boar ragout

Boar Ragout

You know me, I often like to try something new and different. This week I wanted to try ground boar (which I found in the freezer section of my local grocery store).  I decided to use the boar in a hearty, wintery ragout.

boar ragout

A mixture of roasted acorn squash, mushrooms, and purple potatoes, was tossed with a boar and rosemary sauce. I served the ragout over soft polenta, for a beautiful (and filling!) dinner.  The true test – would the kids eat it?  Sure enough, they asked for seconds of the nutty tasting boar ragout.  I’m glad they are willing to try all of mom’s wild new dishes!

boar ragout


Boar Ragout

1 small acorn squash
½ pound purple potatoes
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
1 lb boar meat
½ tablespoon fresh rosemary
½ tablespoon freshly minced garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beef stock
Polenta for serving (optional)
 

Heat oven to 350°F. Slice acorn squash in half, and remove seeds.  Cut in half moons and place on a greased baking sheet, cut side down.  Cut purple potatoes into 1 inch width circles, then cut into half moons; place on a greased large baking sheet along with onions.  Place both baking sheets in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until acorn squash and potatoes are tender.  Remove peels from squash and cut into chunks.

 Meanwhile,  heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until browned.  Transfer mushrooms to a large bowl.  Add boar meat and brown over medium heat, about 10 minutes.  Add in rosemary, garlic, flour, and stock and simmer, stirring to mix in flour.  Remove from heat and stir in mushrooms, squash, and potatoes.   Serve with polenta, if desired.

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Pork Green Chili

Pork Green Chili

I like to make a big pot of chili as an easy dinner that provides plenty of leftovers for multiple meals (lunch included).  I tend to gravitate towards beef chili, but this week I was in the mood for a Pork Green Chili.

Pork Green Chili

I kept it simple by using my crock pot.  A pork loin was cooked until tender and easy to shred, and then creamed corn, green salsa, onions, and beans were added to make a hearty and tasty chili.  The green salsa had a fair amount of kick, providing a great base for the chili.  We ate ours with cheddar cheese grated on top, but a Monterey jack would compliment the dish just as well.

I’m sure I will tinker with this chili the next time I make it. I can never seem to make chili the same way twice.  What is your favorite chili mix in?


Pork Green Chili

4 lb pork loin
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced yellow onion
2 cups jarred green salsa
One, 14 ounce can creamed corn
One 15 ounce can northern beans, drained
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin

Cheese for serving (optional) 

Place the pork loin in a crock pot with 2 cups of chicken stock on high for 4-6 hrs. Skim off the fat and shred, then add onion, salsa, corn, beans, cumin, and garlic.  Stir to combine and cook on high for 1 hour longer. Serve; refrigerate any leftovers.

Notes:  Looking for the same amount of kick? I used 505 Southwestern hatch green chili in medium for my chili. I was not sponsored for this post.

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asparagus casserole

Asparagus Casserole

Many Thanksgiving gatherings include a green bean casserole. There is no denying the creamy goodness of such a casserole, but I wanted to test out a version using asparagus (a favorite vegetable in my family) with a homemade sauce. 

Parboiled asparagus, get coated in a generous amount of a cream sauce, and mixed with sauuted onion, garlic, and cheese. Once baked and bubbly, it gets a dusting of crumbled bacon.  I’m sure this dish will be irresistible at our Holiday feast!

asparagus casserole


Asparagus Casserole

2 lbs asparagus
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup diced yellow onion
½ tablespoon freshly minced garlic
4 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups ½ and ½
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon

 

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the asparagus and boil for 5minutes; drain and add asparagus to a greased 2.8 Liter casserole dish.

In a non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter.  Once melted, add the onions and saute for 8-10 minutes, or until translucent and begin to brown.  Add the garlic during the last minute of saute; remove from the heat.  Return the non-stick skillet to the stove and melt the remaining butter over medium heat.  Add the flour to the butter and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the half & half, stirring until smooth and sauce begins to thicken.  Add the salt and pepper, then pour over the asparagus.  Add the onions, garlic, and Monterey jack cheese to the asparagus, and gently toss to evenly coat the asparagus with the sauce and cheese.

Heat oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the bacon and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and bubbly. Serve; refrigerate any leftovers.

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Sausage and Kale Soup

Sausage & Kale Soup

This week, one of the books my daughter brought home for reading homework was Stone Soup.  If you have never read the book, the story is about an impoverished town that comes together to share the small amounts of food they have to create a large and scrumptious kettle of soup. Reading about a “little bit of meat, a little bit of beans, and a little bit of carrots” got me thinking that a hearty soup was just the ticket for this weekend.  Not only would I get to use the last bit of kale from my garden, but it also would give me a vehicle to get more beans into the kid’s diet. 

 Sausage and Kale Soup

I chose mild Italian sausage as my “little bit of meat” since it would add a lot of flavor.  I rounded out the soup with kale, black beans, carrots, onions, and chicken broth.  The soup was delicious without being too heavy. The kids thought it was a fun way to bring the book to life. Stone soup never tasted so good!

Sausage and Kale Soup


Sausage and Kale Soup

1 lb mild Italian sausage, without casing
12 cups chicken stock
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced yellow onions
3 cups kale
One 15 ounce can or black beans, drained

 

Add the sausage to a large pot and brown and crumble over medium heat.  When the sausage is cooked through, add the stock, carrots, and onions.  Bring to a boil and add the kale and black beans.  Cook for until the kale is wilted, then serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

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tzatziki tacos

Tzatziki Tacos

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend at Next Door Eatery in Denver. One of the things I respect about this restaurant is their commitment to the farm-to-table concept.  This reminded me that it had been awhile since I had purchased meat from local farmers, especially lamb. This got me thinking of lamb dishes, resulting in this Tzatziki Tacos recipe.

tzatziki tacos

I decided to modify the traditional tzatziki sauce of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, dill, and lemon by making it a cross between a salad and salsa. I accomplished this by adding tomatoes, feta, and Kalamata olives and keeping the cucumbers as chunks (rather than blending them into the sauce). I then used this fresh salad as a topping to balance the hearty taste of the shredded lamb, served in a toasted corn tortilla.

My husband thought these were fantastic, making me wish I had made a double batch. If you are looking for a fun, new take on tacos (or gyros), try these Tzatziki Tacos!

tzatziki tacos

Tzatziki Tacos
 1 ½ pounds lamb shoulder chops
½ cup beef stock
1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
1 cup peeled, diced cucumber
½ cup crumbled feta
¼ cup chopped Kalamata olives
½ cup plain, Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon  lemon juice
10 yellow soft corn tortillas (~6 inch diameter)
 

Place the lamb and beef stock in a 4 quart slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. 

While the lamb is cooking, prepare the tzatziki salad.  Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and olives in a large bowl.  Add the yogurt, dill, garlic, and lemon juice and stir to coat and mix well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve the tacos.

After the required cooking time, remove the lamb from the slow cooker. Then, remove the bones and fat from the lamb and shred the remaining meat; set the meat aside and keep warm.

Lightly toast the corn tortillas on both sides in a non-stick skillet.   To serve, evenly divide the lamb between the tortillas, and top with the tzatziki salad. Serve immediately.

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matcha fried rice

Matcha Fried Rice

Have you heard of matcha? I’m sure you have.  It is one of those “in” ingredients these days.  I have put of trying it because green tea ranks below most other flavors of tea in my book. I tend to prefer spicy/cinnamon or earl grey rather than the earthy flavor of green tea.

matcha fried rice

None the less, I was still intrigued. One of the hypes of matcha is the concentrated antioxidants it offers. Instead of steeping tea leaves in a bag, you are essentially consuming finely ground tea leaves. In addition to beverages, it has found its way into food items, even dessert.  I was determined to try it in an entrée and decided to make a version of my fried rice.  I started with my Ham Fried Rice recipe, and eliminated peas, ham, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and ginger. I added matcha as my replacement spice and a bit of baby tomatoes for added sweetness. The result was a light and refreshing Matcha Fried Rice that was well balanced.

matcha fried rice

This festive dish has been a fun lunch this week and I look forward to experimenting with matcha in other recipes.

Matcha Fried Rice

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced red onion
4 cups cooked long grain rice
1 1/2 teaspoons matcha
2 large eggs
½ cup baby tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped

 

Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the pan and heat until melted over medium-high heat. Add carrots, and onion, and saute for 3 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Immediately add the rice, and matcha, and stir until combined. Continue stirring for an additional 3-4 minutes to fry the rice. Keep warm.

Coat a non-stick pan with cooking spray then heat over medium heat. Add eggs, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove egg, and stir into rice mixture, along with the tomatoes and green onions.  Serve immediately.

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m often amazed at how many variations there are on classic recipes.  Take for example Stuffed Mushrooms. When I first started making these I used leftover bratwurst from a summer BBQ and I have been doing so ever since. I have even used the stuffing base in other recipes, such as my Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Stuffed Mushrooms

In addition to bratwurst meat, the stuffing includes breadcrumbs, onions, cheese, and fresh parsley.  The combination is a wonderful, savory starter.

Stuffed Mushrooms

 The instructions below start from an uncooked bratwurst, just in case you want to make these anytime.  If you do have some cookout leftovers, the timesaving instructions are noted as well.

Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 lb button mushrooms
1/3 lb uncooked bratwurst (~1 bratwurst)
1/2 Cup yellow onion, diced
1 Tablespoon freshly minced garlic
¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons fresh, minced flat leaf parsley
¾ cup pecorino-Romano cheese

 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Wash mushrooms, then remove stems.  Mince the stems and set aside.  Place the mushroom caps (top down) in a large, greased casserole or 9×13 pan.

Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to large sauté pan, and place over medium high heat. Remove the bratwurst meat from the casing and add to the saute pan. Saute the bratwurst meat, breaking it apart with a spoon, until it is cooked throughout. Remove the cooked meat, place in a large bowl, and set aside. Add the minced mushroom stems and onions to the man and cook, stirring frequently, until softened – about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer.

Remove from the heat, and add the mushroom stems and onions to the bratwurst meat, along with the breadcrumbs, parsley, and ¼ cup of pecorino Romano cheese; Stir to combine.  Evenly divide the stuffing between the mushroom caps, then sprinkle the tips with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and brown slightly. Remove from oven and serve.

Note: If you have a leftover, cookout bratwurst, place brat in food processor and process for about 20 seconds, until well minced to eliminate the meat-cooking step.

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shaved brussel sprouts

Basil-Garlic Shaved Brussel Sprouts

Perhaps it was a need to eat more vegetables to balance my latest intake of sweets, but one way or another I ended up with Brussel sprouts in my grocery cart this week.  I have mentioned before that the only way I can get my husband to eat them is by using my Flash Fried Brussel Sprouts recipe. I have been determined to try other means of cooking them as I don’t always like pulling out my deep fryer, hence this Basil-Garlic Shaved Brussel Sprouts recipe.

The idea of shaved Brussel sprouts has caught my attention since I thought that smaller pieces might minimize the cabbage taste (or just provide more surface area to coat with butter or other toppings to mask the taste).  I decided to keep the mixed in spices simple and classic with garlic and onion as the main flavors and then added basil for a sweet undertone.  The result was a fresh take on the veggie, and one that reminded me of something my grandmother use to make frequently for dinner.  I enjoyed the shaved Brussel sprouts as a side but I can easily see mixing in some other vegetables and protein for a healthy lunch salad.  I also managed to get my kids to eat some, which is always a huge win.

shaved brussel sprouts

Basil-Garlic Shaved Brussel Sprouts

1 ½ pounds fresh Brussel sprouts, trimmed
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons dried, minced onion
½ teaspoon dried granulated garlic
½ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

 

Using a 2 mm disk attachment, shred the Brussel sprouts using a food processor.  Melt the butter over medium high heat in a large saute pan.  Add the shaved Brussel sprouts to the pan and stir frequently.  Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the Brussel sprouts are slightly wilted and bright green.  Remove from the heat and sprinkle the spices over the Brussel sprouts, stir to coat evenly, and serve.

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Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini

Since I am still trying to eat a variety of vegetables daily (despite the fact that I no longer need to track my vegetable intake for my health benefits program) I decided to make a vegetable full, fall inspired dish – Stuffed Zucchini. 

What I love about Stuffed Zucchini (or any other vegetable for that matter, like Stuffed Acorn Squash) is that you can really tailor the recipe to what you have on hand.  I went with the classic mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions) as my main filler outside of the zucchini and pork sausage since I think it adds great color and flavor. You can just as easily omit the extra veggies – it just means your filling will not be as “full” in the zucchini vessel.

Stuffed Zucchini

My favorite part about this Stuffed Zucchini recipe is that both my kids ate it without a fuss.  Lately they have been picky or crabby and I’m relieved when they eat a good serving of vegetables without a ton of coaxing.  I should also mention that it was a hit with my husband.  In fact, I had to rush to get some photos in so that he could eat the serving I had set aside for my photography. I count that as a successful dinner!

Stuffed ZucchiniStuffed Zucchini


Stuffed Zucchini

4 medium sized zucchini (about 2.5 pounds)
1 tablespoon oil
½ cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced carrot
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
½ cup freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese
¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 lb hot Italian pork sausage
½ cup shredded mozzarella

 

Preheat oven to 375 °F.  Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, scoop out the center and dice the scooped out zucchini “meat”. Place a saute pan over medium heat and add oil.  Once oil is warm, add the onions and saute for 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery and diced zucchini and saute another 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add to a large bowl, along with garlic, pecorino-Romano cheese, breadcrumbs, and sausage and combine until well mixed.  Evenly divide between the eight zucchini halves and fill the zucchini cavity.  Place stuffed zucchini on a large baking sheet and bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until meat is fully cooked.  During the last five minutes of baking, sprinkle with mozzarella and return to oven to melt cheese.  Remove from oven and serve.

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Individual Egg Souffle Stack

Individual Egg Soufflé Stacks

Changing work schedules and the start of the school year has resulted in a desire (and need) to simplify prep of weekday meals and snacks.  Consequently, when I was reminded about muffin tin eggs I thought I should give a variation of the recipe a try. Since I had just found hash brown patties the same size as my mini loaf pan I knew that I just had to make an individual stacked egg soufflé.

 

Individual Egg Souffle Stack

Using the muffin tin method of cooking the eggs lends itself to individualization of the mix-in ingredients.  If you don’t happen to be a fan of tomatoes or onions – no problem! Swap in your favorite veggies.  The recipe I used as my guide suggested 12-15 minutes for muffin tin cooking, but I found I needed 20-25 minutes to set the eggs in the larger min loaf pans.

Individual Egg Souffle Stack

The layering of the hash brown patties, honey ham, and egg soufflé was a great balance of rich flavors in a manageable personalized portion.  The presentation and built-to-suit egg soufflés were also a hit with my guests!


Individual Egg Soufflé Stacks

8 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup diced baby tomatoes
¼ cup diced green onion
8 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese blend
4ounces thinly sliced honey ham lunch meat
4 hash brown patties

 

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Spray a small cookie sheet and a mini loaf pan (8 mini loaves) with nonstick spray.  In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, butter, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Evenly divide the tomatoes and green onions between four of the mini loaf pans. Then, evenly pour the egg mixture over the tomatoes and green onions, and then top each with 2 tablespoons of cheese.  Place one ounce of honey ham in each of the remaining loaf pans, and place the hash brown patties on the cookie sheet. Place the loaf pan and the cookie sheet in the oven.  After 10 minutes, flip the hash brown patties and return to the oven.  Continue baking both until the eggs are set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and then plate by topping each hash brown patty with one ounce of ham and one mini egg loaf.  Serve warm.

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spinach and salmon salad

Spinach and Salmon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago on my post about popcorn I mentioned that my family had visited a specialty oil store in June.  One of the other items I picked up during this trip was blueberry balsamic vinegar. What I love about flavored vinegars is that you can often make a simple, extremely flavorful vinaigrette of only oil and vinegar, which is what I did for a Spinach and Salmon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette.

spinach and salmon salad

This salad is a powerhouse of good-for-you ingredients: spinach, blueberries, salmon, and onions.  The feta and nectarines, as well as the blueberry vinaigrette, add great color and balance the salty and sweet flavors.  For convenience and to keep the dish light, I opted to use salmon packaged in a pouch. I really like the latest trend of foil packaging instead of cans of salmon (and tuna) which eliminates the mess of draining water or oil.

spinach and salmon salad

This Spinach and Salmon Salad is extremely easy to prepare.  In fact, the hard part for me is picking which flavored vinegar I want to try. Do you have favorite flavored vinegar?

spinach and salmon salad


Spinach and Salmon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

4 cups fresh, baby spinach
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup diced Vidalia onion
½ cup crumbled feta
2 nectarines, pitted and cubed
5 ounce package of boneless, skinless pink salmon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons blueberry balsamic vinegar

 

Evenly divide the spinach between two plates, then evenly sprinkle the blueberries, onion, feta, and nectarines between both plates. Evenly divide the salmon and place on top of both salads. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil and blueberry balsamic vinegar. Evenly pour the dressing over both plates and serve. Makes two salads.

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Corn Gazpacho

Corn Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of my favorite summertime meals. A refreshing soup that helps you beat the heat, it is also a light dish that packs in quite a few servings of vegetables. Instead of the tomato based version I enjoyed in my youth, or the my zucchini gazpacho, I decided to make a Corn Gazpacho the last few weeks.

 I stocked up on fresh corn on the cob, roasted them on the grill, and then cut the kernels off the cob to use in both the soup base and as filler.  Tomatoes, green pepper, and onions add great flavor and texture to this summertime soup.

Corn Gazpacho

 If you don’t have the fresh ingredients on hand (or are just feeling lazy, which was my case last week) this Corn Gazpacho can be made with frozen ingredients. Frozen, diced onions and green peppers make for a super easy addition.  Just make sure that if you use the frozen vegetables that you do cook the soup as my recipe suggest, as there have been too many contaminated frozen food stories lately and it is best to follow packaging instructions for heating. While I know this means that you have to turn on the stove briefly, the fantastic flavor will outweight the minimal cooking time.

Corn Gazpacho

Corn Gazpacho

12 small/medium ears of corn or two, 12 ounce bags of frozen corn
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green peppers
2 teaspoons  Mrs. Dash(R) chicken grilling blend
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
4 roma tomatoes, diced (~1.5 cups)
Microgreens (optional)

 

Heat a grill to medium/high heat.  Remove the husks from the corn and grill, turning frequently, for 15 minutes or until cobs are roasted to desired doneness. Let the cobs cool, then cut from the cobs and chop the kernels.  Add half of the kernels to a large pot and add the vegetable stock. Blend with an immersion blender, then add in onions, green peppers, remaining corn, Mrs. Dash,  salt, garlic powder,tomato, and oil. Refrigerate until ready to serve; garnish with microgreens if desired.

If using frozen vegetables: Add one bag of corn and the vegetable stock to a pot and bring to a boil. Blend with an immersion blender, then add in onions, green peppers, remaining corn, Mrs. Dash,  salt, garlic powder, and oil.  Bring to a boil then remove from heat and let cool. Stir in tomatoes. Refrigerate until ready to serve; garnish with microgreens if desired.

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