Archive for the ‘Meat’ Category


In my graduate program, we had a handful of students from Seoul, South Korea who had civil servant backgrounds. I served as a “conversation partner” for one of my classmates and quickly became friends with him and his wife. I don’t recall ever tasting kimchi prior to meeting my Korean friends. I had never been to a Korean restaurant and the fermented cabbage dish was not on my radar until Seongmo and his wife, Bora prepared beef bulgogi and kimchi for me to take home to my family in Iowa over Thanksgiving break. I never got the recipe from Bora, but one taste of the spicy, funky, salty, and pickle-y cabbage and I was hooked. I’m a fan of big, bold flavors and you can’t get much bolder than kimchi.

I’ve not made true kimchi before – though I’m eager to try Edward Lee’s recipe in his recent book, Smoke and Pickles, I have made Mark Bittman’s quick approximation of it. The kimchi for this simple stir-fry can be made the day before, instead of months before, doesn’t require hard-to-find ingredients, and still tastes spicy and salty, if not quite as fermented-funky.

Unfortunately my sous chef doesn’t like kimchi (or pickles or eggs). That’s about all he won’t eat so I’m really not that constrained. I love it though, and we recently received a head of napa cabbage in our CSA, as well as sirloin steak, so I made this dish. Chris suffered through about half of his bowl before rounding out his meal with cheese and crackers. I had my fill of kimchi and rice that week.

So here’s the recipe – I recommend making the rice and kimchi the night before you want to eat this – then for dinner all you have to do is quickly stir-fry the beef, then stir-fry the rice and add the kimchi. Easy and delicious, if you are into spicy, pickle-y things, but I still encourage you to befriend someone who knows how to make real kimchi.

Note for vegetarians: if you aren’t into beef, still make the rice and kimchi stir-fry, and serve with a fried egg.

Kimchi Rice with Beef, from The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman

serves 4

  • 1 small head napa cabbage (about 12 oz), cored and shredded (note my cabbage was closer to 24 oz. I upped the spices a bit and just ended up with a higher kimchi to rice ratio)
  • one bunch (6) green onions, chopped
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 1 T. red chile flakes (I used about 3/4 T. in the hopes of lowering the spice for Chris)
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. beef flank or skirt steak (I used sirloin) very thinly sliced
  • 2 c. cooked brown rice

Put the shredded cabbage in a colander and toss it with 2 tablespoons of salt. Let it sit in the sink or over a bowl until it wilts, at least 2 hours. Rinse the cabbage and pat it dry.

Combine the green onions, garlic, ginger, red chile flakes, sugar and soy sauce in a bow or large jar. Toss the spice mixture with the cabbage. Make the kimchi at least a few hours and up to several days before you want to serve it. It will get stronger as it sits.

When the kimchi is ready, put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. Swirl in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and add the beef. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes until it is seared but still pink inside, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Swirl it around and add the rice, breaking up any clumps and stirring it into the oil. When the rice is added, cook, stirring frequently, until rice is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Return beef to pan and add kimchi. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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chicken n quinoa

One of the things I love about living in Kentucky, as opposed to my home state of Iowa, is that there are four, distinct seasons. Sure, the cold, relentless dampness that seeps into our bones in winter seems never-ending, and the oppressive humidity and heath of summer seems unyielding, but we have the lovely fresh breaths that are spring and fall to break up the misery. Iowa has four seasons too, but the springs and falls are much shorter – the winters much harsher. The summers, harsher than one would expect.

I’d declare this spring a nice one. We had some very pretty sunny days and some rain too. We had some cool evenings, and I had a CSA (yes – still doing that) box full of green garlic and swiss chard. I turned to my favorite cookbook for some seasonal inspiration. With a few minor tweaks the sous-chef and I enjoyed a great spring dinner. I even butchered my own chicken. In this case butchering means cutting a whole chicken into 8-ish pieces – a task that always seemed overly tricky and messy for me. I followed Mark Bittman’s very clear instructions in “How to Cook Everything.” Here’s a video too with clear instructions.

While this recipe relies on spring-like produce, with summer just about in full swing this recipe can be easily adapted. Don’t have green garlic? Use regular garlic. The original recipe calls for lemon thyme but I just plain thyme. Check back later this week for the recipe for the quinoa.

Adapted slightly from “Skillet Chicken with Green Garlic and Lemon Thyme” from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark

serves 4

  •  1 (3 1/2 lb) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • a few sprigs of thyme (lemon thyme if you’ve got it)
  • 1 head of green garlic, thickly sliced (you can use 4 regular cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed)
  • 3/4 c. dry white wine
  • 2 T. unsalted butter

1. In a large dish or bowl, place the chicken, oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic. Mix to coat the chicken. Cover and chill in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken and seasoning mixture. Cook without moving the chicken for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces, cover the pan, and continue cooking with moving for another 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Check the breasts to see if they are completely cooked. If they are, transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. If not, keep cooking them for another 5 minutes or so until they are done. I had to cook mine longer.

4. After removing the breasts, spoon out some of the excess fat from the pan. Add the wine and simmer, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan until the sauce reduces and the remaining chicken pieces are completely cooked. Transfer the chicken pieces to a place. Whisk butter into the pan, whisking until it is melted and the sauce has thickened. Serve with the sauce on the chicken with the quinoa – recipe to follow later this week.

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lamb tagine


I documented way back in 2011 how when I have a new ingredient (red spinach in that case), I am compelled to find the perfect recipe, or way to cook or use the food. This has become all the more true as my husband and I continue to get meat and produce from Grasshoppers, our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).

Since April 2011, I’ve been getting better about just using what produce we have, trying not to stress too much about finding the best recipe to highlight that ingredient. I’m more flexible with what I cook and how I cook.

Then there was the lamb. We had a boneless leg of local lamb sitting in our freezer, courtesy of Grasshoppers. We don’t receive lamb very often, and it is expensive to purchase at the grocery. I also happen to love lamb. Therefore, I had to find THE RECIPE for this. After much debating, I chose a pretty good one.

I had three recipes to choose from: the enticingly-named “The Best Curry of your Life” from the Amateur Gourmet; another lamb curry from Indian Food Rocks via The Kitchn; and one for a lamb tagine.

The first recipe sounded amazing, but  required some ingredients I did not want to hunt down – kaffir lime leaves, fenugreek, and anise. The second recipe also sounded great but I would have to purchase more curry powders and it required a lot of added fat. The final recipe was the winner – it sounded almost as good as the others and I had more of the ingredients on hand.

Following Ms. Clark’s recipe carefully yielded delicious results. It took all of 2.5 hours (much of that hands-off), and I dirtied several pans toward the end, but it was a perfect weekend recipe and would be great to serve for a group of friends or family.

The recipe also succeeded in enticing me to buy olives for the first time. Olives are the one food I really can’t stand. They do, however, provide dishes a salty, briny complexity (as do capers and anchovies, both of which I like). I figured I’d go ahead and include the olives but not eat them. They would at least flavor the sauce. I’m glad I did – the sauce was perfectly salty and savory.

Adapted slightly from Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Olives, and Buttered Almonds, by Melissa Clark (also appears in the book In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite)

Serves 6

2 1/4 pounds boneless leg of lamb or lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cumin
2 large yello onions, peeled and quartered
2 cinnamon sticks, each 2 inches long
Large pinch crumbled saffron
1 1/4 c. dried apricots, sliced
1 cup cracked green olives, pitted and sliced if desired – I left them as is since I was not eating them
2 T. butter
1/3 c. sliced almonds
Cooked couscous, for serving
Chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish – I used cilantro

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Trim excess fat off lamb. Put meat in a deep Dutch oven or cast-iron pot with the garlic, salt, black pepper, paprika, ginger and cumin. Rub spices and garlic evenly all over meat.

Thinly slice onions, then mince enough of them to yield 1/2 cup. Add minced onion to pot with lamb; reserve onion slices.

Place pot over high heat and let cook, turning meat on all sides, until spices release their scent, about 3 minutes. You need not brown meat. Add 3 cups water to pot (it should come 3/4 of the way up lamb), along with cinnamon and saffron. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot and transfer to oven. Let braise for 45 minutes.

Turn meat, then top with onion slices. Cover pot and braise for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until lamb is very tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer meat to a bowl, leaving broth and onions in pot.

Place pot on stove over high heat and add 3/4 cup apricots and the olives. Simmer broth until it reduces by a third and thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Return lamb to pot and keep warm until serving. (Tagine can be prepared 4 days ahead; chill, then remove fat and reheat before serving.)

To serve, chop remaining 1/2 cup apricot slices. In a small skillet, melt butter. Add almonds and cook until well browned and toasted, about 2 minutes. Put couscous in a serving bowl and top with almonds and butter and chopped apricots. Pile tagine in center of couscous and garnish with herbs.

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A picture from our wedding reception.
© Derek Poore – Table design by Jaclyn Journey – Catering by Mirabelle.

The last year was a pretty major one. I bought a house with the cheese-grater extraordinaire, and we got married. Between packing up our only recently merged life and planning a wedding, blogging was at the bottom of my to-do list.

But 2013 is a new year. While making a list of household goals inspired by Apartment Therapy’s January cure, I started thinking about other goals for the year ahead. This is a short list and includes setting a budget with my sous-chef for life, and to keep up my blog.

I don’t have a cooking experience to share today, but I’m instead presenting a list of recipes that have caught my eye over the last year that I want to make soon. By the way readers, how do you save recipes you see online? I try to either star them in my blog reader, or email them to myself. Sometimes I forget to include the link though… So here’s a list of things I hope to cook in 2013 – maybe you will be inspired to try some too.

North End Cafe’s Eggplant Casserole and Spicy Lentils, from the Courier Journal. I love the Wednesday edition of the Courier-Journal because it includes the food and dining section, which includes reader-requested recipes from area restaurants. I love the North End Cafe for it’s eclectic, tasty menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Eggplant casserole is my favorite thing to order at the restaurant and is one of my favorite dishes in the city. It is reliably comforting, spicy, and hearty. I was thrilled to see the recipe printed. The Courier also printed one of my requests for a recipe I submitted last year for El Mundo’s spicy black bean dip. I will be making this soon.

In the winter, sometimes I struggle to figure out ways to incorporate fresh fruit into my normal breakfast routines like oatmeal, peanut butter toast, and yogurt. In the summer, it’s easy to top yogurt and with berries and easy to top toast with apples and pears in the fall. This recipe for Winter Citrus Compote for Yogurt or Oatmeal looks like a great way to use citrus fruit as a breakfast topper.

I’ve been wanting to make Snobby Joes – or meat-free sloppy joes for a while. Maybe 2013 will be the year.

I haven’t made biscotti since I tried it one Christmas break when I was in college. I followed a pretty basic recipe for anise-scented biscotti. I don’t like black licorice and did not realize until after I made the cookies that anise tastes like black licorice. This recipe for Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti looks more promising for my tastes.

Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce – this looks like a great recipe for make-ahead lunches.

We have some CSA beef filets in our freezer. I’d like to make this.

I love this post on making your own birthday cake. I’d like to try making my own birthday cake this year.

I will report back as I check things off my “to-cook” list.

Have a healthy and happy 2013.

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oven (or crock pot) stew

Hi again. I have to confess, wedding planning took over my life for a while – as much as I did not think it would (or hoped it wouldn’t) – it did. Between work and planning, my life has become boring. Luckily, wedding-planning has calmed down a bit, and I’m still cooking – and receiving the produce CSA share weekly and the meat share every two weeks. Our recent pick-ups have included lamb ribs, steaks, brats, and some really great chicken wings we cooked for the super bowl a month ago. The produce has included hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes, various herbs, lots and lots of carrots and squash, and some excellent canned and dry goods, like wheatberries, black beans, apple butter, and salsa. Chris and I are still very happy with it.

Lately for meals, I’ve been focusing on making one or two dishes each week that will reheat well, and then making salads for lunches with various leftovers and roasted vegetables. One dish that reheats very well, and is perfect for this weird mix of wet and cold (when it isn’t warm, humid, and tormado-filled), late-winter’s evening, is this oven stew.

I’m not sure of the exact origin of this recipe – I received it from my mom, who I think received it from my dad’s mom… or something like that.  It couldn’t be easier to throw together and is filled with chunks of slow-cooked beef and veggies with just salt and black pepper for seasonings. If you are going to be home for a while, you can cook it in the oven. Or you can cook it in your crock pot. You will end up with delicious results either way.

Because this cooks for so long, it doesn’t matter too much how big or small you cut your veggies. I’ve cut them into irregular chunks and everything still cooks well. So if you are in a hurry (before letting your meal stew for 5 hours), just chop up the veggies however you want and throw them all in the pot. You really can’t mess this up too much.

1 1/2 lb cubed beef

2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped

6 carrots, cut into chunks

1 onion, chopped

4 potatoes, cut into similar-sized chunks as the carrot

1 T. sugar

1 1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

2 T. tapioca

1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes.

Combine everything in a dutch oven, or large, oven-proof pan with a lid, and bake covered for 5 hours at 300 degrees.

Add 1/2 cup white wine before serving.

That’s it – Enjoy!

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spiced pork carnitas

Welcome back readers – and happy 2012! I hope everyone had an enjoyable and restful holiday season – if restful was possible during that time of year.

My holiday was a whirlwind. I spent five days home in Iowa, where I celebrated Christmas with my family, and five days in Louisana, were I attended the wedding of Chris’s cousin in Baton Rouge and celebrated New Year’s in New Orleans. It was a wonderful introduction to Louisiana that included gumbo served with potato salad (a common practice – I was told), beignets and au laits at Cafe DuMonde, a celebratory hurricane shared with my newly-minted fiance at Pat O’Briens on New Year’s Eve, a sazerac at the Swizzle Stick Bar, a New Year’s Eve jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace (one of the many highlights of the trip), and a New Year’s day feast, made by Chris’s mother, of black-eyed peas, smothered cabbage and corned beef, crab dip, meatballs, and many, many desserts. It was a hearty and delicious spread that topped off a delicious week. I returned to Louisville wanting more vegetables and fruit, but also craving more po boys and gumbo.

And if you didn’t catch my news above – Chris and I are engaged! This happened New Year’s Eve along the Mississippi River in New Orleans. I was shocked and surprised before total happiness set in. Looks like I’m stuck with my cheese-grater-sous-chef-dish-washer-love-of-my-life for a while.

Anyway – I promise not to turn this food blog into a wedding blog, so on to the recipe.

I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy consuming pork tacos. I love them. I’ve made these spiced oven carnitas twice now – and both resulted in slightly different dishes. The first time I made it was for my family when I was home in Iowa last November for my grandmother’s funeral. My mom had a large pork roast in the freezer of unknown origin. I made it and probably didn’t salt it enough. The tacos were very tasty, but not as good as the slow-cooked pork tacos that I called the best dish I’d ever made.

I made them a second time on a busy weekend in December when I had to work and wanted to use up a pork shoulder from our CSA crowding the freezer. I made sure to use enough salt and the pork was high quality, locally raised pork. It was delicious. The kind of delicious where you stand over the pan nibbling and can’t stop.  This is a winning recipe that is pretty easy and cooks largely unattended. If you make this, I recommend using good quality pork. If you don’t eat meat that often, like Chris and me, it is easier to afford better cuts of meat less often.

They reheat well and are great with corn tortillas, cabbage slaw, and salsa (or guacamole, sour cream, etc.). I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

“spiced oven carnitas” from Not Your Mother’s Casseroles by Faith Durand

serves about 8

5 to 6 pound pork shoulder roast (also called butt roast)

salt and pepper

1/4 c. olive  oil

1/2 t. red pepper flakes

2 T. ground cumin

2 t. ground allspices

1 t. ground cinnamon

4 sprigs fresh oregano

6 garlic cloves, cut in half

juice and zest of one orange

juice and zest of one lemon

1/2 c. white wine

Preheat the oven to 350. Trim the pork roast of large sections of fat. Cut the roast into 4 evenly-sized pieces. Pat them dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven (a large, oven-safe pot with a lid) over medium-high heat. Sear the pork pieces one at a time, for several minutes on each side until well-browned. Remove from the heat.

Place the pork pieces back in the pot. Sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, cumin, allspice, and cinnamon.

Tuck the oregano sprics and garlic between the pieces. Sprinkle the lemon and orange zest. Pour the lemon and orange juices and white wine over it all.

Cover the pot and bake for 2 1/2 hours. When the pork is very tender, take it out of the oven. Keep the lid on the pot and let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes.

Remove the lid and shred with two forks. Serve hot.

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When I saw my family in Indiana over Thanksgiving, my mom brought an early Christmas present for me… a new cast iron skillet. I was thrilled and eager to use it. I was also eager (with Chris’s constant prodding) to start clearing out our freezer of the CSA meat shares we had piling up. This is a warm, one-skillet, stove-top to oven meal perfect for busy and chilly/cold pre-holiday nights. It comes together quickly, tastes great, and makes great leftovers.

It does contain a potentially contentious ingredient – anchovies. The first time I ever had anchovies, besides in Caesar salad dressing, was on a cheap take-out pizza during a history seminar in college. I accidentally picked up a piece of the fishy-speckled pizza, thinking it was cheese. The anchovies were buried beneath. The first time to have anchovies is probably not on a cheap, take-out pizza. I’m not one to be picky, and tend to be adventurous when it comes to food, but this was gross.

Then I started appreciating them more as I read more about cooking that included anchovies. I think my first adventure in cooking them was adding them to a pasta sauce of broccoli and Parmesan. The anchovies dissolve in the sauce, creating a salty bite. They added the same when they dissolve into this simple sauce of rosemary, tomatoes, red onions and garlic.

The original recipe says it serves two, but Chris and I had it for dinner along with a salad and again for dinner the next night.

braised pork chops with tomatoes and rosemary (and anchovies), from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, by Melissa Clark

serves 2 for dinner with leftovers

2 thick bone-in pork loin chops (about 1 1/2 pounds total)

kosher salt

ground black pepper

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 large rosemary sprigs

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds roma tomatoes, roughly chopped

6 anchovy fillets

Polenta, pasta, or rice for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. In a large, ovenproof skillet, like a cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat, place 1 tablespoon oil. Sear chops until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes each side Transfer to a plate.

Add onions and rosemary to the skillet and saute until onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

Add anchovies, additional salt and pepper, and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, about 8 minutes.

Add pork chops to skillet, covering with the sauce.

Cover skillet with a lid or tightly with foil and transfer to oven to bake until a thermometer inserted into center of meat reads 145 degrees, about 15 minutes. Allow chops to rest for 5 minutes in pan. Serve with polenta, noodles or rice to soak up sauce. I served it with polenta which was a nice, quick side dish.

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I’m not sure what inspired me to try this recipe for poblano peppers stuffed with chorizo and shrimp. Earlier this summer, we received chorizo sausage in our mixed meat CSA. I might have also had a green pepper, an onion, and garlic leftover from one of the weekly deliveries. After searching for chorizo recipes online, I found a recipe from Guy Fieri.

While I may defend Rachel Ray and her various shows on Food Network, I actively dislike Guy Fieri’s show, “Guy’s Big Bite.” I’m not sure whether it is his need to “de-bling” before getting his hands dirty, his cheesy lingo, or… well…. here is the description of the show from Food Network:

“Guy Fieri’s bleached blonde hair, goatee and skateboarder shorts make a strong statement – you are what you eat! Whether it’s his Mojito Chicken, Pepperoni Lasagna or Jambalaya Sandwich, one thing is certain – Guy Fieri’s food is as fun, fearless and fundamental as his larger-than-life personality. We hope you’re hungry because this Guy’s imagination knows no limits. Open wide for Guy’s Big Bite.”

To be fair, I’m sure I ‘m not his target audience, being as I’m not  a “bro.” I’ve seen the show a few times and the food always looked pretty tasty, if heavy on the oil and cheese, but I never had any desire to cook anything. Then, I found this recipe for the stuffed peppers. I immediately wanted to make it, despite the creator of the recipe. And I did make it. And it was good. Better than good, it was delicious. The combination of the sweeter shrimp and white wine contrasted nicely with the spicy chorizo and peppers. All of this was topped with a browned, crunchy layer of cheese that made for a filling and wonderful dinner. It also reheated better-than-expected for lunch. I think the key is to not overcook the shrimp initially. Guy Fieri didn’t disappoint. I also didn’t have to watch his show.

I didn’t make too many changes to the original recipe. I used one green bell pepper instead of half-red and half-green. I also significantly cut back on the amount of cheese used, used 6 peppers instead of 4, and didn’t use added oil.

Here’s what I did, adapted from Guy Fieri’s poblano peppers stuffed with shrimp and chorizo, from Guy’s Big Bite

1/2 lb. Mexican-style chorizo (this means not smoked)

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. short-grain rice

1 c. chicken stock

1/2 c. white wine

6 large, fresh poblano peppers

1/4 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 c. shredded Jack cheese

1 lb. shrimp, shelled, cut into 1/2 -inc pieces (If using frozen shrimp like I did, make sure to thaw first according to package instructions.)

In a large saucepan,  cook chorizo for 3 minutes. Add peppers, jalapeno, onions and garlic. Cook until translucent, then add rice and cook until all the grains of the rice are coated with oil. Add wine and stock and stir over high heat for 3 minutes.

Cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 20 minutes. Check the rice for doneness. Continue to cook a  bit longer if the rice isn’t cooked.

While rice is cooking, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place poblano chiles on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, cut top 1/4 of chile off and remove ribs and seeds.

When rice is finished cooking, fluff with fork and stir in shrimp. Stuff  each poblano with 1/6 of the rice mixture. Place all the chiles on baking sheet and place into oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, mix cheeses together and cover pepper with cheese. Broil for 3 minutes to melt and brown the cheese. I was not able to stuff the peppers neatly. I ended up slicing them in half and laying them in a casserole dish, then layering the topping over the peppers and topping with cheese. It was a pretty dish, but it still tasted great.

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“Late summer…”

How did it get to be “late summer” already? I read the words in an email I receive from a food blog to which I subscribe. It seems like I was JUST making hearty stews and casseroles to ward off the winter chill. Then it seems like I totally missed the asparagus and strawberry season from Spring amidst THE move. Now, if I’m not careful, I will totally miss tomatoes and eggplant and the rest of the “late summer” bounty.

Especially since I have not been able to do a whole lot of cooking the last few weeks. Two weeks ago, I was in Washington, D.C. for work, which you can read about here (my visit, not the city.) Then I spent a lovely week in the crisp, cool air of Vancouver, eating lots of delicious sushi, freshly-caught salmon, fancy Indian food, and too much pizza, beer, wine and cheese.

Here’s a picture of one of the many delicious meals my family consumed. This was an extensive picnic spread eaten in the gorgeous Stanley Park, heavy on the cheese and olives, there was also salmon salad I made with the leftover grilled salmon from the night before (caught by my brother Michael, Chris, and my sister’s boyfriend).

I did so much indulging that I just about died on the final day’s event: The Grouse Grind. I have now returned to reality with Chris in tow, only to face the warm, muggy days of “late summer” in Louisville.
Having put the CSA on hold for two weeks because of “my worldly travels” (ahem, Michael…), I was faced with little direction about what to cook next. A blank slate. I was also coming down from two weeks in a row when my dear BF went to the store just about EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for an ingredient for a meal that I had not planned until the last minute.

I’ve heard people complain that cooking for one is difficult. I think I honed that skill so well that I’m finding coooking regularly for two is much more difficult than cooking for myself ever was. Whereas I used to plan 2 meals + leftovers each week, I now don’t have the luxury (?) of eating the same thing for lunch every day. I now have to plan for 4 meals or so + leftovers. That extra planning and grocery shopping is getting to be tedious. And I don’t even have children to worry about.

In a renewed effort to plan meals accordingly and prevent the BF from begrudgingly lovingly running to the grocery store on my every whim, I planned out meals for the week, and worked to use up some of the meat stashed in my refrigerator. I’ll post more about those recipes later this month.
For now, here’s a dish I made prior to my travels, trying to use up some of the ingredients I had around. I also made this recipe up. Myself. Something I’d like to do more of. I made croutons using some stale bread. I then browned some Italian chicken sausage and then cooked the garlic and onions with the kale. I combined the sausage back with the kale, topped with the croutons and Parmesan cheese, and baked it for a bit. It all turned out pretty tasty. Not too bad for an impromptu, clean-out-the-fridge dinner.

Sausage and Kale Bake with Croutons by… me!

1 bunch kale

1 lb. italian sausage links

1/2 large white onion

1 garlic clove

2 T. olive oil divided

salt and pepper

1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

1/2 loaf baguette bread, cut into bite-size cubes

1/2 c. chicken stock

1. Slice the sausage links cross-wise into disks, about 1/4 inch thick. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 T. olive oil. Cook the sausage until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and cook over medium-low heat. Add a pinch of salt. Stir occaisionally until softened and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir.

Add the kale to the pot of garlic and onions. Stir well. Add chicken broth. Cover and cook until kale is tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the bread cubes with the remaining 1 T. of olive oil. Add some salt and pepper and carefully mix well.

When the kale is done, add the sausage back to the pot.

Stir well. Place the kale and sausage mixture into a 9×9 baking dish. Top with the bread crumbs and sprinkle with paremsan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until browned on top.

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I am getting a little behind in posting about the dishes I make from my CSA meat and produce shares. Not that I’ve had problems using up everything. There was a bunch of radishes here and a rotten zucchini there that I had to toss, but for the most part, I’ve been keeping up with everything.

Last week, we received 3 lbs. of steak, tomatoes, a head of bibb lettuce, onions, garlic, carrrots, beets, and basil. So I made stake for dinner – with a salad and brushetta on the side. I was able to use up a lot of items that came in our box that week – and made a delicious dinner in the process.

I don’t cook, nor do I eat, steak that often. Neither does Chris. But I was really looking forward to trying it out and consulted my dad for advice about what to do with the 1 lb. delmonico steak. He sent me a couple of links to recipes for cooking steak without a grill and wished me luck. (He also advised drinking red wine and making a nice evening of it – we get along really well).

This recipe also closely resembles a famous Des Moines dish, Steak DeBurgo. Steak DeBurgo is really just beef with a really flavorful garlic and herb butter sauce. It is delicious… if you eat beef. And butter. The flavor was great, but I overcooked the meat and parts of it were quite tough. A shame really. But still edible, and tasty. How could it not be smothered in garlic and butter?

Here’s the recipe I used for the steak, from “The Heart of New England

Pan Seared, Oven Roasted Steak with Flavored Butter

Makes two, very generous servings

1 16 ounce rib eye or delmonico steak, at room temperature

3 tablespoons butter

3 teaspoons finely chopped  garlic

2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley

coarse salt, like kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper

Cannola oil

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Mix the chopped parsley with the
garlic. Sprinkle lightly with salt and press with the flat side of a chef’s knife to
mash slightly; mix with softened butter. Melt the butter
mixture over low heat in a small sauté pan.

Season both sides of the steak with salt and pepper and place a heavy sauté pan
or iron skillet over high heat, filming the bottom with oil when hot. Sear the
steak until browned on one side (4 – 6 minutes). Turn the steak and brush the
top generously with the flavored butter. Place into the heated oven and cook
until done to your preference (check after 4 – 5 minutes by cutting into the
center of one of the steaks).

Remember that the meat will continue to cook from residual heat, so remove it from the oven when slightly less done than you wish. Pour remaining butter and any pan juices over the meat and let it stand for several minutes before serving. Slice and serve.

Even if you don’t eat steak, you could still enjoy this blue cheese dressing. It is one of the best I’ve ever had. Not too thick, the blue cheese isn’t too strong, and it is nicely creamy, zippy, and flavorful. It’s also easy to whip up.

Blue Cheese and Chive Dressing, from Epicurious

1/2 c. well-shaken buttermilk

1/2 c. mayonnaise

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/4 t. salt

1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 oz. crumbled blue cheese, like  Maytag (1/2 cup)

2 T. finely chopped fresh chives

1/8 t. black pepper

Blend buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and salt in a food processor until smooth.

Add parsley and pulse until chopped. Add blue cheese and pulse until cheese is incorporated but dressing is still slightly chunky.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in chives and pepper.

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