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Butternut squash, short ribs & black bean chili

This experiment turned out WAY better than I thought it would. The complex flavors from the cocoa powder and ancho chili powder are a perfect balance with the rich short ribs. The nutty butternut squash is a winner to balance the heat.It makes a ton so call some friends!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 pounds short ribs, bone in
  • 1 leek, cleaned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T ancho chili powder
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ T cumin
  • 1 can Rotel (I used hot with habanero)
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (pulverized with your fingers)
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 14 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt & pepper and add to pan. Cook about 8-10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and leeks and cook another 8-10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder, cocoa, and cumin and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the rotel, tomatoes, beef broth & water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add butternut squash and simmer for another hour, until beef and squash are tender. Remove the ribs from the pot & shred the meat. Discard the bones. Add the shredded meat back to the pot with the black beans and cook for 15 more minutes.

Serve with cornbread & garnish with cilantro!

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

I’ve been working a lot and traveling a lot the past few months, I tried the keto diet, look here the info https://reportshealthcare.com/20070/keto-pure-diet/.  Meaning I’ve been eating a lot of fabulous foods and treating myself to things I would typically pass up at home. Pastries. Potatoes. Pasta. Time to get back to the healthy meals. Luckily, this meal feels like a treat.

I admit, I was skeptical these meatballs from the yummy Rocco Dispirito would actually be satisfying. Considering he reduced the calories from 1200 to 350, the meatballs are surprisingly moist and tender, full of flavor and the tomato sauce is rich and hearty. I’m sure the original version of his Mama’s Meatballs are delicious… but I’ll take these and feel less guilty about dessert.

The weirdest ingredient in this recipe is the puffed kamut. It’s a brilliant replacement for breadcrumbs… and I’m thinking it could make a cool replacement in rice krispy treats… but I’ll tackle that later. You can find it at Whole Foods, Sprouts or most any health food store. I prefer to blitz it in food processor into coarse crumbs for this recipe.

If you really want to take this to the ultimate in healthy meals… skip the pasta and substitute spaghetti squash, one of my favorites.

Healthy & Hearty Spaghetti with Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced small
  • dried red chili flakes
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 28 ounce can Cento tomato puree
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 medium eggplant (halved lengthwise)
  • salt & pepper
  • 6 ozs ground turkey breast
  • 4 ozs lean ground beef (93/7)
  • 2 ozs lean ground pork
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 oz parmigiano-reggiano, grated
  • 2 cups puffed kamut cereal (Arrowhead brand)
  • 6 ozs spaghetti (kamut or brown rice)

DIRECTIONS

Make the sauce: In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add half the garlic and half the onion and a pinch of red chili flakes and cook over medium heat until tender, about 2 minutes. Add half the chicken stock, tomato puree, diced tomatoes & herbs. Simmer over low heat for an hour.

Make the eggplant puree: Preheat the broiler. Meanwhile, using the tip of a knife, score the eggplant deeply and sprinkle with salt. Place the eggplant cut-side up and cook under the broiler until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the broiler and place on a plate and microwave on high until tender, about 3 minutes. Let cool.

Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, add the meats and mix gently to incorporate. Place the egg white, ¼ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup onion, 1 clove garlic and parsley in a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the mixture to the bowl with the meats, add the cheese and crumble the kamut in with your fingers. Sprinkle with salt and chili flakes.

Scoop the eggplant pulp out of its skin and let any excess water drip off. Measure out 1/2 cup of the pulp, and then lightly chop and add to the meat mixture, folding in to incorporate. Make each meatball a heaping tablespoon and form into balls with your hands. Should make around 16 meatballs.

Heat a few teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add half of the meatballs and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 1 minute. Roll the meatballs on the other side and brown evenly, about 2 minutes. Remove the browned meatballs from the pan and add more olive oil if needed. Repeat the browning with the rest of the meatballs. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer very slowly for an hour.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a simmer and then add 1 tablespoon of salt. Drop the pasta in the water and cook per manufacturer’s instructions. Place 4 meatballs each on 4 plates, and then add the spaghetti to the remaining sauce in the pan with 1/2 cup of the pasta water and cook until the sauce holds well on the pasta. Evenly distribute the pasta to each of the 4 plates.

Cannelloni

Making this dish is a very nostalgic process for me. The smell of it baking takes me right back to my mom’s kitchen.

This was never a weeknight dish but rather a very special Sunday dinner. Last year it was our big Christmas Eve meal and I wouldn’t be upset if we adopted it as an annual tradition. But with 3 daughters who love to cook, my parents are forced to be guinea pigs to our ever evolving holiday menus.

Making this dish is a process, but so worth every effort in the end. So go to the trouble and make a double batch (it freezes beautifully). To make is easier, the filling and the Salsa Di Pomodori can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Saute the beef & spinach filling. Set aside until ready to prepare the rolls. If making ahead don’t add eggs until ready to use.

Classic Besciamella sauce. Should be made right before you are ready to prepare the rolls.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce). This can be made up to 2 days ahead. It’s best when cooked at least 2 hours.

Roll a tablespoon of filling for each roll and line up snuggly in a 9×13 pan.

Top the rolls with the bechamel sauce first.

Then cover with the red sauce and try not to mix the sauces. Top with parmesan cheese. They can be frozen at this point.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. If made ahead, bring to room temperature before baking (about an hour).

INGREDIENTS

Meat filling:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 pound ground round
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • salt and pepper

Heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute until limp but not brown. Add ground round and brown. Drain off fat. Add spinach and cook until moisture is gone. Remove from heat and add, cheese, cream, eggs, oregano, salt and pepper.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce)

  • 2 tablespons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28 ounce can whole Italian style tomatoes, crushed by hand (I prefer Cento brand)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper, to taste

Heat oil, saute onions, garlic, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, partially covered. May need to add water if it gets to thick.

Besciamella

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter, add flour, cook stirring constantly. Pour in milk and add cream slowly and add cream slowly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until thick. Add salt and set aside.

DIRECTIONS

To sssemble:

Cook lasagna noodles according to box. Drain, rinse and lay on towel. Let cool slightly and cut each noodle in half.

Pour a thin layer of salsa di pomodori into baking dish. Fill each 1/2 lasagna noodle with 1 tablespoon of meat filling. Roll over and place seam side down in baking dish. Lay side to side in one layer. Spoon cream sauce on top then salsa di pomodori over that. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375 until bubbly. let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Brisket with Parsnips, Leeks and Green Onions

I’ve never cared about having anything but my Dads smoked brisket smothered in his doctored up BBQ sauce. That is until I recently watched Alex Guarnaschelli pull together this roast-like brisket covered in a leek, wine and brown sugary gravy.

Was it as satisfying? Well yes, but in a different way. It’s brisket like no other and if you happen to have a nice piece of brisket in the freezer and no smoker to call your own… this is the recipe you should give a try.

Cooks Notes: I diverted, as I often do, from the original recipe but reducing the brown sugar and adding a few more vegetables (carrots & potatoes).

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) brisket
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds small parsnips, bottoms trimmed, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4-5 red potatoes, skin on and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 pound leeks, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices, washed well
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 quart beef stock, heated

DIRECTIONS

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot, heat the canola oil over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke slightly, season both sides of the brisket with salt and pepper, to taste. Use metal tongs to add the meat to the pot. If the oil is hot enough, the meat will not stick to the bottom. Cook, undisturbed, on its first side until browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn over and brown on the other side, about 3 to 5 additional minutes. Remove the meat from the pot and put it onto a baking sheet to rest.

Combine the garlic and green onions in a small bowl. Spread half of the mixture over the brisket. Flip the meat and add the remaining mixture to the other side. Set aside.

In the same pot, over low heat and add the parsnips. Season them with a little salt and a 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Stir to coat with the oil and cook until slightly tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add in 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and the leeks and gently brown them, about 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust the seasonings with salt. Pour in the wine and let it reduce for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with the remaining 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and another pinch of salt. Cook them until browned, another 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the brisket to the pot and stir in 2 to 3 cups of the beef stock. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer. Slide it into the center of the oven and cook for 1 hour. Check the level of the liquid, adding water, if needed. Remove the pot from the oven, taste and reseason, if needed. Return the pot to the oven and cook the brisket until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork, an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Chef’s Note: If the meat looks dry or begins to overly brown, cover the pot with a lid or a layer of aluminum foil for the remainder of the cooking process.)

Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the meat to a platter. Arrange the vegetables alongside and ladle the sauce on top.

Grilled Romaine with Steak, Cherry Tomatoes and Parmesan

Summer in Texas can leave you at a loss when it comes to meals. A steak can sound so appetizing but the sides are just too much. Who wants a hot potato when it’s 105 degrees outside? This is one of my favorite ways to make a salad a meal.

Grilling lettuce is quite brilliant. The goal is to get a slight char on the outside leaves but the inside remains crisp and cool. Your lettuce will have more flavor than you ever thought possible… for lettuce anyway.

Being that my favorite condiment is balsamic vinegar I usually drizzle mine with the good stuff… but a cold blue cheese dressing would be over the top.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 pound flank steak
  • Cherry tomatoes (as many as you want)
  • Parmesan cheese (as much as you want)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar or dressing of choice
  • Salt & Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat grill and set to medium flame.

Season steak with salt, pepper or your favorite seasoning (I like Montreal steak seasoning) and grill to your desired doneness. Set aside to rest before slicing.

While steak is resting, cut the romaine lettuce in half lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill for a few minutes per side – just long enough to get some char on the outside leaves.

Arrange lettuce on a large platter and top with steak slices, tomatoes and shavings of parmesan cheese. Top with balsamic vinegar or your dressing of choice.

 

Grilled New York Strip with Balsamic Soy Marinade and Wild Mushrooms

This is my go to marinade for any steak. The palm sugar is the secret ingredient and can be found at any Asian market. If you can’t find palm sugar use brown sugar.

INGREDIENTS

For the marinade:

  • 2 New York strip steaks
  • 2 teaspoons palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the mushrooms:

  • 1/2 pound shitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound oyster mushrooms
  • 5 oz package brown beech mushrooms (also called clamshell)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed but whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

For the steak: Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.Add to plastic bag with steaks and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Grill to your desired wellness. Cover and let rest for at least 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute back into the meat.

For the mushrooms: Slice the shitake mushrooms into long strips. Keep the oyster mushrooms and beech mushrooms whole. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic clove. When the garlic has turned light brown remove from pan and discard. Add mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Stir once and let cook for 2 minutes. Stir a few more times and let cook for an addition 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms have turned golden brown. Add the balsamic vinegar and butter. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes.

To serve, top steak with mushrooms.

Braised Short Ribs with Coriander and Balsamic

The Feb/March issue of Fine Cooking featured an exceptional build your own Short Ribs recipe. I appreciated the explanation of the method and the ability to change any ingredient and make it mine. I chose to use 2 of my favorite ingredients – coriander and balsamic vinegar – and they made me proud once again.

I am itching to make a new version with an Asian flair. Though I am certainly ready for Spring, I could handle a few more weeks of winter weather to reinvent this sick to your ribs meal.

Lots of crusty bread should be parked beside your bowl… dip away!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-1/2 to 5 lb. English-style beef short ribs (8 to 12 ribs)
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 3 carrots, medium-diced
  • 2 stalks celery, medium-diced
  • 1 medium onion, medium-diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 whole dried bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoons paprika (smoked)
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. In an 8-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil over medium heat. Season the ribs with 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Add half of the ribs to the pot (or as many as will fit without overlap), and cook, turning with tongs, until nicely browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the ribs to a platter and repeat with the remaining ribs. Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the pan.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil, carrots, celery, and onions to the pan. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the aromatics are soft and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, bay leaves, thyme, coriander, paprika, and garlic, and cook, stirring, until well distributed and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour the 1/2 cup red wine into the pot and cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, until the liquid is reduced to about 2 Tbs., about 1 minute.

Transfer all the ribs (and any juices that have accumulated) back into the pot. Pour the soy sauce, 2 cups red wine, and beef broth and 1 cup water over the ribs and using tongs, arrange the ribs as evenly as possible and no more than two layers deep.

Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and put the pot in the oven. Cook, turning the ribs with tongs about every 40 minutes, until they are fork tender, about 2-3/4 hours. (The meat may fall off most of the bones about midway through cooking; this does not mean that the ribs are fully tender.)

Transfer the ribs to a serving platter or dish. Let the sauce and solids sit in the pot for a few minutes to cool and with a shallow spoon, skim off as much of the fat as possible from the surface. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and add the vinegar.

Serve the ribs with the sauce spooned over, sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Beef Kofta with Harissa Yogurt Sauce

In a recent issue of Bon Appétit, meatballs made the list of favorite foods in 2009. I seemed to miss that trend on menus and magazines but nonetheless was inspired by the ethnic versions in the issue.

Kofta, in simplest terms, is a Middle Eastern meatball. The Bon Appétit recipe called for lamb but the beef roast in my freezer was begging to be used. So after a few whirls in the food processor my lean beef was meatball worthy. I saved myself some time and threw the onions in for a few spins. If you have lean beef the onions are key to keep the beef moist.

This yogurt sauce was also begging for something – my new favorite fiery ingredient – harissa. The paste of chili peppers, garlic, coriander and caraway took this sauce from blah to bold.

Servings: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 Whole Wheat pitas (warmed in oven or microwave)
  • 2 large onions, halved through core, cut crosswise into 1/4- to 1/3-inch slices

Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon prepared Harissa
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

For the Harissa Yogurt Sauce:

Stir all ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Cover and chill.

For the Beef Kofta:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer onions to a bowl and set aside.

Gently mix beef and next 9 ingredients in large bowl. Using 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs (24 total).

Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet used to cook onions; heat over medium-high heat. Sauté half of meatballs until just cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

Top warm pita with yogurt sauce, onions and meatballs.