Monday, February 21, 2011

Penne with Havarti Cheese and Basil

This is my secret weapon. It's my go to meal when I want to impress new friends. It's also pretty easy to make the day and pop in the oven the day you need it.

6 Tbsp Olive oil
1 1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
3-28 oz cans of tomato, drained
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2c chicken broth
1 lb penne pasta
2 1/2c Havarti cheese, shredded
1/2c parmesan
1/4c fresh basil (if you have it)

Over a medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in 3 Tbsp Olive oil. Mix in the tomatoes, dried basil, and red pepper. I use diced canned tomatoes because it's faster, you can use whole tomatoes and just break them apart as you add them to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Add broth. Bring to a boil again and reduce heat. Simmer for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, stirring every once in awhile. Cook and drain the pasta. Mix the remainder of the olive oil with the pasta. Let the pasta and the sauce cool. Mix the pasta, sauce and cheese together. Put in a baking dish. I like to divide the pasta into two baking dishes. I cook one and freeze the other for later. Bake at 350˚F for 30-45 minutes. Mix in the fresh basil right before serving.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hoppin' John

American Folklore states that eating Black Eyed Peas on New Year's Day will bring your family prosperity. This mostly Southern tradition has Jewish roots. It is thought that the first Sephardi Jews brought this tradition to Georgia when they settled in the 1730's. By the end of the American Civil War, the custom was practiced by Jews and non-Jews alike throughout the south. Well, I'm all about celebrating our rich American traditions, especially when they are as yummy as this recipe.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large ham hock
1c onion, chopped
1/2c celery, shopped
1/2c green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, chopped
1lb black eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken broth
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp dry thyme leaves
3c steamed white rice

Heat oil in a large pot. Add the ham hock and sear on all four sides for four minutes. Add onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for four mins. Add the black eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 minutes. Add more stock or water if the liquid evaporates. Serve over rice.

Crockpot: Sauté onion, celery, and green peppers in a pan. Toss in the Crockpot. Add all the other ingredients (except rice) and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Stir it once or twice. Serve over rice.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pico de Gallo

It's game day. The Packers are playing the Steelers at 6 EST. I'm super excited...not so much for the football game, but because it is a great excuse to make some Pico de Gallo and Guacamole. Do you ever really need an excuse to make some Pico? In a perfect world, not really.

5 whole Plum (roma) tomatoes
1/2 large onion
2 whole jalapeños
1/2 Lime
Salt and Pepper

Chop jalapeños, tomatoes and onions into a very small dice. (Leave seeds in your jalapenos for a hotter pico, I take mine out). Adjust amount of jalapenos to your preferred temperature. Next, chop up a nice-sized bunch of cilantro. Just remove and discard the long leafless stems before chopping. No need to remove the leaves from the stems completely. Place all of these ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir.

Squeeze the juice of half of one lime into the bowl. Add salt to taste and stir again. Put the whole thing in the fridge. It needs an hour or so for all the flavors to mix together.

Guacamole (from scratch)


3 whole Avocados
Pico de Gallo, see recipe
1/2 Lime
Salt to taste

Start with ripe avocados. Halve them lengthwise and remove the pits. Next, with a spoon scrape the “meat” out into a bowl. Mash the avocados, making sure to leave it relatively chunky. Salt to taste, just a few shakes should do. Next, add a generous helping of Pico de Gallo. Fold together. Lastly squeeze the juice of half of a lime over the top. Give it one more stir. Cover with plastic. Press the plastic down into the bowl to prevent the Guacamole from browning. Guacamole tastes best if it's had a little time for the flavors to mix so I put it in the fridge for an hour or so before digging it.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Smokey Roasted Potato Soup

It must be the weather or the cold, but all I feel like eating lately is soup...delicious soup! It was a little too spicy for the kids, but Roger and I thought it was amazing.

3 red bell peppers
1 lb small red potatoes, any larger potatoes halved or quartered
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4c chicken broth
3oz chorizo (about 1/2c), diced small

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. In a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, toss together the red bell peppers, red potatoes garlic cloves, and olive oil. Arrange in a single layer and roast until peppers are tender and potatoes are cooked through. This is about 25 minutes.

Peel and chop garlic. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop bell peppers. Add garlic, peppers, and potatoes to a medium sized pot. Add chicken broth to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer over medium high heat. With a potato masher (or the back of a spoon) mash some of the potatoes and peppers until the soup is thick and chunky.

Wipe your roasting pan clean. Add the chorizo to the roasting pan and roast for about 7 minutes. Add the chorizo and pan drippings to the soup. Serve and Enjoy.