We are not a cooking blog. Still, we are a kitchen site, so it seemed like we should have some recipes.

Putting recipes together for a blog is a lot of work--more work than any of us wanted to do. So instead, we just included some of our favorites. No pics, very short intros (if any), and many of them aren't even real recipes, just a list of ingredients that produced a successful dish. So if you're the kind of cook who prefers exact recipes, these aren't for you. But if you like to experiment and have a good instinct for what works and what doesn't, some of these might be fun.

Most of these started as something else and morphed into favorites through trial and error. Most of them are also easy; in fact, almost all of these came about as personal "cooking notes"--that is, ideas to make existing recipes easier. So even if you're not recipe hunting, take a look--you might find some clever shortcuts to make your kitchen time a little easier. 

Since these recipes came mostly from private notes, there may be a few that should be cited to the original owner, but aren't. If you recognize any as such, please let us know so we can give credit where credit is due. 

A couple of thoughts:

-Many of these contain smoked paprika. That's a "secret" ingredient that can add a ton of flavor. But if you have one of your own that you like to use, feel free to substitute.

-Many also call for vermouth, but you can use any white wine, or even brandy, dry sherry, or whatever you've got on hand. Vermouth is handy because it keeps in the cupboard for several months, unlike non-fortified wines. If you don't like to cook with alcohol, just use stock or water. 

Canned “Baked” Beans (Quick BBQ Mexican Beans)

Used a number of recipes online to come up with this. A great way to use up old bbq sauce and salsa.

1-2 cans bean, any type, drained and rinsed

Bacon (Bacon in a bag is an easy shortcut)

Bacon fat

Onion, diced

Garlic, diced

(Bell pepper)

Cumin

Chipotle seasoning

Chili powder

Cider vinegar

Bbq sauce (or, if you don’t have that, a mix of ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, and spices)

Salsa or tomato sauce

  1. Fry bacon pieces and onion in bacon fat on medium high until softened (even if you used bagged bacon).
  2. Add garlic and cook 1 minute or so more.
  3. Add dried spices and stir thoroughly. Taste and add salt if needed.
  4. Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of cider vinegar. 
  5. While still wet (don’t let the vinegar completely cook off), add the bbq sauce and salsa. Use about a 3:1 or 4:1 ration of bbq to salsa. 
  6. Stir thoroughly and heat through. If mixture is too dry, add some liquid: water, chicken stock, or perhaps some beer (haven’t tried beer but i think it would be good).
  7. Heat through and simmer for awhile if you can. 

Rice n’ Raisins

An old family recipe. Apologies for the poor formatting.

Put 1C long grain rice into 2C water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil. Turn heat to simmer and cover pot and cook for 12 minutes. (Set a timer.) Remove cover. Rice will be watery. Add 3/4 cup milk and turn up the heat to medium. From this point on it will burn easily, so stir a lot and watch it. Continue to cook, reducing the liquid. Add sugar to taste (1/2 cup or so) when the liquid is reduced by half. If you wait until the very end, it won't have time to melt, and the sauce part will be grainy. Continue to cook until thick. While milk is reducing, put raisins in a cup or bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high to heat the water and plump the raisins. Drain just before serving and add to the rice. If you have leftovers the raisins will color the rice, which may not be too appealing, so you can just add the raisins to each serving. Melt a pat of butter on the top of the rice, and sprinkle with premixed cinnamon and sugar. Leftovers can be heated in the microwave, adding milk to loosen it up.


Pressure Cooker Beef Barley Soup

From Serious Eats

Cooking oil for searing and mirepoix

Chuck, short ribs, or stew meat, about 2 lbs

Onion

Celery

Carrot 

Lowry’s and pepper

1 C white wine

1 C barley

2 qts (or more) stock, plus beef base  

1-2 cans diced tomatoes.

Frozen peas

Soy sauce to taste

Fish sauce, about a tsp

Beef bouillon cubes if needed

Brown the beef, preferably not in small cubes. Remove to platter.

While beef browns, dice carrot, celery and onion. Leave some whole.

Brown diced mirepoix veg. Remove to platter.

Brown large chunks of onion, carrot, and celery until softened and there’s some fond.

Pour in wine to deglaze and let most of it evaporate.

Add meat, barley, and stock. Should be just covered.

Seal and pressure cook for 30-45 minutes on high.

Remove veg chunks and meat.

Skim fat if necessary.

De-bone meat (if necessary) and cut into bite-sized chunks.

Add in meat, diced veg, frozen peas, diced tomatoes, and adjust taste with salt, pepper, soy, and fish sauce. Let simmer 15 minutes or so to soften veg.


Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe is all over the Internet, but it's good enough to keep. Easy!

1 C. natural peanut butter

1 C. sugar or brown sugar

1 t. Vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Add 1-2T flour if too wet. Roll into balls. Squish with fork. Bake until done, about 10 minutes.


Sicilian Burgers

You can easily reduce the recipe, as the amounts are largely to taste, but these are great to have in the freezer for quick weeknight dinners. No bun needed, just a sharp cheese on top and a salad on the side. 

10 lbs hamburger (preferably 80/20)

About 2 C. kalamata olives or to taste, rough chop

About 1.5 lb feta cheese or to taste, cubed

3-5T fresh oregano (or half as much dried)

1C sun-dried tomatoes in oil, plus some of the oil

2-4T anchovy paste (optional--may add too much salt for some)

4-5 garlic cloves finely diced

2T salt, or to taste

1T pepper, or to taste

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, plus some of the oil from the jar, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and anchovy paste to a food processor. Wazz until mixed into a fine paste. Taste--should be strongly flavored and  salty. 

Mix burger, cheese, olives, and flavor paste in a large bowl. Divvy up into serving-sized packages (or burgers) and freeze.


Modernist Queso w/Chorizo

From Modernist Cuisine but the Rotel and chorizo was my idea. Sodium citrate breaks down the proteins in cheese and turns it soft and silky. (It's the "processing" done in processed cheese.) With a bit of sodium citrate and this heating method, you can make any flavor cheese as creamy as Velveeta. It's also great for mac and cheese and fondue. Sodium citrate is a cheap ingredient and a bag of it will last forever in your cupboard. 

285g shredded cheese (pre-shredded worked fine)

215g liquid (beer, water, or stock--wine is good for mac and cheese or fondue but not queso)

11g sodium citrate 

1 can Rotel tomatoes

1/2-1 pound chorizo, fried crispy.

  • Weigh and shred cheese.
  • Weigh liquid and sodium citrate.
  • Heat liquid and sodium citrate to a simmer and sodium citrate has dissolved.
  • Add cheese in small batches and use immersion blender to incorporate. Continue adding until cheese is gone.
  • Add more cheese if it seems thin.
  • Stir in tomatoes and chorizo.

Aunt Rose’s Brownies

This is a famous recipe from the mid-20th century. These brownies have wonderful flavor, but tend to get dry around the edges and sink in the middle. Even so, they're fantastic.

Preheat to 350F

½ C butter (1 stick)

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces

4 eggs, cold

2 C sugar

1t vanilla 

Pinch salt

1 C flour

(1 t espresso powder)

(1 C nuts)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Spray or butter 8x8 pan.
  3. Melt butter and add chocolate. Stir until incorporated. Set aside to cool.
  4. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and espresso powder until light yellow in color (several minutes--use a mixer here).
  5. Add butter/chocolate mixture and incorporate.
  6. Add flour and mix just until incorporated.
  7. Mix in nuts if desired.


Ground Beef Tacos

1 lb hamburger

Scant teaspoon oregano

Scant teaspoon sage or thyme

1 T. taco seasoning

Lots of salt and pepper

Water to thicken (from seasoning)

Make like regular tacos but with mostly ground beef flavor and just a hint of sage or thyme.


Pressure Cooked Mexican Beans

Most would not consider the tomatoes optional, but I like them better without. You can experiment with amounts, adding more or less of what you like/don't like. 

If you're using an Instant Pot, add about 8 minutes to cooking time.

1 lb dry black or pinto beans (2 C.)

1 can rotel or other tomatoes (optional)

Onion

Garlic

Jalapeno 

Bacon, optional

Cumin

Chili powder

Bay leaves

Smoked paprika

Scant capful liquid smoke (optional)

Oregano, about a teaspoon dried

1 bottle beer

Stock or water to cover

  1. Wash, then soak beans overnight or heat to boil, then let cool. Drain.
  2. Brown onion, garlic, and jalapeno in pressure cooker.
  3. Add seasonings and bay leaf. Stir well.
  4. Add beans and liquids.
  5. Pressure cook for about 35 minutes if beans are old, about 25 if fresh. Allow pc to de-pressurize naturally.
  6. Cook down liquid if desired. 
  7. Serve with meat, shredded cheeses, cilantro, pickled onions, etc.


Ground Beef Chili

Don't remember where this came from. The beer is NOT optional.

1.5 lb ground beef

1 large onion

1-2 bell peppers

3-5 cloves garlic

2-3 T chili powder

1 T Cumin

1 t coriander, smoked paprika, and dried oregano

1 bottle beer

About 2 Cups stock

1 can Rotel 

1 can tomato sauce or diced tomatoes

2 T beef base

About 1 T honey (or less)

2 T corn meal

1-2 cans black or kidney beans

1 can corn, optional

  1. Wazz up onion, pepper, and garlic in food processor (optional).
  2. Brown beef in Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Salt generously.
  3. When starting to get brown, toss in veg. Add a little more salt if desired.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, or til veg softens.
  5. Add the dry spices. Mix in and let cook for a couple of minutes.
  6. Deglaze with beer.
  7. When most of the beer has evaporated, add stock, Rotel, tomato sauce and honey.
  8. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let cook for at least 30 minutes and up to a couple of hours, until it is reduced to a nice thick consistency
  9. Add the corn meal if desired and stir in well.
  10. Add beans and corn the last 10 minutes of cooking.


Chorizo Tacos

After reading several recipes online, we came up with this recipe for chorizo tacos. It is SO good.

1 lb. Mexican chorizo

1 medium-large potato, diced into 1/4" chunks

Fried corn tortillas

For garnish:

Pickled red onion (use the Bon Apetit recipe-best and easiest)

Cilantro

Crumbled queso

Sour cream with a dash of salt, thinned with fresh lime juice

  1. Fry 10-12 corn tortillas in corn oil. (You can use them soft but they’re so good fried.) Set aside until ready to eat. Do not use store bought crunchy taco shells if you can avoid it.
  2. Saute the diced potato in skillet in a small amount of oil or fat until softened.
  3. Add the chorizo to the potatoes and cook, breaking up into small pieces. Let meat get dark and slightly crunchy before turning off heat. 
  4. Assemble tacos: meat mixture, sour crema, onions, cilantro, and queso. 


Nutella Ice Cream (No Cook, Egg Free)

From: https://www.chocolatemoosey.com/2012/09/04/no-cook-egg-free-nutella-ice-cream/

Prep Time: 5 minutes Freeze Time: Overnight

1/3 cup Nutella

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Modifications:

-used the called for cream and added another half cup or so of milk (all cream tends to produce a waxy mouth feel)

-used a little more Nutella

-used a full teaspoon of vanilla

-added about a teaspoon of coffee crystals

-chopped toasted almonds while mixing (about half a cup)

Instructions

  1. In a blender, blend together the Nutella, sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Refrigerate the mixture until cold, at least 1 hour.
  2. Once cold, churn the ice cream mixture according to your ice cream machine's instructions. Freeze until firm, preferably overnight.


Pasta Limone

Grate a bunch of cheese.

Cook pasta, reserving a cup of pasta water. (Use a smaller amount of water for pasta to get nice, starchy water.)

Melt butter. Add garlic and lemon zest. 

Saute shrimp in butter (optional). Remove to a plate.

Dump pasta into skillet w/butter. Add a bunch of cheese. Squeeze some lemon juice in if desired (not too much).

Pour some pasta water in and mix well--really stir! Add more if necessary until you get a nice silky sauce.

Toss with shrimp and serve with more cheese on top.


Apple Pull Apart Bread

(from Taste of Home https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-pull-apart-bread )

See notes below the recipe.

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium tart apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ICING:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 to 4-1/2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in milk. Add 2 tablespoons butter, egg, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  1. Combine apple, pecans, cinnamon and remaining sugar; set aside. Punch dough down; divide in half. Cut each half into 16 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll out each piece into a 2-1/2-in. circle. Place 1 teaspoon apple mixture in center of circle; pinch edges together and seal, forming a ball. Dip in remaining butter. In a greased 10-in. tube pan, place 16 balls, seam side down; sprinkle with 1/4 cup apple mixture. Layer remaining balls; sprinkle with remaining apple mixture. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack. Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over bread. Yield: 1 loaf.

Notes: Good, but I would make these changes: 

  1. No nuts
  2. Maybe some raisins
  3. Cook the apple filling down a bit. It was a bit dry.
  4. Roll balls in melted butter, then sugar/cinnamon before putting in pan.

1 piece: 248 calories, 9g fat (4g saturated fat), 31mg cholesterol, 218mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate (19g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.


Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

I threw a good amount of smoked paprika in the sauce as I thought it would go well w/the smoky ham. It did. The creamiest, tastiest scalloped taters ever. No separation of sauce at all. (No leftovers, either.)

Ingredients:

leftover ham, diced (adjust other amounts and baking dish by how much ham you have)

russet potatoes, 3-5

equal parts butter and flour, 3-4 T each is a good starting point 

finely diced onion, to taste

salt and pepper to taste

dash garlic powder

smoked paprika  (up to a teaspoon)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. Melt butter in sauce pan.
  3. Add diced onion and cook for a few minutes until softened. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle in flour and cook for a few minutes. Not too brown, as this is a white sauce.
  5. Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly, until you get the desired consistency (heavy cream is a good consistency to shoot for).
  6. Stir smoked paprika, garlic powder, and more salt and pepper (if desired).
  7. Place layers of potatoes and ham in a buttered baking dish. Lightly salt and pepper the layers as you go.
  8. Pour sauce over potato/ham layers in buttered baking dish. 
  9. Add more milk or cream if needed. When the liquid is visible on the sides of the pan, you've got enough. 
  10. Bake uncovered until potatoes are soft, about 1.5 hrs. 

NOTE: You can sprinkle top with shredded cheese if desired, but it's excellent without. Any type of cheese would work, with Gruyere being an exceptional choice.


4 Cheese Broccoli-Sausage-Pasta Bake

Adapted from various recipe sources. I wanted a cheesy casserole without making a bechamel. This was yummy, although the broccoli was a little mushy.

Ingredients:

12 oz penne

~4 oz each (or so) gruyere, parmesan, and fontina, grated

~3 oz (or so) cream cheese or laughing cow cheese

4-6 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 to 1 onion, diced finely

1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

broccoli, chopped into half-inch pieces (half a head or more, to taste)

white wine/vermouth for deglazing

~3/4 lb italian sausage (3 links, de-cased)

splash of milk or cream

  1. Turn oven to 350F.
  2. Start pasta water.
  3. Brown sausage.
  4. Add onions and mushrooms to pan with almost-browned sausage. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. After browning/softening, deglaze with a bit of white wine. (I use vermouth.) Scrape up flavor bits until pan is mostly clean. 
  6. Throw broccoli into pasta water for last minute of cooking.
  7. Drain pasta and broccoli.
  8. Mix together all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Add cheeses. 
  9. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with a bit of milk or cream, maybe 3 or 4T. 
  10. Bake until warmed through, about 20 minutes.

Note: Could use peas, spinach, or any other veg you wanted to use up. Might also be good with some tomato sauce. The fontina really had a delightful flavor, but you could use other cheeses as well.


Tiramisu

Adapted from this tiramisu recipe:

http://www.askchefdennis.com/2011/04/the-best-tiramisu-you-will-ever-make/

6 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 -12 oz packages Italian Lady fingers

1/2 cup cold espresso

1/4 cup coffee flavored Liquor (optional)

1 tbsp cocoa for dusting

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water.  Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. This is your sabayon. Remove from the heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon colored.

Add Mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks.

Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon mixture and set aside.

Mix the cold espresso with the coffee liquor and dip the lady fingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet, do not soak them!

Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of a 8 inch square baking dish (or 6×9)

Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the lady fingers.

Repeat process with another layer.

Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Dust with cocoa before serving.

With these modifications:

-Added a scant capful of orange extract to the whipped cream.

-Added a vanilla bean to the zabayon.

NOTE: Another recipe said to use not more than 1/2 T-1 T of liquid per ladyfinger. I erred on the low side, and I think they could have used a wee bit more liquid. The zabayon was grainy, but once mixed w/the mascarpone, it became completely creamy. A fabulous recipe. Might try a bit more orange flavor next time, maybe a mixture of Kahlua and Grand Marnier. 

NOTE: Dusted the first layer with cocoa powder, too, to intensify the chocolate flavor. 


“Modernist” Tomato Sauce

Adapted from the Modernist Cuisine books.

-fry lots of garlic in lots of olive oil until golden brown

-dump in 1-2 cans tomatoes or tomato sauce

-a dash of white wine if you have it

-generous teaspoon of sugar (for a 15 oz can tomatoes) 

-salt to taste

-blend. 


Lobster-Mushroom-Truffle Oil Flatbread Pizza

-Heat oven to 450F.

-Crisp up the flatbread--should only take a couple of minutes. Careful: it burns easily!

-Saute mushrooms in butter/olive oil mixture.

-Add finely chopped garlic.

-Add chopped lobster.

-Set aside to cool slightly.

-Brush a tablespoon or so of the butter/olive oil sauce on crisped up flatbread.

-Sprinkle lightly with salt. (Do not skip this step--it adds a lot of flavor.)

-Sprinkle on lobster and sauteed mushrooms.

-Sprinkle on grated parmesan, mozzerella, and fontina. 

-Bake for about 5 minutes, or until nicely browned/cheese is melted.

-Finish with small drizzle of truffle oil if desired.


Carrot Cake

Don't know where this came from, but kudos to whoever came up with it. Super easy (for a cake), super good.

4 eggs

1 ¼ cups of oil (I used walnut oil--any nut oil would be delicious, or canola)

2 t. vanilla

2 C sugar

2 C flour

2 t. baking power

2 t. baking soda

2 t. cinnamon

1 ½ t. each allspice, cloves, and nutmeg (a little ginger might be good too)

3 C. carrots

raisins, pineapple, and pecans as desired

Note: I soaked the raisins in brandy. Not sure if this added anything or not.

mix eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix. Fold in carrots and other ingredients. Bake @ 350 for 30-40” in 9x13 pan.

Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 T butter

1 t. vanilla

½ t. orange extract (my secret ingredient!)

1 lb powdered sugar


Cherry Chicken Salad

dressing:

mayo

buttermilk (just 1-3T)

chopped fresh rosemary (optional)

~ a tablespoon of good cider vinegar

salt and pepper

(replace some of the mayo with yogurt if desired)

chicken breast, diced 

celery

cherries (dried)

scallions

roasted pecans on top

(apples, grapes, broccoli, optional)

Mix all dressing ingredients, then add salad ingredients. Chill through for several hours before eating.


Cherry “Martini”

1 oz tart cherry juice

1 oz grenadine

3 oz vodka

3-4 drops cherry bitters

2 spoonfuls Griottines cherry juice

Griottines cherries to garnish.

-would be good with concentrated cherry juice and fizzy water.


Tater Tot Hotdish

A Minnesota classic with a few easy updates.

1-1.5 lb hamburger

1 onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, diced

splash vermouth to deglaze

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 soup can (or more) milk

8-10 oz american cheese or velveeta, cubed

frozen veg of any combo, about 2 cups

dried or fresh herbs: thyme, herb de provence, maybe rosemary or basil

lots of tater tots

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Brown the ground beef. 
  3. When almost done, add onion and garlic and cook till soft over medium heat.
  4. Deglaze with vermouth, or stock. 
  5. Remove from heat or keep very low. Add soup, milk, cheese, herbs and stir well.
  6. Throw some tots into the pan and stir gently.
  7. Pour hotdish in shallow baking dish. Cover with tots. (Note: For some, mixing tots into the filling may be overkill. If you don't want that many tots, just put them on the top.)
  8. Bake until tots are crispy, 45 minutes to an hour.


Mashed Potato Soup

Another clean out the fridge recipe. Adjust as needed. No bacon? Use ham, or no meat at all. No cheddar? Use Velveeta. Whatever you 've got--the only essentials for this are mashed potatoes and some type of cheese.

leftover mashed potatoes

onion

garlic

thyme

smoked paprika

bacon and bacon fat (optional, but very good)

vermouth or other white wine to deglaze

evaporated milk or cream

chicken stock

sour cream

cheddar cheese

broccoli, slightly pre-cooked, if desired

potato buds

  1. Cook bacon or melt bacon grease over medium heat.
  2. Add diced onion and cook until soft. Add diced garlic, thyme, and smoked paprika and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Deglaze with small amount of vermouth/white wine, if desired. If you do, allow to cook off until almost dry.
  4. Add stock and milk/cream. Bring to boil, then reduce heat again.
  5. Add leftover potatoes and stir until dissolved.
  6. Add sour cream, cheese, bacon, and broccoli. Salt and pepper to taste. 

NOTE: If it's too thin you can thicken with potato flakes.

NOTE: I think the smoked paprika made this soup, but don’t overdo it. 


Alfredo Pesto Casserole

Infinitely adjustable, this is a true clean out the fridge recipe.

meat--diced chicken, italian sausage or maybe even ham

pasta--I used tortellini

1 can evaporated milk

⅛-¼ C heavy cream

¼-½ C pesto

roasted red pepper, diced

½ onion sauteed

1 clove garlic sauteed

olive oil and flour

parmesan and mozzerella cheese, grated

¼ C. dry white wine.

-Preheat oven to 350F.

-Cook pasta al dente.

-Cook and dice meat as needed.

-Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. When soft, sprinkle 1 T. or so flour in, stir, and let cook for a few minutes.

-Preheat oven to 350F.

Deglaze with wine, let reduce.

-Pour in milk slowly, whisking constantly. When thick turn off heat.

-Add cream and pesto and stir to a smooth consistency. Let cool.

-In large bowl mix meat, ¾ of cheese, peppers, and sauce. Carefully fold in pasta.

-Dump into casserole dish and bake until heated through. Put remaining cheese on top and let brown.


Maple BBQ Sauce

You may balk at using a whole cup of maple syrup. If so, try a half recipe of this. It's truly worth it.

1 1/2 T cooking oil

1/2 small white onion, diced

1/2 T minced fresh ginger

2 cloves of fresh garlic, smashed

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

3 oz tomato paste

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 T sesame oil

1 cup pure Vermont maple syrup, any grade is fine

1 1/2 T dried ground mustard

1/8 tsp dried thyme

1/2 T Kosher salt

Whiskey, couple tablespoons or so

In a wide sauce pot add the oil, onion, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Add vinegar, water, tomato paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Break the tomato paste-up with a whisk until the liquid is consistent in appearance. Add the remainder of the ingredients but only add half of the salt. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Purée the sauce with a stick blender or an upright blender. Add the remainder of the salt to your taste. Place in large Mason jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Notes: 

-From http://vermontmaple.org/maple-recipes/maple-bbq-sauce/

Pork Pho Soup

10/31/2015

Note: This is a combo of 3 different recipes.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/pork-noodle-soup-with-cinnamon-and-anise-240942

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/quick-pork-pho-51252620

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/vietnamese-pork-rice-noodle-soup

The cool thing is that I did it all in one pan by doing it in the order I wrote. Also, it isn’t really a pho because I cooked the pork until uber tender and shredded it. But the meat was great and this is how I think the pork worked best in this soup (rather than thinly sliced and browned, in which case it would likely be tough).

1 onion, halved

2-4 garlic cloves, crushed

dried pepper or ½ tsp pepper flakes

2 sticks cinnamon

2 star anise

1” ginger, crushed or sliced

1 T or so cooking oil

1-2 lbs pork, cut into 1” cubes

2 qts chicken stock

2 qts beef or pork (or seafood) stock

more stock or water if needed

bouillon cube or 2 if needed for flavor

Cooked rice noodles

Toppings:

lime wedges

fresh cilantro, mint, and basil

bean sprouts

soy sauce, fish sauce, sri racha

  1. Char onion and garlic in dry pan until lightly charred, 3-5 minutes. Remove to plate.
  2. Heat cinnamon sticks, anise and pepper/pepper flakes in dry pan on medium-med. high heat. Careful! The pepper flakes burn easily! Just long enough to bloom oils, about a minute. Remove to plate.
  3. Add cooking oil to pan over medium high heat. Add pork, in batches if necessary, and let brown nicely on both sides.
  4. If necessary, deglaze pan with small amount of stock between pork batches. SAVE that liquid for the broth!
  5. Reserve browned pork in bowl.
  6. Make broth:
    1. Pour stocks into pan.
    2. Add in onion, garlic, cinnamon, anise, pepper, and ginger.
    3. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer.
    4. Skim scum as needed. 
    5. Simmer until house smells divine and stock is rich and flavorful, at least an hour.
  7. Add pork to simmering broth. Continue to simmer until pork is tender, at least another hour.
  8. Remove pork, shred, and add back to soup.
  9. As the soup nears readiness, cook rice noodles and rinse them. Add a mound to each bowl. Ladle soup over noodles.
  10. Top with lime wedges, bean sprouts, fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh cilantro, soy sauce, fishs sauce, and sri racha as desired.


Smoky Ranch-Onion Dressing

1 half onion

bacon fat (optional)

buttermilk or yogurt (if using yogurt, thin with milk or cream)

mayo

sour cream

smoked paprika, enough to make color orange

salt and pepper

garlic powder or garlic confit clove

Hidden Valley dressing mix, optional

small amount garlic oil, optional

chives, parsley, dill, maybe basil, etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Roast halved onion cut side down in the oven with some bacon fat (optional) or other cooking fat for about 20-25 minutes until nicely softened and caramelized.
  3. Throw onion in the food pro with the mayo, buttermilk, and sour cream.
  4. Add salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder and HVR flavoring to taste.
  5. Wazz up in food processor or blender and taste to adjust seasonings.
  6. Stir in fresh herbs and refrigerate to meld flavors.


Steak Salad

cooked steak, sliced

choice of greens

mixed veg such as tomato, red pepper, cucumber

shredded cheese

avocado, optional

fried onions, homemade or canned (heating canned ones improves flavor)

smoky ranch dressing, above

blue cheese dressing


Italian Sausage “Chowder” Soup

Again, several non-exact measurements. Meant to be tailored to taste. 

1 lb (1 pkg) Italian sausage

carrots, diced

onion, diced

celery, diced

garlic, diced

1 large or 2 small potatoes, diced

thyme (fresh is best) 

smoked paprika, half to 1 teaspoon

vermouth/white wine (might be good w/sherry), about half a cup

beef stock, 4-6 C.

⅛ C. tomato sauce, optional

American cheese or Velveeta or cheddar, cubed or grated (start with about 4 ounces)

spinach, optional

cream, optional

NOTE: Also used baked potato instead of corn starch to thicken broth, but it would be good without either.

  1. Brown and break up sausage. Deglaze with vermouth, remove from pan, save juices.
  2. Add olive oil or bacon grease to medium pan if needed. Add diced carrots, onion, and celery to pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stir, let soften. 
  3. Add potatoes, garlic, chopped fresh (or dried) thyme, and smoked paprika. Saute for a few minutes.
  4. Add tomato sauce if using. Cook for a minute or so.
  5. Deglaze with more vermouth and cook until almost dry.
  6. Add stock and sausage. Stir and bring up to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 45 minutes.
  7. Smush up a baked potato if using and stir it into the stock.
  8. Add cheese. Stir and let melt.
  9. Add cream if desired.
  10. Stir in a little fresh spinach just before serving, if desired.


Chicken Soup

Herbs and bouillon cubes! This is based on the Paula Deen recipe, but instead of using Italian seasoning and lemon pepper, used all fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice. 

-homemade chicken stock, made with fresh garden herbs (parsley, lots of thyme, sprig of rosemary, little bit of basil), garlic, lots of onion and celery, fewer carrots, bay leaf and peppercorn. (pressure cook for an hour or more)

Broth: celery, carrot, garlic, onion, salt and pepper, a little garlic. Cook it until it’s very browned and you get a nice Maillard flavor in the soup. Or just cook until softened--but the flavor won't be as deep or complex.

-Deglaze w/ sherry and/or vermouth, let cook away. Throw in a little bit of diced fresh rosemary if you have it, less than a teaspoon.

-Pour in stock. Let boil down a bit to concentrate flavor. 

-Squeeze in a little bit of fresh lemon juice (couple teaspoons).

-Add several bouillon cubes, 3-5 depending on size of batch. Stir well and let cook a few minutes.

-Add noodles (or whatever: have made with rice, homemade dumplings, homemade noodles, tortellini, etc.). 

-When noodles are almost done, throw in chicken, then fresh herbs: parsley, thyme, little basil.


Crab Pesto Pasta

10/11/2016

This was absolutely delicious, but very rich, even w/the cauliflower sauce and whole wheat pasta. (Guess that's a good thing.)

  • Whole wheat penne
  • Cauliflower sauce (Used this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/fettuccine-alfredo-recipe2.html but did not saute it--put some smashed garlic cloves in the cooking broth w/cauliflower and just put it w/evaporated milk in food pro. Also used all broth, no water, to cook the cauliflower. Smell while simmering was divine.)
  • Flaked crab, 12-16oz. (imitation crab might also be good)
  • Pesto, ¼-½ C
  • Cream to bring liquid up to right height, if necessary; evaporated milk would also work
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • parmesan/ricotta mix shredded cheese (or just parm, or whatever’s on hand)
  • Tomatoes for topping
  1. Cook pasta until al dente, drain, set aside.
  2. Make cauliflower sauce.
  3. Mix cauliflower sauce with pesto and cheeses. Dump in noodles and mix gently.
  4. Pour into greased baking dish. Add more cream or evaporated milk to make enough sauce.
  5. Bake in 350F oven for about half an hour.


Smoked Salmon Quiche

For 8-9” pie:

1 crust, prebaked @ 350F ~10”

6-8 oz smoked salmon, diced

2T fresh dill, finely chopped

1T fresh thyme, finely chopped

1/3 C shallot, onion, or scallion diced fine and sweated gently in butter till slightly softened

Cream cheese, to dot bottom of pie crust

About 2 C frozen spinach, microwaved and squeezed thoroughly until dry

About ½ C shredded cheese, parmesan mix from Costco is very good

Or feta, or cheddar, or whatever is on hand

4 eggs

1-½-2 C cream, milk, or a mixture

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Dot prebaked crust with cream cheese.
  2. Whisk eggs and cream well. Add salt and pepper, dill, thyme, softened onions, and salmon and mix gently. Pour into crust.
  3. Bake @ 350 for about 40 minutes or until set in center.


Beef Stew (I)

This recipe lacks some exact measurements, but most of them are easy to eyeball, and are meant to be adjusted to preference. 

About 2 lbs stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks

Flour

Salt and pepper

1 t. Smoked paprika

1 medium onion, diced

Garlic, chopped fine

Carrots

Potatoes

1 bottle or can any type of beer (German is preferable)

Dijon mustard (1-2 T.)

Worchestershire (1-2 t.)

Soy sauce

Bacon fat for browning

Beef stock

Beef bouillon cubes, 2-3 for flavor, or a tablespoon or so of beef base (optional)

Frozen peas, to taste.

To cook:

Preheat oven to 325F. 

Toss meat in seasoned flour. Brown, in batches, in the bacon fat. (An enameled Dutch oven is your best option here.)

Set aside browned meat. 

If pan has a lot of dark bits, rinse with stock and scrape pan until bits are dissolved. Pour over meat (do not throw away).

Brown onion in bacon fat or olive oil until soft. Throw garlic in at the end and let go another minute or so. Salt and pepper while softening.

Add 1 bottle of beer and cook down quite a bit. 

Add meat, rest of liquid, and about 2 T. soy sauce.

Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs. Check liquid level. Add water or stock if necessary. If meat is nice and tender, throw in potatoes and carrots. Bake for another 45 minutes. If not tender, bake for another half hour, then throw in veg, adding more liquid if necessary, then bake for another 45 minutes. Put in frozen peas before serving.


Beef Stew (II)

2-4 lbs stew meat

Flour

Salt, pepper, seasoning salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder (small amounts of seasoning)

Bacon fat

Lots of onion

3-4 cloves garlic

Fresh thyme, lots

Fresh rosemary, scant

Mustard powder, 2-3 tsp

Small spoonful of dijon

Small spoonful of Worcestershire (1 tsp)

About a quart of beef stock, maybe more

1 Bottle of beer

Potatoes

Carrots

Peas (optional)

  1. Shake meat in large ziploc w/seasoned flour (salt, pepper, smoked paprika) to cover thoroughly.
  2. Brown meat in batches. Reserve in bowl with juices.
  3. Deglaze pot between batches if necessary and reserve these juices.
  4. Set meat aside. Deglaze if necessary.
  5. Saute onion until soft.
  6. Add garlic and fresh herbs and saute for another minute.
  7. Add mustard powder and dijon and stir.
  8. Pour in bottle of beer. Let reduce for a few minutes, but still leaving a nice amount of liquid in the pot.
  9. Pour in stock and add beef back in. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium low/low, cover, and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 hrs. (NOTE: You can also do this in the oven at about 325F but keep a careful watch on the liquids--they will evaporate.)
  10. When the meat is tender, add in cubed potatoes and carrots, and more liquid if necessary.
  11. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cook until veggies are tender, then serve. 


Marcia's Pumpkin Pie in Sinfully Rich Pecan Pastry

The pecan pastry crust is what makes this pie--use your favorite pumpkin pie filling, but do not pass up this crust, which tastes like a shortbread cookie.

1 9" sinfully rich pecan pastry crust (recipe below)

Filling

3 large eggs

1 (15 oz) can solid pack pumpkin

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

To prevent the bottom crust from becoming soggy, fully bake the shell before filling.  Also, avoid overmixing the filling or the top of the pie will crack

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.  Place a sheet pan or pizza stone in the oven to preheat.

2.  Beat the eggs lightly with a whisk in a large bowl.  Stir in pumpkin.

3.  Combine the sugars, salt and spices then blend them into the pumpkin mixture.  Slowly stir in the milk and cream mixing just until smooth. do not overmix! Pour all but about 1 cup of the pumpkin mixture into the pastry shell.

4.  Set the pie on the preheated sheet pan.  Pour the remaining pumpkin filling in. Bake for 60 minutes or until the center is set or is 175F in the center.  Place on a rack and cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting.

Sinfully Rich Pecan Pastry

1 1/2 cup flour

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup well chilled unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch dice

4 Tablespoons well-chilled vegetable shortening, cut into small dice

1/2 cup medium chopped pecans

3 to 4 tablespoon ice water.

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in large bowl.  Add the butter and vegetable shortening. Using 2 table knives or your fingertips, cut or work the fats into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the pecans and toss with a fork to incorporate. 

Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, drizzling it around the edge of the bowl.  Stir with the fork until moist clumps form.

With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a 5 inch disk.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

NOTE: Though pre-baking is a good idea, you can make this pie in a raw pastry crust. The bottom may be a little soggy but it will still be delicious.


Pear Salad 

A family Thanksgiving favorite.

6 oz. box green jello

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

29 oz. can pears, mashed

1 c whipping cream

Dissolve jello in 1 c hot pear juice.  Soften cream cheese in 2 T cream.  Combine with jello.Let stand until begins to congeal.  Add mashed pears to mixture.  Let stand again until begins to congeal. Fold in whipped cream. Chill for several hours or over night before serving.


Simple Vanilla Ice Cream (Cuisinart)

The best and the easiest vanilla ice cream recipe.

Makes about 5 cups (ten ½-cup servings) 

1 cup whole milk 

¾ cup granulated sugar 

pinch salt 

2 cups heavy cream 

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (Or up to 3 if you really like vanilla)

1. In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight. 

2. Turn on the Cuisinart® ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving. 

Nutritional information per serving (based on ½ cup): Calories 222 (73% from fat) • carb. 13g • pro. 2g • fat 18g • sat. fat 11g • chol. 69mg • sod. 45mg • calc. 61mg • fiber 0g


Asian Cole Slaw

Adapted from: http://www.onceuponachef.com/2011/03/asian-slaw-with-ginger-peanut-dressing.html

I added more peanut butter, more sesame oil, the miso, and the lime. So, so good.

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • ¼ C. peanut butter (or slightly less)
  • Small scoop of miso or ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced (or a generous shake of garlic powder if you don’t like too much raw garlic)
  • Juice of one small lime

For the Slaw

  • 4 cups prepared shredded coleslaw
  • 2 cups prepared shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup cooked and shelled edamame
  • 2 medium scallions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts (or you can leave them whole)
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro

Mix dressing ingredients and set aside. Mix slaw ingredients, pour dressing over and mix well. You may not need all the dressing, so pour accordingly.


Best Fried Potatoes Ever

(copied from Reddit)

I add the cut up potatoes to a pot of water, bring to a boil, then turn down the flame and let it sit covered for 8-10 minutes. A fork should be able to pierce the potato at this point

After draining, I heat my pan with canola oil and a little bit of butter. I put in the potatoes, add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt. I then add more butter on top. Every 10 minutes or so (for 45-60 min), I stir the potatoes and smash them down a bit. I also add more spices and butter. Over this time the potatoes will soften, but will get a nice crust from letting them sit there between when you stir / smash.

In a separate pan, I saute chopped onions and peppers. I let these caramelize. Eventually I add them to the pan with potatoes and continue the stirring / smashing.

The whole process takes 1-1.5 hours, but they come out perfect every time. Butter is your friend here.

NOTE: Big thing seems to be to let the potatoes get very dry between boiling and frying.

NOTE: I do not add onions or peppers, and these potatoes are still amazing.


Karen's Butterhorns

This recipe is my mother's, so it probably originates from a 1970s edition of Joy of Cooking. You won't find a better recipe for an enriched, somewhat sweet dough. It's extremely versatile, making excellent dinner rolls and just as delicious cinnamon rolls or raisin bread. 

     1 Package Dry Yeast

     ¼ Cup Hot water

     2 Eggs

     ½ Cup Sugar

     ½ Cup Oil

     1 teaspoon Salt

     ¾ Cup Hot Milk

     3 ½ Cup Flour

·      Sprinkle yeast into hot water (verify correct water temp on yeast package). Let stand 10 minutes. 

·      Mix together sugar, oil, salt, and milk. Add yeast and mix. Add eggs and mix.

·      Add flour in small amounts. Stir, then knead on a floured board or counter until all flour is absorbed and the dough is elastic and not sticky. (You must work flour into the dough until the dough isn’t sticky. This can take another cup or so of flour and a lot of elbow grease!)

·      Cover with cloth or clear wrap, put in warm place, and let rise until double. (1.5-2 hrs) Preheat oven to 375F.

·      Divide into two parts. 

·      Roll dough into circle. Brush with melted butter. Cut into app. 2-inch wedges. Roll wedges, starting with large end, into a crescent shape. Place in greased pan. Let rise until double. 

·      Bake at 375F 12-15 minutes.

Notes:

·      For cinnamon rolls, divide into two parts, roll into app. 9x13 rectangle, brush with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and raisins (and sugar if desired), then roll up and slice into rolls. Place in greased pan and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375F 12-15 minutes.

·      For pecan caramel rolls, melt equal parts of butter and brown sugar, pour into greased pan, scatter pecans, and place rolls on top. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375F 12-15 minutes. Invert onto plate while still warm.

·      Raise dough in a warm, draft-free place. I like to turn the oven on for a few minutes and use that..


Joe Senser’s Seasoned Sour Cream

Joe Senser’s is a Minnesota sports bar chain (Joe being an ex ball player, don’t ask me which sport) that has some phenomenal items on the menu, including this dip. After we moved out of state, I had a craving for this and called the restaurant to request it (what could it hurt to ask?), and they actually gave it to me. Of course I had to downsize the quantities, and in all honesty, the results weren’t quite the same, but still very good. Served with their waffle fries alongside their famous blue cheese burger, this is truly scrumptious bar food.

1C mayonnaise

2oz sour cream (by weight)

1T parsley flakes

1/4t. Garlic powder 

1/2t. Dried dill 

¾ T lemon juice

A few drops Worchestershire 

½ t. White pepper

1.5 t. Lawry’s seasoned salt

¼ t. Cayenne pepper

½ t. Chicken base/bouillon dissolved In 1T. Water 

Mix all ingredients and chill for several hours. Serve with French fries, tater tots, or potato chips.