Pumpkin Chili

This recipe is from Thug Kitchen, here is the link. I included it because the comments in the recipe are hilarious.

1 yellow onion
1 carrot
1 bell pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari
2 1/2 tablespoons mild chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon lime juice

Chop up the onion, carrot, and bell pepper into smallish pieces.

Cook the onion, carrot, and bell pepper in a big pot and sauté them until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, soy sauce, and spices and cook that all together for another 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, broth, and beans and stir that up so everything is mixed.

Turn down the heat, cover, and let that simmer together for about 15 minutes. Stir it around every now and then. Stir in the lime juice and serve.

If you use vegetable broth, this is vegan. I added leftover thanksgiving turkey, and also threw in some kielbasa sausage later on (I made a huge pot, we had three meals and froze half of it.)  This is amazingly delicious, try it!

 

 

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The Most Excellent Stuffed Peppers

1 chopped brown onion
4 good-sized bell peppers*
1 lb hamburger (beef or turkey, but you need spicier salsa with turkey)
1 jar salsa** (I like hot salsa)
1 cup cooked or instant brown or white rice
About 4 oz cheddar cheese, in 16 small slices. Or more if you want.

Put a big pot of water on to boil.

In a large frying pan, brown onion in olive oil, add hamburger, cook til done. Add tomatoes/salsa/rice, maybe a little water if the rice absorbs all the liquids…it should be a tiny bit wet rather than dry.

While this is cooking, cut the tops out of the peppers, slice each one in half, take out the seeds and veins. When the water boils, put the peppers in CAREFULLY and cook for two or three minutes, take out with tongs, put in a bowl or on a towel until you need them.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the peppers, cut side up, in a 9×13 baking pan in one layer. It’s okay to squeeze them in a bit. Put one slice of cheese in the bottom of each. Spoon hamburger/salsa/rice mixture into them, heaping up if needed. Put the other 8 slices of cheese on top.

Cook at 350 for fifteen or twenty minutes til the cheese is melted.

One half is a decent size meal, two is a big meal. They reheat just fine in the microwave.

*Get peppers that are big enough that each half will hold a decent amount of filling; I like getting half red and half green, but whatever.

**This is most of the flavor of your meal, so go crazy! Try hot salsa, pineapple/mango salsa with turkey and Monterey jack cheese, or whatever your taste buds tell you. I just used Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar and it was GREAT in this.

Addendum: last night I made this, but cut the peppers in pieces about 3/4 inch square. I put half of them in the bottom of the baking dish, then a layer of meat/salsa, then a layer of brown rice, then shredded cheese, then more peppers, meat/salsa and cheese, and baked it for twenty minutes at 350. It was AMAZINGLY GOOD.

Marian’s Cranberry Jell-O

My friend Marian used to make this for Thanksgiving. I still make it and think of her every time.

I love Jell-O (technically it needs the hyphen) because my mom never made it, so it’s a treat for me. This one is not hard to make, and the bitterness of the cranberries adds a whole new dimension to the Jell-O.

  • 1 6 oz package of dark red Jell-O (cherry, black cherry, whatever)
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • About 1/2 cup walnut halves or pieces
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange

This takes a bit of prep. Dump the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. PIck out the bad ones and get rid of them. Put half of them in a 2 qt or larger saucepan. Cut the rest of the cranberries in half and add them to the saucepan too. Add the amount of water that the Jell-O package says to boil- usually 2 cups- and turn the burner on.

(The package also says to add cold water- put that water in the refrigerator while you cook the cranberries. )

Keep an eye on the cranberries, stirring once in a while. Let them boil til they start seriously popping. Take the pan off the stove and stir the Jell-O mix in per instructions, for THE FULL TWO MINUTES. Then add the cold water and stir.

Put it in a pretty serving bowl at this point, but make sure to leave a couple of inches of room.

Chill for an hour to an hour and a half. Just before then, core and chop the apple into 1/2 inch pieces, and peel, seed and chop the orange into 1/2 inch pieces.

Take out the Jell-O, mix in the fruit and walnuts, put back in the fridge for several hours til it gels hard.

Remember, Jell-O is NOT vegetarian. You can make this with the vegetarian carrageenan version, but it doesn’t gel hard, it stays kind of soft. Still tasty, just not the same.

 

Jenny’s Salad

This is so easy, and so delicious!

  • Greens (romaine, spring mix, spinach, whatever) about 3 cups, more if you like
  • 1/2 c pine nuts (more if you like)
  • 1 14 oz can mandarin orange slices, drained
  • 1/4 cup very thin sliced red onions (optional)
  • Dressing- balsamic, oil and vinegar, vinaigrette, whatever you like. I don’t use dressing on this, but some folks like it.

Mix it all in a big bowl and serve. Sweet, juicy, crunchy deliciousness.

 

Lasagna

This one takes a long time, but it’s worth it. The basic recipe makes a deep 9 x 12 pan full, modify it to make more. I like to make several smaller pans full and freeze most of them, since this is so much work. I also usually buy aluminum pans from the grocery store, because they’re deeper and then I don’t have to scrape baked-on cheese off my glass pans.

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 chopped onion
  • either 2 cloves chopped garlic, or a heaping teaspoon of jar garlic
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 5 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley leaves
  • 1/8 tsp fennel seeds (about 10)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp black pepper, depending on taste
  • Salt to taste
  • A bag of sliced mushrooms, if you like them
  • 1 box wide lasagna noodles
  • 1 12oz bag fresh baby spinach
  • 32 oz small curd cottage cheese (lowfat is okay, don’t use nonfat)
  • 16 oz ball of mozzarella cheese (lowfat is okay, don’t use nonfat) in 1/8 inch slices
  • Grated parmesan cheese

So here’s how it goes, and you have to have all the separate pieces done before you put it together:

Make the sauce. Cook the onion, garlic and hamburger in a bit of olive oil, maybe 2 tsp. Add all three kinds of tomatoes, stir. Add the spices (and those are approximations, be creative with the spices!). Cook for an hour over low heat; it should simmer but not boil. Add the mushrooms, cook another hour to two hours.

Meanwhile, boil a big pot of water with a little olive oil in it. When it’s seriously boiling, add the whole box of lasagna noodles and stir til it comes back to a boil. Stir every minute or two so they don’t stick. Stop cooking them a bit on the hard side, just before ‘al dente’, because they’re going to get cooked more in the lasagna.

When the pasta is done, drain it and put it in a bowl; if it’s going ot be a while, put a cover over them to keep them moist.

When you’re ready to put the whole thing together (usually when the sauce is done, 2-3 hours along), set up a workspace. You need easy access to the sauce, the pasta, a bowl of spinach, the sliced mozzarella, the tub of cottage cheese, and the parmesan.

Just before you start putting it together, put the whole bag of spinach in a microwavable bowl and nuke it for two minutes on high.

Now you’re ready to put it all together! In your deep casserole dish(es), here’s the order:

  1. A small spoonful of sauce spread all over the bottom so the first layer of pasta doesn’t stick
  2. A layer of lasagna noodles; overlapping the edges a bit is okay, but it should just be one layer thick.
  3. A couple of spoonfuls of sauce, spread to cover the noodles
  4. Slices of mozzarella, maybe 3 slices torn in pieces scattered over a 9 x 13 inch pan; don’t worry about leaving space between, they’ll melt and there’ll be plenty of cheese.
  5. A couple of large spoonfuls of cottage cheese, spread around
  6. Sprinkle with parmesan. Maybe 1/8 cup?
  7. Another layer of noodles
  8. About half the spinach
  9. More mozzarella
  10. Repeat from step 2 until you run out of stuff. You have to kind of judge how much you have of each thing, how deep your pans are and how many pans you have. If possible, end up with the meat/3 cheeses step, so that the cheeses are on top to melt and bubble and brown.

This is the point where you can cover and freeze the lasagna, if you want. Or put it in the oven on a baking sheet at 350 for about an hour, til the edges are bubbling and the top is browned. If the top browns first, cover with aluminum foil. If the edges bubble, you can brown it with the broiler. Serve and enjoy.

Frozen lasagna- put it in the fridge for 12-24 hours to thaw, then cook as above. Cold lasagna might take an hour and a half to cook, depends on how thick it is and your oven.

You can make it vegetarian by taking out the meat, or adding tofu. You can add a layer of zucchini, slightly broiled on a cookie sheet after being brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper; don’t cook them too much or they’ll mush. Ditto slices of eggplant. You can pretty much do what you want with this- add stuff, subtract it, change up the spices, use ricotta instead of cottage cheese (I think it’s too sweet, but you might like it.) Have fun!

Red and Black Soup

  • 3/4 lb sweet italian sausage, crumbled
  • one chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped OR two heaping teaspoons of jar garlic
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup orzo, cooked al dente

Cook onion and garlic, add sausage, cook til done.

Add the rest except the orzo (which you can cook concurrently) and simmer half an hour or so.

Drain the orzo (if you just made it) and add, cook five more minutes.