Stuffed Peppers

DSC_9123 (1600x1060)So then, what to stuff these babies with was the question.  There are many more recipes out there than I had peppers for so I stuck close to the basic recipe of tomatoes + meat + rice, after toying with one that featured an egg baked on the top.  Maybe sometime…DSC_9133 (1600x1060)

I made two versions today, one with sauteed grape tomatoes and pancetta and the other with crumbled Italian sausage and roasted grape tomatoes.  Don’t ask which is which in the photo, though if pressed I would say the pancetta variant is in the foreground.  Both recipes combined the meat plus tomato with brown rice and shredded mozzarella.  They baked at 400 for about 25 minutes, more shredded mozzarella added to the top during the last few minutes.DSC_9135 (1600x1060)I didn’t parboil the peppers, hoping they would turn out soft enough.  I think they were just right.  I cut the first pepper right down the middle but that resulted in a pair of pepper platters rather than two bowls so I ended up cutting about a third off of the remaining peppers and using the two thirds left for filling and baking.  I opened a jar of my famous Awesome Sauce to pour into the bottom of the casserole.  It was pretty thick and was looking to dry out and burn so I splashed a little water in there when the cheese topping went on.  Both versions were tasty.  Mrs J couldn’t pick a favorite, liking them both equally.

Pasta Pr0n – Spaghetti Carbonara

DSC_8135 (1600x1060)We are really liking this dish.  This is my second attempt, the first time I thought I may have needed more egg so I went with six eggs this time.  I’m afraid I added them too quickly, or into too hot a pan, or was too slow tossing the pasta, or some other thing, because I have a fair amount of scrambled egg where there should be a nice creamy sauce.  Or so they say!  Really nice tasting dish as it was, the thought of it being any better has my toes curling.

Spaghetti Carbonara

DSC_7789 (1600x1060)We saw this dish somewhere last week and decided to try our luck with it.  We spent a half hour watching Youtube how-to videos to get a handle on the method and a few comments led me to decide to go with the real deal pancetta and pecorino cheese.  I mail ordered a roll of pancetta, a slab of the hard cheese, and a few other items to make the free shipping cut off.  That all made it in this morning via FedEx so we were good to go.  At least after a quick market run after fresh parsley.

Youtube has so many good chefs making this that you would be best advised to go there and see rather than listen to me.  LOL

Next time making this I’ll cook the pasta a little more, and use whole eggs rather than just the yolks like I did today.  I weighed out 12 ounces of spaghetti and thought that three egg yolks would be about right.  I saw some of the chefs mix the grated cheese in with the beaten eggs, I didn’t do that but I will next time.  Don’t forget to reserve plenty of the pasta water to add while you are stirring the beaten eggs in.

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Non-Traditional Side Dishes

JeffreyW's Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

JeffreyW’s Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

This is the time of year when we get a lot of blog visits from people looking for side dishes. And I have a lot of recipes for the traditional holiday sides, desserts and instructions on the various ways to cook your turkey. JeffreyW has a ton of mouthwatering photos. All of that can be found at at this link.

I thought it would be nice though, to focus on some non-traditional sides for tonight’s recipe exchange. In case you were looking for something different to showcase this year.

Soups make a nice starter at for any meal and tonight’s featured recipe is a savory winter soup. I also have a nice Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, (click here)

JefferyW favors brussels sprouts and came up with this wonderful recipe, Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin pictured above. (click here)

Roasted Brussels sprouts are pretty easy, and leave it to Emeril Lagasse to “kick it up a notch” with his Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grilled Onions. (click here)

I’m not big on the whole candied sweet potatoes, so I went looking for alternatives and found three I like,  African Sweet Potato Salad, Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes and Apples, click here for all the recipes. You can also just roast them in the oven, and I found two really good recipes here (honey roasted) and here (thyme roasted).

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing the cooking or does someone else have the honors? And most importantly, what are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

The Thanksgiving featured recipe is one that works great as an appetizer:

Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep?  Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.

Winter Squash Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Chopped chives (for garnish)

Large sauce pan

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Puree the vegetables until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.

***Soup can be made to this point 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.***

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg until well combined. Place soup into large soup tureen and garnish with chives. Place on appetizer table with small bowls & spoons and let everyone help themselves.

That’s everything this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next Friday, but next week I’ll be featuring more recipes for the holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. – TaMara

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Emeril’s Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta and Caramelize Onions

Photo courtesy of Good Morning America/ABCNews

Photo courtesy of Good Morning America/ABCNews

With Thanksgiving coming up, I wanted to highlight some different sides besides the traditional. This one really fit the bill.

From Emeril Lagasse 

Emeril Lagasse’s phrase, “kick it up a notch” became famous for a reason—the New Orleans-raised chef raises flavors to the next level. This year, take your Thanksgiving to Emeril’s star status with his recipe for Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Pancetta.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

    Robin Roberts and Emeril Lagasse

    Robin Roberts and Emeril Lagasse

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the pancetta and cook until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and set aside. Add the onions, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to the pan and cook, stirring until the onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes.

In a large 14-inch sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and when hot, add the Brussels sprouts and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook until the sprouts are golden brown on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the onions and pancetta to the Brussels sprouts, toss well, and return to the oven for 5 minutes longer.

Serve immediately.

Servings:4-6
Difficulty: Easy
Cook Time: 1-30 min
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Mushroom and Pancetta Cream Sauce

DSC_4519 [1600x1200]A commenter at John Cole’s Balloon Juice blog answered my “what to do with these mushrooms” plea with a suggestion that sounded great.  Cream sauce it is!  I browned pancetta in a bit of olive oil, then added a couple of sliced shallots and two minced cloves of garlic along with about three cups of the sliced oyster mushrooms.  When those seemed to be drying out I added a tablespoon of flour and stirred that about for a minute, then added a splash of white wine to deglaze and mobilize the mixture and then stirred in a pint of heavy cream.  This thickened nicely as it reached a simmer.

Serve over the pasta of your choice.  I think the bowties are pretty.

DSC_4522 [1600x1200]

Tuscan Bean Soup

Winter is all about soups and stews for me.  There is nothing like a kitchen filled with the smells of a simmering pot of goodness. Who cares about the gloomy day outside when you can serve a steaming hot bowl of soup or stew with a nice loaf of  bread or biscuits.

Bean soups are high on my list of favorite soups.  And since discovering the joys of cooking with a pressure cooker, using dried beans are snap.  I know many people are purists and say that dried beans are the only way to go, but honestly I have never found canned beans to be lacking.  They are quick and easy and I like the flavor just fine.  So by all means, if you want to make life easier, use canned beans.

And to get us started, here is a nice bean soup.  I’m not a big kale fan, so I only added 2 cups and added spinach as well.  You can easily add as much kale as you like, the original recipe called for 2 whole heads.

Serves 6 easily.  Serve with a nice garlic bread.

Tuscan Bean Soup

  • 14 oz canned kidney beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
  • 14 oz canned cannellini beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound diced pancetta, or bacon
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 sprig rosemary (remove before serving)
  • 1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp chopped fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for serving

Place the beans in a medium pot, add water to cover by 2-inches and bring to a boil. (If using canned kidney beans, skip this step.) Turn the heat down, let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until just-tender.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, rendering the fat and cooking until slightly crispy about 3 minutes. Sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add the diced tomatoes, the cooked and drained beans and the chicken stock and water. Add spices, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then add the kale and spinach. Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender.

Pressure Cooker instructions:

*At this altitude, soaking does nothing, so I skip that step. I rinse them well and then I pressure cook the beans for 30 minutes before starting the soup. It can be done the night before and refrigerate the drained beans. They will be just tender, drain and add to soup as per directions above.