Review: Chickpea Shakshuka – The Minimalist Baker


Chickpea Shakshuka – The Minimalist Baker 

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Shakshuka or Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish typical cooked with pouched eggs.  The word simply means “mixture” and is typically cooked with tomatoes, spices like cumin and coriander, chilies, and onions, but ingredients vary from country to country.  It is often served for breakfast, but is popular any time of the day and especially in winter.


Chickpeas

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Cooked, dried chickpeas – Try cooking your own beans in place of canned beans.  It is cheaper and greatly reduces your sodium intake.  If you are riding the Instant Pot wave or you use a pressure cooker you can make these without soaking! WHAT, yes… NO SOAKING!!! Soaking is the part I always forget and used to keep me from using dried beans.  Don’t fear the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, it will quickly become your friend.

The first time you cook your beans without soaking you may feel like your can actually feel your momma staring you down, but it will be OK.  Don’t believe me? Ask the L.A. Times in this great article “Don’t soak your dried beans!  Now even the cook kids agree” by
Russ Parsons The California Cook!


Homemade yogurt

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I made my Shakshuka a liiitttlle hot and had to top it with yogurt because, well…basically I’m a wimp when it comes to hot foods!  If you too need to cool it down try making your own yogurt. It is very easy and only takes a little “active” time.  I follow Martha Stewarts guide.  You can make yogurt with some yogurt and milk or with yogurt starter and milk.  Personally I find a little individual size yogurt pot works well as a starter and my yogurt is more consistent, the only down side is the yogurt bacteria won’t hold up to use my homemade yogurt as the starter for a second batch.

A friend of mine laughed at my yogurt maker and thermometer and said “All you need is an oven and your finger.  When the milk boils pull it off, when you can put your finger in it for a few seconds comfortably add your yogurt- done!!”.  She is right, as you get more comfortable with making yogurt you will find your own way and be able to do it without thinking about it.


The Review: 

 

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Easy!  Even if you cook your own beans and make your own yogurt, this is an easy dish to make.

Review:  I can’t take credit for finding this amazing vegan dish, my daughter found it and is a major fan of Dana and John of The Minimalist Baker.  Thanks for this recipe!!

My husband and are neither vegans nor vegetarians, but I guess we are reducetarians, we are eating much less meat and far more whole food, plant based foods.  No matter what your food choices, this is a nice dish to add to your home cookbook and would make a great “Meatless Monday”.   It is protein packed and a good source of fiber with iron, B-6, magnesium, potassium, A and C thrown in!

This is easily a dish you can throw together after work or make ahead and take for lunch and you can customize the spices to your own taste.  I used tomatoes with jalapeños in mine which is great for my husband, but was a bit too hot for me, hence the yogurt.  Even too hot, I really enjoyed the flavors of this dish.  This will be a repeat dish!  Nice job Dana and John!

Tips:

  • Try making your own beans and yogurt, as mentioned above
  • Browning tomato paste – I like to brown my tomato paste before adding my wet ingredients, I find it adds a nice rich flavor and only takes a few minutes longer. Learn more at Today.
  • Try adding the eggs: Once your dish is complete carefully crack eggs into your oven safe pan on top of your tomatoes and chickpeas, season with a little salt and pepper and pop into the oven for about 7 minutes or until the eggs are just set, don’t overcook.

Lisa received her Health Coach Certification from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, founded by world-renowned physician and author, Dr. William Sears. The Institute is a leader in science-based health and wellness education that focuses on the four pillars of health; Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.). A certification by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is obtained only after completing the extensive course work and meeting all requirements. Once certified, a Health Coach possesses the knowledge, tools and resources to make a positive difference in the health of others.

The information in this blog is educational and not meant to diagnose, treat, or mitigate symptoms.

I offer individual coaching sessions and online health coach sessions through Zoom, if you are not local, as well as group sessions, workshops, and special events. I would love to help you on your journey towards health and wellness. Contact me for more information.


All photos are by me, Lisa Wright Burbach –  Feel free to share, but please give credit to the source.  Thank you.


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Review: Chicken & Veg Stir Fry with Udon Noodles – Anne Burrell

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Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry with udon noodles – Anne Burrell

Recently my husband was out of town for a couple of weeks and I might have binge watched America’s Worst Cooks on the Food Network, ya now…maybe.  OK, I did!  I had never seen the show and enjoyed it, the mentors do a great job teaching basics like knife skills, definitions, and styles of cooking.  I have been holding my knife wrong and now when I stick my finger out on the the blade I can visualize Anne Burrell running down to paint my finger with red marker and I pull it back in.    I am a pretty decent cook and comfortable in the kitchen, but I was reminded that most of the difficulty in the kitchen is in our minds.  So, i encourage you to hop in there and be adventurous.  It just seems scary, but once you step out and try you will be surprised and delighted.

One of the recipes Anne Burrell made was a simple stir-fry.  I gave it a try this week and think you will find it an easy and yummy meal to fix any night of the week.

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Easy

Review:  This dish was made to be a substitute for Carry-out and I think it did a nice job.  It was quick and easy to prepare, full of flavor, and had that Take-away/Carry-out feel.  I realized a little too late that I had forgotten to buy edamame, but it still had a nice blend of textures and flavor.  I think this is a dish you will be able to play with and make your own.  Some of you will want a spicier dish, try adding chopped Jalapeños  as a garnish to complement the one in the dish.

Tips:  Mise en Place – A French term meaning “putting in place”.  You know all those little bowls with the prepped ingredients that you see on the cooking shows? That is a Mise en Place.  This is a huge time saver and sometimes a dish saver!  When you are cooking and a lot of things are going on you will be glad you already have your items prepped and ready to go.

  • Read your recipe
  • Prepare each recipe item and place in a small bowl or dish
  • Before you begin cooking, double check and make sure you have every ingredient that was listed prepared and ready to go in your dish
  • Keep the prepared items close by; at your stove, a nearby counter etc.  This way you save time by having it at hand.
  • Now start cooking.  As you get to each step just grab the right bowl and add it in.

Enjoy!


Lisa received her Health Coach Certification from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, founded by world-renowned physician and author, Dr. William Sears. The Institute is a leader in science-based health and wellness education that focuses on the four pillars of health; Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.). A certification by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is obtained only after completing the extensive course work and meeting all requirements. Once certified, a Health Coach possesses the knowledge, tools and resources to make a positive difference in the health of others.

The information in this blog is educational and not meant to diagnose, treat, or mitigate symptoms.

I offer individual coaching sessions and virtual health coach sessions through Zoom, if you are not local, as well as group sessions, workshops, and special events. I would love to help you on your journey towards health and wellness. Contact me for more information.


All photos are by me, Lisa Wright Burbach –  Feel free to share, but please give credit to the source.  Thank you.

Review: Portobello Mushroom Tacos with Salsa Verde – Forks Over Knives

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Portobello Mushroom tacos with Salsa Verde – Forks over Knives

My husband and I are on the journey of eating a more whole food, plant based diet and I have to say we are enjoying it!  There were doubts in the beginning, but we made gradual changes, which I highly recommend.  Most people are not ready to jump in all at once into a big change, but gradual changes can often help us stay the course. Try starting with Meatless Mondays!

I am finding that it is easier to eat healthy foods than to find healthy foods.  The stores are filled with items with suspect ingredients, restaurants have sparse healthy choices at best and it can even be hard to find recipes that are easy and “normal”.  Many of the recipes I have found are pretty exotic, but with a shift in our culture towards eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes I expect the options to improve.  Today’s recipe review is a winner and even my meat loving man really enjoyed it!


Respecting Copyright laws, I don’t publish full exact recipes unless I can find an online link or have permission from the source, so I have provided the pieces of information for you to pull the recipe together.

  • Grilled Portobello mushrooms
  • Corn tortillas
  • Salsa Verde – The recipe can be fond in the Forks Over Knives Cookbook.  I have provided a link to a similar salsa below.
  • Top with lettuce, red onion or anything you see fit to use.  We also used radishes and mix of shredded cabbage with red onion, cilantro and lime juice. It provided a nice zing and texture.

Tomatillo Salsa – Food and Wine.  This recipe is similar to the one by Forks Over Knives.  Try adding lime zest and using green onions in place of onion.  Have fun with this recipes and play with the ingredients.

Time: 1 Hour marinade/ 10-15 minutes

Ease: Easy-moderate – This is really an easy recipe, but if you are unfamiliar with portobello mushrooms or tomatillos it could feel challenging.  Just relax, follow the directions, and enjoy.

Review:  As much as we are trying to reduce our meat consumption, my men folk aren’t quite on board for extreme reductions.  This week my husband and son were going to be away from home and I planned this awesome dish for myself, but then the hubs came home.  I gently informed him that I wasn’t changing the plan and he would like it.  He loved it!  The mushrooms made this feel like a more hearty dish and once we added all the other yummy stuff – don’t forget the salsa!!, the tacos felt like we had stepped into a restaurant for dinner.  Did I mention the salsa?  It is a must, it really rounds out the dish.  The recipe calls for the salsa, lettuce and red onion to top the tacos, but we found adding the cabbage and radishes gave this dish more texture and flavor.  I highly recommend this dish, it is delicious, easy, healthy, and WHPB (whole food, plant based). Be adventurous and let your meat eaters try it.

Tips: It is important to have good tools in your kitchen and two handy tools are a zester and good juicer.  My juicer (known as a fruiter in our home) was my grandmothers and the difference is significant.  Older tools like graters and juicers used thicker metal and real metal.  I find my older tools at estate sales.

Forks Over Knives offers a cooking class that I would love to take and you may want to consider.  I’d like to take it to be able to help others be more confident using grains, legumes, veggies, etc. and empower people to make health their habit, even in the kitchen.  (I am not being paid or endorsed by Forks Over Knives, I just liked the recipe)

Enjoy


Lisa received her Health Coach Certification from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, founded by world-renowned physician and author, Dr. William Sears. The Institute is a leader in science-based health and wellness education that focuses on the four pillars of health; Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition (L.E.A.N.). A certification by the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute is obtained only after completing the extensive course work and meeting all requirements. Once certified, a Health Coach possesses the knowledge, tools and resources to make a positive difference in the health of others.

The information in this blog is educational and not meant to diagnose, treat, or mitigate symptoms.

I offer individual coaching sessions and virtual health coach sessions through Zoom, if you are not local, as well as group sessions, workshops, and special events. I would love to help you on your journey towards health and wellness. Contact me for more information.


All photos are by me, Lisa Wright Burbach –  Feel free to share, but please give credit to the source.  Thank you.

Review: Curried Butternut Squash Soup – The Minimalist Baker

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Curried Butternut Squash – The Minimalist Baker

Fall is in the air and in our house this begins the tradition of “Soup a Week”.  Each week I make a yummy soup starting in fall all the way through until spring.  I have many “tried and trues” and also love trying new soups.  This soup is quickly becoming a “tried and true” !  It is easy to make, tastes great and is good for you!  Plus it satisfies that fall feeling.  MMMmmmMMM.

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Easy – the only tricky part is blending at the end.  I have a stick blender and if you don’t have one I suggest getting one. I think it is a must in the kitchen.  It makes life easier and fewer burns and messes.

Review:  This recipe, as with any I have tried by The Minimalist Baker, is easy and delicious.      Once you have the squash prepared the rest of the dish is a piece of cake.  You may worry that the maple syrup will make the soup to sweet, but with the curry it is a nice blend without being too sweet.  Experiment with the amount you like for your tastes.  Over all this is a great soup; filling, delicious, and easy to make.

Tips: Try different types of curries.  I like a sweet curry from Penzey’s Spices, but also use one called Curry Now, which has a punch!  It is fun playing with the flavors and heat levels until you find the perfect one for you.

If you are someone with sensitive skin i recommend baking the butternut squash with skins on and scooping out the contents before making the soup. follow the directions as written, but use your cooked squash.  Sometimes butternut squash makes my skin peel.  You could also wear gloves to prepare it.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

All photos are by me, Lisa Wright Burbach – a Burbachulous Photo.  Feel free to share, but please give credit to the source.  Thank you.

Let’s Talk Trash-Trash Soup that is!

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Trash Soup

You can make soup with just about anything!  One of the things I like to do is use up the leftovers from the week and make a nice hearty soup!

Some basics:

  • First saute your aromatic veg until tender or translucent (onions, celery, carrots) if adding garlic do this towards the end of this process as it burns easily if not careful.
  • Keep a good stock or broth on hand.  I like to buy the natural ones when they are on sale, because let’s face it though I may have the best intentions of making my own it rarely happens and there are some great stocks out there.  Watch the salt!
  • If you are adding fresh meat cook before adding unless making meatballs or something that will cook in the broth.

Once you establish your base i.e. onions, celery, roux etc.  start building your soup. Decide what type of broth you’d like and really just throw things in and add your favorite seasonings.  I  know, that sounds over simplified, but not really.  Here is my Trash Soup from this week.

Leftovers:

  • Grilled chicken, diced
  • Curried carrots, diced
  • Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Trader Joe’s frozen Quinoa
  • Roasted garlic, I squeezed the garlic out like a paste
  • A few little pieces of sauteed banana pepper
  • 1/2 box Chicken Stock

Additions:

  • Onion
  • 1 potato
  • 2 Tsp Curry
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 box Chicken Stock

I sauteed the onions and then added the broth. Diced the potato and added to the broth cooking until tender.  Then I added the risotto and pureed until smooth.  Then I added the rest of the ingredients brought to a simmer and let simmer about and hour to let the flavors marry well, but in a hurry you could heat through.  I served it with grated cheese, crackers, and Sriracha sauce on the side and a nice pumpkin beer.

With leftover rice, pasta etc.  you have the option to add in as is, but they can break down too much second time around. If you puree it you can have a creamy soup without all of the fat of cream-a trick from Julia Child. If you are going to use the rice or pasta as they are add these last and just heat through so that they will not become mushy.

 

Just think about what you have in the fridge and go from there. You can throw in a can of beans or fire roasted tomatoes, corn etc.  Before you start take a look at your leftovers and then look through your cabinets and freezer, you may have the perfect thing on hand!

For us this week everything went together very well.  Sometimes it isn’t as easy to decide how I want it to look and I just head to the internet and plug in a few ingredients to get some ideas.  Sometimes you just need a little inspiration.

I’d love to hear how your Trash Soup turned out and any other leftover ideas you’d like to share!

Enjoy!

Hey, Wait…Did you know we have a Crockpot?

IMG_6037I own a crockpot/slow cooker, but it is something that I forget I own and every once in a while I say “Hey, wait…did you know we have a crockpot?”  Then I will be inspired to make a crockpot meal that week.  I’m not sure why I don’t then go crockpot crazy, but for some reason one meal seems good for me. I mean let’s not get carried away and use it frequently.  That might make life easier-we can’t have that! Maybe I need crockpot aversion therapy.  Hmmm are there appliance therapists?  I mean I do love my crockpot (once in a while).  After all; imagine walking in the door to the wonderful smell of dinner, just waiting for you!  The house seems warm and cozy, stress slides away and you all sit down to a meal that magically appears, ready to eat.  So, why don’t I do this more often?  I have no idea.  Maybe I’ll be inspired by writing this blog and have my own magically prepared meals waiting for me night after night.  OK, probably not; but you can use your crockpot and use it often then you can inspire me.  Let me know how it goes for you.

Seriously, the slowcooker (crockpot) is a great device and I encourage you to use it.  This is a way to get hot meals on the table in just a matter of minutes, because the cooking was done while you were doing other things.  So, pull that baby out, dust it off and get cooking-sloooowly.

So this week there is one, yep one crockpot recipe.  Maybe next week I’ll make one more, it could happen.

The Process

1. Sit down, relax and plan (or pick some meals from here)

2. Make a grocery list and stick to it!!!! This saves time and money

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy

The Meals:

minestrone collageCrockpot Meal!!  Minestrone:

The Food Network   Chef: Robin Miller

Time:  Prep 15 minutes/ 4-8 hours in crockpot

Ease: Easy

Review: This recipe worked great just the way it is, was easy to make and tasted great.  My husband said it was perhaps the best Minestrone he has every had and made wonderful yummy noises throughout the whole meal!  FYI: I live for yummy noises.  It is how I know I’ve hit the mark and moved from filling the whole to touching the heart!  Cook with love.  To make this vegetarian use vegetable stock.

pork loin collagePork Loin in Jalapeño Mustard Sauce 

Time: 1 hour (depending on size of pork loin)

Ease: Easy to moderate

Review:  This is not a review of an existing recipe, but one I “threw together” this week.  My family enjoyed it and it was easy to pull together. I used a sauce from MeadowCroft Farms, but think you could improvise.

Scrambled hamburger collageScrambled Hamburger 

Time: 20 minutes

Ease: Easy

Review: This recipe is a family favorite for 3 generations.  While it isn’t a meal you may picture a Norman Rockwell family eating it is a modern day meal.  Easy, yummy, and quick.  NOTE:  This dish sounds like nothing great, but is! Whenever I make this for someone for the first time they tell me “oh my gosh, I had no ideas this would be so good, can I make it at home?”  Sometime minimal works best.  Try it!  Leave a comment, I’d love to know what you think.

steaks collageSteak and Potatoes 

Time: 8-15 minutes for steak and 50 minutes for potatoes

Ease: Easy, but you may feel intimidated by the steak.  Don’t worry, you will be fine.  Do invest in a nice thermometer for meat!

Review: While steak is great on the grill sometimes it is raining, too cold, or we don’t have a grill.  This doesn’t mean you can’t have steak.  With practice you will be making juicy, melt in your mouth steaks in no time!  This is a great dish to google. Search what others do and find what works for you.

taco collageCrispy Taco Picadillo  MarthaStewart.com

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ease: Easy to moderate (if you use store bought shells this dish is very easy)

Review:  You will never go back to salt filled packets again!  This dish is fresh, easy, and homemade.  Your friends and family will love it. For an adventure try making your own crispy shells too.  Chicken can be used instead of ground beef.

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones of Have created.  Thank you.

It isn’t Always Perfect, but it Makes it Memorable

For all of my perfectionist friends out there, a word of advice: Relax, it doesn’t always have to be perfect!  No, really! But, I do understand.  I like it perfect too.  Years of cooking with friends and family have taught me that the community built in the kitchen that spills over to the table is what it’s all about.  If the dish isn’t “just so”, or the fork is the wrong side- um, ok well, actually I do switch them…. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that it’s OK.  Life isn’t ruined because the dish looked ugly, was burned or the dog ate it, it is just something to laugh about later.  Julia Child is a great example of this, she could drop a chicken or an egg and just laugh and keep on going, you can too.  You may be surprised by the results and you will love what is made through it- Relationships!

What I want to give you in this blog is not just recipes and ideas for dinner, but the joy of dinner; not just dinner, but of every meal.  I want you learn about each other, laugh, cry, talk, share, build, and grow together. I want you to grow memories.  I want people to talk about the joy of sitting at your table.  You can do this whether you’re using a cardboard moving box for a dinning room table or you have a huge formal table in a massive dinning room.  It is about the atmosphere that is set and the comradery.  Be creative, have fun, and set the table.

The Process:  Each week I sit down with a nice cup of coffee and pour over magazines, cookbooks, and the internet and find 5 meals I’d like to make that week.  I base these meals on items that I have in my pantry and fridge so that I can be the most economical in my shopping.  I make 5 because life is busy and I may be away from home a night or we may eat leftovers.  Adapt it to fit your lifestyle.  Then from these meals I make my grocery list and try to stick to it.  I find the list helps me be frugal.  This process takes about a half an hour to an hour.

The Meals:

Spinach Gnocchi

Spinach Gnocchi with Shaved Ricotta Salata:  Food and Wine Magazine, Chef Marc Vetri

Time: 1 Hour

Ease: Intermediate Skill

Results: This was a nice dish, but a little intimidating. The recipe says “to form a soft dough”, but I would have liked a little more description.  My dough was probably a little too wet, and my end result was not like their picture, but it cooked well with a nice texture.

You may not be able to find Grana Padana and may use Parmigiano Reggiano instead.

I found the Ricotta Salata at the grocery in the specialty cheese area. It is a pressed, aged, salted and dried version of Ricotta.  My cheese loving husband liked this very much.  Remember, you are trying new things.  Embrace it!  This is nice with a salad and a fairly acidic dressing as a balance to the rich gnocchi.  I also served bread rounds with bruschetta on the side.

potatoesSoup a Week!!!  In our family we have a soup a week during autumn and winter (most weeks).  My family loves this so much so that when my daughter went away to college she said that when she realized she was missing soup-a-week she was even more homesick.  Food speaks!  This weeks Soup is Potato Soup

There are as many potato soup recipes as there are people.  Personally I make mine a little bit different every time, depending on my mood.  Spicy or baked potato like or pesto, cheesy, lumpy, smooth….  This only takes about an hour or less to make.

Saute onion (about 1/2 cup-2 cups) in 1 tablespoon butter and a little olive oil.  Once the onions are translucent I add a few cloves of garlic (if using this time) and I add whatever spices I may want to use, a pinch of cayenne pepper and stir them until fragrant.   I boil my potatoes (about 1 small potato per person) in vegetable or chicken broth (vegetable is nice if you are doing meatless Mondays). Once the onion mixture is ready add broth and potatoes (about 8 cups of broth).  Simmer until potatoes are tender and remove from heat.

Smooth and creamy or lumpy? This is where my family and friends disagree so here is the compromise: Pull out some of the potatoes and set aside then puree the remaining soup with a hand-held immersion blender or in a regular blender (a little at a time). Slowly add heavy cream to the pureed soup and stir well. I use around 1/4 -1/2 cup cream adjusted for consistency, then add the potatoes you pulled out back to the soup.  This makes the lumpy potato soup people happy while also satisfying the smooth potato soup people.  If they truly insist on no lumps, divide the lumps between the lumpy eaters bowls and ladle the smooth soup over the top.   Serve with a nice bread.

photo by L.W. Burbach

Hot and Sticky Lemon-Pepper Chicken: Food and Wine Magazine, Chef Richard Blaise

Time: 1 Hour

Ease: umm, this is iffy. See below

Results: I left this recipe for my husband to make when I wasn’t planning to be home. ( I told him to use chicken cut into pieces because I had found a great deal on chicken breasts and had a lot in the freezer.)  My husband struggled with the oil temperature and the batter all slid off the chicken and made sort of a glue in the bottom of the pot.  Ok, try again.  Second time around it worked well and in the end it tasted fine.  So results may vary by cook (tongue in cheek). Note: If you do not like sweet and savory combos, this may not be for you.  Serve this with steamed green beans and roasted potatoes.

photo by L.W. Burbach

Fondue Night!!!!

My family loves fondue.  Long live fondue.  As you see from my photo, fondue has been around for a while-ya diggin’ my groovy Avacado Green fondue pot.  We love to do this with friends and do use china!  We usually have a pot of broth, a pot of oil, a pot of cheese, and one of caramel or chocolate.  Just have fun with this one.

Time: several hours of fun and laughter

Ease: piece of cake (dipped in chocolate)

Results: Memory maker, laughter, some oops, silliness, just plain fun.

Suggestions: raw chicken (keep this separated from everything else!), broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, apples, cake, bread, squash, onion petals, sweet potato slices, potato slices, anything else you’d like to try.  We served this with tempura batter, Crab dip for mushroom caps, dipping sauces of: Ranch, Teriyaki, Thai chili paste, chutney, tahini, and a remoulade sauce. Long live fondue!

Margarita Pizza

Margarita PizzaClassic Margherita Pizza – New York Style: Food network, Chef Emeril Lagasse

Time: 1 Hour 13 Minutes

Ease:  Easy

Results:  This is just a great pizza all the way around!  If you are intimidated by making crust try looking in the deli or freezer section of your grocery.  Sometimes they stock dough from the pizzas made in store.  Fresh mozzarella is in the specialty cheese section of most stores.

Well, this week’s meals were not perfect.  We had fun, we still ate well and we made memories.  I’d say it was a successful week!

Photos may be used, but please link back to this blog and credit Lisa Burbach, recipes are links to existing recipes and I have no ownership of recipes other than the ones of Have created.  Thank you.

Have Fun, Try Something New, and Set the Table

One Pot Sticky ChickenSometimes life gets busy and we don’t always eat at the table, but I find that if I set the table early during the cooking process, when I say “dinner’s ready” everyone sits down.  Nice! They have been trained and you can train yours.  These are the best nights, the nights when we get a better look into each others lives and connect again.  I love it.  It is family, connection, depth, it is good.

THE PROCESS:

I love to get up on Saturday mornings while the house is still quiet and sit down with a nice cup of coffee.  It is during this time that I search cookbooks, magazines, and the internet for meal ideas.  I settle on 5 possible meals and then make my grocery list based on this.   You can adjust the number to fit your family.  We usually eat leftovers once or twice or go out once. I don’t assign meals to certain days because time can be an issue on any given day and sometimes I’m not in the mood for one dish, but maybe I am for another.  Flexibility.  The real help for me is knowing that I have some ideas to pull from and that I have everything I need to make them.  I also take a mental inventory of my pantry and fridge to see what I already have on hand so that I can be as economical as possible.  It is worth the time taken once a week to plan.  Or, just stop by this blog and pick a week.  It is why I’m hear after all.  The grocery list is an important part of this, it helps cut down costs and makes sure you have what you need.  Don’t go to the store without it.  Ready?  Let’s get started.

The Meals:

1.  Sweet Potato Soup w/ Blue Corn Tortillas by Bobby Flay/foodnetwork:  Note, the chipotles in adobo sauce can be very warm and you may need to make adjustments up or down based on your family/guests.

Time: 1 1/2 hour

Ease: Simple to moderate

Result: Most everyone loved this, not everyone.  It has combination of spicy, sweet, and smokey.  I will make this again. Serve with cornbread and a nice green vegetable.

2.  Fajitas: I sort of threw this one together using Stonewall Kitchen’s Maple Chipotle sauce about 3 tablespoons (you can find this at Kohl’s, Fresh Market or online), left over london broil, a couple tablespoons of tequila, a few squeezes of lime, garlic, a variety of bell peppers, and yellow onion.  Tip: to make sour cream easy to dress with try mixing with buttermilk and pouring from a squeeze bottle.  Be creative. Another Tip: freeze things like the chipotle sauce in single use amounts in ziplockbags to have on hand for future dishes.

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ease: simple

Result: family favorite. Serve with a simple salad and guacamole

3.  Skillet Lasagna:  Use the link as a guide, but feel creative with this one.  I used Newman’s own spaghetti sauce because I had it on hand, I also used spinach pasta in place of lasagna noodles for the same reason.  No reason for things just to sit in the pantry.

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: simple

Result: Turned out nicely, tasted about like you would expect.  We enjoyed it. Serve with steamed green beans or a salad.

4. Quiche: NOTE:MAKE DAY AHEAD FOR BEST TEXTURE. (we didn’t, but I recommend it.)This was a base for me and it takes a lot of work and hopefully Thomas Keller will never read this blog, because I am sure he will cringe repeatedly.  Apologies to great chefs for all that I am about to say for the sake of the basic home cook. First I used a store bought pastry; not the one in the tin, but the Pillsbury one you roll out. Next instead of mushrooms I used broccoli and caramelized onions. Don’t be afraid of caramelized onions, if you start it before anything else you will have sweet, browned, delicious onions by the time you are ready to use them. Lastly, for some reason I do not own a blender and had to make do with the magic bullet, soooo It could have gone a little better. But, even unskilled, ill-prepared this was so yummy!

Time:  2 hours prep & cooking and overnight resting

Ease: complicated

Result: Worth every minute of time.  This quiche is taller than most and great flavor and texture.

5.  One-Pot Sticky Chicken Wings and Udon Soup.  I already had chicken breasts that I had frozen when they were on sale, so instead of wings I used chicken cut into nugget sizes.  I also had run out of star anise and used some anise seeds and it worked fine.  Mirin, oyster sauce, Thai pepper paste and Sake can be found in the ethnic section of many grocery stores. Udon noodles may be found a Whole Foods or ethnic groceries-spaghetti can be substituted.  As I look at this recipe for the blog I realize I forgot the oyster sauce and it was still great.  The Udon soup was thrown together with chicken broth, soy sauce, scallions, mushrooms, carrot slivers, and Thai pepper paste,  then topped with mung beans.

Time: 40 minutes

Ease: simple-moderate

Result:  My husband and I loved this meal and will eat it again.  I think this will become a family favorite.  To make it fun I served it with chopsticks on china.

A few more things: I buys spices from places like Whole Foods and Savory Spice Shop and find that I can have fun with exotic spices without spending a fortune.  I usually spend less that $2.00.  If this week sound intimidating keep checking back.  Some weeks I go crazy on the experimental side and other weeks its just the basics.  After a month or so you should see a variety of recipes ranging in difficulty, price, and time.  There will be something just your speed. Lastly, this blog is fluid and with your feedback I will add or remove things that I think will make it more helpful and easier to follow.

Have fun, try something new and set the table.

Welcome to Bringingbackdinner.com

I’m so glad you stopped by.  This blog is in response to requests from friends to send them menus and recipes.  I thought that doing it blog style may be fun and interactive for us all as well as accessible.  This first entry is an introduction.  Please feel free to respond to menu’s, recipes etc.  we will learn from each other.

I would not say that I am a great chef or especially graceful in the kitchen. I do not, off the top of my head, know how to make the perfect hollandaise sauce, make the best ceviche, whip up exotic aioli’s, well you get the picture.  What I can do reasonably well, is read a recipe and be able to judge whether 1. I will like it and 2. my family will like it.  So, I use recipes.  That said, I do often wander from a recipe and sometimes just “throw something together”.

I love cooking not so much for the cooking itself, but because it will make anyone who sits at my table fill warmed and welcomed.  I want the dinner table to be home, fellowship, laughter, enjoyment.  I want to build memories of happiness, peace, and joy but also make the table a safe place for deep conversations, heartfelt pleas and confessions.  Things confessed at the table stay at the table.  It is the heart of the home.  If you can barely hear it’s heartbeat anymore, I encourage you to make an effort to gather at the table.  You may have to start slow-once a month is better than not at all.

Set the table.  Whaaaatt, I don’t even know what fork to use! shhh, it will be ok.  I will help.  For starters, if you do not know what things are called or look like here is a great link to Martha Stewart’s page with wonderful pictures, Home Made Simple also has a helpful page.  Second, If you have it use it!  Somewhere deep in a closet is a crystal bowl or great Aunt somebody’s china-use it, use it, use it.

I once had an older woman tell me there is no more important person at my dinner table than my husband and my family.  She told me to use my fine china even if I am only serving sloppy Joes.  What great advice.  I don’t use it every day, but I do use some items every week.  My opinion is that to keep it stored in some attic, closet, or basement is the same thing as not having it.  What if something gets broken?  Then it does.  But, a dish that was lovingly used and eventually broken has more memory and joy that a dish that was stored away and never seen.  Use it.  Got that?  If you don’t have china, crystal etc.  that is OK too, you can still dress up your table from time to time.  Put sticks in a vase for fall or winter,  Dandelions if you need to for summer, something to make it special.

I realize that if your family or friends come in one day and find the table set (paper works) and a small vase (or dixie cup) filled with flowers or sticks, maybe candles, and they smell wonderful things from the kitchen that they may be shocked and perplexed.  That’s ok, think of it as that night’s dinner conversation; “Why (insert name) thinks she/he is Martha (Mack?) Stewart all of a sudden”  Then tell them you just want to bring back dinner.