St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

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I love any excuse to make a themed dinner so every year when March 17th comes around, I make corned beef just because I can. I know that I should probably make lamb stew, which is a traditional Irish meal, but I’m going to make corned beef anyway.

This year, I decided to make Ina Garten’s Irish Soda Bread, Slow Cooker Corned Beef inspired by Foodie Crush, and Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon, which is a mix of a couple different recipes, including Ina Garten.

This Irish soda bread recipe is really easy to make. The dough is a bit messy, but it’s worth the trouble because it tastes better than any Irish soda bread you can buy at the store. The recipe makes one loaf and it freezes well if you can’t eat it all. I love how in less than 90 minutes, you have homemade bread.

Irish Soda Bread

First thing in the morning, I set up my slow cooker and started the corned beef. I made a few adjustments to the recipe. My husband loves carrots so I only throw in a couple potatoes, but a ton of carrots. Because I am making a cabbage side dish, I left out the savoy cabbage, but I like how the recipe calls for savoy instead of green cabbage. It’s harder to find, but I think savoy cabbage tastes better. I also decided to throw some leeks in because I had some.

Corned Beef

About 30 minutes before dinner time, I started on the cabbage. Dice four strips of thick bacon and fry them in butter until slightly crisp. (Did I mention this is a very healthy dish?!) Set aside. Slice up about a pound of cabbage. A small head is about 2 pounds so half a head is just about right. You can use more than a pound, but I can’t get more than that fit in the pan and stir properly so I saved some for coleslaw later.

Cabbage

In the same pan as your bacon, cook chopped onions and garlic seasoned with some salt. After about 8 minutes, add your cabbage, a little more salt, and some pepper. Saute for about 10-15 minutes until the cabbage is soft and slightly browned. I like mine not too soft so I cook mine for about 10 minutes. After you’ve cooked it, add the bacon and stir.

Cabbage and Bacon

Throw some more salt and pepper on it if it needs it, and serve with corned beef, vegetables, and bread. The corned beef is somewhere under that pile of food.

Corned Beef

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Cabbage and Bacon

Sauteed Cabbage with Bacon

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices thick bacon diced in large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Cook bacon with butter until slightly crispy. Set bacon aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Using the same pan, cook onions and garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of salt until soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Cut the cabbage in half and discard the core. With the flat cut-side down, slice it as thinly as possible as though you were making coleslaw.
  • Add the cabbage, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Saute for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and begins to brown.
  • Add bacon. Season to taste and serve warm.

Hanger Steak with Chimol

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about culture. I don’t have a lot to say about mine and that’s a problem. My mom was from El Salvador, which makes me half Salvadoran. Growing up in California, I noticed that my mother didn’t embrace her culture as one would expect. She tried to blend in, didn’t teach me any traditions, and didn’t cook very many Salvadoran meals. She kept her memories of her homeland close to her chest and hidden. I regret not pushing her more for information, but she never wanted to talk about it.

She also hated cooking so I couldn’t fault her for not teaching me Salvadoran cooking. But she did make a few things and she made them well. She taught me how to cook black beans three ways: soup, refried, and gallo pinto. She baked Salvadoran quesadilla, a slightly sweet dessert made with rice flour and cream cheese. I remember one year when I was 5 she made tamales with some of the ladies from the neighborhood. I sat on a tall stool and watched all day as they did magical things to meats, dried fruits, and banana leaves. I wish she continued that tradition so I could learn, but it’s a lot of work and for someone who doesn’t like to cook, it was not fun, except the camaraderie shared among the women in the kitchen that December afternoon while drinking horchata. We ate tamales for Christmas Eve that night.

A few decades later, I’ve decided I need to learn what I didn’t learn: how to cook Salvadoran food. I’ve searched for cookbooks and came up empty handed. El Salvador is a small country, but I expected to find something. But with all this talk of culture, Bon Appetit has brought diverse cooking to the forefront and wrote an article about Salvadoran food. The article made me emotional, like maybe I’ve found my people. I know, it’s silly, but I found a piece of me that day, something to connect to. I decided to start my adventure on a fairly easy recipe, Hangar Steak with Chimol.

Chimol is a radish salsa that also includes red onions, lime or lemon juice, chiles, and cilantro. Some also add tomatoes, but this recipe left those out. Chimol drew out a distant memory of when my aunt made this icky radish and lemon juice mix every single day. At the time, I thought it was weird, but I think she was making chimol her way.

This recipe is not difficult to make, but making chimol was a little time consuming because of all the slicing and chopping. Combine lime juice along with thinly sliced red onion and serrano chiles (leave the seeds and membrane on for more spice). Grate a couple cloves of garlic (I added 2 cloves instead of 1 in the original recipe…I like a lot of garlic!) and slices of radish. I cut the radishes in half and then with the flat side down, sliced them up. Took a while, but that’s okay. Some things are worth the effort. I do have to say that I only used about 1/2 a chile because I didn’t want to scare away the boys. Next time, I’m going to make my own batch. Also, don’t forget to season it all with salt and pepper.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

When you’re done, it will look something like this.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

I think it looks pretty.

Prepare the grill for the hanger steak. I chose to use a grill pan and do this indoors. Hanger steak might be a bit tricky to find so ask your butcher if you can’t find it on the shelf. They usually have some in back. I thought it was the same as skirt steak and my butcher corrected me quickly. He’s a good guy. Here’s an informative article about the differences if you want to know.

While your grill pan is heating up, salt and pepper the meat and rub it with olive oil. Throw it on the pan on medium high heat. The original recipe has you do this first, but I think it’s better to wait until you’re done making the chimol.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

Cook each side for about 10 minutes for rare, or longer if you prefer. Move it to a large cutting board and douse it with that sauce no one can pronounce: Worcestershire. Apparently it’s used a lot in El Salvador and is sometimes called salsa inglesa, which I’m thinking of calling it that from now on. It’s a lot easier to say. I also learned that El Salvador has the highest per-capita consumption of salsa inglesa. That’s impressive.

Hanger Steak With Chimol

Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes so when you cut it, the juices stay in the meat rather than run all over your board. Cut thinly and serve on warm tortillas with chimol and more salsa inglesa. Yum. The meat is super tender. The chimol is peppery and spicy with the right amount of acidic tang from the lime juice. I thought that it would be weird to have salsa inglesa in a taco, but it complements it perfectly. Definitely a make again.

Hanger Steak With Chimol
Hanger Steak With Chimol

Hanger Steak with Chimol

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • vegetable oil for grill
  • juice of 4 limes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1-2 serrano chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 ounces radishes
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 1/4 pounds hanger steak cut in 2-3 pieces
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • tortillas

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your ingredients: Thinly slice red onions. Depending on how spicy you want your chimol to be, remove the seeds and membrane of the chiles, and thinly slice. Grate garlic. Slice radishes. Rough chop cilantro.
  • Mix together lime juice, red onion, chiles, garlic, radishes, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in 1/4 cup olive oil. Let chimol sit at room temperature while the steak cooks.
  • Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Oil grate with vegetable oil. Season steak with salt and pepper, and then rub all over with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Grill, turning once, until deeply browned on the outside and cooked to desired doneness, 8-12 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and generously drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Let sit 5 minutes before thinly slicing.
  • Serve steak with chimol, warmed tortillas, and more Worcestershire sauce.

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

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Unless you are somewhere warm, grilling cheeseburgers outside is probably not high on your list. But what are you to do when you want a delicious cheeseburger? You certainly can fry a hamburger patty indoors, but let’s try something easier and without the grease splatter.

The first time I made these cheeseburger sliders was for a Super Bowl party. I think I tripled the recipe and we had plenty without a lot of effort. This recipe makes a great party food. But I now make these all the time for my family with just a pound of ground beef. Sometimes I include chopped onions, sometimes I don’t. I don’t use lean beef because it tends to dry out in my opinion, but you certainly can use 93% instead of the 80% beef I use. You can also use ground turkey instead.

Grab a bowl. Mix up beef, bread crumbs, finely chopped onion, and salt. Don’t over mix or your burger will turn out tough. You just want to mix just enough so everything’s combined. Are the chopped onion bits all over the place so each bite has a piece of onion? Stop. You’re good.

Press the meat into an 8 x 8-inch pan.

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

You can use any sized pan, but the thickness will vary and so will your cooking times. Next, use a fork to poke a bunch of holes in the meat to help evenly cook the meat. Bake for 20 minutes. When you pull them out of the oven, you’ll notice that the meat shrunk and is in a pool of liquid. Completely normal.

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

Carefully pour the liquid out into a soda can or jar. Don’t pour it down the drain unless you want clogged pipes and your plumber on speed dial.

Top the burgers with slices of your favorite cheese. American cheese melts nicely, but we’ve used cheddar, pepper jack, or even blue cheese.

Stick the pan back in the oven until the cheese melts. Cut into squares the same size as your rolls, place them on Hawaiian rolls (or any sized roll or bun), add your favorite toppings, and tada! A cheeseburger!

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

I like to fry up some bacon while the the burgers are cooking in the oven for bacon cheeseburgers, but bacon bits will do in a pinch. Here we serve them with celery and pickles. That and the ketchup counts as a vegetable.

Do these have grill marks? No. They are oven-baked, people! And they are completely wonderful and delicious. Another easy meal.

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/8 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 9 Hawaiian rolls or slider buns
  • Cheese slices

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onion, and salt. Gently press mixture into a 8 x 8-inch pan so that it makes one large patty of even thickness. Using a fork, poke holes throughout the meat so the meat will cook evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. As it bakes, the meat will shrink away from the sides and liquid will accumulate around the edges of pan. When fully cooked, remove the pan from oven (keep oven turned on) and carefully drain off the liquid.
  • Top the meat with an even layer of sliced cheese. Return pan to oven for about 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares (or the size of the buns used) about 9 mini-hamburgers.

Instant Pot Beef Carnitas

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I love all things tacos. Taco Tuesday might be my favorite day of the week. One particular week I made these amazing beef carnitas that didn’t take as much time as my slow cooker pork carnitas, and were even better. I don’t remember having any leftovers and that’s saying a lot when we started out with a two pound hunk of meat and there’s only three of us.

This recipe alone is enough justification to run our and buy an Instant Pot. You really won’t regret it. There’s so much you can do with it and it’s not scary at all like those old-fashioned pressure cookers.

This recipe came from an Instant Pot magazine that I purchased when I first bought my Instant Pot. I really should try more of the recipes because none of them have ever failed. I made a few changes, but stuck to the recipe.

Gather your ingredients. Chop up an onion until you have a cup. Cut the meat into large 2-inch chunks. I used chuck instead of the stew meat that the recipe lists. Stew meat is a mixed bag, literally. Stew meat is whatever left over meat cuts the butcher has that are good for braising. Because the meat might not be all the same cut, you won’t get consistent results. Some cuts might be tougher than others all in the same package. It’s much better to just have one cut of meat, like chuck, and stick with that.

There are a lot of seasonings, but you probably already have most of them. If you don’t have ancho chili powder, use your standard chili powder. I actually had ancho chili powder so I’m sort of kicking myself. I couldn’t find it and thought I didn’t have any. Time to clean out that spice rack! Or, maybe I just need to make this recipe again. 🙂

Beef Carnitas

Combine olive oil with your seasonings.

Beef Carnitas

Add the beef and mix it until the beef is well coated. Also add your chopped onion, bay leaf, and broth in the pot.

Beef Carnitas

Add the meat to the pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Plan on an extra 15-20 minutes for the pot to come up to pressure. Sounds long, but it’s worth it. Go watch some TV or something. When it’s done, natural release the pressure, which will take another 5-10 minutes.

Remove the beef with a slotted spoon. Transfer the beef to a baking pan, shred it a little, and let it crisp up in the broiler for about 5 minutes. You can certainly skip this step, which I did. It’s less authentic, but I like the juicy chunks of meat just on its own.

Warm up some tortillas, spoon the carnitas onto the tortillas, add your favorite toppings, and enjoy. I think I was a little heavy handed with the toppings, but I swear the meat is down there somewhere. The meat is super flavorful because of the spices and tender beyond belief. I really did not except these results. Another win for the Instant Pot!

Beef Carnitas
Beef Carnitas

Instant Pot Beef Carnitas

Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons kocher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho or red chili powder
  • 2 pounds beef chuck cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • tortillas
  • your favorite toppings

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Cut up the beef into 2-inch cubes and mix until well coated. Place chopped onion, bay leaf, and broth in the pot. Add beef.
  • Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. When cooking is complete, natural release to depressurize.
  • Remove the beef with a slotted spoon or large fine-mesh strainer to remove the liquid. Reserve some liquid if you are broiling the meat. Shred or leave in chunks. Serve on warm tortillas with your favorite toppings.
  • Optional: Transfer the meat to a baking pan. Use two forks to shred the beef and spread into an even layer on the pan. Broil about 4 inches away for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the crispiness you like. If needed, add some of the cooking liquid to moisten.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

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In my attempts to make something other than chicken, I came across this Brazilian fish stew also known as moqueca, which is pronounced mo-KEH-kah. It’s amazingly easy to make and really affordable depending on the fish you use. I chose cod, which is a bargain these days, but you can use halibut, sea bass, or even shellfish. I did a little research to find out more about moqueca and was disappointed that not much turned up. It was originally cooked in clay pots, but today’s Dutch oven works well. There are many variations of it, but it’s typically a tomato-based broth with onions, peppers, garlic, and lime. The best write up I found about it is from Olivia’s Cuisine.

This recipe, from Little Ferraro Kitchen and adapted from Simply Recipes, is super simple and contains nothing unusual that requires you to go to an ethnic grocery store to purchase. Moqueca can be more complicated than the recipe I tried if you want a more authentic version. Regardless, this stew is both healthy and comforting, especially on a cold rainy day, and you can make this version in under an hour so it’s definitely a week night meal. I did make a couple changes, but nothing major.

Gather your ingredients. Chop up yellow and green onion, peppers, and garlic. Grab paprika, cayenne, coconut milk, fish and vegetable stock, and jasmine rice. Cut up your fish into 2-inch pieces, and season it with salt and pepper. Zest a lime and you’re ready to go.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Start by sauteing your onions and peppers until they are slightly soft. There’s jalapeno in this recipe, but it really just adds flavor, not heat. Use the entire jalapeno if you’re looking for something spicier, but I removed the ribs and seeds.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Add garlic, spices, and mix. Let it cook for a minute and until it smells delicious, if it doesn’t already. Add tomato and cook some more.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Add fish, fish stock, and coconut milk. If you can’t find fish stock, vegetable stock works too. Add lime zest and add some more salt and pepper.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. While that’s going on, make some extra fancy rice (anything other than white rice is fancy). Saute some onion and garlic in olive oil (that’s the fancy part). Add rice and mix it well. Pour in vegetable stock (more fanciness). Bring it to a boil and cook for 20 minutes.

When it’s all done, serve the stew over rice or side by side. Top with green onion. Some cilantro would have been nice too, but I was so ready to dig in I forgot. The chunks of fish were so tender and flavorful. The tomato was rich with a tiny hint of spice from the jalapenos and cayenne. The broth tasted like it had been cooking for hours. My husband loved it. My son had to surgically remove all the chopped up veggies so he was less of a fan. Regardless, it’s a perfect winter meal that makes great leftovers if you can manage not to eat it all.

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)
Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Brazilian Fish Stew (Moqueca)

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Fish Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeds and ribs removed, and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 pound cod
  • 15 ounces chopped tomato
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 1 can coconut milk full fat, not light
  • 1 lime zested
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • green onions for garnish

Rice

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro rough chopped
  • green onions for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat for a minute, Saute chopped onion, bell peppers, and jalapeno until lightly soft, about 6 minutes. Add chopped garlic, paprika, and cayenne. Stir to combine, for another minute.
  • Add chopped tomatoes with their juice. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  • After cutting the fish in 2-inch chunks, dry the fish very well with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the fish, fish stock, coconut milk, and lime zest. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes on medium-low heat or until the fish is fully cooked.
  • While stew is cooking, make the rice. In a small pot, saute chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until lightly caramelized. Add jasmine rice, and stir to coat so onion and olive oil are evenly distributed through the rice.
  • Add vegetable stock, and season with salt and pepper. Bring rice to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated.
  • Serve by spooning the stew over a bowl of rice, or serve the stew and rice side by side. Garnish with cilantro and chopped green onions.

Chili con Carne

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It’s Super Bowl Sunday, but we’re not big football fans. The game is about getting together, listening to the national anthem, watching funny commercials, munching on snacks, enjoying the half-time show…oh and there’s the actual football game. Almost forgot about it. Unless the 49ers are in it, I’m not interested in who’s playing.

This year is different. Not that I get out much, but the last party I went to was our friend’s huge Super Bowl 2020 party. He had two TVs going, a kitchen peninsula overflowing with pot luck items, ice coolers brimming with beverages, and multiple chafing dishes full of Asian deliciousness from his family’s restaurant. There’s much talking, laughing, and small children running about (except my teenager who is bored out of his mind). There’s a little television watching, but mainly it’s about the food and the commercials.

This year is different, I repeat. I just tell myself it’s a different type of Super Bowl where we all should be socially distanced. Please stay home. It’ll be quiet, calm, and sometimes that’s okay. We might have the TV on. I’m going to make some cheeseburger and bacon sliders (recipe coming soon!). I thought about making my chocolate football brownies or chocolate dipped football strawberries, but I just want an afternoon of peace and a little reflection. It’s the year to slow down.

If you read this and have time to run to the store, do it because this dish is amazing and perfect for the Super Bowl. It takes forever to make so you can start mid-afternoon and have something ready by dinner time. Before I made it, I wondered if it was really worth the effort. YES! I’m talking about chili con carne. And it’s not from a can. It’s amazing. I can’t say that enough.

I decided to look up the difference between chili con carne and chili. There isn’t really. I guess if your chili has no meat, you really shouldn’t call it chili con carne, but some people would wonder if that’s even chili. Then there’s the whole controversy of beans versus no beans, which I will not get into. You guys duke that one out on your own.

Okay, enough talking and let’s get down to business. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes, and was really pleased how awesome it came out. I only made a couple substitutions. My biggest complaint is that it takes way longer than 10 minutes to prep. I don’t know who these people are except a chef on Chopped. It took me 10 minutes alone to cut up the meat. So, bottom line, give you yourself at least 30 minutes to bring all your ingredients together.

Chili con Carne

Measure out all your seasonings and place them in a small bowl with some water to make a paste.

Chili con Carne

This recipe calls out for two types of chili powder, red and chipotle. I didn’t want to spend $4 on chipotle chile powder (hello, that cuts into my Starbucks habit) when I already had ancho chile powder (and I have no idea why I did have that). How different can they be? Apparently not enough for this cook. Chipotle chile powder is made from smoked, dried jalapenos. Ancho chile powder is made from dried poblanos, which results in a milder, sweeter chile powder that isn’t quite as smoky or hot as chipotle. In my opinion, either is fine, and if you want, just stick to your standard red chili powder if you want. You might miss some of the smokiness, but you’ll be fine.

Next, get your bacon going in a fry pan while you finish up dealing with your onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes. Squeeze some lime juice and measure out the sugar. You can also drain and rinse some beans, and measure out the cornstarch, which you’ll put aside for now.

When the bacon is done, chop it up into bite size pieces. The recipe calls for you to cook it so you can crumble it, but I like my bacon a little meatier than that. I want substance.

Toss in the meat in batches to sear. Do not be tempted overcrowd the beef all into one pan or you’ll end up with a big pile of steaming meat. Not a good thing. By the way, the recipe says to drain the bacon fat and use a tablespoon for the meat. No way. I’m not going to that mess and it’ll taste better my way. This is not a time to be all healthy.

After you’ve seared the beef, set it aside and start on your onions.

Chili con Carne

Next add garlic and jalapenos. In this household, I usually hold back the spice for the boys, but not this time. Jalapenos really aren’t that spicy if you don’t include the membranes.

Chili con Carne

Next add your spice paste and cook it a little longer.

Put all this fragrant goodness into a large pot or Dutch oven along with the bacon, tomatoes, some water, lime juice, and sugar.

Chili con Carne

There’s a lot of flavors going on here, which is good because you’re going to let it cook for a couple of hours while you “watch” the game, snack, and drink beer. Well, if you’re on the East coast, you might want to make this a few hours before the game and dig in just as the game starts. You can still snack and drink beer. No one’s stopping you and if we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s apparently to be day drinkers.

After 90 minutes, uncover the pot and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. When that’s done, you’ll think that you have a watery soup/stew situation going on. But wait! There’s more! Mix up your cornstarch with some water until it’s dissolved (no lumps) and add it to the pot. Throw in your beans (shocking, I know). Add a bit of salt, if it needs it. You might need to add a little more lime juice or sugar, but I didn’t think so.

Chili con Carne

Just in case, dip a corn or tortilla chip into it to taste. If you’re not sure, continue and repeat. It’s pretty much amazing at this point and eventually you should share it with others so take it off the heat, ladle into bowls, throw some cheddar cheese and onions if you like, and serve.

Chili con Carne

This is not your canned chili. I was concerned that I would spend hours making this to discover it’s not worth it. Wrong. It’s totally worth it. Just plan ahead. This is not a weekday meal, but it freezes well so you can have it anytime you want. Now I have to be concerned that the boys won’t want canned chili ever again.

Chili con Carne

Chili con Carne

Servings 8

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder or chipotle
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 3 strips thick bacon
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • salt
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 jalapeno chili peppers stems removed, seeded, membranes roomed, minced
  • 14 ounces whole tomatoes broken up
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 14 ounces red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in a couple tablespoons of water
  • salt
  • grated cheddar cheese and chopped onion optional

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl mix the red chili powder, ancho chile powder, ground cumin, oregano, thyme, and ground coriander seeds. Mix in water so that the spices forms a light paste. Set aside.
  • Cook the bacon in a large skillet on medium high heat until it's slightly underdone. Set aside on a paper towel. Leave the bacon fat in the skillet. When the bacon cools, chop it into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  • Increase heat to medium high. Working in batches so that you don't crowd the beef , sear the beef cubes on all sides, lightly salting as you cook the beef. Remove beef from pan, set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the chopped onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add and cook the garlic and jalapeno for a minute until fragrant. Add the chili paste and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • Into a 6-quart thick-bottomed Dutch oven or pot, put onion chili mixture, beef, bacon, broken down tomatoes (break up the whole tomatoes with your fingers as you put them in the pot), water, lime juice, and sugar. Heat the chili on medium high heat until it comes to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Then uncover and simmer for another half hour.
  • Mix the cornstarch powder into a little water to dissolve the cornstarch completely and add to the chili to thicken it. Gently mix in the kidney beans. Add salt to taste.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheddar cheese and chopped onion.

Lora’s Pressure-Cooker Red Beans and Rice

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No, it’s not a typo. This is is Lora’s recipe, not Flora’s. It’s also the last dish I made to finish off the Christmas ham. You’ll find this recipe to be super tasty and easy to make plus there are tons of leftovers that are good to freeze. The hardest part is to remember to soak the beans the night before. Make yourself a little reminder so you don’t forget.

Before you start prepping your ingredients, make some rice. I use my Instant Pot as rice cooker, which is what I did, but you can obviously make it over the stove. I just recommend getting this out of the way before you make the rest of the meal.

While your rice is cooking, start on your chopping. There’s a lot of chopping, but that’s ok. You’ve got this. For instance, chop up an onion by using this little trick of cutting the onion in half, leave the root attached, slice into strips up to the root, and then across. You’ll end up with perfectly chopped onion pieces.

Red Beans and Rice

After you’ve chopped your ham and veggies into bit-sized pieces, start adding everything to your Instant Pot.

Red Beans and Rice

The only changes I made was to use Italian-style sausage instead of andouille and the only hot pepper sauce I could find in my fridge was sriracha.

Toss everything in the Instant Pot pot except your rice, which should be done by now. I keep two stainless steels pots so I can switch them out for this very purpose. Pull the rice pot out and put the beans pot in. Seal it up and cook on high for 30 minutes. Quick release and you’re done. Seriously that easy.

Maybe this is a preference, I did find a lot more liquid than I would have liked so I used a slotted spoon to scoop out the bean mixture before serving it over rice. If I made this again, I’d experiment with 2 cups of water instead of 4.

Red Beans and Rice

This recipe makes 10 servings so you should have plenty to freeze for another time. I froze a couple containers without the recipe so I can make fresh rice next time.

Red Beans and Rice

Lora’s Pressure-Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Servings 10

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces dried kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked ham cubed
  • 12 ounces Italian-style chicken sausage or other sausage sliced
  • 1 medium green pepper chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • hot cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • Rinse and sort beans. Soak overnight according to package directions. Drain, discarding water, and rinse with cool water.
  • Prepare rice ahead of time and set aside.
  • In a 6-qt. Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker), combine beans, ham, sausage, vegetables, sriracha, garlic, salt, and water.
  • Lock lid and close pressure-release valve. Pressure cook on high for 30 minutes. Quick-release pressure. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

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The first time I made this recipe was an utter failure and I don’t think it was me. There. I said it. My son liked it, but I don’t know why. It was so dry. Where’s the sauce? Where’s the cheese? It was full of peas, which he managed to remove with the precision of a surgeon. This was pretty much the top worst five “edible” recipes I’ve ever made.

Determined to make it right, I changed the recipe so drastically that I don’t consider it to be the same recipe anymore. I struggle to give the original recipe owners any credit because it might actually be bad publicity for them. I hope that’s not too harsh. My Catholic guilt is seeping through about the whole affair.

Ok, I’m over it. Make this. It’s super tasty and an easy weeknight dinner.

First prep your ingredients like mincing up a shallot and a few cloves of garlic. Dice your ham into bite-sized cubes. Shred your Swiss cheese. Sneak a few bits for yourself.

Heat up a pan with some olive oil, and cook the shallot and garlic until soft.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Add ham and cook for several minutes, stirring half way through, until browned on a couple sides. Add some pepper, and then add fresh tortellini and frozen peas.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

The original recipe didn’t specify fresh tortellini and had you use twice as much. They also called for 2 cups of peas. I love peas, but way too many peas.

After you’ve stirred it up a bit, add broth and cover. The original recipe called for less broth and not cover. Adding sufficient liquid and covering it is essential to making sure the tortellini is cooked through.

After this mixture has simmered for about 10 minutes (cook for however long your tortellini package tells you to cook it for), add cream and cheeses.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Here was another major flaw of the original recipe. Not enough cream and cheese. I know. Start your diet tomorrow. But seriously, if you want a cheesy sauce, you have to do it right.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

After it’s all mixed up, serve and garnish with a little parsley to make it look pretty.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

My family agreed this was 100% better than the first attempt. I’m pleased and you will be too.

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 meadium shallot minced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced ham
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 9 ounces fresh tortellini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly chopped parsley for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add shallot and garlic. Cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add ham and cook until browned, stirring once half way through, 6 minutes.
  • Season with pepper. Add fresh tortellini and frozen peas. Stir until mixed and then add chicken broth. Simmer until tortellini are al dente, about 10 minutes (or what the package recommends).
  • Add heavy cream and both cheeses. Stir until creamy. Serve and garnish with parsley.

Ham Tetrazzini

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For just the three of us, I bought a huge ham for Christmas thinking we’d be eating ham all year. Funny how delicious and easy ham is for a main course, sandwich, or just a snack. By the time I made this Ham Tetrazzini recipe by Spicy Southern Kitchen, the ham was gone. We ate it all. Wow. I’m tempted to buy another one. Who says who can’t order a huge hunk of ham any time of year?

Instead, I made this recipe with a ham steak, which is pretty easy to find at the grocery store and relatively inexpensive unless you buy the organic, uncured kind that I feel compelled to buy. I think it tastes better, but it’s probably just my imagination. Buy whatever ham you want.

This recipe is definitely a make again. The only change I made was to leave out the mushrooms since the boys won’t touch them with a 6-foot pole. I also didn’t cook the frozen peas because I didn’t want them to get mushy. Another thing I noticed is that the recipe didn’t give me any cooking times so I decided to add that to the recipe to help you guys out. I like to be able to time things and I’m sure some of you do too.

By the way, tetrazzini is totally old school and I’m okay with that. You should be too. I remember my grandmother telling me how much she loved it. And what’s not to love? It’s got meat. It’s got carbs. It’s got cheese. These are all good things.

Gather your ingredients. Dice up an onion and some ham. Measure out your peas and cheeses.

Ham Tetrazzini

Boil some spaghetti. You can use any kind of pasta so I think fettuccine or even egg noodles would have worked. The tall boiling pot I like to use encourages me to break the pasta in half. Frankly, I prefer shorter spaghetti. I know I’m “breaking” the rules. Not sorry.

I waited for my pasta to be done before making the sauce, but you can get a head start if you like. In a skillet, melt some butter and add your onion. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the soup, milk, and peppers. I actually ran out of white pepper so I added more than the prescribed black pepper. I actually don’t know why you need both black and white pepper, but let’s go with it.

Ham Tetrazzini

Mix that all up and then add your ham, peas, and cheeses.

Ham Tetrazzini

Stir it all up and cook until it’s melted, which is about a minute or two.

Ham Tetrazzini

The recipe said to salt it to taste, but I think it’s perfect without any additional salt because of the ham and cream of chicken soup.

Drain your cooked pasta and add it to the skillet. Mix it up.

Ham Tetrazzini

Put some onto a plate. Throw some parsley on it to make it look pretty. Voila! Dinner is served!

Ham Tetrazzini

What I liked about this dish is the creaminess without it being too rich. You can sub out milk for cream, but with the cheeses you don’t really need to do that. The smokiness of the ham adds another depth of flavor that is salty and comforting. Definitely go retro and make this.

Ham Tetrazzini

Ham Tetrazzini

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 10.75 ounces cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups ham diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions in salted water.
  • Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add soup, milk, and both peppers to the skillet and mix well.
  • Add ham, peas, cheddar cheese, and Parmesan cheese and stir and cook over medium heat until cheese is melted, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add drained pasta to the pan and mix well.

Ham and Bean Soup

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I made an 8-pound ham for the three of us for Christmas dinner. Needless to say, I have more ham than I know what to do with. After eating plates and plates of sliced ham and leftover sides, I decided we needed to change it up a bit. I tried a ham and peas tortellini dish that needs a lot of improvement so I’ll share that once I’ve worked out the kinks. For now, we’re going straight to comfort food: Soup.

I got all ambitious and made my own ham broth, but that’s completely not necessary. I only did this because I had a ham bone and making broth is super simple to make in the Instant Pot. Here’s what you do. Take the meat bones (ham, chicken, turkey, anything really) and stick it in an Instant Pot along with chopped carrots, celery, and onions. Throw in some peppercorns if you have them and a bay leaf. Cover with water. Cook on high for 60 minutes and natural release. Done. Let it cool, strain all the stuff out, bag it in 2 cup servings, and freeze flat.

Now back to the soup. The base of the soup is from a recipe on the back of a bean package, but I made it better by adding ham and using broth instead of water. Always use broth or stock when you are making soups. Water just isn’t going to cut it if you want the depth of flavor. I don’t cook soup all day so using broth really makes the difference.

The hardest part is remembering to soak your beans overnight. I completely forgot so I soaked them all day instead. It was all good, but I was a little nervous there for a moment. I used cannellini beans because that’s what I had, but you can use any (pandemic) beans you happen to have.

Gather your ingredients. Rinse your beans in cold water and drain. Chop up everything that needs chopping.

Ham and Bean soup

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat up some olive oil and saute your chopped veggies. Throw in some garlic powder (because you completely forgot to mince up some garlic…hey I’m not perfect, but try to use minced garlic instead) and a little black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes so the onion is softened.

Ham and Bean soup

Add chopped ham and mix it around a bit, cooking for a few minutes.

Ham and Bean soup

Then, add beans and 5 cups of broth. You can use more or less broth. Start with 5 cups and if you want your soup to be thinner, add more broth at the end.

Ham and Bean soup

Bring the whole thing to a boil and then reduce the heat until it’s simmering, which on my stove is the lowest setting. Cover and cook for a couple of hours. The longer you cook it, the creamier it’ll get. I was too impatient for that so cooked the soup until the beans were tender. Before serving, add more broth if you want. Taste it. Add salt and pepper if it needs it. Usually, I salt sooner, but the ham is already salty so you want to be careful not to over salt it. Serve in bowls and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan cheese on top because like bacon, everything’s better with cheese.

Ham and Bean soup

I really like how this recipe is simple, healthy, and comforting. Nothing beats a hot bowl of homemade soup on a cold winter day. Sorry canned soups. This is much better.

Ham and Bean soup

Ham and Bean Soup

Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 1 carrot sliced
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups ham broth or other type of broth such as chicken or vegetable
  • 1/2 pound chopped ham
  • salt to taste
  • grated Parmesan

Instructions
 

  • Soak beans overnight in a bowl with at least 3 cups of water. Rinse beans with cold water and drain.
  • In a dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic powder, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes until onions are softened.
  • Add ham and saute for another 5 minutes or until ham starts to cook a bit.
  • Add drained beans and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 90 minutes or longer, until the beans are soft and the soup is as creamy as you want it. The longer you cook the soup, the creamier it will be. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.
  • Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve with a little grated Parmesan on top.