Minestrone

One thing we can count on, living in Northern California on the coast, is a few foggy days during the summer. Ok, a lot of foggy days. Today was one of those days. So, that calls for some heart-warming soup. This one came out so good.

Minestrone

Serves 6

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced about 1/2″ thick
  • 3 carrots, cut on the diagonal
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in half then in 1/2″ thick 1/2 moon shaped pieces
  • 1 large red potato, diced
  • 1 handful of green beans, cut in2″ lengths
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can of fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 handfuls of dried conchiglie or penne pasta
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and potatoes and about 2 tsp salt. Cook for 5 mins. Add thyme, oregano, zucchini, bell peppers, pasta, 4 cups of stock and tomatoes. Cook for 10 mins. Add green beans, cabbage and kidney beans. Cook until pasta and potatoes are tender. Add stock if needed and salt to taste. Once cooked, add fresh basil and top with Parmesan.

Enjoy with a buttered baguette.

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A trip to Germany Inspires

i just got back from an extremely spontaneous and short trip to Berlin. It was amazing! 

While there, we ate at two really great restaurants, Hasir (Turkish) and Schogl’s (German). I loved every bite. 

Now that I’m back, I wanted to share that yumminess with my family (really, I had to recreate the deliciousness before my needy stomach put me back on a plane for more!)

Here’s what I ate in Germany 

  Amazing Turkish meal at Hasir in Berlin.   
This crazy smorgasbord of schnitzel, sausage, fried meatballs, and currywurst. 

 I was so sad I couldn’t finish every bite. 
 
One day soon, I’ll try to make all the amazing Turkish dishes (there were 12 not including the grilled meats that came next). But this time, I just tried to tackle the lamb meatballs in sauce, taziki and roasted eggplant with yogurt and tomato salad. The meatballs were spot on. I’m still working on the eggplant. How do they get that warm yogurt so fluffy?

   
 Turkish Lamb Meatballs

1 pound ground lamb 

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1/2 medium onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint 

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix bread and egg together in a small bowl to soften the bread. In a large bowl, combine the lamb, onion, mint, cumin, salt, pepper and allspice. Mix with your hands until well combined. Then add in the egg and bread and mix thoroughly again. Shape meat into walnut size balls. Put olive oil into a large frying pan and put in meatballs. Brown on one side and then the other, then remove from the pan and put on a plate. Reserve drippings for sauce.
Sauce for Meatballs

1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes. 

1/2 medium onion chopped fine

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

2 Teaspoons sugar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Reheat the drippings in the skillet and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft. Add tomatoes, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, sugar and allspice to the pan, mixing thoroughly. Taste for sweet sour balance adding more sugar if necessary. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Blend about 3/4 of the sauce. Return to pan and add the meatballs. Simmer slightly covered on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes. 
Eat with lavash and taziki. 

Taziki

A couple scoops of Greek yogurt

A squeeze of lemon

Sliced cucumber

Fresh mint

Salt

Mix together and season with salt to taste. 

So, I didn’t try to fry a whole bunch of meats for our German meal recreation. Although, my hubby would’ve loved that!! Instead, I went for just the currywurst. How the heck haven’t I had that before??

Currywurst (a better looking recipe is here but I haven’t tried it yet. Mine is made up)

1/4 cup Catsup

2-3 tsp Curry powder

A few dashes of Worcestershire

Mix together, heat and douse over bratwurst. Serve with pan fried potatoes, sauerkraut and pickled beets. 

  
Yum. Yum. Yum. 

Sir Wraps-a-lot

I am craving one of these sooo bad! I’ve been gluten-free all month and it’s wraps and morning pastries that I miss the most. The gluten-free thing isn’t going as good as I hoped. I am trying it for better joint health but have felt no improvement. I think I’ll try adding more gelatin to my diet next. But while doing this, I have definitely started some great non-bread and pasta habit that I’ll try to keep. But the minute I decide to add more gluten, I’m having a wrap. 

I usually pick up a package of lavash and just have it around to make leftover wraps. It is one of my favorite ways to recreate leftovers. All you need is a spread (hummus, pesto and hummus, cream cheese, dressing, anything really), some greens (I love spinach, arugula or super greens), a cheese (feta or goat are preferred), a meat (steak, turkey, chicken, tofu) and addition fun stuff (peppers, avocado, cucumbers, red onion, cranberry sauce). 

This one was a great use of leftover turkey dinner. 

Let me know what are your favorite combinations. 

   
 

Shrimp and Pork Dumplings

Oh my delicousness, you guys! Just as it starts to get cold outside, my body craves hot, brothy, noodley soups. And this one is absolutely perfect for the occasion. BTW, did you know that John Legend’s wife, Chrissy T has her own cooking/food blog and is ready to release a cookbook? I’m not normally a celeb follower on social media but that girl is funny and makes some pretty damn good food. This is her recipe…with minor tweaks.

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Shrimp and Pork Dumplings Soup (mostly from So Delushious)

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • 1/2 lb of shrimp, cleaned, deshelled and minced
  • 1/2 lb of ground pork
  • 6 shitake mushrooms (I used trumpet because my store didn’t have shitake)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 TBSP of sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Ok. So, this makes about 20 pretty little dumplings. They freeze great. So, spend a little time making them and then you’ll have easy peasey dumpling soup in a giffy. (just note that you’ll need 3 cups broth, 1 TBSP fish sauce, pinch of chili flakes and cilantro and scallions for the soup each time).

Bring the broth, 1 TBSP fish sauce, pinch of chili flakes to a low simmer in a medium pot.

Gently combine the shrimp, mushrooms, pork, cilantro, garlic, ginger, 1 TBSP fish sauce, sesame oil, sriracha and salt. It’s okay if it’s not totally mixed perfectly. It’s better to have unevenness vs over-mixed and mushy.

Pull out two of the wrappers and put a little spoonful of the mix in the center of each. Oh yeah. Have a little bowl of water near. Wet your finger and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Draw up each diagonal corner and seal.

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Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

Gently drop about 8 dumplings into the pot of soup broth. Give it a little stir. Don’t over simmer. And be super gentle when you’re stirring.

Cook about 7 mins.

Gently (again) lift 4 dumplings per bowl and cover it with broth. Garnish with scallions and cilantro leaves.

Slurp!

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The Best Potato Salad Recipe

  
I have to admit it. I’m the picnic-er who always passes on the potato salad (I also always want to spell potato with an “e” but that’s a whole other post). It’s just not appealing to me to eat mayo and cold, smashed potatoes and pickles in one dish. 

That is until I ate THIS potato salad. I couldn’t believe when I went back specifically for seconds of just potato salad and then again for 3rds, 4ths and 5ths. I crave this now whenever we BBQ. I just had it again with BBQ pulled pork sandwiches (with onion rings and coleslaw in the sammy). I also don’t eat coleslaw unless it’s in a pulled pork sandwich. The potato salad is a perfect side for BBQ. It’s also a perfect side for Summer. 

  
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman Cooks

The Best Potato Salad

  • 8-10 small/medium russet potatoes, cut into quarters. 
  • 5 green onions, chopped 
  • A good two handfuls of cornichons (small pickles), sliced
  • 4 hard boiled eggs*, chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonnaise (not miracle whip!)
  • 2 TBSP yellow mustard

Add potatoes to a pot of salted water and put on high. Boil and cook until they’re just tender enough for a fork to easily pierce a potato piece. 

Remove from water and place in bowl. Peel. Add mayo, mustard and spices. Mash until it’s almost mashed potatoes. It should still have a few chunks. Fold in chopped eggs, cornichons and green onion. 

Serve chilled!

* place eggs in a pot of water. Place on the stove uncovered on high. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pot and set the timer to 13 mins. Remove from the pot and peel under running cold water. 

Making Room In the Fridge For Thanksgiving

We often have remnants of veggie odds and ends in our crisper. I’ll usually make a quick soup with the veggies, broth and some thyme and oregano. It’s a family staple. But I thought I’d try something new since I also had a bunch of eggs from the girls (our chickens).

This is also a quick meal you can prepare in the “week before Thanksgiving” calm.

Cleaning the kitchen frittata

Egg and Veggie Frittata (kinda)

  • 4-5 eggs, beaten
  • Any veggies cut into bite sized pieces (I used broccolini, cabbage, leeks, peas and zucchini) Leeks are really good in this.
  • 3 TBSP goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large non-stick pan. Add all your veggies and cook until just tender. Reduce the temperature to medium/low. Add the eggs and goat cheese. Move the bottom of the eggs around so they begin to cook through (but don’t stir). Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Flip the egg mixture and cook until fluffy.

Enjoy with a nice salad or toasted bread!

Bakesale Betty Knock-Offs

There’s a restaurant in Oakland called, Bakesale Betty. Funny enough, I’ve never set foot in their establishment but have eaten these infamous fried chicken sandwiches of theirs on a number of occasions (my friends brilliantly picked up a bunch for their son’s first bday party).

The sandwich is delicious. I think the draw really is the slaw on top of the sandwich. Or is it the bread? Maybe it’s because it’s fried. Like, who doesn’t love fried? It’s definitely the combination of crunchy, spicy, vinegar with the comfort of the bread that made me want to create my version.

This recipe is on regular rotation at our house. I hope you enjoy.

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Bakesale Betty Knock Offs

* 1 full chicken breast, boneless/skinless. Sliced in half and then filleted into four pieces. Then cut in half to equal eight pieces
* 1 egg
* a splash of milk
* 2/3 cup panko
* 1/4 cup pastry flour (regular will do fine too)
* 1 tsp salt
* store bought biscuit dough (we use Immaculate flaky biscuits)
* 1/4 head of cabbage, sliced thinly
* small handful of cilantro, chopped
* 1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed for less spice and minced
* 1/4 cup veggie oil
* 2 TBSP rice wine vinegar (red wine can be a substitute in a pinch)
* a dash of poppy seeds or black sesame seeds (optional but pretty)
* lots of veggie oil for frying

Preheat your oven according to the biscuit instructions.

Mix the 1/4 c veggie oils with vinegar and set aside.

Mix the cabbage, cilantro, jalapeño and seeds. Dress with the oil and vinegar and put into the fridge. (This is also great on hot dogs!)

In one shallow bowl, mix egg and milk. In another bowl, mix panko, flour and salt.

Heat your oil on medium in a pan -filling the pan about 1.5″-2″ with oil. I usually test to see if the oil is hot enough by dipping wooden chopsticks into the oil and looking for lots of tiny bubbles. I like to use large chopsticks to turn the fried chicken. Or you can just add a tiny pinch of the panko to check the oil readiness. It should bubble around the edges.

Put the biscuits in the oven.

Dip one piece of chicken into the egg mixture and then into the panko mixture. The panko should stick well to the meat. Don’t crowd the pan with too many pieces of chicken. You should have room around each piece to flip. But don’t flip in until you start to see the sides get golden brown. Work in batches. Taking the done pieces out and letting drain on paper towels. I also like to add a bit of salt to the freshly fried pieces of chicken. Sooo good.

Don’t forget to keep checking your biscuits.

Once done, take out of the oven and serve with chicken and slaw. I just put everything on the dining table and let everyone make their own sandwiches.

Enjoy!