to what I LOVE-  FOOD!!

My first instinct was to throw this 4 pound roast into the crockpot.  While that would have been delicious, it has been extremely cold here and I was more than happy to add some warmth to the house by using the oven all day. This is a bone-in which I feel gives so much to the flavor and then has enough fat content to aid in the slow roasting.  You may also see this cut of pork called “Boston Butt”.  You can easily leave out the veggies, shred it afterwards, stir it in the pan juices and/ or your favorite barbeque sauce and serve on buns.  Hubby used some BBQ sauce on the side but it was so flavorful you didn’t need any.

Ingredients:

  • 4 lb Boston Butt; Pork Shoulder
  • Old Bay Rub Seasoning
  • Minced garlic, I probably used about 3 Tablespoons
  • Lemon juice, 1 lemon or about 1-2 Tablespoon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into strips
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage

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Okay let’s get ready to COOOOOK.

Make slices in the fat.  Deep enough to go through but not deep enough to pierce the meat.  Now lets give it a nice massage with the following:DSC_0668

 

I took the Rub and rubbed it all over the roast.  No specific amount just season generously and get into those slices under the fat and all around. Do the same with the garlic.  I then used enough olive oil to rub it all over (maybe 2 Tablespoons) and rubbed on the lemon juice.  You can mix all 4 together in a bowl beforehand and then do in one step.

Place fat side up into a 450 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes to crisp up fat layer.  I forgot to take the picture before I put into the oven so this was about 5 minutes in (oops):DSC_0669

Take out of oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees.  Cover with foil, place back into oven and then forget about it for the next 4 hours.  If you are peeking at it every once in a while then might as well baste with the pan juices.

Combine all your veggies (I am using cabbage, onions, carrots and celery).  The amounts on these are really dependent on your tastes.  Just remember that what may seem like a lot of cabbage at first will be a lot less after cooking.  I used a half of a medium head of cabbage, but it is just the two of us who will eat it.

Place back into the oven and cook until veggies are done (about an hour).

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The meat just falls off and is extremely tender.  As mentioned, you can shred it or just serve rustic style in nice hunks.

Enjoy!!