Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tex-Mex Chili

I'm pretty sure this is my favorite chili.  After Thanksgiving dinner and eating leftovers, this meal was a pleasant alternative.   I've made it several times, and always get rave reviews.  I have mixed feelings about Rachel Ray, but I have to give her credit for coming up with a few staple recipes.  This recipe calls for ground beef, but ground turkey could be a good replacement as well.  The original recipe calls for Corn Chips (Fritos), which tastes good (and salty).  I usually have tortilla chips on hand, so often use them instead.   Makes 6 servings.

Tex-Mex Chili
Adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine,
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
15 oz. can black beans
15 oz. can pinto beans
10 oz. can tomatoes with green chiles
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
Tortilla chips

Optional toppings:
avocado, diced, salted, and sprinkled with lime juice
sour cream

In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the ground beef and cook for about 7 minutes.  Add the onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the beans, with their liquid, and the tomatoes with green chiles.  Simmer about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chili is thick.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Stir in the cilantro, top with cheese, and let stand until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. 

Serve chili topped with chips, avocado, and sour cream (if desired).  YUM!

My little guy had his first skiing weekend of the season.  He is stoked:)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beef Short Ribs with Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

It's cold outside.   There's no denying it.  This meal will warm your body and soul.  It's hearty.  Turn your kitchen into a bistro without leaving your house.  It makes at least 6 servings, so invite a few people over. . .or don't and have leftovers the next day.  Use a good wine and enjoy a glass with your meal.  Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices from the ribs.

Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Bon Appetite, October 2008
4 1/2 lbs. beef short ribs
salt, pepper
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup onion, chopped
8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups dry red wine
6 fresh Italian parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves

Wash and dry short ribs.  Salt and pepper them before adding to crock pot.  Place the rest of the ingredients ingredients in crock pot.

 It should look like this.

Cook on low for about 8 hours.   Transfer ribs to serving bowl or plate.  Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaves.  Spoon fat off top of sauce and pour sauce over ribs. 

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots
Adapted from Bon Appetite, October 2008
2 lbs. parsnips, peeled
1 lb. carrots, peeled
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper (to your liking)
1 Tbsp. butter, diced into pieces
3 tsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Peel parsnips and carrots; cut at a diagonal into 1 inch pieces.  Place veggies in Ziploc with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Shake bag and place veggies on baking sheet (coated with cooking spray).  Top veggies with small pieces of butter.   Bake for 20 minutes, then turn over veggies and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Veggies are done when browned and easily pierced with a fork.  Top veggies with parsley.  Season again with salt and pepper if needed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Killer Salad

We had my in-laws over for dinner the other night.   Janet brought  "Killer Salad," a recipe given to her by her dear friend, Ellen Knutsen (who lives in Bismarck, ND).  This salad truly speaks for itself.  It really is a Killer Salad.  Serve it at a holiday meal, and your guests will love you.  It's on my Christmas menu for sure:)

Killer Salad
Salad greens
Feta cheese
Toasted Almonds or pine nuts
Green onions, diced

1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. Tabasco sauce
2 T. sugar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine salad ingredients together and drizzle with dressing right before serving.   You will go back for seconds of this one:)

Jack had fun that night as well.

He's still stealing Halloween candy. . .it just doesn't lose it's appeal:)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zumbro Cafe

Zumbro Cafe is my absolute favorite breakfast joint in Minneapolis, MN.   It's located in the Linden Hills neighborhood, close to Lake Harriet.  This little cafe consistently serves up delicious breakfasts.  It's not a greasy-spoon kind of place.  Breakfast here is made from all-natural ingredients that will make you feel energized the rest of the day.  The coffee rocks.  It's strong, and the waiters are liberal with refills.  Courtland is especially fond of their mocha.

  I usually always get the same thing, the Frittata with Portabella Mushrooms, Spinach, and Goat Cheese (I substitute feta or fontina), or the Huevos Zumbrosos.  This time I had the frittata.  It's always good.

Courtland had the Chicken Wild Rice Hash.  He usually always gets the Eggs Benedict, French Toast, or Huevos Zumbrosos.  He claims he'd likely order his standard fare next time.

Jack always gets the Teddybear Pancake.  What kid wouldn't?  We're lucky if he decides to share:)

Go early. . .it gets very busy on weekend mornings.  The tables near the door are chilly to sit at in the winter. I suggest waiting for an alternative table if offered a seat there.   The staff are attentive and efficient: even better when Jack is offered one of their little toy boxes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Andalusian Chicken Stew

A few years ago, I was in a recipe rut.  I quickly got out of that rut after receiving the  Dinner with Jennette monthly recipes as a Christmas gift from my parents. The plan includes 12 natural food meal plans, nutritional tips,  and a grocery list for the ingredients.  Jennette also teaches classes at Wedge co-op in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, MN.  I learned a great deal about nutrition throughout the year of trying her recipes.   Andalusian Chicken Stew is definitely one of my favorite recipes from the meal plans.  It's an ideal autumn or winter meal and is easy enough to make on a weeknight.   An added plus: it smells awesome while cooking.  My husband is thrilled when he walks through the door after work.  The kid likes it too:)

Andalusian Chicken Stew
Adapted from Jennette Turner, "Dinner with Jennette"

2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. chicken breast or thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp. flour (all-purpose or brown rice flour)
3 C. chicken stock (I use Pacific brand)
3 large carrots, sliced
6-8 garlic cloves, chopped (if large size, use less)
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbsp. lemon juice, fresh or bottled
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat butter or oil over med-high heat in a Dutch Oven or soup pot.  Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes. 
While onion is cooking, place the flour in a bowl, add chicken, and toss to coat flour.
Add the chicken to the onions, and cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring often.  Add the chicken stock, carrots, garlic, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and red pepper flakes.  Make sure to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.   Bring the soup to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Adjust for salt, pepper, and lemon if needed before serving.  I normally serve this stew with a big chunk of crusty, hearty bread.   Thanks to the baker at Whole Foods for recommending Seeduction Bread-delicious!
 There you have it. . .a healthy and satisfying meal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

German Potato Salad

When I was growing up, German Potato Salad was often served at family get togethers.  As a kid,  I didn't like it as much as the average mayonnaise-mustard laden variety.   My palate has changed, and I thought I'd try and make it as a side dish with brats and sauerkraut.  I discovered a few recipes from distant relatives, however, this one from Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson (copyright 1994) one me over.

German Potato Salad
Adapted from Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson

2 1/2 lbs. boiling potatoes
4 strips of bacon (use the real stuff)
1 cup peeled, sliced red onions
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut potatoes and place into saucepan with salted water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and boil, partially covered, until tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Drain.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon, reserving fat in skillet, and drain on paper towel.   Crumble bacon when cooled.  Saute onions in fat until they are golden.  Add the cider vinegar and the potatoes to the skillet and toss.  Turn off heat, add bacon and parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 This salad can be served warm or at room temperature and is a perfect side dish for brats,  grilled meat, chicken, or pork. 

Monday, November 1, 2010


I celebrated my birthday this last weekend. . .a great year behind me and an exciting new one ahead of me. Courtland took me to Lucia's Restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis for dinner before we met up with friends to celebrate Halloween.   I love Lucias.  It's always fabulous.  The restaurant is cozy, service is spot-on, and the food. . . oh, the food. . simply devine.  The menu changes weekly, depending what's in season.   I didn't take any pictures of our food this time. . .I really wanted to enjoy my dinner with Courtland.

While Courtland was parking our car, I was looking over the wine list and was undecided on what bottle of wine to order.  The waiter was nice enough to let me have a taste of each bottle of wine before ordering.  It's those extra touches that go a long way.

 We started off with a basket of bread (the millet flax is a must to try) and olives (from the wine bar menu).  Courtland said they were the best olives he's ever had. . .and I agreed.  They had a hint of orange. . .and anise, along with fresh herbs.

 Courtland had a small cup of the soup of the day, which was potato soup.  It was rich and creamy with bits of bacon and chive.  I ordered simple mixed greens.  They tasted like they were fresh from the garden. 

For our entrees, Courtland surprised me and got Squash Pancakes with Cranberry Salsa, Sage Butter, Quinoa, Brussel Sprouts, and Pepitas.   He loved it.  I did too:)  It was the perfect combination of autumn vegetables.  Per the recommendation of our waiter,  I had the Day Boat Scallops with Chardonnay Lemon Beurre Blanc, Spinach-Leek Risotto, and Sugar Snap Peas.   The dish was fantastic.  I shared with Courtland, and he agreed. 

The waiter brought out a plate of dessert choices, and we decided on the Chocolate Roulade Cake.  It was a decadent dark chocolate cake, with a creme and whole raspberry filling.  It was a rich and incredibly satisfying dessert to end our meal.

Go to Lucias. . .you will not be disappointed with whatever you choose to order off the menu.  Lucia's To Go next door has a variety of breads, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and cookies.  Check out the dog bar on the website:)

Next blog update. . .a recipe from Lucia Watson and Beth Dooley's cookbook, Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland.