Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, My Version

One word…delicious.  I actually made this recipe with dried red beans, however, cooking time was about five hours!  As previously mentioned, sometimes the beans have been on the shelf awhile and require extra cooking time.   I made a very time saving modification and used canned red beans, equally delicious.  When using canned beans, it is best to drain and rinse as there is a HUGE amount of sodium in the liquid.

Most red beans and rice recipes add the rice right to the beans.  I think it best to serve the beans over rice.  I find that when the rice is added to the beans the rice absorbs all of the flavorful liquid, leftovers dry out.   Make a double batch and freeze for later.  Remember to label and date.

Make this with our without the sausage.  There is quite a bit of ingredient used for seasoning.  One of which is not on my pantry list, but will be going forward.  It’s Liquid Smoke and I love it.  This adds amazing smokey flavor to any dish.  The beans are very hearty so you would not miss the sausage.

Here we go:

You will need a medium diced onion, and a small red, yellow, and green pepper, all diced.  We’ve got a nice healthy start, don’t we?  Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the veggies to the pot.

Add  a cup of diced parsley with the leaves.  The leaves add a lovely mild flavor…
You’ll need a serrano chili.  They’re small and quite hot, but we’re only adding one to the pot.  Unless you remove the seeds and membrane, it’ll blow your head off!  I use gloves when handling hot peppers.
Carefully slice the pepper in half.
Using a spoon or a small knife, carefully remove the seeds and membrane.
Finely dice the peppers and add to the pot.
Once the pepper and onions are soft, add three large cloves of minced garlic, cook about one minute.
Add 3 cups of stock.  If you have some homemade stock, go ahead and use it.  If not, you can also use my favorite back up, Better Than Bouillon.  Use 1 teaspoon per one cup of water. 
Add two cans of drained and rinsed red beans and a can of vegetarian refried beans.  The refried beans will thicken the liquid giving it nice body.
Now for the seasonings….you’ll need sweet or smoked paprika, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke, low sodium soy sauce, molasses, tomato paste, and a small amount of sherry at the very end.  These all go in the pot (except for the sherry) and allow to simmer, uncovered,  for 30 minutes.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  Add additional water if your beans are too thick.

Add the sliced sausage and the sherry, simmer another 10-15 additional minutes. 

I did not add any additional salt, as there is plenty of sodium in the soy sauce and bouillon.  If you use your own unseasoned chicken stock, you may have to add a small amount more salt.  Season to taste.
Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Smoked Sausage

2 cups (uncooked) brown or white rice, cooked according to package instructions (4 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 small green pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery and leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small Serrano chili, seeded and minced
3 cups or more vegetable or chicken stock
2 15 ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can vegetarian refried beans
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons smoked or sweet paprika
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon molasses
12-16 ounce package cooked smokey or spicy sausage, cut into ¼” diagonal pieces
1 tablespoons sherry

1) Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the red, yellow, and green peppers, onions, and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and the Serrano chili, cook another minute.
2) Add the chicken stock, the red beans, and refried beans to the pot. Stir until the refried beans have dissolved in the liquid.
3) Add the liquid smoke through the molasses. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes, stir often.
4) Add the sausage and sherry, simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Makes about eight servings. Serve over ½ cup of rice.

*serve with hot sauce if you wish.
*for vegetarian, simply omit the sausage and use vegetable stock.

Turkey Chili…..

There is nothing like a steaming bowl of hearty chili when it’s cold and snowy outside!  This easy recipe goes together quickly and is loaded with good stuff.  If you like it more spicy, feel free to add a minced and seeded fresh jalapeno with the peppers and onions.  Top with cheddar cheese, sour cream, or serve with Fresh Sage Cornbread.  Enjoy!
Hearty Turkey Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small green pepper, seeded and diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ lbs ground turkey
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 28 ounce can water
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1) Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, then add green and yellow peppers and onions. Sauté for about 10 minutes.
2) Add ground turkey and cook through until you have little moisture left in the pot. Add garlic and cook a couple of minutes.

3) Add chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring often. Add diced tomatoes with juice, water, sugar, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
*Use any beans you like.  I drain and rinse to eliminate excess sodium.
**Use any meat you like.  Try half ground beef and half spicy Italian sausage.

Oven Roasted Turkey Legs…YUM!

The unfortunate part about making a whole turkey is that there are only two legs.  Most people either love the breast or the leg….I think it a good idea when making a whole turkey to make additional turkey legs.  I make turkey legs occasionally for dinner, so easy and so delicious!  You could make them ahead for Turkey day and re-warm in the oven for 30 minutes prior to serving. 

Whip up some mashed potatoes and make a little pan gravy and you have one inexpensive and delicious weeknight dinner.

Oven Roasted Turkey Legs

4 large turkey legs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 cups water

1)  Line a cookie sheet with sides with non stick aluminum foil.  Preheat oven to 325′.
2)  Rub each turkey leg generously with olive oil.  Season generously with salt, pepper, and oregano.
3)  Place in oven and roast for 1 1/2 hours.
4)  Remove pan from oven, add 1 1/2 cups water and cover with foil.  Roast another hour.


Pan juices
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon corn starch

1)  Pour the pan juices into a gravy separator.  Drain off the juices you’ll be using into a one cup measuring cup and discard the fat.  Add enough water to measure 1 cup.  Pour into small sauce pan.
2)  Mix the cornstarch with the 1/2 cup of water until incorporated.  Pour immediately into the broth in the pan. 
3)  Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Serve immediately.

To re-warm turkey legs.  Place in a pan with sides and add 1/2 cup of water.  Cover tightly with foil and warm in 325′ oven for 30 minutes.
To re-warm gravy.  Microwave for one minute increments, stir between.  Whisk in a little water if necessary for a smooth gravy.

Celery Root Mashed Potatoes, "UFO" Identified!

Once the rather unappealing exterior is cut away, this is what you have…..this “UFO” is celery root, or celeriac.   (Jessica, you were right!)  The best size to buy are about the size of a softball as the larger they get the more fiberous.  Use in soups, stews, or mashed potatoes.  Read more about celery root here.  I use this flavourful root vegetable in mashed potatoes.  It has a very gentle celery flavor that pairs well with potatoes.  It takes a bit longer to cook, so I recommend slicing them thinly while you slice the potatoes thick.

Everyone loves a good mashed potato, right?  Add a little twist to your Thanksgiving dinner and serve these delicious potatoes.

Celery Root Mashed Potatoes

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” slices
1 lb. celery root, all hard exterior removed and cut into ¼ ” slices
Water to cover
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup sour cream or low fat yogurt
½ cup milk, warmed in microwave for 45 seconds
2 pinches kosher salt, or more to taste

1) Add prepared potatoes, celery root, and salt to a large pot and cover with water.
2) Over medium heat, bring to a boil and then set the timer for 15-20 minutes. Vegetables should be fork tender. Drain.
3) Put potatoes back into pot, add butter and salt, cover for a few minutes to allow the butter to melt.
4) Add the sour cream and half of the milk and beat with an electric mixer. Add the rest of the milk and beat until smooth.  Makes about 6 one cup servings.

*mashed potatoes can be made ahead and re-warmed in the microwave. Heat on high for 2 minute increments, stir between. Heat until piping hot. Add a little milk if they’re too thick.

Step by Step Sunday Onion Braised Pot Roast…..

This is a family favorite.  Tender, succulent onion braised beef served with sour cream mashed potatoes and gravy.  Are you hungry yet?  Let’s begin…..for the pot roast you will need:

2 1/2-3 lbs. beef pot roast
salt & pepper
2 large onions
5 large cloves garlic
1 1/2  cups water
1 cup wine

Generously season what appears to be half a cow!  Cripes!  Anyway, this is a 3 lb. roast.  It makes for wonderful leftovers, so I recommend making more than you need.  Don’t worry about over seasoning, especially with this amount….

Next, heat a large dutch oven or pan that can go into the oven with a lid over medium high heat.  When hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and put the seasoned meat into the pan.  Cook about 7-10 minutes per side to caramelize the beef.

While the meat is browning, thinly slice a couple of large sweet onions…..

When the meat is nicely browned, remove the meat from the pan onto a platter.  Set aside.  Add onions to the pan, stir often.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan to prevent scorching.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft.   Can you imagine how my house is smelling right about now?????
Of course, we must have plenty of garlic.  Slice 5 large cloves and add to the onions….
Cook for about 2 minutes.  Oh yes, time to preheat the oven to 325’…..

Push the onions off to the side and add the meat with the juices on the plate back to the pan.  Cover the roast with the onions and garlic.  Time for my favorite braising liquid…..

Add 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 cup of wine.  Oh look, a glass for me…how convenient! 
Cover with the lid and place into the oven….oh wait, the meat takes 3 hours, we’re eating at 6:30…better wait a bit!
Cook for 3 hours.  This would be a good time to prep your potatoes.  Peel your potatoes and put them into a large pot, add salt and cover with water.  I like to turn the heat on about 1 1/2 hours before the meat is done.  That way I can mash them and have them ready to go when the meat comes out of the oven.  My house smells unbelievable! 
The meat is done….it is so tender that it’s falling apart…..the epitome of comfort!
For the gravy…..
It is best to remove as much of the fat as possible from the drippings.  Put the roast onto a serving platter.  Remove as many of the onions as you can and put on top of the roast.  Cover with foil to keep warm.  If you have one of those fat separators, use it.  If you don’t put all of the liquid into a 2 cup clear measure.  Using your turkey baster, put it into the bottom of the cup with the juices and suck out just the liquid from the bottom, leaving the fat layer on top.  Put this liquid into a medium sauce pan.  You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups of broth, if you don’t have that much, just add water to get it to 1 1/2 cups.  In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1/2 cup of water and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.  Mix well and add to the broth mixture.  Turn on the heat to medium.  Heat until nicely thickened and give it a taste.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
I love this savory rich meal with a lovely cabbage salad.  Try my Red Cabbage and Avocado Salad with Peas.  The tart of the cider vinegar is fabulous with the roast.  Enjoy!

Salisbury Steak with Homemade Beef Gravy…..

Forget about TV dinners, this is fabulous!   The best part about it is the ingredient list.  We have a little fiber, equal parts ground turkey, ground beef, and meat substitute crumbles.  For extra flavor, fresh onions and garlic.  If your people have an aversion to “chunks,”  feel free to puree the onions and garlic in the food processor.  I made the recipe large so that you may have some to freeze. 

The best way to freeze is to put the steaks and gravy in the same dish, cover with plastic wrap, right on top of the meat and gravy reducing the amount of air that can get at the food.  Then, cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.  As always, label and date.  It’s easy to write on the foil with a Sharpe pen.  When you’re ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  When rewarming, remove the plastic wrap and save the foil.  Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover tightly with foil.  Bake in 350′ oven for 30-40 minutes.  Remove foil carefully!  Serve with mashed potatoes and a simple vegetable.

Salisbury Steak with Gravy

1 cup quick oats
1 ¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs
1 medium onion finely minced
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 lb. meatless meat balls crumbled or meat substitute crumbles
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

For the gravy

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 14 oz. can of beef or chicken stock, or Better Than Bouillon, (warm in microwave for 45 seconds)
2 tablespoons sherry
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350’. Foil line a cookie sheet with sides with non stick foil, or foil with a coating of cooking spray. Set aside.
2) Place oats and water into a large mixing bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add Worcestershire, and eggs, mix well. Add minced onion and garlic. Add the ground beef, turkey, meatless crumbles, salt, and pepper. With meticulously clean hands, mix well. Divide into approximately 10-6 ounce balls. Shape balls into oblong patties. Heat a cast iron or non stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and brown the patties on both sides and place on prepared baking pan.
3) Bake for 30 minutes. While they are baking, prepare gravy.
4) Over medium heat, add butter and oil to the skillet you used for browning. Once butter is melted, add the flour. Stir over heat for about 1 minute. Add warmed stock and whisk well until incorporated. (warm liquid is added to prevent lumps) Stir often to prevent scorching. Bring to a low boil and continue cooking for one minute. Add sherry, salt, and pepper. Taste. Add additional seasoning, or additional stock to thin out if necessary.   Makes 10 servings.

Mickey Potatoes…..

These are “Mickey Potatoes,” named after my dear friend Mickey.  Being invited to her home for dinner is such a treat, she is an outstanding cook, baker, and friend.  Over the years, I have made these potatoes over and over again.  They are by far the most decadent and delicious potato I’ve ever had.  They are actually better the next day, so if you’re planning a barbecue, make them a day ahead and simply warm in the oven uncovered at 350′ for about 30 minutes.
Mickey and her husband Randy are avid travelers.  The photo above was taken in Turkey at Ephesus, an ancient Greek ruin.
Mickey Potatoes

2 teaspoons softened butter
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 ¼ lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
12 oz. shredded Gruyere Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Generously butter a 2 quart baking dish. Crush garlic into dish and spread evenly around bottom.
2) Layer potatoes, salt and pepper, and Swiss cheese. Repeat, reserving plenty for the top.
3) Pour cream and milk over potatoes. Place in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Thank you Mickey!

Magnificent Mini Meat Loaves….

I especially like these mini meat loaves because of the time savings during baking.  When you bake a large meat loaf in a bread pan or free form on a cookie sheet, cooking time tends to be an hour plus.  Plus, these are perfectly portioned servings.  I love the energy and time savings.  In any case, mini anything tends to be extremely appealing to kids.  The added fiber is a plus as well.    Don’t worry that the horseradish will be too hot, it is very mild with the other ingredients. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 cup quick oats
1 cup leftover brown or white rice
2 large eggs
1 cup water
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup horseradish, homemade or prepared (recipe below)
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

¾ cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish

1)  Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with Reynolds non stick foil. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375’.
2)  Add olive oil to a medium size sauté pan and heat over medium high heat. Add celery, carrot, and onion. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook one minute. Remove from pan and add to a small bowl to cool. If you have vegetable “fobes” in your house, process the vegetables in a food processor to eliminate “chunks.”
3)  In a large mixing bowl, add ground beef through black pepper and cooled vegetable mixture. With impeccably clean hands, mix well. Shape into 6, 8 oz mini loaves and place on prepared cookie sheet. Place in preheated oven and set your timer for 30 minutes.
4)  While meat loaves are baking, make sauce. Mix ingredients well in a small mixing bowl.
5)  After 30 minutes of baking, top with sauce. (You will have extra to serve with dinner.) Bake another 10 minutes.

*food sanitation tip* disposable gloves area available at any pharmacy. I use them when mixing meat loaf, no messy hands and no bare hand contact with raw meat.

Ultimate Beefy Mac n’ Cheese…..

Thank you to everyone who participated in my poll.  It seems that we are all looking for great comfort foods at this time.  I couldn’t agree more.  This recipe is the epitome of “comfort.”   You can make it ahead and warm a day or two later.  This dish also freezes very well.  As always, I recommend making a double recipe, one for immediate use and one for later.  Wrap first with cling wrap, then a layer of heavy duty foil.  You can write on the foil with a sharpe pen, label the contents and date.  Use within a couple of months.

Beefy Mac-n-Cheese

1 lb. lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves fresh garlic, minced, or 2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 cans water (measure in tomato paste cans)
1 batch béchamel sauce, recipe below
1 lb. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 16 oz. package whole wheat elbow macaroni (Barilla Plus is excellent)

1) Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse and set aside. Prepare a large casserole baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350’.
2) In large skillet over medium high heat, cook ground meet until cooked through. Drain. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes to soften onions. Add tomato paste, mix well over heat. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
3) Add water and reduce heat to low, simmer while you’re making white sauce. Stir often.
4) In same you used for pasta, make béchamel sauce. (recipe below)  Once sauce is complete, add ½ shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
5) Add meat sauce and cooked pasta to pot with white sauce. Mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
6) Bake for 20 minutes.

Be ready for a very, very happy family!

*To heat after refrigeration:  Preheat oven to 350′, poke holes in top with a fork, drizzle 1 cup of milk over, bake for 40-45 minutes.
**To heat after freezing:  allow to defrost in refrigerator for 2 days.  Oven to 350′, poke holes in top with a fork, drizzle 1 cup of milk over.  Bake 45-55 minutes or until bubbly.

Hungarian Goulash

I acquired this recipe from my neighbor Mary, who acquired the recipe from her sister Kate.  Thanks for sharing!  This is soooooo delicious and incredibly simple to put together.  I suggest you double or triple the recipe and put into the freezer for later use.  The meat is incredibly tender and if you have “onion-phobes” in your family, not to worry, they disintegrate into the delicious sauce.  You could also serve this over spaghetti squash as well for an alternative.   In addition, you have the beautiful smells wafting through your house….it’s the ultimate comfort food, enjoy!

¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ lbs. onions, coarsely chopped
1 ½ lbs. stew meat
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
3 6 oz. cans of water
1 12-16 oz. package large noodles

1)  Preheat oven to 325’.

2)  Heat 2-3 quart dutch oven over medium heat add oil and onions, cook for about 5 minutes.  Add stew meat and cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink.

3)  Add salt, paprika, and tomato paste, mix until well blended.   Add water and mix well.

4)  Cover pot and allow to cook in low oven for 2 ½ – 3 hours.  Stir once between, add additional water if necessary.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

5)  Prepare noodles according to package directions.  Serve goulash over hot noodles.