Dinner

Hungarian Red Potato Goulash

  This isn’t my mother’s goulash.  It doesn’t have hamburger, or noodles, or even tomatoes.  I don’t cover it in cheese.  In fact, the two recipes have almost nothing in common…except they’re both pretty dang delicious.

Olive oil
14 oz smoked sausage, sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed
Salt to taste
¾ tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp paprika
10 medium red skin potatoes, sliced
1 ½ c chicken stock
1 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  Start by heating a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add your sausage and cook them until they are nicely browned.  Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Add your butter to the pan and allow to melt.  Add your onions and allow them to caramelize for around 6 minutes before adding your garlic, salt, black pepper and paprika.  Saute for one minute.
Toss your potatoes into the pan and stir everything to combine it before adding your chicken stock.  Cover the pan with a lid, leaving enough space for steam to escape and simmer for around 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Return the sausage to the pan and allow to reheat.  Garnish with parsley and serve hot.
  This recipe was a hit with everybody.  G wound up dipping most of his in ketchup, but seeing as he “really liked the hot dogs” that way, I’m not about to argue.  It was a simple, hearty meal and made for great leftovers the next day, so I definitely expect to put it on the menu again this winter!
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Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

  Oh Pinterest, you devourer of souls free-time… what would I do without you?
  I was browsing pins, probably far too late at night, and came across the idea for meatballs stuffed with cheese.  The link didn’t go anywhere, but the idea stuck.  Luckily, I have my mom’s meatball recipe and was able to improvise.

1 lb ground beef
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 Tbsp basil, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
mozzarella cheese, cut into chunks*
  Combine all of your ingredients except for the oil and cheese into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  Heat your oil in a large skillet.  While it warms, shape your meat mixture into ball shape, poking a hole with your finger to place the mozzarella inside and then closing the meat around it.
  Place your meatballs into the oil, turning them to brown them lightly on all sides.
  These were pretty dang good, BUT, a big word of warning…I thought I’d be clever and cut up cheese sticks to do this, since they’d be easy to get to a good size.  Turns out, *cheese sticks don’t really melt.  I wouldn’t say this made them any less delicious, but I didn’t get the ooey gooey cheese centers I was hoping for.  I think next time I may shred mozzarella right into the mix instead of trying for the center.  These went over without a hitch with the little food critic and I expect will be being made again soon!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gouda (Failed Experiment)

  Ok, so full disclosure, I sort of suspect that I didn’t like this recipe because, well, I kinda think maybe I don’t like gnocchi?  I’ve only made it a few times, and it always seems to turn out like funky little dough wads.  My Mr. swears I like it when he has made it though, so, I dunno.  Either way, this is what we’re making:

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Gouda Cheese Sauce
1 lb sweet potato
6 oz ricotta cheese
½ c parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
1-¾ c flour
_____
2 c milk
¼ onion
2 cloves garlic
3 sage leaves
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 c gouda cheese, shredded
  Start by stabbing your sweet potato(es) a few times with a fork, placing them on a plate and microwaving them for around 5 or 6 minutes, until tender.  Cut in half and let cool enough that you won’t be working with potato-lava before scraping 1.5 cups of the flesh into a large-ish bowl.  Mash together with your ricotta before adding your parm, brown sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Mix together and then add flour, about a half cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.
  Spread some flour on your counter or a silpat mat and divide your dough into 3 pieces on it.  Roll the pieces into long skinny tubes around 20″ long and an inch in diameter.  Cut each tube into around 20 pieces.  Roll each piece across the back of a fork to indent it.  As far as I can tell, this is just for appearances, but it looks nice and is kind of fun to do.
  Start a large pot of water boiling and add a tablespoon of salt.  Working in batches, boil gnocchi pieces for around 5-6 minutes.  Transfer to a baking sheet to cool when done cooking.  Allow to cool completely, these can be made up to 4 hours ahead of time and left to stand at room temperature.
  For your sauce, combine your milk, onion and sage in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat for around 5 minutes.  Small bubbles should gather around the pan edge, but your milk should not boil!  Take your pan off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes before removing your solids.  Cover it to keep warm.
  In a separate saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat and stir in 3 Tbsp flour until it’s well blended.  Slowly add the milk from your first sauce pan, stirring constantly.  Reduce everything to low heat and whisk until the sauce is smooth and thick (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the shredded Gouda and stir continuously until melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over gnocchi.
  Well, I already told you guys this was a fail.  It’s just one of those recipes that is so rich you feel a little sick eating it.  The gnocchi seemed really sticky and heavy to me.  Maybe I’m doing it wrong?  There was a strange sweetness to it that played against the richness of the cheese in a really cloying way.  Both G and I liked the first bite, but by the 3rd bite kind of went “Uhm, I don’t want to eat any more of this”.  The Mr. was out of town when I made this, so he wasn’t subjected to it.
  …at least the baby enjoyed the tiny bits of gnocchi I fed to him without sauce on them right after they cooled.

Beef and Butternut Stew with Pumpkin, Sage and Cherries (Slow Cooker)

  Another soup?!?  What kind of tyrant am I, right?
  Actually I haven’t subjected G to 2 soups in one week, I just had this recipe sitting on the back burner and forgot to write it up.  That said, it’s really a perfect fall-into-winter stew with lots of hearty ingredients to fill you up and warm your belly.

1-2 lbs beef, cut into chunks
4 c butternut squash, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 c dried cherries
1 Tbsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 c beef stock
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c pureed pumpkin
salt to taste
1 Tbsp butter
  According to the original recipe, you ought to start by saute-ing your onions with your sage and thyme and then browning your beef.
  You guys know how I roll.  We’re not doing that.  Throw everything except the squash and the cherries in the crockpot, turn it to low and forget about it for 6 hours.  Don’t actually forget it.  Maybe set a timer (I did).  When your timer goes off after 6 hours, toss the squash and cherries in and let it cook for another hour or two.  Stir in your pumpkin just before you serve it.
  With an all-told cook time of up to 8 hours, and that not counting prep time, I had to be dealing with food waaaaay too early in the morning for my taste with this one, but it wound up being worth it.  It took me a long time, but I’ve finally recognized that chicken+slow cooker=BLERGH, but beef+slow cooker=heaven!
  Aside from the beef doing it’s usual, ohmigosh tender deliciousness thing, I was really impressed with the dried cherries in this.  They plump back up as they sit in all the broth and juices and just make for a really fabulous addition.  I’m honestly tempted to start throwing random dried fruit in all my crock pot meals after this…
  Of course, G was not impressed.  Soup!  Warblegarble!!!
  Fooey on him.

Sweet Potato Soup with Orange and Avocado

  Cold weather means soups are back on the menu!  Too bad for us G won’t even give soup a chance.  …too bad for him his mama is stubborn as a mule and is gonna keep trying.

1 c sweet potato
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/2 c unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp orange juice
a pinch orange zest
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
avocado to garnish
  Chop your (peeled) sweet potato into small pieces and wrap it in a wet dishcloth.  Microwave it for 6 minutes or until soft.  Mash 1 cup and mix into your broth and coconut milk.  Add your juice, spices and zest to taste at this point and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Serve topped with avocado.
  We added a bit more orange to this than was in the original recipe.  Ever since the pumpkin chili with orange in it I’ve been kind of drawn to recipes with orange in them.  It’s a nice, fresh flavor that we’ve really been enjoying.  Alas, G was having nothing to do with it.  Something about the idea of soup just doesn’t sit well with him and our little boy who will eat just about anything won’t even try soup.
  Challenge accepted kid.

Dromskinka (Swedish Dream Ham)

  More ham!  …seriously folks, with only 2 adults and a 3 year old eating, a single ham will feed you for a full week at every meal if you can stand it.  Today we’re doing a little bit of dietary cultural tourism.

12 (1/4 inch thick) ham slices
 1 c port wine
 3/4 c heavy cream
 1 tsp curry powder
 1/4 c tomato puree
 1 Tbsp butter
  Start by placing your ham in a shallow dish and pouring your port over it.  Allow it to marinate overnight in the fridge.  …ok, now if you don’t have time for that, put everything in a vacuum sealing bag and suck the air out of it.  We’re terrible at remembering to marinate things so we typically wind up marinading with vacuums.  Better living through science ladies and gentlemen.
  Once your ham is good and wine soaked, start your oven preheating to 425 degrees.
  Remove your pork from your port, pouring the port into a bowl.  Roll the slices of ham lengthwise and sandwich them into a baking dish side by side.  Mix your cream, curry and tomato puree into the bowl with the port.  Pour the mixture over the slices of ham, covering them evenly.  Dot the top of each slice with butter.
  Bake everything, uncovered, for around 45 minutes until the tops of the slices begin to brown.
  Now, I haven’t got a drop of Swedish blood in my body, but this recipe gets a big ol’ Muppet’s Swedish Chef “YAH!” from me.  I expected it to be good, I did not expect it to be anywhere near as good as it was.
  Everybody loved this.  Even if G did refuse to call it anything but chicken.  We pick our battles.

Apple, Cheddar and Ham Quiche (with Gluten Free Crust)

  We’re attempting to clean out our pantry.  We have a bad habit of stockpiling food like the apocalypse is going to happen tomorrow and then never getting to it before it expires.  We’re also trying to clean out the freezer.  This is another one of those ham recipes I mentioned.  We’re also trying to keep wheat products to a dull roar because I’ve been noticing that more wheat seems to equal more acne (though, of course, it could just be coincidentally lining up with my crazed post-pregnancy, still-nursing hormones).

  How convenient that we had a ton of instant polenta in the cupboard and my Mr. had a plan for using it to make crust then, huh?  Two birds with one delicious stone folks.

6 Tbsp instant polenta
1.5 c water

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large apple, cored and cut into 3/4″ chunks
1/4 lb baked ham, roughly chopped
pinch of cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 c sour cream
3/4 c milk
1 tsp sea salt
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp sage leaves, chopped

  To create the crust, mix your polenta and water together on the stove top.  The polenta should include directions on how to do this.  It will take about 5 minutes for instant polenta.  Once it is combined and heated, grease a pie plate and press the prepared polenta into it.  Bake the crust for 16-20 minutes at 425 degrees on a middle rack in your oven.

  Meanwhile, melt your butter in a medium sized skillet and saute your shallots.  Cook them for around 3 minutes, or until they begin to soften.  Add your apple to the pan, cover and cook for a few moments over medium low heat until the apples just begin to soften.  They will further soften in the oven, so don’t cook them for any longer!  Add your ham and cinnamon and stir to combine.

  In a bowl, combine your eggs, sage, sour cream, milk and salt and whisk. 

  Lower your oven temperature to 325 once the crust has been removed.

  Spoon your cooked apple mixture into your crust, top with cheese and pour your egg mixture over everything.

  Bake the quiche for 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

  So I’ve kind of got 2 reviews to do on this one…the crust alone and the quiche.  Good news, both were awesome!  I’ve always preferred fritattas to quiches, because I wasn’t ever a huge fan of the crust (I know, I know…something wrong with me…) but I love this.  As for the quiche, this recipe is wonderful as well.  It didn’t use up much of our ham, but it was a great use for that small amount.  The original recipe warns to not give in to the temptation to swap it out for bacon.  I know that sounds blasphemous, but the concern is that the bacon flavor will completely overwhelm the taste of the apples.  The ham works perfectly.  It’s a nice counterpoint to the apple’s sweetness without blasting everything with its flavor.  G liked it, we liked it.  It’s a keeper.

Chicken, Artichoke and Mushroom Lasagna

  I warned you there are more ham recipes coming…there are, but not today.  Today it’s chicken.  And mushrooms.  And artichokes.  Yum.

16 oz lasagna noodles
8 oz mushrooms, sliced 
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 rotisserie chicken, chopped
1 egg
2 c ricotta cheese
2 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 c Parmesan cheese,  shredded
~25 oz spaghetti sauce
  Start by boiling your noodles.  While they cook, preheat your oven to  375°.  When the noodles are done cooking, drain them and set them to the side.
  Meanwhile, heat your olive oil in a large pan and saute your mushroom for about 4 minutes, until they are lightly browned.
  In a large bowl, combine your chicken, cooked mushrooms, artichokes, egg, ricotta, 1 c Parmesan and 1 c mozzarella and mix. 
  Next, spread 1/2 c of your tomato sauce on the bottom of your lasagna dish.  Layer noodles, chicken mixture and then cheese in layers until all of your ingredients are used.  You may need to use more than one dish.
  Cover your dish with foil and bake it for around 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook another 10 to brown the cheese.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  Man I love a good lasagna…and so does my family.  This one is no exception.  I’m really enjoying artichokes in things lately too…they give such a great, tart flavor that contrasts with other flavors so nicely.  G dug into this, so no claiming you can’t make food with artichokes because you have little ones, try it out!

Pear, Ham and Swiss Melts

  The Mr. and I like to buy locally raised meat.  We’ve been buying pork from a farm in town for a few years now, and usually get a ham in our order.  It’s always delicious, but the problem is, unless we throw a big party where we serve ham, it tends to be a lot more food than we can eat in one meal for our family.  So, in an attempt to clean out our freezer, we’ve been putting ham-based recipes on the menu left and right.  They’re coming…you’ve been warned.

corn tortillas
thinly sliced smoked ham
fresh pear, thinly sliced
Swiss cheese
Crumbled goat cheese
  Dip your tortillas in a bowl of water and place in a pan over medium high heat for a minute and a half to two minutes to steam them (until they begin to develop dark brown spots), flip them and allow to steam for another minute.  Place tortillas on a cookie sheet and top with layers of ham, sliced pears, and cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  This was a great, quick and easy way to use up some ham.  G had some issues with his falling apart when he was trying to eat it, but generally enjoyed this, so it’s kid approved.  I always enjoy paring sweet and savory in a meal, so this was golden for me.  I expect this will be making its way onto our menu again!

Chipotle, Avocado and Caramelized Onion Burgers (Paleo)

  Uh oh…seems like I forgot to buy buns again, doesn’t it?  You could, of course, serve this on a traditional hamburger bun, but this dinner doesn’t really need it.

4 Tbsp butter, divided
3 onions, thinly sliced
Sea Salt
10 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 chipotle peppers, seeded and minced (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
1 avocado, sliced
1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  Start by heating 2 Tbsp of your butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add your onions and a bit of salt and cook until they become soft.  Reduce your heat to medium low, place a cover on your pan and cook for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn golden brown.  Add the remaining butter, your mushrooms and the peppers.  Cook for around 10 minutes until your mushrooms cook through and your onions are a deep caramel color.
  Meanwhile, add salt, pepper and Worchestershire to your ground beef and gently mix it.  Divide your meat into 6 patties.  Let the patties rest at room temperature while your pan warms to medium high heat and then grill them for 4-6 minutes per side.  Top the burgers with your prepared onions and mushrooms and a few slices of avocado.
  Man I love the paleo/primal trend of putting avocado on everything.  Oh darn, more delicious healthy-fat goodness.  If I have to.  I’ve been slowly phasing wheat out of my diet lately, because I’ve found, much to my chagrin, that I seem to have a mild gluten intolerance.  Certainly not bad enough to make me avoid it forever-at-all-costs, but I’ve noticed a definite connection between how much wheat I’m eating and how badly my face is breaking out.  Cookies?  Worth a zit or two.  Hamburger bun?  Not.  Anyhow, these are really delicious, bun or not, so I’d definitely suggest trying them out the next time you’re looking for something a little different on burger night!