Wednesday, October 9, 2013

American Chop Suey

I have no idea where the name for this dish came from, it's something my Nana used to make using condensed soup, onion, ground beef and macaroni. I'm not knocking it, I gobbled the stuff up as a child but, it's not something I would serve myself now. I recently made a macaroni dish that reminded me so much of it that I decided to go ahead and try to create a healthier version and with this week's share I had plenty to work with.

I gathered the ingredients:

I'm trying to make this as much a "one pot" meal as I can. So first I boiled the pasta. While that was happening,  I put the food processor to work - this is because I find it's best with my children to get things as fine as possible in a casserole. So I pulsed up those peppers and onions. Once the pasta was in the strainer I threw some oil in the pot and added those peppers and onions.

Now that all the water from the vegetables has evaporated, I add the garlic followed by the ground beef. I am not going to tell you what mix to use here, I grind my own and it tends to be on the lean side. You don't want too much fat because it's not going to get drained off and the dish shouldn't be oily but, you also don't want the beef to get dry either. Add the chopped tomatoes once the beef had browned (yes, I used my food processor again, it's already going to need to be washed.)

Once the tomatoes are in add the can of tomato sauce. If I had more tomatoes I would have used all fresh and crushed them in the food processor, but it wasn't an option. Add the basil and oregano. I gave everything a stir let it simmer for a minute or two. Time to mix in the pasta! If things are too dry at this point add some water. 

Taste for salt and pepper and serve! Otherwise you could top with mozzarella and place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes until it gets all melty then serve. 

Steffanie's American Chop Suey


13.25 oz. whole wheat pasta (rotini or macaroni work well)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. ground beef
14 1/2 oz. tomatoes, diced
14 1/2 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste


1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
2. In the same pot heat 1 tbsp. oil and saute the peppers and onion until translucent and most of the water has evaporated. Add the garlic and saute 30 sec. more. Add the ground beef, cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the spices and taste for salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta, combine well. Check for salt and pepper one last time and serve.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Breakfast Pizza, Biscuits and Gravy Style

It was a cooking day at our house.  We have this beautiful bounty of onions and peppers that needed to get in our belly.

This morning, Frank gave me three choices for breakfast (after our appetizer of a slice of pumpkin pie).  Am I glad we chose this one!  He made breakfast while I cooked up some stromboli - take a look at the recipe here.

It was biscuits and gravy meets pizza.  And it was good.

It all started a few weeks ago.  We took my sister to one of our favorite restaurants, Auntie Mae's.  It is amazing home cooking.  Frank ordered biscuits and gravy and they asked if he wanted peppers and onions on his B&G.  Of course, he said.  I don't know if we'll go back to having them any other way.

This morning, we started with our favorite pizza dough recipe.
Then added some German Sausage from Stroud's Meat Locker.
Plus the peppers and onions.
Some gravy.
And sharp cheddar cheese.
The result?  YUM!!

Franks B&G Breakfast Pizza
1 pizza dough recipe (here's our favorite - we half the flour white and whole wheat)
1/4 lb sausage
1 onion, diced
3 -4 peppers (Bell peppers, Chocolate peppers and Cubanelle peppers), diced
1/4 cup butter (or bacon fat.  Bacon fat makes things yummy)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour - the whole wheat flour gives it a nice nutty taste)
2 cups milk

1.  Brown sausage in a stainless steel skillet (this will make whisking easier later on).  Remove to a separate bowl leaving any drippings in the pan.
2. Meanwhile, make sure your pizza crust is ready to go.
3.  Saute onions and peppers.  When done to your liking, add them to the sausage bowl.
4.  Melt butter in same skillet.  Whisk in flour and let mixture bubble.  When cooked, add milk and continue to whisk.
5. Roll out dough on warmed pizza stone or cookie sheet.
6.  Top with gravy and sausage mixture.  Cover with cheese (sharp cheddar was yummy).
7. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until done.
8. Let cool for a few minutes.  Cut and enjoy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Easy Jalapeno "Poppers"

My husband just loves hot peppers. With the plethora of jalapenos the CSA has had I decided to throw him together an easy football snack.

It was so nice to have these extra peppers at our disposal. First I halved, seeded and deveined my bunch of peppers. And as you can see I was able to get a lot more that 20 pepper halves.

Next I added the filling and topped it with the bread crumb mixture. Darn, only enough filling for 23. (Oh well, going to make some White Chicken Chili this week)

Here's the final product ready for snacking. Be careful, many of these peppers are hotter than I would expect from jalapenos. That said, my husband loved them!

If you like your poppers darker than this feel free to pop them
under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Easy Baked Jalapeno Snacks


8-10 jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded and ribs removed
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
2 c. or 8 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1 c. fresh bread crumbs
1 tsp. taco seasoning (if you don't make your own check out


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix the cheeses together. In a shallow dish, mix the bread crumbs and taco seasoning together.
  3. Fill the peppers using a heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Press the top into the breadcrumbs and place in a 8x8 pan.
  4. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the tops are browned and the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

Vegetable Lasagna

If you were having trouble keeping up with all that squash and froze some for future use I have a recipe to use up that eggplant this week! It's so yummy, my dear husband requested it when he found out we were getting more eggplant. He says, "It's doesn't sound like it should be good but it is!" I got the recipe from America's Test Kitchen awhile back and have modified it since.

Microwaved eggplant doesn't look awesome
but does amazing things for this dish.
 One of the strangest steps in this recipe is actually key. Microwaving the eggplant stops it from getting super soggy with oil and liquids from the other vegetables. 

Once everything is sauteed and combined you get this delicious filling:

After layering and baking the steps in this recipe really shine. I hope your family likes this dish as much as mine does. (PS. my lasagna is in the freezer for future cooking. I'll update with pictures once I bake it.)

Squash and Spinach Lasagna


4 oz. or 2 c. Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 c. cottage cheese, (I like whole milk here, but use whatever you like)
1 c. heavy cream (I said it was good, didn't say it was low-fat)
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1 1/2 lb. eggplant, peeled and diced
1 lb zucchini, diced
1 lb yellow squash, diced
5 tbsp. olive oil
12 oz. baby spinach, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)

3 c. tomato sauce (use your favorite)
12 no boil noodles 
12 oz. or 3 c. mozzarella, shredded 
Fresh basil
  1. Mix the first 7 ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Combine the eggplant with 1/2 tsp of salt and spread on a large microwave safe plate lined with a double layer of coffee filters. Microwave on high until shriveled and slightly dried, about 10 minutes, mix halfway through cooking. 
  3. Combine the eggplant with the other squash in a large bowl. Add another 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 pepper. Heat a 12 inch nonstick skillet with 2 tbsp. oil over med. high heat. Saute 1/2 of the squash mixture until the vegetables are lightly browned. Set aside, heat 2 more tbsp. of oil and saute the other half. Add to the first.
  4. In the still hot pan at the last tbsp. of oil, saute the spinach until wilted, add the garlic and thyme and heat until fragrant. Toss all of this with the squash.
  5. Assemble the lasagna in a 9"x13" pan: 1 c. sauce, 4 noodles, 1/2 the veggies, 1/2 the cream sauce, 1 c. mozzarella, 4 noodles, 1 c. tomato sauce, the rest of the veggies, the rest of the cream sauce, 1 c. mozzarella, 4 noodles, the last of the tomato sauce, and the last cup of cheese.
  6. Bake, covered, in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh basil before serving.
Note: If you are using frozen squash, defrost and drain in a colander before going on with step 3. This dish may be frozen before baking. To cook, thaw and add 10 minutes to the cook time.

Eggplant Parmesan

For those who find cooking eggplant a challenge try this recipe for Baked Eggplant Parmesan, it will be delicious every time. 

Really, setting up the breading station and breading the eggplant is the most time consuming part. But, proper prep work causes less work in the long run.

Once the eggplant comes out of the oven you can actually freeze it once cool for future cooking. Which is what I did, so I don't have a final picture just yet.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan


1 1/2 to 2 lbs eggplant, sliced thin about 1/4"
5 c. fresh bread crumbs (8-10 slices of sandwich bread chopped in a food processor)
1 1/2 c. or 3 oz. Parmesan cheese, divided
1 c. flour
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
1 jar tomato sauce (homemade is great!)
2 c. or 8 oz. mozzarella
Fresh Basil


  1. Toss the eggplant with 1/2 tsp. of salt, layer in a colander set in a bowl for 30-45 minutes - until a tablespoon or so of liquid comes out. Working in single layers on paper towels or clean kitchen towels press the slices of eggplant dry.
  2. Preheat an oven to 425 degrees with the racks set in the middle upper and middle lower position. Set up a breading station. Place the flour in one pan or pie plate. Beat 4 eggs in another. In the last blend the bread crumbs, 1 c. of Parmesan, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
  3. Dredge the eggplant in the flour, shaking off the excess; cover in the eggs, again shaking off the excess; and finally place in the breadcrumb mixture, gently pressing the mixture in before shaking off. Lay on one of 2 cooling racks sprayed with cooking spray and set in a sheet trays.
  4. Cook the breaded eggplant for 30 minutes, rotating the pans half way through cooking.
  5. Once they are done, layer the eggplant in a 9"x13" pan and cover with sauce, mozzarella and the remaining Parmesan  Bake another 10 minutes on the top rack until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with fresh basil and serve!
After step 4 you can freeze the baked eggplant in single layers on cookie sheet and then store in ziplock bags. To finish the dish, keep the eggplant frozen and bake in the oven on 425 until hot (10-15 minutes), then complete step 5.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Genius!

Oh beautiful winter squashes. A couple of weeks back we got a lovely spaghetti squash in our share. A little happy dance happened when I got home as it is one of my FAVORITE alternatives to eating pasta (oh insulin resistance, I could totally live without you). A couple of days later I had the sad day of cutting it open only to find it rotten. Blessedly we were able to get another squash a week or so after that that has been sitting on my counter waiting for the perfect pairings - well, that and for us to finish eating what I hadn't frozen of the summer squashes.
Today was the glorious day when I dove in an made some deliciousness. My lovely friend brought over some beautiful tomatoes from her garden. Remember the recipe for Tomato Basil Spaghetti well replace the spaghetti with roasted squash, add some shrimp and omit the Parmesan (or not) and you get this fabulous dish: 

Tomato Basil and Shrimp Spaghetti Squash


1 med. Spaghetti Squash
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 small onion, sliced very thin
1 small cubanelle pepper, halved and sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
1 lb fresh tomatoes, small diced
8 oz. raw shrimp
1/4 c. fresh basil, chiffonade
salt and pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash lengthwise and place on a cookie sheet. Roast for 45-50 minutes or until fork tender. Shred with a fork and set aside.
In the last 10 minutes or so of the roasting, heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet on medium. Add the onion and pepper, saute until translucent. Add the garlic and tomatoes, bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp in one layer, when they are just cooked on one side, flip and add the spaghetti squash and basil to the pan. Turn off the heat and toss with 1/2 tsp of salt, a few grinds of pepper and a good measure of high quality EVOO. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

White Chicken Chili

This week's share brought us some beautiful, yet small, anaheim peppers, jalapenos and red onions. All I could think is I have to make my husband's summer favorite White Chicken Chili. Generally I would use a mix of poblano and anaheim peppers for this recipe but, I definitely lean towards using what God has provided. So here's what I did:

Anaheim's and jalapenos
I started by seeding and rough chopping the peppers so the food processor could do most of the work (I did throw in a couple of the cubanelle peppers as I didn't think I had quite enough to make the 2 cups I was looking for). A food processor is not necessary but it certainly makes fine chopping of the peppers an easier job for a person like me who is VERY sensitive to the oils in the peppers. I definitely wish I had remembered my gloves as it took a couple of hand washing excursions to get the heat out of my hands. PLEASE do not put your hands anywhere near your eyes following this task, pain will follow.

Red onions and a few cubanelles
 Then I threw the red onions into the food processor as well. Hey, if you've already put the device to work you might has well use it. I should also mention I usually use spanish onions in this recipe but red work just as well.
Turkey fat, yum :-)
  All that goes in a large pot with some fat to get all soft and translucent. Now, a lot of times I will use bone-in, skin on chicken breasts for this recipe but, I didn't have these on hand (I would saute the breasts skin side down first to render some of the fat for the veggies and develop some fond). My substitute for the fat that those breasts provide was some rendered turkey fat that I usually keep in the fridge or freezer from making stock. If you don't want either just use some vegetable oil.
Nicely sauteed, ready for the next step!


Reserved veggies and beans
Right now, I need to pull some of those veggies. And add them to some of the beans that I cooked up (If you don't own a pressure cooker get one they are a super time/energy saver! Great Northern Beans get cooked in 4 minutes - not including bowling and natural release time.) Puree those together in the food processor (You haven't cleaned that out yet, right?!). Set this aside for the moment.

Next the spices and stock into the pot. Yup, homemade turkey stock was what I had in the freezer so in it went. 
Love homemade stock!

Bring the items in the pot to a simmer then add some boneless-skinless chicken breasts. 
Nestle the chicken into that hot mixture. 

Bean mixture is in. 
Top with the bean and veggie puree and allow all of this to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken registers 160 degrees with an instant read thermometer.

Remove the chicken breasts and dice or shred the chicken as soon as you are able to handle it.
See, I really check to make
sure things are done.

Chicken and beans are in!
Add the chicken back to the pot along with rest of the beans. At this point you want to add lime juice, the optional ingredients and, taste for salt/pepper. Bring everything back to a simmer and serve over brown rice, cheese or just a wedge of lime. Enjoy!

My garnish? Some of my delicious giardiniera

White Chicken Chili


1 tbsp. oil (or poultry fat)
2 c. Anaheim and Poblano Peppers, fine diced
2 c. onion, fine diced
2 jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed, fine diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
3 c. chicken stock
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 lb dry white beans, cooked (2 standard cans)
3 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 c. fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 c. scallions, sliced (about 4, optional)
ground black pepper


1. In a large pot, add the oil and heat on medium high. Saute the onions and peppers until soft and translucent. Reserve 1 c. of these vegetables.
2. Add the garlic, 1/4 tsp of salt and spices to the pot. Saute for 30 seconds then add the stock. Bring to a simmer.
3. Nestle the chicken in the stock and vegetables. Puree the vegetables with 1 c. of the beans. Add to the pot. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature comes to 160 degrees.
4. Remove the chicken breasts and dice. Add the chicken back to the pot and add the remaining beans. Bring back to a simmer.
5. Add the lime juice, cilanto (if using), and scallions (if using). Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot with lime wedges and rice.