Tag Archives: Dinner

Warm and hearty: Black Beans and Rice


A few weeks ago at Green City, I picked up a pound of super fresh black beans, bell peppers, garlic and a smoked ham hock.  Then I pulled out my trusty The New Best Recipe Book to find a good way to cook them up. This did take the better half of a Saturday afternoon but it smelled awesome the entire time. The pot made enough for 2 weekend meals, a few packed lunches and a big portion sitting in the freezer for a quick weekday meal.

Boil the beans and veggies in a big pot

Boil the beans and veggies in a big pot

Lots and lots of garlic

Lots and lots of garlic

Big ole ham hock

Big ole ham hock

Sofrito

Sofrito


Look at all the garlic

Look at all the garlic


Pick apart the ham

Pick apart the ham


Hunting for the 2nd bay leaf

Hunting for the 2nd bay leaf


Tasty meal

Tasty meal

Black Beans serve with white rice
From: The Best New Recipe Book, Page 232

Beans
12 cups water
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dried black beans; picked over and rinsed
1 smocked ham hock (about 2/3 pound-mine was almost twice as big)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
1 jalapeno (my addition)
1 medium onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Sofrito
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 medium onion, minced
1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
8 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used an mix from Spice House that contained oregano)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 round cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the beans: Bring all the beans ingredients to a boil over a medium-high heat in a large pot (this would be a great place to use a Dutch Oven but sadly I don’t have one…yet.) Skim the surface as the scum rises. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered for about 2 hours. Add more water if it is getting low and taste the beans to make sure they are getting tender but not splitting. Remove the ham hock. When cool enough to handle, remove the ham from the bone, discard the bone and skin, and cut the meat into bite-size pieces; set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

For the sofrito: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, and salt; saute until the vegs soften, 8 to 10 mins. Add the cumin; saute until fragrant, about 1 more min.

To finish: Scoop 1 cup of the beans and 2 cups of the cooking liquid into the pan with the sofrito; mash the beans with a potato masher until smooth. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 6 mins. Return the sofrito mixture with the meat from the ham hock to the bean pot; simmer until the beans are creamy and the liquid thickens, 15-20mins. Stir in the cilantro and salt/pepper to taste. Serve hot over rice.

Thai Chicken Curry


When Dave and I first started dating, it was quickly apparent that we enjoyed staying in and cooking a nice meal, rather than going out.  We are boring and practical like that. I had a few go to recipes but I quickly realized that is was time to try out new recipes.  Since I was spending all my time at his apt for various reasons (close to school, my crazy roommate, the closure of the Montrose Brown Line stop, etc), I relied on various cookbooks that he had on his shelf, resulting from various graduation presents. This recipe is from Dave Lieberman’s “Young and Hungry” This isn’t a bad cookbook. Lots of pretty pictures, but I’ll be honest, this is the only thing that I have made out of the book, but it is def. yummy. I have made this half a dozen times since that first time in his tiny PT Studio kitchen. It is even better the next day, packed in gladware for lunch. I promise.


Thai Chicken Curry

2 cups white rice (we buy Jasmine by the HUGE 10Lb bag)
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts (around 2) cut into pieces
Crushed red pepper flakes
Vegetable Oil
1 small onion, diced
I red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon curry power
1 tablespoon sugar
Thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (get the full fat stuff…seriously)
Handful of snow peas
Handful of basil (I only throw them in if I already have them, no need to buy if you are lacking)
Juice of 1 lime (also something you can omit if you like)
Zest of 1 lime (optional…I like the rice plain)
Salt and Black Pepper-duh.

Cook the rice (get a rice cooker-it rocks).

Toss the chicken strips in a bowl with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of oil. Heat a skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until they start to brown (about 5 mins, push them around so they don’t stick). Once there is no pink, scoop the chicken onto a plate. Lower the pan heat to medium-high and add a bit more oil. Slide in the onions and cook, stirring until they turn translucent (4-5 min). Add the red bell pepper and garlic (mmm garlic) and cook another 2 mins. Add the curry powder (hold your breath), sugar and ginger and cook 1 more min. Add the broth and coconut milk and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often until the sauce reduces by 1/4 (whatever that really means), 7-8 min. Slide the chicken back in and add the snow peas. Cook for a min or two, add the basil and lime juice and season with the S&P to taste.
Stir the zest into the lime (if ya want). Then serve the rice and curry in a bowl so that you can mix them together. Yum.

TACOS

a taco mise en place

a taco mise en place

Ever since my friend Brian had Taco Salad Night at his apartment 1L year, Tacos have been a good go to dinner for me and Dave. It is quick, tasty, easy and often with enough leftover ground meat for me to bring a Taco Salad for lunch the next day. However, the thing that takes the typical ground turkey taco meat to the next level is this taco seasoning

.

The BIG Jar

The BIG Jar

As you can see I buy it by the $16 jar. When my Mom was in town over the summer she also picked up a big jar for yourself. I usually add a little shake of cayenne to give it a little kick, but it is perfect tasty on its own.

All you have to do is brown up a pound of ground turkey, drain the fat off, mix 4 Tablespoons of the seasoning with 6 oz of water, pour it in, let it thicken, and prep the taco toppings of your choosing.

One of my favorite Lasagnas

Cheesy layers

Cheesy layers


I have a thing for spicy Italian sausage. I buy it in the bulk packages from Dominicks and freeze them, 4/5 to a bag. Usually I will make a pasta sauce with the whole links to freeze into individual dinners so that Dave and I can have a quick, filling meal after a long day at work and school. However, sometimes I am in the mood for this Lasagna. Whenever I make this for others, they always ask what that slightly different taste is…the secret is goat cheese. You mix in a 3-4 oz log of goat cheese with the typical ricotta/parm/egg mixture and it just gives it a slightly different flavor. It’s really good and I am not even the biggest fan of goat cheese overall.

Italian Sausage Lasagna (adapted from Turkey Lasagna)

Olive Oil
1 yellow onion-chopped
2-3 garlic cloves-minced
4-5 hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (6oz) can tomato paste
Basil-1 bunch, chopped
1 box lasagna noodles (you will only use 1/2 to 2/3 of the noodles)
15 oz ricotta cheese
Small goat cheese log (3-4 ozs)
1 1/2 cups of grated Parm
1 egg
1 Lb Fresh Mozz, thinly sliced or grated

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over medium-low for about 5 mins or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 more min. Add the sausage and cook while breaking it up with a fork into smaller pieces for 8-10 min or until it is no longer pink. Drain off the fat (I like to use a little spoon). Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and some salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally, until it thickens.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, goat cheese, 1 cup of Parm, the egg and some salt and pepper. Really mix in the goat cheese well so that it combines with all the other flavors.

Ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a 9×12 baking dish and spread it over the bottom well. Then add the layers: pasta (add the dry pieces, don’t worry about pre-boiling them), half of the ricotta (spread it out with a spatula to make it even), half of the mozz and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Sprinkle the top of the sauce with the remaining Parm. Bake for 30 mins.

before...

before...


....after

....after

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate: Restraurant-Dessert Bar-Pastries

Mexican Hot Chocolate w/ Homemade Marshmallow

Mexican Hot Chocolate w/ Homemade Marshmallow

Last week Dave and I celebrated our 2-year dating anniversary. He bought me some awesome new stuff for the kitchen (nice cooling racks, splatter screen, RAMEKINS!, more liquid measuring cups) and I took us out to Hot Chocolate in Bucktown. It was a super yummy meal. We shared the homemade pretzel with a yummy melted cheese and apple cider mustard. Dave got the burger and it was probably the best burger I ever stole a bite from and I had the Mac and Cheese. The waiter warned me that it was super rich and he was very right. I only ate half and took the rest home with me. We of course had to try a dessert! Dave got the mint chocolate chip milkshake which tasted very fresh and nothing like the artificial taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream (which he likes and I hate). It came with 3 little cookies that were perfectly moist. I had the Mexican Hot Chocolate (I figure you can’t go to “Hot Chocolate” and not get some Hot Chocolate). It was my first experience with homemade marshmallows which were truly phenomenal. The hot chocolate was perfectly cinnamony and rich. If you are in Chicago and haven’t gone to Hot Chocolate-makes plans…even if it is just for dessert. It is the perfect splurge evening.

I will crave this in the dead of winter

I will crave this in the dead of winter

mmmmmilkshake

mmmmmilkshake