Chicken Tortellini Soup

After an overnight snowfall, today dawned bright, sunny, and a might bit chilly – it is currently a balmy, dry 10º F – so, what better time to talk about making a nice pot of chicken tortellini soup?

Full disclosure: we are not, in fact, having this lovely soup for dinner tonight – I am making One Pot Spaghetti – but if I weren’t, and we hadn’t just had this soup last week, I would most definitely be putting a pot on the stove with some Garlic Butter Crescents on the side.

Actually, we might just be having those Garlic Butter Crescents on the side anyway.

A big plus for this “home made” soup is that it is actually made from a lot of store bought ingredients! Good unsalted chicken stock, fresh from the store chicken tortellini, packaged baby spinach and the like, so, your own soup with not a whole lot of time and effort involved. Bonus!

INGREDIENTS
•8 cups low sodium chicken stock
•4 cups water
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•1 tbsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•20 oz fresh tortellini
•1 bag (5 oz) baby spinach
Charred Tomatoes
•Leftover cooked chicken, diced
•1 tbsp sherry or cider vinegar
•Black pepper
•Parmesan cheese

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Add the garlic, Sherry Peppers Sauce, Seasoned Salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper to the water and chicken stock in a large pot.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then add the tortellini and cook for three or four minutes, stirring several times.

Stir in the baby spinach, tomatoes, and cooked chicken and continue to simmer for another four minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the chicken and tomatoes are heated through.

Stir in the vinegar, continue to cook for a minute or two, then give the soup a taste and add some additional black pepper, if you think it needs it.

Note: we were totally fine with the saltiness of this soup as it was, but, as always, it is your kitchen; if you think more salt is called for, by all means go ahead and add more.

Serve with those Garlic Butter Crescents and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan on top.

Emmm, soup!

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Flanken Cut Beef Short Ribs in the Pressure Cooker

Yesterday, I posted about one of my new fave barbecue blends – a Tamari and Pear combo with roasted garlic and sriracha barbecue sauce.

Today, we’re gonna take that sauce, add flanken cut beef short ribs, toss it all in the Multi Pot, and make a pretty terrific dinner.

I stock up on flanken cut ribs when they go on sale at Whole Foods, but the butchers at at least one of my local markets are more than happy to slice some for me, so go ahead

and ask your butcher if you cannot find them in the meat case!

Note: I cut these short ribs in half so that they fit more easily in my multi pot.

INGREDIENTS
•Flanken cut short ribs*
•1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
Barbecue Sauce

*This was a dinner for the two of us, so I used four flanken ribs. For more folk, feel free to use more ribs, but you may want to double up on the Barbecue Sauce.

Set your Multi Pot to “Saute,” add the oil and, when hot, add just enough of the ribs to fit in a single layer in the bottom of the pot.

Cook the ribs for about two minutes, just the bottom side is browned, then turn them over and cook for another two minutes to brown the other side.

Remove the ribs to a paper towel lined platter to drain, then continue browning the remaining ribs in stages until all are nicely browned and drained.

Turn the pot off and let it cool for a bit.

Now is a good time to make your Pear Barbecue Sauce, but, feel free to use your own preferred barbecue sauce – mebbe two cups or so should do it.

Wipe out the interior of your cooled Multi Pot container to remove any remaining fat from browning the ribs, then add the barbecue sauce to the pot.

Arrange the browned ribs on top of the sauce, then close and lock the lid.

Set your pot to “Pressure Cook” and then set the timer for 25 minutes under “High” pressure.

Once the cycle has finished, carefully release the pressure – I find placing a clean kitchen towel loosely over the valve helps to disperse the steam in a less “forceful” way.

Your ribs are now tender and done, but, there is one more step to take for maximum enjoyment…

Remove the ribs from the pot, cover loosely, and keep warm, leaving the sauce in the pot.

Set your pot back to “Saute” and cook the sauce a bit more, stirring often, until thickened and reduced.

Serve the ribs with your preferred side dish of choice – I happen to like yellow rice with Blanched Asparagus, parsley, and, if I have them on hand, chopped scallions.

Note: neither my husband nor myself really care for “braised” meats – the fat they end up cooking in seems to annoy or digestive systems (we have experienced this with home cooked and very nicely prepared restaurant meals), so, I think that one key to how much we enjoy this recipe is the first step of browning the ribs, then draining them and wiping the excess fat out of the cooled pot before starting the pressure cooking stage. We still get the lovely, flavorful and tender beef this process delivers, but without the additional, cloying (to us, anyway) fatty undertones.

The browning stage also removes the need for a final (optional) step from the original recipe that called for ‘charring’ the ribs under the broiler before serving – which would add additional pans and clean up which I, personally, do not feel the need for, but, you do what you want.

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Asian Inspired Pear Barbecue Sauce

Dinner was supposed to be one of our faves: Korean Style Flanken Short Ribs in the Multi Pot, but…

Even though I looked up availability on line before we went out and about shopping, the store I thought would have Gochujang did not.

Bummer.

What they did have, though, was a Sriracha and Roasted Garlic Barbecue Sauce.

Hmmm.

It. COULD. Work!

Spoiler alert: it did work, and might could be even better than the original Gochujang version, so, winner!

INGREDIENTS
•1/4 cup Sriracha Barbecue Sauce
•1/4 cup water
•1/4 cup lower sodium tamari
•1/2 pear, peeled, cored, and diced
•2 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•2 tsp grated ginger

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Add all of the ingredients to a blender or immersion blender beaker and pulse until nicely blended and smooth.

Add the sauce to the container of your multi pot and arrange browned Flanken-cut short ribs on top – full details on this method can be found here, or in tomorrow’s post.

Note: if you do not have a multi pot or pressure cooker, you can still use this sauce on the grill or in the oven on chicken, fish, regular ribs, any number of things, really.

Really great sauce. I am thinking swordfish or salmon next time.

 

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One(!) Pot Spaghetti and Sauce

For reals!

Home made, creamy tomato sauce with spicy sausage (or ground beef, turkey, or pork, your choice) and spaghetti; all cooked in ONE (large) pot on top of the stove; and the only draining involved is disposing of the rendered fat from browning the meat!

Bonus!

Also – another bonus! – go ahead and add a shot or three of vodka for a fine vodka sauce!

Who needs a “helper” box mix?

The original recipe, from the nice folk at Pillsbury, of course called for using their brands of tomatoes and broth, but, as always, the cool thing about making stuff yourself means that you choose the ingredients to usem and, if you’d like to add a few things – like that vodka or mebbe sliced black olives, it is all good!

And this recipe is all good. I did not add vodka, but Rich thought the sauce tasted a lot like my Vodka Sauce anyway; so, go ahead and add it or not, either way, you’re gonna be very happy with the results.

INGREDIENTS
•1 lb bulk Italian sausage
•2 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
•32 oz unsalted chicken stock
•1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
•1/4 cup sliced black olives (optional)
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 tsp sugar
•1/2 tsp dried oregano
•1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
•1 lb uncooked spaghetti
•Shredded cheese and fresh basil

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Cook the bulk sausage (I used hot Italian) in a large pan until nicely browned and completely cooked. Drain and wipe out the pan – or don’t; I usually brown ground meat until most pan liquids have been cooked off, then just proceed from there.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, cream, olives, Sherry Peppers, sugar, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.

Add the uncooked spaghetti – or your pasta of choice – and stir.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until the pasta is done to your liking.

Give it all a toss with some freshly chopped basil, then serve with shredded cheese, some sort of bread (like these Garlic Butter Rolls) and a salad.

Nice.

Company worthy dinner with rushed weeknight family dinner effort.

I like that!

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Charred Tomatoes With Basil

One of my markets had a pretty decent deal: 2 packages of grape tomatoes for $5 – but… you had to buy two to get the deal.

Now, we like tomatoes, but for just the two of us, that is a fair amount to get through before they start going wonky.

Good thing I came across this recipe for charred cherry tomatoes with basil from the nice folk at foodandwine.com.

I had grape tomatoes instead of cherry,

but figured it was close enough.

I do have other uses for a surfeit of tomatoes; Fresh Relish – which is great for hot dogs and sausages and other sammiches, and, of course, Afternoon Delight Tomatoes, which are pretty darned terrific in salads; but thought that this looked just a bit different enough to warrant a try, and then, I could add the charred tomatoes to salads or, as it turned out, a pretty terrific tortellini soup.

INGREDIENTS
•1 tbsp good olive oil
•2-1/2 pints grape tomatoes
•1/4 cup chopped basil
•Salt and pepper*

*I did not add salt and pepper to my tomatoes, because they were gonna go into an already nicely seasoned soup. When I prepare the next batch for a salad, I will more than likely add 1/2 teaspoon of Seasoned Salt, and 1/2 teaspoon each of black and Aleppo pepper.

Warm a heavy skillet over high heat for about five minutes, then add the olive oil and the tomatoes.

Cook for about three minutes, without stirring, until the tomatoes are lightly blistered and just about to burst.

Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and, if you are using it, the salt and peppers.

Nice.

As I noted, I ended up using the whole shebang in a chicken tortellini and baby spinach soup; but, just think about how mighty-fine these would be tossed into a nice salad!

Oh well…

next time!

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Better Banana Bread With Hot Honey Butter

One day late for what would have been my Aunt Buzz’s birthday; I am giving her yet another chance to haunt me by ‘gorping up’ – her term – one of her all-time classic recipes: Banana Bread.

Buzz’s bread on it’s own is really very, very good; but, as I got to thinking about it, there were three bananas (the magic number) on their last legs on the fruit platter, and I did have a fresh batch o’ Honey Butter made with chile infused honey that will now be the only way I make honey butter, so…

Buzz’s Gorped Up Banana Bread it is!

Note: the hot honey does not actually make the honey butter “hot” – but it does seem to bring out the flavor of the cinnamon. In the same way, using “hot honey butter” in the banana bread does not turn it into some zippy Tex-Mex or whatever inspired loaf that should be served with queso.

It simply makes for a lovely loaf of bread.

INGREDIENTS
•3 ripe bananas
•1/4 cup crushed pecans
•6 tbsp honey butter (or regular butter)
•3/4 cup sugar
•3/4 cup milk
•3 eggs
•3 cups flour
•1 tbsp baking powder
•3/4 tsp baking soda
•3/4 tsp salt

The first thing too note about Aunt Buzz’s recipe is her instruction to SIFT the flour together with the baking powder, soda, and salt THREE times.

This is NOT negotiable, but

where my aunt relied on one of those old-school box sifters, I have discovered that adding them all to a mixing bowl and stirring with a wire whisk does the exact same thing, with less muss and fuss, so, bonus!

Heat your oven too 350º and apply cooking spray to a loaf pan.

As noted above, add your flour, baking soda, powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended.

In another mixing bowl, cream the softened honey butter together with the sugar until fluffy, then set aside.

Yeh, I know. For a woman who did not really care for cooking and who did not have a dishwasher, Aunt Buzz could tear through the crockery when she did decide to get to work in the kitchen.

Once the butter and sugar have been nicely creamed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, then set that bowl aside.

OK, last bowl, promise!

In a third mixing bowl, crush the bananas and mix in the milk (I used the mixer from the butter and egg bowl) until well blended.

So. To recap. In the large bowl we have the “sifted” flour mixture, in the medium sized bowl, we have a butter, sugar, and eggs combo; and in the small bowl, the mashed bananas and milk.

Add about half of the butter mixture and half of the banana blend to the flour bowl and mix well – irt will be a bit dry.

Add the remaining butter and banana bowl contents and continue to mix until well and truly blended.

Stir in the crushed pecans and transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan – I have the pan sitting on a larger baking pan just in case the batter over rises.

Note: if you can find them, black walnut pieces work a treat in this recipe in place of the pecans.

Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, until a toothpick or (better) wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for about 20 minutes before you invert the pan and turn out the loaf of bread.

Cool completely on a rack before slicing and serving.

Oh… I should note… that honey butter?

Works a treat spread on the bread as well!

Sorry not sorry, Aunt Buzz!

 

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Again With the Honey Butter

Yeh, I know I just posted this during the holidaze, but I kinda thought it needed to get a little extra shove for the new year.

See… when we last left this marvelous little whipped concoction of honey and butter and…

stuff, I allowed as how you could use hot honey, or your  own fave honey, or a bit of both types, and all would be good.

Well, I was wrong.

As it turns out, you kinda need to use all hot honey (we like Mike’s) in this.

Don’t fret, it doesn’t really make the butter “hot” at all – but the chili infused honey does bring out the hint of cinnamon and that, my friends, turns a very nice honey butter into a frikkin’ fantastic honey butter.

In my humble opinion, at least.

So. Here’s the deal…

INGREDIENTS
•1/2 lb unsalted butter (I use Kerrygold)
•2 tbsp chili infused honey*
•1/2 tsp vanilla
•1/4 tsp cinnamon
•1/8 tsp salt
•1/8 tsp black pepper

*As I noted above, we like Mike’s, which is now available at most of our local markets; but there are other chili infused honeys out there, or, there is always Amazon.

Allow the butter to soften in a mixing bowl, then add the honey, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper.

Whip with a hand mixer until well blended, light, and a bit fluffy.

Transfer to a covered jar and stash in the fridge until needed.

Note: even whipped, it is a good idea to take the butter out of the fridge to soften a bit an hour or so before you plan to use it.

And…

for use…

As I noted in the original post, this is lovely on rolls (home made or otherwise) but, as it happens, this is also wicked tasty on freshly baked corn bread!

Hmmm… I am making some of my Aunt Buzz’s Banana Bread tomorrow, that would probably work a treat as well.

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Almost a Reuben Casserole

I had some leftover Barbecued Corned Beef in the freezer, a rather fine jar of German sauerkraut in the pantry, and some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used.

What to do?

Well, with a little help from the nice folk at tasteofhome.com, I was able to gather my ingredients, make a few substitutions where needed, and cobbled together one of my new fave ways to enjoy leftover corned beef, Gram’s Corned Beef Salad not withstanding.

Oh, and did I mention that it is Gluten-Free? Bonus!

INGREDIENTS
Casserole:
•24 oz jar sauerkraut, rinsed and well drained
•Diced leftover corned beef -my Barbecued Corned Beef worked a treat
•Thinly sliced strips of Swiss or Gruyère cheese
•Thousand Island or Ranch dressing
•Grape tomatoes, cut in half
•Seasoned butter – plain, unsalted butter is fine, too

Butter:
•1/2 cup unsalted Irish butter, softened
•1/4 tsp chili powder
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp dried chives
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp dried parsley
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp paprika

Preheat your oven to 400º and apply cooking spray to a casserole – I used an 11 inch open baking dish.

Arrange half the drained and rinsed sauerkraut over the bottom of the baking dish, then top with chunks of corned beef and then cheese.

Note: I realize that I haven’t given quantities for much of anything but the sauerkraut. This was a “leftovers” dish, and I had ample beef, cheese, and tomatoes to make it work.

For a little guidance; the original recipe called for a 1-1/2 quart casserole, and their amounts were as follows:

•1-3/4 cup sauerkraut
•1/2 lb corned beef
•2 cups cheese
•2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

Back to the casserole!

Top the first layer in the baking dish with the remaining sauerkraut, then cover with more corned beef and cheese.

Drizzle the salad dressing over the top.

Note: again, this was a “leftovers” dish for us, and I had no Thousand Island in the house. Ranch, however, we both thought, worked a treat, so go ahead and try that.

Scatter the grape tomato halves over the top, then dot the whole shebang with softened seasoned (or plain unsalted) butter. I happened to have some Seasoned Butter leftover from Roasted Corn on the Cob, so…

Pop into the oven, uncovered, and bake for about 35 minutes, until heated through and you have spots of browned bits across the top.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving.

Tasty!

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Sage & Sausage Stuffing With Dried Cherries

“Wait! What?”

“It is late January and you are publishing a stuffing recipe?”

Why yes, yes I am.

Number one; because I made it for Thanksgiving and it was a hoooge hit, and, number two, because I promised to publish my version of this barefoot contessa recipe for a friend and, I am just a wee, tiny bit behind the times.

Annnd; number three, stuffing is just too darned good to wait for the holidaze or use one of those box mixes.

Just consider this Thanksgiving plate: Champagne Braised Pearl Onions are at the top, followed by our fave Popeye’s Cajun Turkey (limited availability, I think, so check your local Popeye’s), then, it wouldn’t be the holidaze without Julia Child’s Cranberry Relish, and, tradition dictates, green bean casserole, then, finally (next to the pearl onions, this lovely stuffing!

A perfect gathering with friends and family, but then, consider this plate; Pressure Cooker Whole Chicken with White Wine Gravy, and, again, our stuffing.

It wasn’t a holiday, but in a couple of hours, I had a full holidaze worthy dinner, and leftovers to enjoy the next day (because there are only the two of us – for some friends and their families, this might not have made it through dinner without the kids asking for fourths).

So. All that said. Let’s make stuffing!

INGREDIENTS
•1 bag packaged sage and herb stuffing mix
•8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
•1 lb spicy breakfast sausage
•2 cups medium-diced sweet onion
•1 cup medium-diced celery
•2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large-diced
•2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
•1 tbsp Sherry peppers Sauce*
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
•1/2 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce, or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•2 cups unsalted chicken stock
•1 cup dried cherries

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: in the (several) times I’ve made this stuffing, I’ve noticed that when I neglected to have apples on hand to add, the stuffing, while still very good, tasted a might bit salty to me, so try to remember the apples.

Heat your oven to 350º, apply cooking spray to a large casserole dish – mine was a six pint round casserole, butt a 9×13 pan would work a treat as well.

Melt the butter (yes, the whole stick) in a large pan over medium heat, then add the sausage, onion, celery, apples, parsley, Sherry Peppers Sauce, Old Bay,  Seasoned Salt, black and Aleppo peppers, and the hot sauce. Cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage, until the sausage is cooked and the veggies are tender.

Note: I cook this until most – if not all of the pan liquids have evaporated, so, bonus!, no draining the pan, and, double boonus!, the flavors are nicely blended and (I think) a bit more intense.

Stir in the stock, the stuffing – do buy the decent bagged stuff, not one of those box mixes – and the dried cherries and stir until nicely mixed.

Transfer to the prepared casserole and bake, covered, for 30 minutes, until warmed through, then remove the cover and bake for another ten to fifteen minutes, until nicely browned on top and hot in the center.

Serve, and enjoy.

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Hungarian Coleslaw

So. Before all the yelling starts…

No. I do not know if this is an “authentic” Hungarian recipe.

The recipe came from a vintage site that dated from 1971 – so – more than likely not a true take on Hungarian cabbage salad. I know for a fact that this is little like the salad my Bulgarian friend makes, but…

That does not take away from the fact that this is one fine coleslaw.

I also made a few changes to the original recipe – using rice vinegar instead of *white?* I don’t know, the recipe just said “vinegar” – and adding poppy seed, because, why not?

INGREDIENTS
Salad:
•1/2 bag coleslaw mix
•Diced red onion

Dressing:
•1/3 cup mayonnaise
•1 tbsp rice vinegar
•1 tbsp sugar
•1/2 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp celery salt
•1/2 tsp poppy seed

Whisk the dressing together together in a large bowl, then add the coleslaw mix and onion and toss to coat.

Cover and stash in the fridge until needed.

Nice!

We actually used this as the base for teriyaki tacos using leftover marinated pork.

Totally tasty!

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