Review: Curried Butternut Squash Soup – The Minimalist Baker

curried-butternut-squash-soup

 

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!

soup

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!

What’s for Dinner? Potato Soup, Beef Tamale Bake, Apple Stuffed Pork Tenderloin & Braised Chicken Thighs plus some bonus sweets

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sticky lemon cakeLife is short, eat dessert first, or so they say and I am tempted to agree now that I’ve found this yummy recipe.  I’m starting this week’s post with this  “Sticky Lemon Cake”,  It is heavenly, sticky, rich…..mmmm.  I found the recipe in a mystery book I read called “Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea” by Nancy Atherton.  I love the books, but find that when you say , “yeah, I got the recipe from my murder mystery I’m readying” everyone acts just a little suspicious!  The genre is called cozy mystery, in addition to the dessert I highly recommend the Aunt Dimity series.

This week includes recipes from Williams and Sonoma, Pampered Chef, America’s Test Kitchen and my own, Enjoy!

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

Potato Soup: Meatless Monday

potato soupTime: 30-45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Potato soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods.  I love it when I’m sick, when I’m cold or just because.  I like to play around with recipes, but this week I just made a basic potato soup.  Feel free to adapt.  Try curry, chimichurri, pesto.  You make it something new every time.

5-6 medium sized potatoes cut into uneven cubes about an inch in size

Chicken or vegetable broth (enough to cover cut potatoes)

½ cup diced onion or 1-2 leeks, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup milk

1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter

Optional: celery, carrots, pesto, bacon, sour cream, cheese, poultry seasoning.

Melt the butter together with olive oil and add onions or leeks and any other vegetables and cook until translucent. Add any special spices and cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add peeled and cut potatoes to pot and cover with broth and bring to a boil.  Cook until potatoes are tender then reduce heat and add milk and salt and pepper.  If you don’t puree the soup t add sour cream and cheese, if using, at this point. Cook until cheese is melted and serve.

In my house we have people who like it chunky and people like it smooth so we compromise.  I pull out half of the soup before adding cheese and blend until smooth (caution, do not overfill blender to avoid burns) then return it to the chunky soup left in the pot.  Everyone is happy or at least half happy!

 Braised Chicken Thighs and Potatoes (pressure cooker)

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection – You can pick up a copy at Amazon.com

pressure cooker chickenTime: 1 Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: This is a very simple dish and can be adapted for the stove top.  The flavors are that of comfort food and the Tarragon adds a nice flavor.  If you have never tried tarragon, this is a great dish to have your first time with.  Remember to experiment with spices, you may be surprised at the flavors that you find.

8 (5-7 oz) bone in chicken thighs, trimmed

1 Tbs vegetable oil

1 onion , chopped finely

3 garlic cloves

2 Tbs flour

½ cup dry white wine

¾ cup low sodium chicken broth

2 pounds small red potatoes, halved

1 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon

Brown the chicken, skin on in the pressure cooker until golden brown (or in frying pan) then remove the skin.  Reserve 1 Tbsp of fat in pressure cooker (or pan) and sauté the onion until translucent then add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.  Stir in flour until combined and stir in wine getting rid of any lumps, reduce slightly.  Add broth then add the chicken.  Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes with quick release.  You may also cook on medium high heat on the stove until chicken is cooked through.

Beef Tamale Bake – Pampered Chef

Beef Tamale Bake

Time: 45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I love pampered chef recipes and products. I’m not a rep, but just love the stuff!  One of the reasons I like the recipes is that they often give the illusion that I have slaved away in the kitchen to make some elegant dish, when if fact, I didn’t.  I love cooking, but not for the sake of cooking.  I love cooking because of how it makes people feel, so no need to be a gourmet chef, but it is ok if everyone thinks I am! Pampered Chef recipes are quick, easy and often beautiful dishes.  While this dish isn’t as much on the elegant side it is still quick and easy. It has great flavor, but watch the liquid to cornbread ratio, it can feel a little dry if not careful.

Apple Stuffed Pork Loin with Cider Sauce

pork tenderloin 2

Time: 1 ½ hours

Ease: Simple

Review:  Easy and wonderful.  We made this for family who had come into town and everyone was pleased.  After the 11 ½ hour trip they said it was worth the drive!  Well, maybe no true, but I think you will find this to be a great dish to make for company or your family.  My Pork loins were not very big so when I sliced it, it didn’t make nice spirals and was a little messy.  No one cared or knew that I didn’t mean for it to look the way I served it.  That is usually the case, so relax and act like you meant to do it!

Baked Potato and Salad Bar

potao bar

Time: 1 Hour (depending on method of cooking potatoes)

Ease: Simple

Review:  We do this every so often, and you have seen it before, but I post it as a reminder that dinner can be simple and still be fun.  Set up a buffet of salad toppings and potato toppings and let everyone make their own.  It is fun to see what some people come up with.  You will have the butter and salt and pepper people and then the Dagwood Sandwich type potato.  Try things like raisins, nuts, cheese sauce, salsa, horseradish, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, edamame, chickpeas, bacon, shredded cheese etc.  Check out some ideas from The Yummy Life and have fun.

Bonus recipe: Emeril’s German Apple Pancake

german apple pancake

Time: 45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  yum, yum yum!  I made this for our guest this weekend and it was a big hit.  It is really pretty easy and gives you something to move beyond the plain pancake.

  • Do you have a recipe from a favorite book you’d like to share? If so, Scroll down to comment.
  • How do you like your potato soup? Scroll down to comment.

Bringing Back Dinner Tip: Tea Sandwiches and Hors d’oeuvres for Dinner

Everyone likes little things (well not always the guys, but they can adjust).  Try making dinner one night using salad plates and have a variety of tea sandwiches available, things like chicken salad, egg salad, ham, cucumber and add in some bite sized desserts and/or scones with jam and clotted cream. Visit BBC Good Food for some ideas.

If you aren’t  into the tea sandwich thing try heavy hors d’eovres such as mini roast beef sandwiches, little quiches, meatballs, mini beef wellingtons.  Visit Martha Stewart online for some ideas. Dinner doesn’t have to be a meat, potato, and vegetable.   Play with your food!

Photos by lwburbach please feel free to contact me for permission to use photos.
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What’s for Dinner? Breakfast! Tacos, Pitas, Grilled Tilapia & sausage & peppers

Ever wonder “what am I going to make for dinner?” or think “I hate planning meals”? That is what Bringing Back Dinner is all about. Helping you come up with easy meals to make each week and reminding you of the importance of dinnertime. A chance to build relationships, catch up on the day, share our hearts, and just be. A chance to bring back dinner into our lives.
Each week bringingbackdinner.com reviews 3-5 recipes telling you how long it takes, how hard it was, and gives it a review so that you know how it will turn out and if you want to give it a go while also encouraging you to take advantage of meal time to develop relationship and build memories. Enjoy!

The Process: For a full explanation visit “The Process” page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

breakfast

This week was a pretty laid back week for meals, pita sandwiches, tacos, etc., but this doesn’t mean its not dinner or that you should feel guilty.  Remember to skip the pre-made meals, for the most part, and use fresh ingredients so that you are still giving your family healthy meals, even if they are simple.  That said, sometimes we just need to grab a mix, I’m not going to judge.  Do what you need to do to make dinner happen so that you can sit down with your friends or family and just enjoy dinner.

The Meals:

Breakfast for Dinner! Sometimes it is just for the fun of it: breakfast dinner

Time: 30-45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I love breakfast, but I really love breakfast for dinner!  You can make this as simple or complex as you desire!  Personally I used box pancake mix (yep, I admit it.  Sometimes I do!) and added pecans, oats, and wheat germ to beef them up a bit!  So good. When I don’t use a mix from the store I like Alton Browns, which makes a great pancake, plus it is economical to make your own mix.

If you plan breakfast for dinner try waffles, crepes, an omelet bar etc.  Just be creative and have a good time!

Crispy Tacos Picadillo- Martha Stewart Living
tacocrop

Time: 40-45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I’ve mentioned before that we love tacos! Truth.  We love them almost any way we can get them and never get tired of them.  I have given this recipe before and probably will again.  It is just a good recipe.  Easy to make and the flavors are so much better than a packet.  Don’t be afraid to cook from “scratch”.  You can do it, even if your friends and family do faint.  Give this one a try, you will be glad you did.

Pita Pocket Sandwiches
pita

Remove the meats and make this a Meatless Monday meal!

Time: 10 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: One of our favorite quick dinners is Pita Pocket sandwiches.  They are so easy and can be customized per each person’s taste.   I usually set out bowls with chopped lunch meat (your choice), baby spinach, lettuce, red onion, tomato, cheese (sometimes I have several choices) etc.  Set out mayonnaise, mustard, Ranch dressing, and Italian Dressing or your favorite dressings.  To serve place the bowls on the table and let each person build their own.   It is hard to find, but the best dressing, in my opinion, is the Golden Italian dressing from Winn-Dixie.  Remember that a quick meal doesn’t mean you still can’t take a minute to get caught up with each other.  Take the time to ask about each person’s day!  This is fun when you have a crowd.  Invite your friends and have each person bring their favorite salad topping, it will work well in the pita.

Peppers & Onions with Kielbasa – Hubby Makes Dinner!

peppers and sausage

Time: 15-20 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Sometimes when I am going to be away during dinner time my husband cooks, he is actually a good cook too!  He and the kids love kielbasa and it is often the dinner of choice.  Here is what to do:

Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and cook sliced kielbasa until lightly browned on each side.  Remove from pan.  Add green peppers and onions to the same pan and cook until tender, it may caramelize a bit which is even better. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add to pasta, potatoes, etc. and enjoy.  You can jazz this up by adding things like jalapenos, Cajun seasoning etc.

Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Butter, Capers, and Orzo – Bobby Flay

tilapia

Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: My husband and I recently had a night at home all to ourselves!  We made this dish with a nice glass of wine on fine china.  It was a great night and great dish.  This dish has a lot of flavor and looks complex, but is actually a very easy dish to recreate.  We cooked it on a charcoal grill using a grill pan, the flavor was nice.  My husband made yummy noises the whole meal!  Approve!!  You could also bake this if you don’t have a Grill.

Bringing Back Dinner Tip: Highs and Lows

Looking for a way to find out about each other’s day?  Try asking each person to tell you their highest point of the day and their lowest point of the day.  You will be surprised what you learn.  This works well with friends too.  Really listen to what they have to say.  Be excited over the highs and have compassion over the lows.  It may not seem low to you, but if it was the lowest point of their day it is probably a big deal.

Photos by lwburbach please feel free to contact me for permission to use photos.

What’s for Dinner? Sloppy Joes, Quinoa Enchilada Bake, & Chicken Parmesan Soup

valentines dayI hope you had a great Valentine’s Day!  Here in Greensboro we had a crazy snow of , wait for it…around 7 or 8 inches!  I know, all you mid westerners are laughing at us, but the whole city screeched to a stop and it was beautiful.  You would think this would mean I cooked more, but no.  I planned my meals as usual (5 of them) and then it snowed!  By Valentine’s Day we were all ready to get out a little and as a result I made three of the meals I had planned and then we ate out and had frozen pizza.  Even though things didn’t go as I planned it was still a successful week.  Remember the point isn’t just getting everyone fed, it is to enjoy each other’ company, to talk, to listen and just be!

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake – Twopeasandtheirpod.comquinoa enchilada

Meatless Monday

Time: About 45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Try this, try this, try this.  Maybe you are not so sure about this quinoa stuff, maybe it seems to exotic-not to worry.  It easy to cook with and wonderful.  We loved this dish, it was full of flavor, easy to make, and felt fresh and clean!  I think it will become one of your family favorites.  It would be a great dish to make for a covered dish or for company.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup – Nature Box
chicken soup

Time:  4 hours in crockpot or 45 minutes on the stovetop

Ease: Simple

Review: Sometimes I look at a recipe and think “really? There isn’t much to this, is it going to work?” and sometimes I’m right, but I’m glad to say that this recipe proved me wrong.  It is very basic and really very good.  The next day everyone wanted the leftovers to take to work, I thought we’d have a brawl in the kitchen.  Worse, there weren’t any leftovers! Everyone just thought there were. (I am not a member of Nature Box, but found the recipe online)

This isn’t spaghetti like or even tomato soup like, it has it’s own flavors.  It is filling and simple.  You could make this on the stove top if you don’t have a slow cooker.

Sloppy Joes – Ellie Krieger, the Food Network
sloppy joe

Time: 30 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I am a firm believer in making things from scratch!  It is a great way to cut down on the sodium and preservatives that are in pre-packeged meals and once you start you will realize that it really doesn’t take much more, if any more time and you get the added bonus of knowing that you have made a meal that is better for your family or friends and maybe they will even think you are amazing in the kitchen.  Plus, you can’t beat the taste.

I have review this recipe by Ellie Krieger before, it is a staple in our home.  That said it is worth bringing back around.  Don’t be afraid, it is almost as easy as opening a can, but the flavor is so much better.  Note: our family prefers it without the beans.  You can try it both ways and see what everyone thinks.

Table 16, Downtown Greensboro NC

Valentine’s Day my wonderful man took me to Table 16 in Greensboro, NC.  It is wonderful.  I am most impressed by the complexity of the dishes,  yet nothing seems to get lost or is over worked.  You can taste each spice and they complement each other well.  We’ve been twice and are still impressed.  The service was great and they have a nice wine list.  If in Greensboro I suggest you give it a try.  Table 16 is located downtown, so allow extra time to walk around and take in the sites!

 

Photos by lwburbach. Feel free to use photos, but please link back to this blog.- Thank you.

Looking like food truck food this week: Sandwiches, Dumplings, Noodles & Soup

abroccolirabeSo, here is the deal…I thought this week’s blog would be about Bringing Back Dinner going healthy, umm well maybe not so much, we ended up looking like we ate off a food truck all week.  Next week?  There are just so many yummy things to make! In reality the meals this week could be much worse and the Picture of the broccoli Rabe is to show that we at least ate something green this week.  That is a start, yea?  Maybe?  I tried, but at least I get another chance each week!

Don’t let someone like Anthony Bourdain know this (he is pretty vocal about wanting meat & fat, though if you let him know it wouldn’t matter since we’ve never met and he couldn’t care less what I say), but I really like the challenge of making fatty, rich foods healthier and have no one realize the difference when they eat it, that said I’m all for a little sausage, cream, butter, and bacon too.  Balance and moderation are key!

I encourage you to make any adaptations you would like to recipes to try to find a way to have the best flavorful mouthful of food while meeting your dietary needs.  It can be done, so if you think you have to watch your fat, sugar, salt etc. and therefore will never have a decent meal again, never fear your taste buds are safe.  In the next few weeks I will add a note to reviews where I’ve at least made an attempt to secretly make it healthier, I’ll let you know if it worked in regards to flavor and texture and if it made it more difficult.  I will even let you know if anyone said “hey! is this heaaallthy??”  So, set the table and play with your food! Enjoy.

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals: Note, this week there are many adaptations.  Read the reviews for ingredient lists and changes.

Empanadas – Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely

aempanadas

Time: 40 Minutes to 1 Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: I would like to try this recipe “as is”, but admit I didn’t.  I like the general idea of this recipe and used ground beef instead.  I used Creme Fraiche in place of cream cheese just because I had it on hand and I have an interesting item called Tomato Powder, it is dehydrated tomatoes and you can use it to make tomato paste or sauce, but i like to just sprinkle it in or on dishes for a little tomatoey zest.  I added about a heaping teaspoon to the mixture.  The results were very nice.

Gyoza  – Adapted from Yo Sushi Cookbook

aeggrolls2

Time:  30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  When we were in London we discovered this fun restaurant called Yo Sushi.  It has conveyor belts that bring colored bowls around for you to choose from.  Each bowl is a different price.  It was fun and we truly enjoyed the food.  The one item we liked the most was the gyoza (dumplings).  I tried to find an online recipe, but no luck.  In the end I found a cookbook from Yo Sushi and bought the book and I highly recommend it.  It asks you to use authentic Japanese ingredients and is really worth it to find them and think of the entertainment you may provide to the shopkeeper  as you try to locate the ingredients-we sure did!  Keeping it fun!

 I couldn’t locate an online recipe here are the ingredients I used: 2 dried shitake mushrooms soaked in warm water for 10 minutes (reserve liquid to moisten wrappers with), 7 oz of minced chicken, 1/2 leek trimmed and finely chopped, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger root, 1 tsp sesame oil, and 1 tbsp cornflour.  Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  For instructions on cooking the gyoza visit this link for a recipe from Sandra Lee, it was similar in method.

Note: this is actually a pretty healthy dish the main thing is to watch the salt if adding dipping sauces.  I like to use 2 Tbsp rice vinegar mixed with 3 Tbsp soy sauce and 2-3 drops sesame oil.  Mix well and serve with gyoza.

Meatball Subs

amballsub

Time: 45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This dish is a great dish when you are looking for something easy and filling.  For an extra easy meal I’m not above using pre-made spaghetti sauce and there are some really good ones out there, but I am comptlely against frozen meatballs.  They are awful and take as long to bake as the real thing-so make the meatballs.  As for the meatballs I used 1/2 pound of sweet Italian sausage and 1/2 pound of ground beef combined with 1/2 cup bread crumbs, an egg, a dash of milk, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Mix well and roll in to balls that will comfortably fit the bun you will use.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Heat the spaghetti sauce in a medium sized pot and add the finished meatballs, mix well.  Fill sub with 3-4 meatballs, top with a little additional sauce.  Top with provolone or your favorite cheese and broil until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately to avoid soggy bread.

Broccoli Rabe, garlic & Pasta

abroccolirabepasta

Meatless Monday

Time: 20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Well, speaking of Anthony Bourdain, he made something like this on the ABC show “The Taste”.  I looked for a recipe online, but didn’t find exactly what I wanted.  He made it look like a simple dish you through just throw together and many of the recipes made it a lot more complex.  In the end I just did what he said to do.  I sauteed garlic in oil (about 5 cloves), added in about a scant tsp of red pepper flakes and sauteed until colorful and fragrant, then add the chopped broccoli rabe, they usually come in bunches, one bunch served 4.  Remove any leaves if still attached when you purchase it.   Cook until just tender, but still has a little bite to it – about 3-5 minutes.  Meanwhile cook pasta.   Once the the Broccoli Rabe and pasta are done toss together and add salt and pepper to taste and top with a nice cheese.  I chose grana padano.

I will say everyone in my family was surprised by this dish.  They looked at it and said “is that it?” took a bite and said “mmmm, hey this is good!”  So to redeem myself in my earlier omissions of fatty food I admit I served this with sweet Italian sausage that I crumbled and browned.  I put in a bowl on the side to let people choose to go whole hog or not! Pun intended.

Mushroom Soup (Chanterelle Soup)

amushroomsoup

Time: 20 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I made this soup a few weeks ago, but didn’t feature it strongly.  I love this soup and could eat it every day!  It is quick, easy and tasty.  Do try it!

A few weeks ago when I made this I shopped for exotic mushrooms since we were having company.  For us-nah, good ole button mushrooms on sale 2 for $4.00 and they worked great!  Either way the soups is good.  My husband said he thought he liked it better!  This is great sitting on the couch or at the table with a nice salad and glass of wine.

Tip: try adding a splash of brandy before serving  you could cut back on the fat by trying milk instead of cream.  Good vegetarian dish.

 

Photos by lwburbach. Feel free to use photos, but please link back to this blog.- Thank you.

Reviews from the Food Network, Rachel Ray, The French Laundry, & Olive Garden

blini

This week has been a good week for me to remember to practice what I preach.  I have taken the time this week to set the table, add special touches, invite friends over and try to make each meal a special even, if it was simple.  I don’t always succeed, but there is so much joy in the trying!  I hope you will continue or start to give it a try.

We really enjoyed this week’ meals and had enough leftover to have friends over to help us finish them off.  My friend it calls it the microwave buffet!  Everyone picked what they wanted and then we sat around and laughed and talked for hours.  That is what it is all about!

One note about meals this week: BUY A SCALE  I used my scale repeatedly this week, it helps be more precise as well as making it easier to use recipes from other countries.  Buy a good scale that can go between ounces and grams, you won’t regret it.

This week’s Reviews:

The Food Network: Roasted Stuffed Pork Loin with Sweet Potato Puree and Molasses gastrique

The French Laundry: Yukon Gold Potato Blini;  Food from Finland: Chanterelle soup

Rachel Ray: Sesame-Lime Shrimp Salad served with Cheese Pie

Olive Garden: Campellini Pomodoro w/a Twist

Cooking Light: Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

The Food Network: Roasted Stuffed Pork Loin with Sweet Potato Puree and Molasses gastrique

pork and sweet potato

Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes (less if you butterfly the loin instead)

Ease: Intermediate

Review: Sometimes it is worth it to put a little extra effort into the meal.  Aside from the  amount of time this recipe takes it looks a little daunting to the average home cook, but once you get in there it was really pretty easy and the results, lets just say WOW!  We served this for company one night and couldn’t say enough about how wonderful they thought it was.  If you want to impress someone this is the dish!

Tips/Adjustments: This recipe, as written, yields 20 portions so I halved the recipe an it worked well to serve 4 with leftovers.  I also chose to butterfly the pork loin and stuff it down the middle and tie with cooking twine, then seared the meat before cooking in the oven for about 30 minutes (until internal temp is 145).

The French Laundry: Yukon Gold Potato Blini & Food from Finland: Chanterelle soupblini

Time: 1 Hour

Ease: Simple (surprisingly) to Moderate

Review:  Whaaaatt???  A Thomas Keller recipe that is easy? It can’t be so you say.  It is, it is!  The Yukon Gold Potato Blini’s were incredible easy to make and even easier to eat.  We topped them with crème fraîche and smoked salmon. oh wow, they were so good.  I feel like I will make this often.  The hardest part was being patient while I waited for the potatoes to become tender.

The soup: The Chanterelle Soup is also very easy and may possibly be my new favorite soup. Note: 50ml of onions is about 1/4 cup and Changerelles can be hard to find and expensive.  I found a mushroom packet with a mixture of 4 different types of mushrooms and added cremini to total 400 grams.

Rachel Ray: Sesame-Lime Shrimp Salad served with Cheese Pie

shrimp salad

Time: 30 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I’ll be honest, I don’t like watching Rachel Ray.  There I said it.  It is something about the presentation and speed of things on the show that I don’t care for, but I do enjoy the food.  The Sesame-Lime Shrimp Salad was awesome and easy.  It felt like a nice light dish, one that would be great to pull back out in the summertime.

My husband asked for cheese pie, a dish his mother made when he was growing up.  I agreed to do it if we had something a little lighter on the side.  Everyone was happy.

Cheese Pie – not a quiche

cheese pie

My husband’s Cheese Pie:

4 oz shredded Muenster, 4 oz shredded cheddar, 1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup flour, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup milk, 1/8 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/4 tsp Lowery’s Seasoned Peppers, 1/2 cup chopped salami pepperoni, or other sausage, 1/2 tsp oregano

Cook sausage if necessary.  Mix all ingredients together Pour into well greae 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 2 minutes more.

There is no review, this recipe just is.  As I’ve said before, my husband loves cheese.  I mean we are talking Wallace and Gromit level love of cheese.  Combine a love of cheese with a fellas love of his mother and well there is nothing left to do but make it for him!

Olive Garden: Campellini Pomodoro w/a Twist

twists pomodoro 2

Time:  10-15 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Olive Garden’s Campellini Pomodoro is delicious in the restaurant, but is just as delicious at home.  It takes 15 minutes tops and looks elegant, tastes great, and can’t be any more simple.  Add a glass a wine, turn the lights down low and enjoy!

So what’s with the twist you ask?  Simple, I traded Campellini pasta for twists, ok I know that was kinda cheesy.  You can use any pasta that your heart desires with this recipe.

Cooking Light: Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

enchilada black bean

Time:  1 Hour and 10 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Cooking Light’s Black Bean and Cheese Enchilada with Ranchero sauce was easy to make.  The flavors were nice and you can adjust the heat per your family’s tastes.  I used dried chipotle peppers instead of ancho and it added that nice smoky flavor.  To compensate for the loss in heat I added red pepper flakes.  Even though this dish is simple it has layers of flavor and would be a great dish to take to a covered dish or serve to company.

Venison Stir Fry

My son made a yummy stir fry this week using venison.  He did a great job and I just want to give a shout out to him!  Awesome job!  Thanks for a great dinner.

venison stir fry 2

It was a great week filled with delicious smells and flavors and friends and family.  It just doesn’t get much better.

Reviews: Peruvian Beef, Chili, Tilapia with Brandied Garlic Sauce & More…

cornbreadI love cornbread, truly I could live on cornbread and sweet tea and be completely happy.  Not healthy, but I’ve been told we can’t have everything!  This week’s meals could have had cornbread as a side dish for every meal, yummmm.  There are many great recipes out there, but I usually follow the directions on the corn meal and I like corn meal from the Guilford Mill or Mabry Mill when possible.  They are so full of flavor! So, please feel free to add cornbread to any meal below and use the best corn meal you can find.

I also rarely add flour to my cornmeal, but this is a preference thing.  It is often more crumbly with just cornmeal, but so good.  Another must and I mean must is a cast iron frying pan.  You must heat the pan with oil in it (we use crisco down here, if not lard) and then pour the mixture in and when you hear it sizzle you will know you you’ve done it right.

This week’s Reviews:

Peruvian Beef Saltado – Ingrid Hoffman

Tilipia with Roasted Potatoes and Brandied Garlic Sauce – Todd Porter and Diane Cu (Food and Wine Magazine)

Hearty Lentil Soup – America’s Test Kitchen (to view recipe a membership is required)  also try sophistimom.com

Pork Satay with Sweet Coconut-Milk Glaze – Kris Yenbamroong (Food and Wine magazine

Chili Con Carne – Nell Newman (venison)

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

Peruvian Beef Saltado – Ingrid Hoffman

peruvian beef

Time: 30 minutes.

Ease: simple

Review: This was an easy and hearty dish.  The flavors are mild and understated, but nice.  Use the leftovers in soft taco shells and jazz it up a little with some hot sauce.

Tilipia with Roasted Potatoes and Brandied Garlic Sauce – Todd Porter and Diane Cu (Food and Wine Magazine)talapia brandy sauce

Time: 1 Hour

Ease: Simple

Review: I am trying to add more fish into our diet and have found it a little harder than I expected to find new flavors.  This was a nice dish with great flavor.  The brandy flavor didn’t come through, but I feel it still added to the total feel and flavor of the dish.

Hearty Lentil Soup – America’s Test Kitchen (to view recipe a membership is required)  also try sophistimom.com

hearty lentil soup

You may also check the recipe out at sophistimom.com

Time: 45 Minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: Note: I used the recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.  The recipe is online, but does require a membership to view.  Another option is the link above where sophistimom.com gives the recipe as she has adapted it.

That said, it was an easy soup to make and an all around good, basic soup to keep in your repertoire of soups.  There were options to change the spices which I found nice for the leftovers.  Make it plain to start with and serve the leftovers with things like cardamom, cinnamon, curry etc.  It becomes a whole new dish.

Hint: For the balsamic vinegar try using different types.  I used Honey, ginger, lemon balsamic.  It was a nice touch.

Chili Con Carne – Nell Newman (venison)

venison chili

Time:  1 1/2 hours

Ease: Simple

Review: This is my go to chili recipe, you have seen it before and will probably see it again, but we just love it.  We almost always omit the celery (hubby doesn’t like) and peppers (wifey doesn’t like in chili) and corn (kiddies don’t like in chili) – I know aren’t they difficult! geesh.   This time we used venison.  I often let it cook longer for the flavors or toss it in the crockpot, but found the venison didn’t hold up well with that method so if using ground venison, stick to shorter cooking times.  Make sure to taste it and adjust spices as needed, venison adds a subtle and different flavor-but good.

Reviews: Jamie Oliver-Fajitas, Pioneer Woman-Potato Soup & Food.com-Fish

fruiterNow that the holidays are over and our schedules are getting back to normal I want to remind you to bring back dinner.  Slow down and settle in over dinner.  Maybe you could invite some friends over and spend the whole evening just enjoying each other, learning about each other and having great food.  Or try being intentional with your family, set the table and call them to dinner and talk.  It will be a great way to decompress and get back in touch with each other. This week’s dishes are simple and quick which should allow you plenty of time to connect. Enjoy!

This week’s Reviews:

Pecan Crusted Flounder- Food.com

Perfect Potato Soup – Pioneer Woman

Fajitas – Jamie Oliver

Spaghetti – When Honey makes Dinner

Anniversary Dinner Out – Green Valley Grill

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (or pick some meals from here, that’s what this is here for.  I’ll pick so you don’t have to)

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

3. Do the shopping-aim for one trip (My British friends will need to make several trips)

4. Bring Back Dinner and enjoy.  Remember that there is such an opportunity to build friendships and family when gathered around a meal.  Even if you mess it all up.  So, just relax, experiment, and have fun.  Don’t forget to include your friends.

The Meals:

Pecan Crusted Flounder- Food.com

flounder

Time: 30-45 minutes.

Ease: simple

Review: We used flounder for this recipe and found it to be easy, but be careful!  It is easy to overwhelm the taste of the fish with the taste of the pecans.  The idea is to complement the fish, not overpower it.  Otherwise, the fish cooked well in about 15 minutes.

Perfect Potato Soup – Pioneer Woman

potato soup

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I am in love with Ree Drummand a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, I have yet to try any dish that wasn’t superb and this dish was no different.  It was simple to make, hearty, warm, and yummy.  We didn’t have bacon on hand and the soup was still great.  I have one eater who likes chunks in the soup and one that insists on smooth soup, this soup was a great compromise.

Tip:  Add the bacon, I mean really it is BACON!  To make this vegetarian use vegetable broth and sadly, omit the bacon.

Fajitas – Jamie Oliver

fajitas e

Time: About 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: I really like Jamie Oliver’s recipes, but we all found this to be a little bland.  We punched up the flavor with a little tequila and a few extra seasonings.  In the end my husband was making yummy noises, which as you know I do live for.

Spaghetti – When Honey makes Dinner

spaghetti

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ease: Simple (all I had to do was sit on the couch)

I was not feeling well this week and one night my wonderful husband made spaghetti!  Yumm.  He cooked ground sweet Italian sausage with ground beef, added a jar of spaghetti sauce and cooked two kinds of noodles and it was great!  Just because you open a jar doesn’t mean it can’t be a great dinner.  Look for brands with lower sugar and all natural ingredients.  We still gathered around the dinner table and talked about the week and upcoming changes.  It was a nice night!  So sometimes, let someone else do the cooking.

Green Valley Grill Review

This week was our second anniversary!  It is the second marriage for both of us and we have learned to appreciate every tiny little moment and treasure it and to let the little things go-It is great!.

We had dinner at the Green Valley Grill in Greensboro, NC and it is one of my favorite restaurants.  GVG is one of three restaurants owned by Quaintance-Weaver, each with it’s own unique style and all using local foods.  GVG is in the style of Old World European, with bold flavors and a seasonal menu.

Our server was very knowledgeable and helpful, the atmosphere is always pleasurable fine dining.  My husband had  the Porcini Filled Pasta Purses with Giacomo’s Italian sausage & sautéed mushrooms.  He completely enjoyed this dish.  Some of the pasta was a little too soft, but overall the entire dish had great flavors.  I had the Pan Seared Scallops over a butternut squash-Vintage Gouda gratin and sautéed spinach, topped with blood orange-sage beurre blanc.  The scallops were perfectly seared and tender and the bits of blood orange added a nice sweet & zesty zap to the rich sauce.  Very good.  Many of the recipes may be found online the the link above.

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 I Have created.  Thank you.

Reviews: Giada, Pampered Chef, Ellie Krieger & Fresh Market

merry christmas

I hope you have been enjoying this new blog, I’d love to have your feedback.  What would you like to see?  What would make it easier for you to use? Ideas?  I may not take every suggestion, but will take them all into consideration.

This has been an adventure for me, one I am completely loving!  I thought, “hmmm, I’ll just write a little blog” and found there is a lot more to it than that.  I wrote about it in another blog I have called Never Thought I’d Blog: Cultivating Thoughts; Yielding Action, feel free to check it out.

This week’s Reviews:

Giada:Grilled Lamb Chops with Grilled Tuna Steaks by Ina Garten

Pampered Chef: Family Burrito Bake

Ellie Krieger: Oven Fried Chicken

Fresh Market: Curried Sweet Potato and Pear Soup

The Process: For a full explanation visit this page

1. Sit down, relax and plan 4-5 meals (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:

Giada: Grilled Lamb Chops with Grilled Tuna Steaks by Ina Garten
lamb & fish

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review: We visited Wales in April and I discovered that my family really likes lamb.  I had no idea.  This dish was very good and simple.  I added Tuna steaks because the meat was small and it seemed like a good combo.  Both were very good.

Tip: Look for the meat and fish on sale.  I found the lamb on sale, but in small pieces which made it a nice combo dish.

Pampered Chef: Family Burrito Bakeburrito bake

Time: 30 minutes in the microwave  1 hour in the oven

Ease: Simple

Review: I am a huge fan of Pampered Chef products and I enjoy the recipes because they are quick and often look like you put much more time into them than you actually did.  My family liked this meal and it was ready in minutes.

Tip: You can make this in any casserole dish and do not need the Deep Dish Baker by Pampered Chef.  Although it is a nice thing to have.  just make sure you have room to layer.

Ellie Krieger: Oven Fried Chickenchicken tenders

Time: 30-45 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  This is a family favorite.  We will never buy store bought chicken nuggets or tenders again.  It is fresh and healthy and just plain good.

Tip: I alter this to make it in to nuggets or tenders rather than use the bone in chicken thighs.  The basic recipe works with any type of chicken I’ve tried.

Fresh Market: Curried Sweet Potato and Pear Soup
sweet potato pear soup

Time: 30 minutes

Ease: Simple

Review:  Wow, this was so simple and so good.  Everyone enjoyed it even though it has neither cheese nor cream in it! But you would never know.  We served it with Goat cheese on toasted bread instead of Roquefort Cheese as suggested. Ok-there still must be cheese somewhere!

Tip: You can use chicken broth in place of wine if you prefer

With the holiday season in full swing life is pretty crazy and I caved, don’t feel bad if you have to sometimes too.  I bought frozen lasagna one night, but when you have been eating nice fresh, homemade meals frozen just can’t compare and they are loaded with extra sodium and preservatives.  But sometimes….

Restaurant Review: Josephine’s Bistro Greensboro, NC

We had a lovely date night this week and visited one of our favorite restaurants, Josephine’s Bistro.  If you get the chance to go here you should!  The food has been consistently good.  I find most places are too heavy on the salt, but Josephine s has a delicate hand with seasoning allowing you to experience the most from the flavors.  The wait staff is helpful and courteous and they have a great wine selection.

Have a wonderful Christmas 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 I Have created.  Thank you.