Red Cabbage & Sausage

Maya bought a gorgeous red cabbage when she was last home and I had a half package of turkey sausage I wanted to use use up. Cooked cabbage and sausage sounds like a nice German style dish, I thought. I love sauteed cabbage, so I improvised and came up with what ended up being a really tasty dinner. Leave out the sausage and you’ve got a lovely, colorful side dish.

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, rough chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped
2 tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
good pinch of caraway seed
8 oz turkey sausage, cut 1/2″ thick

Heat butter in a medium frying pan. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic puree and cook another minute, stirring. Add salt, pepper and caraway seed and give a stir. Add cabbage and toss to combine.

Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sausage pieces, stir to combine, cover and cook another 1o minutes, until sausage is warmed through.

Check seasonings and serve.

Delish!!

The best Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Kumy’s Mom loves soup, so I was anxious to try this hearty, creamy soup that came from the New York Times, and I must say it did not disappoint!

It was rich, delicious and so satisfying – one worth repeating. I did add a bit more Sage, since I have recently fallen in love with Sage.

It comes together very quickly, so it’s perfect for a weeknight supper. Leave out the chicken and use veggie stock for a delicious vegetarian version.

INGREDIENTS

3 Tbsp butter
1 cup each carrots, leeks and celery, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 heaping tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp rubbed Sage
1 tsp Kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 (16-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi
½ small rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups shredded meat)
Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium. Add carrots, leek, celery, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with the flour, then cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock and cream, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the mixture boils, stir in the gnocchi, reduce heat to medium and cook until gnocchi and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken in the last couple of minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into serving bowls and top with fresh parsley if desired.

Smoky BBQ Beans (Vegan)

This is another side that I made for our Smashburger dinner the other night. It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe, and somewhat simplified but we loved its smokier, tangier flavor.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion rough chopped,
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or 2 heaping tsp garlic puree
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 heaping tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup pureed tomatoes
2 small cans vegetarian baked beans
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, which is vegan)
1/2 tsp kosher salt – or to taste

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and garlic and sautee several minutes until softened and just starting to turn golden.

Add spices and cook a little longer. Add tomato puree, beans and BBQ sauce. Stir wlel, heating through and put in a baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

We griddled out last night and the boys made amazing Smashburgers. So good – we’re definitely hoping for a encore! I started potatoes boiling for potato salad as a side. But I don’t really like potato salad all that much and neither does anyone else.

So what do you really want with burgers? Fries, of course! And what goes better with a Smashburger than Smashed Potatoes? I found an amazingly good recipe from melskitchencafe.com. It’s easy, delicious and everyone loved it!

Ingredients:

2 lbs. baby red or yellow potatoes
1 Tbsp plus ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, chives and/or green onion (optional)

Add 1 Tbsp salt to a pot of boiling water and add potatoes. Cook until quite soft, but not totally mushy. Let cool.

Drizzle and smear a little of the olive oil on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Using a potato masher, or the bottom of a water glass, press down on the potatoes until they’re smashed about 1/2″ thick. Don’t crowd them.

Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder and a little kosher salt. Grind fresh pepper over.

Bake in a 425 oven for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden on the top and nicely browned on the bottom.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, or ketchup. Delish!

Easy Cheesy Toast

The weather is suddenly feeling cooler here and I was hungry for something warm and cheesy. My brother Tom and I used to make cheese toast when we were kids and I always loved it. Since I’d just baked a fresh loaf of bread, I thought Cheese Toast would be fun and fast. I used The Pioneer Woman’s Recipe, with slight variations. Either way – it’s warm, cheesy, crunchy and delicious and when Ali stopped by, he loved it, too!

Ingredients

2 cups grated Sharp Cheddar
2 cups grated Monterey Jack (or quesadilla cheese)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp seasoned salt (Lawry’s)

Slices of a hearty loaf (I used my easy French Bread.) Cut the slices in half if they are large.

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, Parmesan, pepper and seasoned salt.

Mound the cheese mixture on the slices of bread. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Switch to the broiler and broil for another few minutes, until the cheese is utterly bubbly and starting to get brown in places.

These cheese toasts freeze well. To reheat, just bake them for 5 minutes, then broil another minute of so.

Note: Ree adds 1 tsp of salt and 4 Tbsp of melted butter, but honestly I don’t think you need either. I might also try adding a few drops of hot sauce or Worcestershire Sauce.

This would also be a humdinger served with Tomato Soup!

Simple Canning – Jam or Jelly

I love home made jams and jellies, but the process can look pretty daunting. I’ve simplified it so you don’t have 10 pots going at the same time. You do need to be careful though, because if your jam isn’t cooked right or properly sealed, it can spoil and be unsafe to eat.

Fortunately, it’s not rocket science. At least, it’s not quite rocket science. Okay, in my kitchen it’s not even in the same neighborhood as rocket science. Still, it’s worth being careful…

Here’s what you’ll need:

a big pot for the jam or jelly
a big pot for a water bath
a small pan for lids
jars, lids and rims
Tongs for lifting the jars in and out of the water (Optional but they make for fewer burned fingers)
a wide mouth funnel for filling jars
baking pan

Method:

1. Fill a big pot 2/3 full of water, and set it on to boil to use as a “water bath.” Start a teakettle at the same time so you can add water as needed.

2. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse, but do not dry. Place them upside down in a baking pan and place in the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Turn oven off and remove only when you’re ready to fill them. Be careful – they will be pretty hot.

3. Bring water to boil in the little sauce pan. Once boiling, add the lids. Remove from heat and keep there until you need them. Some people use a magnetic thingy, which I may invest in. For now, I just dump out the water when I’m ready to use them.

4. Make the jam or jelly according to the recipe.

5. Position funnel over empty jar and fill, stopping 1/2″ from the top. Carefully wipe the glass tops of the jars with a damp towel and put the lids on. Put the bands on, but don’t completely tighten.

6. Place the jars in the water bath and top up with boiling water until they’re completely covered. Bring the water back to a boil, then turn down and let them cook for at least 10 minutes. (This is call processing.)

7. Remove from the water bath onto a clean dish towel, and let cool for several hours or overnight.

8. Check the lids after the jam has cooled to be sure the centers are firmly down. Tighten the bands and label the jams.

If the lids are loose or they bobble up and down, they aren’t sealed. Just remove the lids, wipe down the glass again, wash the lids and replace them and the loosely tightened rims. Process them for another 10 minutes, or just keep those jars in the refrigerator.

That’s it. It’s actually pretty easy!

Apple & Pumpkin Muffins

I made these muffins over the weekend to redeem myself from a very disappointing batch of peach muffins I’d made earlier in the week. (My earlier muffins were underbaked, not quite sweet enough and just a bit too moist. Eww.)

These however, were sublime – spicy and fruity with just the right amount of sweetness. The recipe is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe with a few changes.

I discovered years ago that if you’re baking apples into bread, cake or muffins, you don’t really need to peel them. You can just grate them with a coarse box grater and they blend in beautifully. (Yes, I’m that lazy!)

You can use either a premixed pumpkin spice mix or Mel has kindly provided a blend that I actually like better as all the ingredients are fresher.

INGREDIENTS
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour 
1 cup sugar 
1 tsp baking soda
 1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp baking powder 
1 cup canned pumpkin 
1/2 cup butter, melted 
2 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1 large apple, grated (no need to peel – I had a Gala apple so that’s what I used.)

3 tablespoons sugar
4 tsp pumpkin pie spice, separated OR make your own mix with:
2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, mixed  

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine flour, sugar, soda salt and 1 Tbp spice mix in a large bowl. Combine pumpkin, butter, and eggs in another bowl and add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in grated apple and fill muffin tins two-thirds full.

Blend the 3 Tbsp sugar and the final teaspon of spice mix and sprinkle heavily over muffins.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool and serve. (Or take your chances with hot, yet delicious muffins!)

Chicken and Veggie Greek-style Sheet Pan Wraps

Another great recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  I made a few tweaks of my own, but what I love about this recipe is that it uses all the produce that is so good right now.  My garden is bursting with tomatoes, peppers and zucchini and this is a great way to use them.

It’s also crazy quick – you could start marinating the chicken and make the Tzatziki sauce mid-afternoon and then the whole supper can come together in 20 minutes.

We always have frozen naan in the house, so I made it with naan.  But flatbread would be good, too.

This would also be great with shrimp or for a vegetarian version, try using sliced mushrooms instead of chicken. Just be sure to bake the mushrooms long enough so they’re tender, since they take a little longer to cook.

Chicken:
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp garlic powder, or 1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thin slices

Vegetables:
2 bell peppers (any color), cored and sliced thinly
1 medium zucchini, sliced into strips (no need to peel)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Tzatziki:
1 cup grated cucumber, squeezed and drained
1 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar is fine, too.)
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Naan

Toppings:
Thinly sliced red onions
Diced cucumbers
Chopped tomatoes
Romaine lettuce, quartered and cut into thin ribbons

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix the marinade in a medium bowl and add chicken. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Make the tzatziki sauce in another small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly grease 2 half sheet pans. Remove chicken pieces from the bowl and place on one sheet pan.

Toss bell peppers and zucchini in the marinade for a few minutes and spread in a thin layer on a second sheet pan. Discard leftover marinade.  Lightly salt and pepper veggies.

Bake for 6 minutes, and rotate pans. (Drain excess liquid from the chicken pan, if any.) Bake another 6-8 minutes until chicken is done and peppers are fork tender.

Warm the naan in the oven for a couple of minutes. I removed the chicken to a plate and reused the chicken sheet pan.

Serve the chicken and veggies on naan with the Tzatziki sauce and other toppings. It’s also fun to make these at the table.

So good!!!

Vanna’s Nam Van – Coconut Milk & Fruit Dessert

Our dear friend Vanna is the most amazing cook.  Literally everything she makes is the best I’ve ever eaten – no matter what she’s cooking!

Last night she was in town and made supper for all of us, including one of my favorite desserts – Nam Van, and she shared the recipe with me.

Nam Van is a popular dessert in Southeast Asia, and it’s a fruity, coconut milky dessert that’s unlike anything you’ll ever try. More liquid than a pudding, it’s refreshing and not overly sweet. The green jelly make it a pretty light green color, too.

We are lucky to have a great Asian Market close by, so we were able to pick up all the components, but you can always order these items online as well.  All the fruit and coconut milk was Arroy-D, and the green jelly is Chin Chin brand.

Next time I’ll photograph it before it’s all gone!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup palm sugar (or 1/3 cup brown sugar)
1/2 cup water

1 can lychees in syrup  (save lychee syrup)
1 can longans in syrup
1 can rambutans in syrup
1 can toddy palm seeds
1 can jackfruit in syrup

3 cups of coconut milk (We used Arroy-D cartons.)
2 cups ice
2 cans Green Jelly (We got Chin Chin brand)

1 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
1 cup fresh muskmelon chunks

Make a simple syrup with palm sugar and water, by heating them in a pan until it comes to the boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

Open all the cans of fruit. Drain the syrup and rinse all the fruit.  Be sure to save the lychee syrup – you’ll add it back in later!

Palm seeds are oddly slick and sticky at the same time, but add a wonderful chewy texture. Don’t freak out – just put them in a colander and rinse them really well.

Place all rinsed, canned fruit into a large bowl.

Add the coconut milk, lychee syrup and about half the simple syrup. Stir the fruit gently until well mixed. Add ice and stir more until the mixture is a little chilled.Stir very gently and taste – adding more of the simple syrup as needed.

Shake the jelly out of the can, and cut it into 1/2″ cubes.  Cut melons into chunks and add both to the coconut fruit mixture, again stirring very, very gently.

Refrigerate at least a couple of hours.

To serve, add a little crushed ice to a bowl or cup and fill with fruit and coconut mixture. The ice helps keep it cool.

You could probably save time by refrigerating the cans and carton of coconut milk overnight so they’re cold to start with.  Still add ice to the mix and to the cup – this lightens the milk a bit.

Low Country Shrimp & Sausage “Boil” (It’s Baked!)

I can’t really remember where I found this version of the classic Southern recipe. I had jotted down the ingredients on a piece of paper that rattled around in my purse for weeks.  But I finally made it, and it was crazy good and so easy.

Rather than boiling you roast everything in the oven.

Ingredients

1 lb. baby red potatoes, halved
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

1 lb. shrimp peeled and tails removed
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1″ pieces
4 ears of sweet corn, shucked and cut into three inch pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces (not traditional but I love peppers)
1 1/2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

6 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp garlic powder
lemon wedges

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place potatoes in a big bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they’re quite soft when you poke them with a fork.

In the same large bowl, toss shrimp, sausage, corn, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning until everything is nicely coated. Add to baking dish. (I used a rubber spatula to get every last drop out!)

It will be pretty crowded, but that’s totally fine. Just spread things out a bit, and bake another 12 – 15 minutes, until the pepper is a little softened and the shrimp looks done.

Stir garlic powder into melted butter and drizzle over the whole pan. Serve with wedges of lemon.

So quick, easy and delicious. I’m going to try other vegetables – perhaps zucchini or eggplant? Everything tastes wonderful in this dish.

Note:  I looked up a recipe for Old Bay Seasoning (Food.com has a pretty highly rated one) but it uses a million ingredients, and makes an awful lot.  But if you really want to make your own, here is the link: https://www.food.com/recipe/old-bay-seasoning-copycat-189447