Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One-Pot Spaghetti in Meat Sauce

I've used this recipe for one-pot spaghetti with meat sauce for years (you know, for those times when I'm eating meat with my spaghetti).  It has been delicious every time.  Lately I've seen a whole host of all kinds of one-pot pasta recipes floating around.  And I've tried a couple.  But they have been uniformly disappointing.  Although the flavor may be there, the sticky starchiness was so off-putting to me.  But this recipe is perfect--a good ratio of homemade sauce and meat to perfectly done noodles, without any of that starchy goopiness.  We really should be making this one more often!

One-Pot Spaghetti in Meat Sauce
(adapted from Recipe Shoebox)
Printable Recipe
Serves 6

1/2 pound ground beef, turkey, or sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cans (6 ounces) tomato paste
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
3 cups water
1 box (12 ounces) spaghetti, broken
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a large pot, cook the ground beef until meat is cooked through; drain excess grease.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender.
2) Stir in the oregano, basil, pepper, tomato paste, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil.
3) Add the broken spaghetti a little at a time, stirring constantly, and return to boiling.  Stirring frequently, boil gently, uncovered, for 17-20 minutes of until spaghetti is tender and sauce is desired consistency.  The longer it cooks, the thicker the sauce.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

German Pancakes

It's remarkable to me that this is my son's most requested dish.  If we're having a slow weekend morning, he'll ask for German pancakes.  If I ask him what we should have for dinner, most of the time he'll say German pancakes.  In fact, the last time I made German pancakes for him, he stated that it was his favorite food--even better than pizza, which is saying something.  I could maybe understand his love for them if he was drenching them in syrup, but he almost always asks for powdered sugar and lemon juice.  He's such the sophisticate.

Not that there's anything complicated or really unusual about German pancakes.  I think my surprise might stem from the fact that I never ate them myself until I was an adult, and I never made them for my son until a little over a year ago.  But apparently it was love at first bite for him, which I will not complain about.  The more foods my kids are willing to try and then (hopefully) learn to love, the better.  In general, I feel like my kids are good and varied eaters, but if German pancakes become my son's gateway food to, say, an omelet... well, that would make me one happy mom.

German Pancakes
(from Smitten Kitchen)
Printable Recipe
Makes 2 9-inch pancakes

4 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour
2/3 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease two 9-inch cake pans well.  Put eggs in a blender, cover, and press the "stir" button until light yellow in color.  Push "mix" button, remove cover, and add remaining ingredients; process until smooth.
2) Pour batter equally into pans and bake for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and then bake 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and pancake is fluffy.  Serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

It's no secret that I don't like bananas, but once again peanut butter and chocolate have come through for me!  I make this smoothie periodically for my kids as a healthy after school snack and they are always thrilled!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
(adapted from The Sisters Cafe)
Printable Recipe
Serves 3-4

1 cup milk
2 cups ice cubes
1 banana
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1) Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Plov (Russian Rice Pilaf)

This is one of my husband's favorite dishes, but I'd never attempted to make it before.  However, we recently experienced some bad plov (sticky rice, lacking flavor) and I figured I couldn't do any worse than we'd already had, so I might as well give it a try!  Plus, think or all those good wife points I'd be earning!

Plov may look like just a meaty rice pilaf (ok, it is a meaty rice pilaf), but when it's done right, it's amazing.  The rice itself is so flavorful that when you get a bite of meat, it's like a tasty surprise.  And don't be put off by the time it takes.  As I've learned over the years, if your Russian food doesn't take all afternoon to make, it probably won't taste very authentic.  I've tried many plovs over the years (and my husband even more so!) and this one does it right.

(adapted from Olga's Flavor Factory)
Printable Recipe
Serves 8

1 lb beef chuck (you can also use lamb), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4-1/3 cup canola oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and shredded
salt and pepper to taste
3 dry bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2-1 3/4 cup water
3 cups basmati rice
4 cups hot water
1 head of garlic

1) Blot the meat chunks with a paper towel until they are dry from any excess moisture and set aside.
2) Using a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1/4 to 1/3 cup oil (enough to generously cover the bottom of the pot) over high heat until it is smoking hot.
3) Add the meat to the oil and cook 5-7 minutes until the meat is a deep golden brown color, but not cooked through.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion; cook for 5-7 minutes more until the onions are tender and slightly golden.
4) Add the shredded carrots, stirring to combine, and season with salt, pepper, bay leaves, cumin and paprika.  Cook for 5 minutes more, until the carrots become tender.
5) Pour enough water in the pot to barely cover the meat mixture, 1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup.  Cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the meat is tender.
6) Meanwhile, while the meat is simmering, rinse the rice thoroughly.  This is done by placing the rice in a large bowl.  Fill the bowl with water, about 2 inches higher than the level of rice.  Using your fingers, move the rice around in the water.  The water should become cloudy.  Drain the water and repeat until the water stays clear.  After rinsing the rice, set it in a bowl of water to soak and set aside.
7) When the beef is tender, drain the water from the rice and spread the rice out evenly on top of the beef mixture.  DO NOT MIX TOGETHER.  Pour in about 4 cups of hot or boiling water, enough to cover the rice by about 1 to 1 1/2 inches.  Season with salt.  Bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until much of the water is absorbed.
8) Insert a whole garlic head into the middle of the rice and make a few holes in the rice, to help the water cook out faster (I use the handle of a long wooden spoon to create the holes); cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 10-15 minutes, just until the rice is cooked through.
9) Take out the roasted garlic and mix the whole dish together, incorporating the beef, onion, and carrots with the rice. You can press some of the roasted garlic through a garlic press and add it to the rice, as well.  Serve hot and enjoy!

*Plov freezes well!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Vegetable Quinoa Soup

Whenever one of my kids asks to buy something in the produce section I almost always say yes.  It sometimes results in some creative dinners, but who am I to deny them vegetables when they ask for them?  My little girl wanted a summer squash during one visit and so I took the opportunity to make this soup.  I know that soup season may be winding down (who am I kidding? soup season is a year-round event in our house!), but I couldn't wait to put this one on here.

Vegetable Quinoa Soup
(adapted from Two Peas and their Pod)
Printable Recipe
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, chopped
3/4 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cooked quinoa

1) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onions and cook until tender.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the carrot, celery, zucchini or squash, and green beans; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.
2) Add all the remaining ingredients except for quinoa.  Cover and reduce the heat to low, cooking 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender.  Stir in the cooked quinoa and adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm and enjoy!


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