One Pot


This is a super-quick supper that is fancy enough for a dinner party.

Ingredients:

1 bag of frozen tortellini
1 lb of fresh asparagus
1 lb of fresh snow peas
3 tbs of Greek feta vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

How I Made It:

Wash and pat dry the peas and asparagus.  Snap the ends off and de-string the pea pods.  Reserve 3 stalks of asparagus, cutting the remainder into pieces (tops, then three sections — I don’t keep the tough thick bases).  Create asparagus ribbons with the reserved asparagus stalks, using a vegetable peeler.  Set the ribbons aside and squeeze a little lemon juice over them.

Cook the tortellini according the instructions.  Use a big pot and at least 2 cups more water than called for, so that you can blanch the vegetables for 3 minutes in the same pot as the pasta.  I also add a little olive oil in the pot to prevent the pasta from sticking. When it’s all done, strain the pasta and vegetables in a colander (do not rinse).

In a large glass serving bowl (so you can see all the lovely green veggies), toss the hot pasta and vegetables with the dressing, then sprinkle half the parmesan on top.  Toss again, then top with the rest of the cheese.  Garnish with the asparagus ribbons and serve.

How It Turned Out:

The bright taste of fresh peas and asparagus pairs nicely with the creamy tortellini. I made this as the main dish for a dinner party, but it would also be a lovely side dish for grilled or poached salmon or a lemon chicken entrée.

Easy Peasy Pasta

Makes 4 servings.

My friend Elizabeth introduced me to African groundnut stew, a wonderfully spicy comfort dish. This version is as easy to make as it is tasty.

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
5 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 lbs of small red potatoes with skins, quartered
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (no salt if you can find them)
2 cups of  chicken broth
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 lb baby carrots

How I Made It:

In a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, sear the chicken breasts and thighs in the olive oil.  Don’t cook it all the way through, just get a nice browning on each side of the pieces of chicken.

Put the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot.  Top with the chopped onion and potatoes.  Add the diced tomatoes, then pour 1 and 1/2 cups of the chicken broth over the top.  In the remaining half cup of chicken broth, mix the tomato paste, curry, and ginger.  Pour the broth mixture over the top of the chicken in the crock pot.  Spoon the peanut butter in dollops over the top, then sprinkle with the red pepper.

Cover and cook on high in the crock pot for 4 hours.  Add the baby carrots, stirring the stew with a spoon to ensure that everything is mixed and the chicken starts to break up.  Cook on high for another hour or so.

How It Turned Out:

Holy kamoley — it’s good!  Just spicy enough, the flavors distinct yet complementing each other perfectly. Makes exactly 8 servings, and pairs well with warm naan or flat bread.

African Chicken Stew

 

This is an easy yet elegant bisque, perfect for family supper on a snowy night or as a soup course of a fancier meal for company.

Ingredients:

1 box Pomi strained tomatoes
1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes
1 jar Eden’s Organic crushed  tomatoes with sweet basil
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs butter
1 heaping tbs Buitoni basil pesto

How I Made It:

In a large heavy bottom saucepan or soup pot (I love my bouillabaisse pot from Le Creuset), heat the three tomato ingredients over low-medium heat. When it is heated through, use an immersion blender to remove any lumps and achieve a smooth consistency.

Whisk in the cream and butter and reduce the heat to low.  Cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent the soup from sticking.  Whisk in the pesto right before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

How It Turned Out:

Tomato Basil Bisque

Rich, creamy, and wonderful with a crusty whole wheat bread.

When it’s cold and miserable outside, I want food that is warm and comforting inside. This potato soup recipe has been handed down for four generations in my mother’s family, probably because it’s so simple and so satisfying.

Ingredients

2 medium yellow onions, minced (I used my recently resuscitated food processor for this task — way better than crying with a paring knife.)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 stick of unsalted butter
3 bags Ore-Ida Steam and Mash potatoes (steamed, not mashed)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups low fat milk (2% or 1%, not skim)
2 cups vegetable stock
black pepper to taste

How I Made It

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over low heat.  When it’s melted, add the onion and garlic. Cook over low-medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.  The onions should turn a lovely foamy yellow and smell wonderful — they should not brown.  Slowly add the milks and the vegetable stock.

While the onions cook, cook the Steam and Mash potatoes as directed.  It used to be that I washed, peeled, chopped, and boiled 5 pounds of potatoes to make this soup, but no more!!  I’m not usually a corner-cutter, but who in their right mind wants to peel 5 pounds of potatoes?!?!?

When the potatoes are done, add them to your pot and combine gently with a large spoon or rubber spatula.  Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook gently for 30 minutes or so.  About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, increase the heat to medium so it’s plenty hot. Pepper to taste.  (If you think it’s too lumpy or too soupy, use an immersion blender to achieve whatever consistency you prefer.)

Serve with a variety of garnish (shredded cheese, bacon crumbles, French’s fried onions, green onions, etc.) and fresh bread. Makes 8 heaping servings.

How It Turned Out

Seconds were had by all, so I’ll take that as a good sign.

I feel guilty about going out of town and leaving a full fridge, so I’m always giving away random produce and dairy on my way to the airport. Turns out, that neurosis isn’t unique to me. I was recently asked to rescue some bison, peppers, and other ingredients for chili from a wandering friend’s fridge. This is the result (sadly, the peppers didn’t make it – RIP).

Ingredients:

1 lb ground bison (free range, vegetarian fed)
2 cups dried black beans (rinsed and soaked over night)
4 organic tomatoes, diced
1 cup diced onion (I use frozen because I hate chopping onions)
1 8oz package of frozen organic corn
2 cans organic tomato sauce
2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, removed from sauce and chopped

How I made it:

Brown the meat over medium-high heat in a large non-stick pot. Once the meat is cooked through (no pink), add the onion and cook until onions are translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes, beans, and corn.  Stir to combine all the ingredients, and then add the tomato sauce. Stir to combine again. Add the chipotle pepper last and stir again.

Turn the heat down to low, and cook for an hour or until the beans are soft.

How it turned out:

Boy, howdy! Two little peppers brought the heat to the entire big pot of chili. For little kids and wimps like me, one pepper would be enough.

My dearest friend is a vegetarian, but he periodically craves carnivorous fare.  Lately, he’s been pining for sloppy joes, so I decided to try and make a vegetarian version to appease his pain.

Ingredients:

1 package Morningstar Farms vegetarian crumbles, frozen
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 can diced green chiles
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 can reduced sodium red kidney beans
1 can organic fire roasted tomatoes
1 can organic tomato sauce
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tbs molasses
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard powder
freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 hamburger buns

How I made it:

In a large heavy bottom saucepan, saute the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil.  Don’t let them brown or get too soft. Add the green chiles and combine well.

Add all the rest of the ingredients except the Morningstar crumbles (and hamburger buns).  Let cook over low heat until it reaches the desired sloppy joe consistency (about 20 minutes), then add the crumbles. Combine and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the crumbles are cooked through.

Serve open-faced over the hamburger buns.  Makes 4 (large) servings.

How it turned out:

It got rave reviews from the herbivore as well as our resident culinary professional.  I did add some hot sauce at the end, since it seemed a little blah.

Sunday suppers are a tradition for my funny Alaska family. For me, that means a little fancier meal than the standard weekday fare. Last night, we had an amazing buffalo pot roast. Amazing not only because it tasted wonderful, but also because it was SO EASY! Thank goodness for slow cookers!

Before I get to the recipe, I bet you want to know why I chose a buffalo roast. Recently, NPR’s Fresh Air ran a story on how chicken litter is fed to cattle. Chicken “litter” is full of chicken poo, feathers, and even dead chickens. It was absolutely horrifying. So, when shopping for my family’s supper, I looked for organic, vegetarian fed beef only. In my mind, that should be all that’s sold (what the heck is the USDA doing, anyway?). But it was impossible to find at our limited grocery store selections in Juneau.

What I did find was organic, vegetarian fed, free range buffalo.  So that’s what we had.

Free Range Buffalo on the Road in Kodiak, Alaska

Ingredients:

3 lb organic vegetarian-fed buffalo roast
1 cup good quality blended red wine
2 cups Swanson’s low salt beef broth
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
8 oz chopped tomatoes with juice
12 oz frozen chopped onion
6 dried bay leaves
2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms

 

How I Made It:

Whisk the wine, beef broth, garlic, ginger, and Worcestershire sauce together and put aside.  In a large slow cooker, combine the frozen onion and tomatoes.  Spread on the bottom of the slow cooker as a bed for the roast.  Rinse and pat the roast dry before placing it in the slow cooker.  Pour the red wine mixture over the roast (it won’t cover it, but that’s okay).  Add the bay leaves around but not on the roast.

Cover and set the slow cooker to high for 6 hours.  At about 3 hours, turn the roast over.  At the 6 hour mark, check the roast.  If it needs more liquid, add another cup of beef broth.  Add the mushrooms and stir to ensure they are well mixed with the pot liquor.  If the roast has reached at least 130 degrees in the center, reduce the slow cooker to low and let cook for another two hours.  The goal is 150 degrees at the center, without drying out.

How It Turned Out:

It was lovely – the meat was tender and yummy, and the pot liquor was wonderful. It was so tender that it wouldn’t slice — it just fell apart. (In fact, the reason there are pictures of live roaming buffalo and not the roast is because it was gone so fast.)

I served this roast with fresh green beans and carrots, and easy mashed potatoes. If you haven’t discovered Ore-Rida steam and mash, you’re wasting time peeling potatoes.

I’ve used this recipe (or one close to it) with beef roasts, caribou roasts, and moose roasts — it’s great with all of these.  If you decide to cook the vegetables in the slow cooker, too, add 2 lbs quartered red potatoes at the beginning and then add the carrots, mushrooms, and green beans not more than 2 hours before you plan to serve it (you don’t want them mushy).

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