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Monday, March 21, 2016

Recipe Review from 3/14/2016

Have I mentioned how weird the weather is in Duluth?  Not lately?   One weekend ago we were enjoying 60* temperatures.  I was walking the dogs on the Lakewalk in a long sleeve shirt, the snow had all but melted in the larger snowbanks.

This weekend I was shoveling Wednesday's snow storm residuals - 6-8" of what had been heavy, wet snow.  Luckily by Saturday below freezing temps did their magic and it was just frozen snow.   And that all depended on where you were in Duluth - downtown it rained all day long and they had to close the tunnels due to flooding.  My house - 10" of snow.

Weird, weird weather.

3.16.2016  Duluth, MN Flooded Tunnel.  photo from the internet.

The Meal Plan
Sun (L) Sausage Pasta Skillet   (S)  Pork Roast and veggies
Mon (yoga)  leftover roast pork
Tues (yoga/Block)  leftover pasta
Wed - Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken with Rice
Thurs (yoga) Pizza
Fri (yoga/Block)  leftovers
Sat (Block)  ??            (S) 

Lunches - Husband = sandwiches, chips, yogurt, luna bars, fruit
                 Me - Green Lentil soup, yogurt, luna bars, fruit, the usual...

Green-Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Indian Spices (A Beautiful Plate via Pinterest)  gluten free, vegetarian option**
This comes together very quickly.  I found the French green lentils in the bulk bins at the co-op .  I thought I had bought what I needed, but I ended up with about a cup extra.  Oh well, I can get creative and find another recipe!   I did not use ghee or clarified butter.  I used what I had on hand, which I think was salted.    No substitutions in this one, though I was thinking some diced carrots would have been a very pretty and tasty addition.  Recommended.

photo from A Beautiful Plate Blog
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 and 1/2 quarts (6 cups) low-sodium chicken (or vegetable**) broth
1 and 1/2 cups Lentilles de Puy (French green lentils), rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons ghee, clarified, or unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of ground nutmeg
fresh black pepper
1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk

  1. Heat the unsalted butter in a large soup pot. Add the diced onion and garlic, and saute over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and translucent. They will reduce in volume significantly.
  2. Add the fresh thyme and turmeric, and continue to saute for an additional 7-8 minutes, until the mixture is very soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the stock and the lentils and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender (yet still hold their shape).
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the ghee (or clarified butter or unsalted butter) over low heat. Add the spices and fresh black pepper, and saute, stirring constantly for 2 minutes or so, until the butter is fragrant. Watch the pan carefully, as it can easily go from fragrant to burned quite quickly.
  5. Add the butter-spice mixture to the soil. Pour in the coconut milk, and heat soup over medium heat for 15 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Author notes: Leftover soup can be stored in a container and kept in the fridge, and reheated before serving, for up to 3 to 4 additional days.

Author notes: Barely adapted from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

Creamy Sausage and Spinach Pasta Skillet  (The Comfort of Cooking Blog via Pinterest)
This is pretty much a 30 minute skillet dish, especially if you have everything set out and ready to go, as in, shred the cheese ahead of time. 

This was also a "pantry reduction" dish; I had some leftover chicken andoullie sausage in the freezer and half a bag of egg noodles.  Worked perfectly.  This would also be good with crumbled Italian sausage.   Another dish where I didn't substitute anything.

I do recommend skipping the Monteray Jack cheese at the end, and just offer the dish with some fresh grated Parmesan, Asiago, or grated Italian blend.   And while I didn't notice any heat from the one jalapeno pepper, I know that is not always the case, so if there are sensitive taste buds or little taste buds just skip the jalapeno.  

Made enough for two meals for two of us.   Recommended.

Photo from Comfort of Cooking Blog
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 oz. smoked sausage (turkey, beef or chicken), sliced 1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
8 oz. uncooked dry pasta  (I used egg noodles)
3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey jack
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and sauté until nicely browned, 5-7 minutes. Drain off excess fat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth and jalapeno. Stir to combine and dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet.

Stir in uncooked pasta and submerge under liquid. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in spinach, 1 cup at a time, until wilted. Maintain heat so that liquid will continue to simmer and thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with shredded cheese, cover and let rest for a few minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with green onions and serve hot.

Brown Sugar and Balsamic Glazed Pork  (Just a Pinch Recipes via Pinterest)
Oh my gosh!   SO good!  SO easy!

Now, I did complicate this a teeny tiny bit by roasting it rather than cooking in the slow cooker.  I had it in my head that this was an oven recipe, and when I realized the error of my ways. it was too late to do it in the crockpot.  Oven it was.  Where I promptly tried to overcook it.  Luckily I had a oven-proof temperature reader (which I forgot to turn on the "done" alarm") and was able to pull out the meat before it was a hockey puck.

If you don't have a crock pot, just Google your cut of  pork and "how to cook" and follow the directions. 

End result - don't. skip. the. glaze.   Fantastic.   Served with asparagus and a side salad.  Recommended.

1 (2) lb boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin
1 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c water

1/2 c brown sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/2 c water
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken Thighs  (Damn Delicious Blog via Pinterest)  gluten free
Super easy and very quick from start to table.  One notable substitution - I used boneless skinless chicken thighs rather than bone in-skin on.  I was also using freezer leftovers so I only had four thighs rather than a whole package to work with.  Which was okay.

This is tangy, sweet, with soft flavors of garlic.  I served this with a side of brown rice and zucchini.  Four thighs made enough for one meal.  Recommended!

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs  I used 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts; about 1 lb
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side; set aside.
  4. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in the skillet. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Stir in brown sugar, honey, oregano, thyme and basil until well combined. Return chicken to the skillet.
  6. Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through, reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Serve chicken immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Bucatini Puttanesca  (Ckng Lght, Mar 2016)  vegetarian option**
There is something to be said for one-pot dishes.   They offer a simplicity that is frequently overlooked in favor of more "involved" dishes, when in fact, these are just as satisfying and flavorful. The magazine did out it as a "24 minute" recipe, but this was closer to 40 minutes from start to table.  It takes nearly 15 minutes alone to halve three pints of cherry tomatoes!  
I strongly recommend prepping everything before turning on the stove.  Once the cooking starts, assembly goes very quickly.  I did have enough time while the pasta came to a boil to wash dishes. 
This dish was really good.    I loved the flavors in this - tangy olives and capers balanced by the sweet tomatoes.   Recommended!

This made enough for two meals for two, and one meal for one.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
photo from
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 anchovy fillets** (skip, or substitute a splash of Worcestershire sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
12 ounces bucatini or thick spaghetti (I used 16oz linguine)
3 pints multicolored cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
24 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 tablespoons capers
1/8 teaspoon salt 

1. Heat a large high-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic, anchovies, oregano, and red pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly to break up anchovies. Add stock and pasta to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until pasta is done. Remove pan from heat; add remaining ingredients, tossing to combine.

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