Ghoul-ash!

I know it’s a day past Halloween, but I couldn’t resist a terrible pun. That’s right, I made goulash, or ghoul-ash for the spooky set.

Goulash ingredients.

My friend and gaming buddy Jenny made goulash in a crock pot earlier this year for one of our epic Pathfinder games, and I immediately fell in love. And, more importantly, I thought that it would be an amazing dish for my Dutch oven year.

It just took about half a year to get to it. Thankfully, she was able to track down the recipe and then remember what she actually did for the most part, and then, I took that and adapted it yet again and added some ingredients she omitted and some ingredients from another recipe.

Authentic Hungarian it probably is not. But Jenny’s recipe was so good I wanted to eat it again, and none of the other recipes were nearly as inspiring as hers.

Also, spooky it is not. I just happened to make it this time of year. Maybe it’s just dressed up as a ghoul? I tried. Sorry.

There was so much. There was so much paprika. It was great. Sorry it’s gone.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 oz.) box rotini (or medium pasta), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 ½ lb. ground beef, lean
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 to 5 T. paprika (a mix of smoky and spicy if you’ve got it, or whatever you like, to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic (I used the jar stuff)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, brown the meat in a large Dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Add the oil and onions, carrots, and bell pepper, and cook another 5 to 7 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, which shouldn’t take long.

Remove from heat, and stir in the cooked pasta and cheddar.

Cover the goulash, and bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Lazy, lovely layered lasagna

I was scrolling through Twitter one fine day keeping up on the shitshow that is our current American political system when I was distracted by something not actually terrible, an Epicurious video.

The short clip I watched without sound was a recipe for slow-cooker lasagna. I thought it sounded amazing, except, you know, I wanted to make it in my Dutch oven.

Lasagna ingredients.

Now, I’ve made lasagna a lot and I have a couple of favorites, so instead of watching the video again, I just sort of guessed/remembered/assumed what I should do to put together my own dish.

Except for the fact that I did a terrible job of evenly distributing my filling, the lasagna was amazing. I mean, most times I make lasagna, there’s too many noodles to fit but this time, oof, I really distributed poorly for the layers. But all was not lost. I just made sure to take from the better filled areas and the less filled areas and made it work.

However, if you, dear reader, try the same, be sure to go light on the filling as you roll up the noodles.

Now, having made lasagna a few different ways during my time, starting with the traditional-ish, I have to say my favorite is still actually the sheet pan recipe because I like my lasagna crispy. But if you really like the saucy bits, this one is for you. And either way, good lasagna is good lasagna, so this was quite good.

BRB, there’s more in the fridge.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 box lasagna noodles, cooked to package directions
  • 32 oz. jar of arrabbiata sauce, or red pasta sauce to your liking
  • 1 (15 oz.) tub ricotta
  • 3 c. mozzarella, shredded, divided
  • 1 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded, divided
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (10 oz.) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 10 oz. marinated artichokes, chopped
  • ½ T. basil, chopped
  • ½ T. dried oregano
  • ½ T. dried rosemary
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes, optional
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, 1 c. mozzarella, ⅓ c. Parmesan, egg, spinach, artichokes, and the herbs and spices, until well mixed. EVENLY spread the mixture onto about 14 lasagna noodles, more if necessary, and roll the noodles lengthwise.

Poor about ¼ of the sauce onto the bottom of a Dutch oven. Add about half the rolled noodles to the Dutch oven; sprinkle with 1 c. mozzarella, ⅓ c. Parmesan, and half the feta, and about half the remaining sauce. Place the remainder of the rolled noodles on top, and then top with the remaining sauce, and cheeses.

Cover the Dutch oven and bake for about 30 minutes; then, remove from heat and remove the lid. Bake another about 20 to 30 minutes, uncovered, until the cheese is browned on top. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

You do udon

I’m slowly getting back into the groove of things since being back from vacation. I imagined it would be quicker but exhaustion got the better of me as did the daily grind.

So I decided to start back up with the kind of weeknight dinner that takes little effort and barely follows a recipe. I went with udon noodles with chicken and broccoli, or the more vague “Asian noodles,” which was the not-the-most-culturally-sensitive Google search I did to get the vague idea of ingredients for a sauce.

Udon noodles ingredients.

That blog post, like my own, makes clear that this recipe can be adapted to anyone’s tastes. Don’t like broccoli? Try carrots or spinach or a combination of veggies. Want to add peppers? Go ahead. Don’t want chicken or are vegetarian? Skip it or add tofu.

The same is essentially true of the sauce. I went heavy on the sesame oil because I love it and I have it. I also added a bunch of ginger (from a jar because I was lazy) that wasn’t in the recipe; I just like a lot of ginger. I skipped out on the cilantro to save my sweetie, but I think it would have been pretty tasty as an addition.

That’s to say, you do udon.

To hurry things along, I cooked the udon separately while I prepared the chicken, vegetables, and sauce, but if you’re in no rush and want this to be a one-pot dish, you can cook the noodles in the Dutch oven and leave to drain while preparing the rest of the dish.

I still want more; it disappeared too fast.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. udon noodles, cooked to package directions
  • 1 lb. chicken, sliced or chopped
  • 3 c. broccoli (or about one grocery store package with 2 to 3 heads), chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts sliced
  • ⅓ to ½ c. soy sauce (less sodium is good)
  • ¼ c. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 ½ T. ginger, minced (I used the jar stuff)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • Sambal oelek (chili paste), or Sriracha, to taste (I used about ½ T.)
  • 3 T. sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil, for sauteing

Directions

Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat, and saute the chicken until mostly cooked through before adding the broccoli and green onions, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, and sambal oelek or sriracha, and stir to combine.

Once the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are cooked to desired consistency, turn off stove top and add the sauce. Stir to combine and then add the cooked noodles, and continue stirring. Remove from heat and add the sesame seeds, stirring again. Taste and add more soy sauce or sesame oil as desired, and enjoy!

Cooking class in absentia

As I mull over what dishes I ate on my recent Portugal vacation — and there were so many and such good food — that I can make in my Dutch oven, I thought I’d share a recipe from an exotic vacation that I didn’t get to go on. So we can be in the same boat for this week.

The best part about not getting to go on an international trip with my family is that they’ll bring back and share the recipes from their cooking class.

So, when my mom got back from her eastern European vacation last year, I got a PDF of the Hungarian dinner they had one night. Perfect since I’ve always wanted to make chicken paprikash.

Chicken paprikash ingredients.

I’d say it was almost like being there … but obviously not. Still, it was great to be able to try authentic food without leaving the house (other than to get groceries). Mom even was kind enough to buy extra paprika and send me some, so I had plenty on hand for the paprikash and an extra side dish (the Hungarian salsa!) I decided to make.

The paprikash was a delight. It was a little too saucy for me, but the chicken was slightly spicy and extra creamy, as I expected and hoped, and the really ugly dumplings I made based on the recipe to go with the chicken turned out good if incredibly ugly.

All in all, it was a good substitute for being there and a chance to enjoy some authentic Hungarian food without a lot of effort or the airfare. Now, you can too.

So much paprika (and sour cream). So good.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For the paprikash

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 T. oil
  • 4 t. salt (I probably used less!)
  • 1 t. ground pepper (I probably used more!)
  • 5 t. paprika powder (I split the mixture between smoky and spicy, but you do you)
  • ~10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the recipe calls for 6 bone-in legs but I like boneless)
  • 12 oz. sour cream
  • 1 T. flour
  • Water

For the nokedli (dumplings)

(or use egg noodles or similar if feeling lazy)

  • ~1 c. flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. Salt
  • Water, as necessary (if mixture is dry)

Directions

Heat the oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat, add the onions, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and add salt, pepper, and paprika. Add about ½ c. water to keep the powder from burning. Place mixture back on heat, add the chicken, and pour water on top until just covered. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 1 hour until the chicken is cooked through (can probably check earlier if using boneless — I think I did about 35 minutes). Meanwhile, mix the flour and sour cream together.

Once the chicken is cooked through, stir in the sour cream mixture. Bring to a boil again.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by bringing a separate pot of water to a boil. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, flour, and salt, and adding water if necessary until a hard dough forms. Tear dough pieces and place in the boiling water, removing pieces as they float and are cooked through. Serve the chicken (and the sauce) with the nokedli, and enjoy!

Chicken curry a perfect weeknight dinner

Like many of my recipes, this one was given to me by my mother, has been among my staples for years, and has been endlessly adapted until the original recipe is more of a suggestion than a specific direction.

So, I figured this year was the perfect time to write out what I actually do to make chicken curry versus what the recipe I use calls for.

Chicken (and vegetable) curry ingredients.

I started adapting this one from the start out of necessity. I was poor and prefer chicken breasts, but the original calls for 3 pounds of chicken meat. Maybe I could have afforded that if I bought a whole chicken but as it was, I wanted to make a meal that lasted for days, and I was more likely to eat a boneless dinner.

So, I halved the amount of meat and then substituted in vegetables.

Now that I can afford 3 pounds of meat, it still seems excessive. So, I still make it with a mix of meat and vegetables. My list of vegetables changes but I like cauliflower and carrots with curry, even though they’re not usually my favorites. Peas and peppers rounded out the list this time, but anything works.

I also probably end up adding more than 1 ½ lbs. of vegetables because I don’t quite measure what goes in. I just eyeball it, including in the suggested amounts below.

Otherwise, I tweak a few other things from “The Curry Book” recipe my mom Xeroxed many years ago for me to enjoy.

So much curry goodness.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 T. unsalted butter (or ghee, if you have on hand)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 T. minced ginger
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 ½ lb. chicken breast, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 2 c. cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas (or just frozen peas)
  • 3 T. curry powder
  • ½ T. ground cumin
  • 2 t. ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ⅔ c. plain yogurt
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • Scallions, optional for serving
  • Cilantro, optional for serving

Directions

Heat the Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat, and add the butter. Add the onion, cauliflower, carrot, and bell pepper, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until just starting to soften. Add the chicken and cook until mostly cooked through. Add peas, ginger, and garlic and cook another minute.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the curry powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, yogurt, and lemon juice, and stir until well mixed. Scrape the yogurt mixture into the Dutch oven, and toss to combine.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook stirring occasionally, for about 30 to 35 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the flavor has combined. Serve on rice, with scallions or cilantro if desired, and enjoy!

 

Don’t be a drip, make this beef recipe

I don’t often say this, but thank God for air conditioning. I’m cold-blooded by nature so if I’m just sitting and the A/C is on, I’m under a blanket or wrapped in a cardigan.

But this week’s recipe called for the oven to be on for about 5 hours, and I’m pretty grateful that I did not have to heat an already scorching house.

Even though the drip beef I made (based on a Pioneer Woman recipe my sweetie came across) warmed the house for one day, the best part about it is that we didn’t turn on the oven for the next several days as we made our way through the leftovers.

Drip beef ingredients.

The microwave and toaster took care of reheating our many, many drip beef sandwiches.

The Pioneer Woman recipe gave two different ways to make this but there wasn’t a question in my mind that I’d be making the one with pepperoncinis. Even better that it was with loaded with Italian herbs as well.

I did, however, snag the sliced onions from the other recipe and add them to this one. It was not particularly noticeable but I was still glad for the little bit of onion flavor added.

The recipe was really easy, put together in less than 5 minutes, and checked only occasionally over the hours it sat in the oven. The hardest part was using forks to shred the beef, but with the A/C on, for me, it wasn’t too bad to stick my face over the Dutch oven. Besides, if done right, the meat should shred with very little effort.

I’m not usually a big beef person but this was a treat. We finished the 3 pounds we made in a few short days. Amazing.

I wish there were still some left. 🙁

Here’s what I did, tweaking the recipe slightly:

Ingredients

  • 2.5 to 4 lbs. beef chuck roast
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 2 c. beef broth
  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried thyme
  • ¾ T. dried rosemary
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz. jar pepperoncinis, with juices
  • Deli rolls, toasted (for serving)
  • Cheese slices (provolone worked well), optional (for serving)

Directions

Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt the butter on the stove and then add the onion slices. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until just starting to brown.

Turn off stovetop. Add the remaining ingredients to the Dutch oven, except the rolls and cheese if using.

Cover and bake in the oven for 5 to 6 hours until the meat is very tender and starting to fall apart. If it’s not yet tender, keep cooking at 30-minute intervals until tender.

Remove from oven and shred meat with two forks, leaving no large chunks. Serve immediately or keep warm on the stovetop until ready to eat, and enjoy as sammies.

Beer + bacon = bueno beans

We’ve had a bag of dried pinto beans sitting on a shelf for a few months, which neither of us now remembers why we bought it.

So, when I thought about making Mexican rice, I figured I may as well come up with a recipe for using those pinto beans.

Borracho beans recipe.

Homemade bean and rice burritos with some extra cotija we also had lying around sounded like a perfect dinner to me.

I just needed the beans recipe. Thankfully, Homesick Texan was right there with three ways to make pinto beans, each building on the recipe before it. Because I always do too much, I of course, opted for the third one that had all the flavors and ingredients, and took the most time.

These beans were not meant to be made for a casual weeknight dinner, but the leftovers definitely will, and have.

I mostly followed the recipe but I decided against buying two different kinds of pork and met in the middle with thick-cut bacon. I also reduced the jalapenos and replaced one with a poblano to keep the spiciness to medium (It probably would have been fine but my way was good for me). I also made an error in recipe-reading so an adequate substitute is provided.

Best beans ever.

Here’s what I did, based on the borracho beans recipe from Homesick Texan:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb. thick-cut bacon, divided (I used Beeler’s)
  • ¼ c. jalapeno pickle juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with the juices (I forgot this ingredient so substituted ½ pint cherry tomatoes and 1 c. vegetable broth)
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded, stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, stemmed, and roughly chopped
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 1 c. cilantro
  • 1 (12 oz.) bottle Modelo Negro or similar dark beer

Directions

Chop up all but 4 strips of (uncooked) bacon and add to a Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and salt, as desired. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the pot with water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring the pot to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about an hour. (At about a half-hour, I covered partially as I had added too much water, so check water levels and adjust as necessary.)

Meanwhile, cook remaining 4 pieces of bacon. Add the cooked bacon pieces to a blender with tomatoes (or tomatoes and broth, as it were), jalapenos, poblano, chipotles, and cilantro. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Once beans are mostly cooked through, after an hour, add the blended mixture to the pot.

Cook another 20 minutes, covered or uncovered as appropriate to adjust liquid level to your choosing. Add beer about 10 minutes before ready; add jalapeno pickle juices, about 5 minutes before ready, and simmer uncovered.

Let cool slightly and enjoy with more beer, and perhaps some Mexican rice.

One more delicious holiday salad

Since I had such luck with the potato salad being a delightful way to use a Dutch oven, I thought I’d do it again with another family favorite.

Ditalini salad sounds like something that probably once came on the side of the box for using ditalini pasta.

Ditalini salad ingredients.

I’ll never know since I can never find the dang pasta, even though I know it still exists because my family has made it using the traditional small, round tube pasta.

In its place, I use small shells. They’re close in size but they do tend to catch the other ingredients in its shell rather than being a separate mix. But otherwise it’s a fine substitute and any small pasta will work.

The rest of the ingredients are either usually on-hand in any household or easy to find. I usually just have to get a bell pepper and a jar of pimiento peppers, and I’m ready to go.

Like with the potato salad, and my other pasta dishes this year, it’s possible to cook the pasta in the Dutch oven, letting the main ingredient cool in a strainer while the Dutch oven cools as well. So it can be another simple one-pot dish. Just what’s needed for a lazy long weekend. Happy (early) 4th!

The absolute best pasta salad.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients 

  • 1 box (16 oz.) ditalini, or other small pasta, cooked
  • 1 jar (4 oz.) diced pimiento peppers
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 T. white vinegar (you can use different, but I swear, the white works best for the authentic flavor)
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 T. olive oil

Directions

Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a large Dutch oven. Stir in the peppers. Add the sugar, vinegar, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight and enjoy!

5 ingredients, 10 minutes prep, 1 hour till dinner

I’ve sung the praises many times before of Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients” cookbook that my brother gifted me. I wasn’t expecting that it’d be super useful in this year of Dutch ovens. After all, how many things could you make in a Dutch oven with so few ingredients?

I should have known better than to doubt. It turns out, there’s plenty enough.

What caught my eye this week was his salami risotto.

Salami risotto ingredients.

Not just because I love salami and was looking for something without a lot of work. But also because I just needed two ingredients of the 5 (technically 8, because there’s also pantry items salt, pepper, and olive oil that I always have on hand) to make this meal happen.

With the salami and arborio rice acquired, I was ready to go.

I added more salami than called for, and probably same for the Parmesan and sour cream so it’s not quite as healthy as Jamie Oliver would like but meh. I also replaced the mascarpone with sour cream because I had it on hand and it wasn’t worth buying a tub of mascarpone for just one heaping tablespoon. It worked fine, and of course, it’s easy to boot.

Delightfully, even the chopping is easy, as it’s just cutting onions into wedges. I still cried, but it was short.

A short time on the stove-top later, the mix went into the oven and I didn’t think about it again until it was ready to eat. Ah-mazing.

salami, onions, cheese, perfection.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. salami
  • 2 onions, wedged
  • 300 g. arborio rice
  • 1 heaping T. sour cream
  • ⅓ to ½ c. grated Parmesan
  • ~2 T. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1.2 L. boiling water

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the Dutch oven on high heat on the stove top.

Cook the onions on high heat for 3 to 5 minutes until browning. Add the oil, salami, salt and pepper, and arborio rice and cook for a minute more. Add the water, sour cream, and cheese.

Stir to combine, and then carefully place in the oven, uncovered.

Bake the risotto for 40 minutes. Add more olive oil, stir to combine, and then enjoy!

Even more artichokes, chicken, and pasta

When I was making my Grandma Crippes’ chicken cacciatore recipe, I was reminded of another of my favorite dishes. It involves many of the same ingredients, but it’s completely different.

This recipe was one of my favorites dating back to college, where I’d regularly order it at the student union. When I got out of college, I missed the rosemary chicken artichoke pasta so much that I decided to make it myself.

Rosemary chicken artichoke pasta ingredients.

Luckily as a pasta dish, and one that was literally put together in front of me for years, it was real easy to suss out the ingredients. As a young recent college grad, though, I still consulted with my mom and we came up with a recipe that I’ve been using ever since.

Mine never tasted exactly the same, but in fact, it was better. It was homemade and my artichokes are marinated. Plus, I may go a little overboard with rosemary, which suits my tastes even better.

It’s also incredibly easy to make, if not quite as instant as the student union dish. But if you boil the tortellini in the Dutch oven, it easily can be another one-pot pasta dish.

All in all, it’s perfect.

And I’ll work on making fewer pasta dishes here soon.

So pretty, and tasty too.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen cheese tortellini (I like the tri-colored stuff because it’s pretty), cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, chopped
  • 2 T. oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped, to taste
  • 1 (14 oz) large jar marinated quartered artichokes hearts, drained
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jar alfredo sauce (I get the one with garlic, but you can do traditional or whatever you like)

Directions

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and chicken, and saute until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add in some of the rosemary (I like to add more as it nears completion too), and salt and pepper, as the chicken is cooking.

Once chicken is cooked, add in the artichokes and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally. Add in the tomatoes and cook another 1 to 2 minutes, until just warmed. Stir in the sauce and heat until boiling (it should happen quick with a good Dutch oven).

Add back in the pasta and more rosemary (if desired), stir to combine, and enjoy!