Lamb Burgers

Are you a burger person?

I am a made at home burger person. When eating out it seems like the burgers are never quite right. Plus it seems absurd to pay $12 for something I can make four of at home for that price. Or more if I make the bread from scratch. Yes even lamb burgers.

Delicious lamb burgers. Perfect for summer grilling.

Nathan is the burger master at our house. If you recall he is in charge of some of the cooking duties around here- anything involving the wok, until recently anything involving yeast, and most certainly burgers. I would say most things involving the grill but I have been know to start the BBQ and grill things myself.

Although that hasn’t happened of late.

Ok Nathan the grill is yours.

Delicious lamb burgers. Perfect for summer grilling.

He really makes the best hamburgers. We need to actually sit down and write out what he adds the ground beef when he makes them and share them with you. Out of this world delicious.

These lamb burgers are almost not made without his help. I hate forming the meat into patties so I leave that up to his expertise. When making this recipe I put everything in the bowl for him then move on to other dinner prep duties.

These delicious burgers are a bit different. They contain some sweet spices (allspice, cinnamon) so they have a distinct greek or moroccan flavor to them. The grated onion gives it moisture and another tasty layer of flavor. Try it out. I promise they are good. Branching out in burger land is good for you.

Do not skip topping these with feta, tomato, lettuce, and vinaigrette. It completes the whole burger and elevates it to tasty perfection.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I am just trying to make your at home burger as perfect as it can be.

Delicious lamb burgers. Perfect for summer grilling.

Lamb Burgers (serves 4)
Adapted from Rachel Ray

1 pound ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, peeled
1 teaspoons allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ciabatta rolls (homemade ones if you have the time)
Juice of 2 small lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
Feta, tomatoes, lettuce for topping

Put the lamb in bowl. Using a box grater, grate the onion over the bowl so that the pulp of the onion and juices fall into the meat. Add the spices, pepper flakes, egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper, to taste, and mix to combine. Form the meat mixture into 4 patties, thinner at the middle and thicker at the edges for even cooking. Fire up the bbq. Once the coals are a medium high heat (hold your hand about 6 inches up for 5 seconds) grill for 5 minutes per side.

While the burgers are cooking combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a container with a lid. Put the lid on and shake hard to mix.

Place the burgers on the ciabatta rolls. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and feta. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette.

Delicious lamb burgers. Perfect for summer grilling.

Beef with Broccoli

Remember a few weeks ago when I made chinese take out at home? Delicious baby bok choi and mushroom in a not so chinese beer sauce. Yum.

Here is my most recent foray into chinese cooking.

Easy quick homemade beef with broccoli

When I was working I had a weakness for Panda Express. There was one within walking distance of my desk. Plus I always ordered steamed veggies instead of rice or noodles so I had a delicious almost all veggie lunch for cheap.

Come on. Everyone has that one fast food (or fast foodish) restaurant that you have a weakness for you would rather not admit right? Right? Don’t leave me hanging here.

Thankfully a slim budget isn’t allowing for eating out so I am learning to recreate these dishes at home.

Easy quick homemade beef with broccoli

I have been craving beef with broccoli for some time now but for some reason I have put it off. It was incredibly easy to throw together even if it did dirty an inordinate number of dishes. Like 30. Or maybe fewer but it felt like 30.

This recipe made a huge batch and I was hoping for leftovers. No dice. Even Little, who normally turns his nose up at everything, inhaled a huge bowl full.

So we were left with a kitchen full of dirty dishes and no leftovers. Thankfully our bellies were full of delicious homemade not too bad for you food.

Easy quick homemade beef with broccoli

Ps. The one year anniversary party is swiftly approaching. May 18th from 10am-1pm I will be hosting a light brunch here at my house for anyone brave enough to admit they read this blog. I’m taking requests of favorite recipes. If you need the address leave a comment and I will email it to you!

Beef with Broccoli (serves 4 and a Little)
Adapted from Food.com

3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1/2 cup water, plus
2 tablespoons water, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb boneless round steak cut into thin 3-inch strips (grass fed pasture raise happy please)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
4 bunches of broccoli cut into florets steamed in the microwave for 3 minutes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
hot cooked brown rice

In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water and garlic powder until smooth. Add beef and toss. In a large skillet or wok over medium high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 tablespoon oil until beef reaches desired doneness; remove and keep warm. Stir-fry broccoli in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes. Return beef to pan. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger and remaining cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the pan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Serve over rice.

Easy quick homemade beef with broccoli

Planked Salmon

Sometimes you burn dinner.

Sometimes that is ok.

In this instance it was more than ok.

 Planked slamon. The easiest way to BBQ Salmon!

Have you ever planked fish? It is simply cooking fish on a wooden board. In our case we used the charcoal BBQ and had cedar boards.

I love eating fish but am often at loss for how to prepare it and so intimidated of ruining what is usually a pretty expensive purchase by experimenting. Thankfully this is a super safe bet.

My sweet sister won a pack of cedar boards just for this purpose at a random work drawing last year. This is the third or fourth time now that we have enjoyed fish made this way. Little to no prep, quick cooking time, all around win.

Planked slamon. The easiest way to BBQ Salmon!

The reason ours burnt a little bit (or a lot bit) was because yours truly forgot to soak the board. Our package says to soak for at least an hour. I feel like at least 3 hours would be ideal. This board got a quick 20 minute dunk because I forgot till long after we had already started the coals. Oh well. It was still so so so tasty. And smokey.

I worry if I say this again you will stop reading my posts altogether but this is yet another example of good ingredients cooked simply. Beautiful Alaskan salmon, steamed haricot verts with homemade butter, and fingerling potatoes roasted in olive oil and salt. That’s it.

This is the kind of cooking I am passionate about. Sure I love intricate recipes and challenges but the day to day get the dinner on the table looks mostly like this- the very best ingredients I can afford prepared simply but to perfection.

Planked slamon. The easiest way to BBQ Salmon!

Nom on.

Planked Salmon (serves 4)
Mine

1.5 lb salmon fillet (Wild caught only. Don’t EVER tell you me have bought farmed salmon)
2 tsp dills
1 sliced lemon
Salt
1 wooden cooking plant (check amazon or your local fish monger)

Start your coals. Once hot lay them in your BBQ to either side leaving a cooler trench in the middle. You are looking for a medium high heat. Place the fish on the presoaked plank skin side down. Sprinkle liberally with salt. Sprinkle on the dill and then lay the lemon slices on top. Place down the middle of your BBQ and cover. Cook for 10 minutes with the cover on then check for doneness. Fish will flake easily with a fork when cooked. If not done cook for another 2-3 minutes checking often. Serve immediately.

Planked slamon. The easiest way to BBQ Salmon!

Sausage Potato and Spinach Soup

The first time I made this recipe it was inhaled so quickly two things happened. First, I didn’t manage to get pictures taken to share with you. Second, I flat out forgot how I made it.

Around here most meals and cooking is planned around what we have on hand, what I feel like making, and what can I share with you lovely readers. Often the three intersect which, when it does, it makes me a very happy camper.

The problem is I get stuck in a cooking rut because so many of our standby favorites I don’t feel like making because I have already shared it here. Then I just get grumpy and don’t want to make anything at all and end up eating quinoa for dinner again.

Sausage potato and spinach soup. Super easy and amazingly tasty.

Happily I got to make this crowd pleaser a second time in a few short weeks. Honestly I think I could eat this for dinner every night it was so good.

Yes there is a bit of cream but not too much. Overall it is packed full of dark green leafy spinach, savory sausage, yummy potatoes, and tender zucchini so it can’t be all that bad for you.

Now if you bake up a loaf of homemade bread and slather it with homemade butter that is a completely different story.

Maybe fruit for dessert if you choose that course of action.

I know we are headed in to summer and soups will be fewer and fewer as the weather warms so hurry up and make this soon so you don’t miss out!

Sausage potato and spinach soup. Super easy and amazingly tasty.

Sausage Potato and Spinach Soup (serves 6)
Mine

2 tbs olive oil
1 onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 lb ground Italian sausage
4 cups of water
1 cup cream
2-3 cups of milk
2 lbs of russet potatoes peeled and diced
1 lb chopped zucchini
Salt and pepper
1 6oz bag baby spinach roughly chopped

Set a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and when it begins to shimmer add the onion and garlic. Sautee till the onion softens then add the sausage. Brown it breaking it up into pieces with a spatula. Once it is fully cooked add the water, cream, milk (start with 2 cups) potatoes, and zucchini. Add a bit more milk or water if needed, you are looking to cover the ingredients plus about an inch. Season well and bring to a good simmer. Cook till potatoes are done (easily pierced with a fork). Add the spinach and stir till wilted, about 3 minutes. Serve in big bowls with generous slices of crusty bread.

Sausage potato and spinach soup. Super easy and amazingly tasty.

Quinoa, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

Can we be real today?

Sometimes I get super tired of cooking. Like maybe I will just have a slice of cheese for dinner tired.

Healthy and quick quinoa, avocado and tomato salad

Nathan is juicing again most weeknights so mostly I am cooking for just Little and me. Little has his opinions about food. Most days I am one of two things: either surprised or exasperated. Surprised that he did in fact eat what I didn’t expect him to or exasperated because something he has eaten for the past three weeks he wont touch. So I end up sticking with safe foods on nights it is just us- fruits, sauteed zucchini, whole wheat pasta, and cheeses.

So that is what leads to me having half an apple and a slice of cheese for dinner. Not the best choice but hey it could be worse.

Often dinner around here looks like this.

 Healthy and quick quinoa, avocado and tomato salad

A simple salad of quinoa, lime juice, salt, tomato, and avocado. Filling, satisfying, very little cooking. Little will not eat this but eh. I don’t mind. More for me. He can have cheese.

Do you have go to dinners that are quick and simple and NOT a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (cause that happens around here all to often too)? Please do share!

Healthy and quick quinoa, avocado and tomato salad

Quinoa, Avocado and Tomato Salad (serves 2 as entrees 4 as a side)
Mine

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups waters
1/4 tsp salt
1 avocado diced
1 tomato diced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Bring the water to a boil over medium high heat. Add the quinoa and salt stir briefly and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and no longer crunchy. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool slightly. While still warm add the lime juice and salt to taste. Toss with the tomatoes and avocado. Serve.

I prefer it while it is still warm however you can make the quinoa in advance and assemble before eating. Double to serve as a side at a BBQ. It is delicious.

Healthy and quick quinoa, avocado and tomato salad

Shepherd’s pie

We are experiencing unseasonably warm weather around here.

It downright has felt like summer the past couple of days. Little was out in short and a t-shirt this morning at my parents house. And no shoes. It is THAT warm.

Homemade lamb shepherd's pie

I will admit that as Oregonians we think 70 is balmy. I feel like I need to get my strawberry picking and jam making done. However that is still months off. Months. My summer fruit radar is craving local blueberries but all the plants still only have buds. I feel thoroughly confused.

It is so bizarre for it to be this warm and sunny right now. Oh don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Just remarking. I’ll take sunshine any day.

Homemade lamb shepherd's pie

This warm weather made my plan to make shepherd’s pie feel a bit off. This is a meal that comfort food at its core and begs to be eaten on a cold rainy night. Except when we had it for dinner we had the windows open and it was still sunny out. Have I mentioned I love how late it stays light out right now? All around bliss. Even if we were eating dead of winter food on what felt like the middle of the summer.

Homemade lamb shepherd's pie

This recipe is super simple. If you don’t care for lamb it is ok sub ground beef but I urge to splurge and use lamb. It so good. If you do things right while making this you can dirty only two pots (one for the potatoes one for the filling) and one casserole dish. Wash up the pots once you throw the dish in the oven and you get to sit down to eat dinner with a clean kitchen. This has to be my absolutely favorite part of making casseroles- sitting down to eat dinner with no pots and pans staring at you while you try to enjoy your meal.

On a positive note turning on the oven on such a warm day wasn’t a big deal because we are still reaching freezing temps at night.

Now I can’t wait to start eating outside.

Homemade lamb shepherd's pie

Shepherd’s pie (serves 6)
Adapted from Alton Brown

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperFor the meat filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place a medium saucepan with water over high heat.  Once boiling add the potatoes and cook till tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the buttermilk, milk, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Place under the broiler for a minute or two to really get some color. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Homemade lamb shepherd's pie

Risotto Primavera

I can’t believe we haven’t talked risotto.

Ok that’s a half truth. I did make that amazing farro and cauliflower risotto and share it with you. But we haven’t had a chat about basic simple amazing risotto.

Risotto primavera. Great use up all those spring veggies dish.

(I added the above picture so you realize what a MESS I make when I am cooking. Yes my pictures may be pretty but know there is chaos behind the lens)

If hard pressed I would say my true foray into the world of becoming a better cook began way back in 2005 when Hell’s Kitchen first aired. The premise of the reality show is Gordon Ramsey (swoon!) take a bunch of wanna be chefs, puts them through the ringer, eliminates them one at a time, then eventually crowns one a winner and gives them their own restaurant. I only watched that first season but I learned on huge thing- none of them could make risotto.

Terrified I might wind up on the show someday (completely rational I know) I decided if Chef Ramsey was going to yell at me for something it wouldn’t be for my lack of ability to make risotto. My Joy of Cooking cookbook and I had a date in the kitchen and I taught myself how to make it. The best part? I had never even had risotto. I was just fumbling through trying to figure it out.

Risotto primavera. Great use up all those spring veggies dish.

What did I learn? It is absurdly easy. All it takes is time, patience, really good ingredients, and lots and lots of tasting. In the course of cooking a batch of risotto I probably taste it 10-15 times, each time biting down on a grain of rice looking for that perfect al dente softness and crunch.

We have discussed good ingredients on here so many times I feel I have beat you over the head with this subject but here it goes again. When you have a recipe, like risotto, that uses so few ingredients use the very best you can afford. Pick up a GOOD cheese and a bottle of wine you would enjoy drinking. I also feel arborio rice is a must. It is fairly inexpensive (comparatively) in the bulk bins at my grocery store. Use your own homemade chicken stock or something with a very short list of ingredients.

Risotto primavera. Great use up all those spring veggies dish.

So back to Chef Ramsey. If I were to be on Hell’s Kitchen tomorrow I would make a mean risotto. I promise. It would be cooked perfectly as well as properly seasoned.

Now my ability to cook steaks might get me in trouble but risotto will not.

Risotto primavera. Great use up all those spring veggies dish.

Risotto Primavera (serves 4-6 depending on if it is a side or entree)
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking- essentially a basic risotto with veggies.

Note: Risotto is not an exact science but is rather based on feel. As stated above taste taste taste then taste some more. Some days your risotto will take 4 cups of chicken stock then the next take 5. Channel your inner chef and trust your instincts.

4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
6 oz green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
6 oz zucchini chopped
8 oz asparagus end removed and chopped in to 1 inch pieces
1 tbs olive oil

Place the stock in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Keep at a simmer while cooking the risotto.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat till hot. Add the asparagus, beans and zucchini and sautee for about 5 minutes until they are bright green and just starting to soften. Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, the sauteed veggies and salt and pepper to taste.

Risotto primavera. Great use up all those spring veggies dish.

Baby Bok Choi and Mushrooms

We are completely devoid of a passable Chinese food in my town.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

I am a super picky restaurant person to start with. I am not trying to brag but most of what I get in restaurants in my price range I can make better and cheaper here at home. The restaurants out of my price range have incredible food but I struggle dropping what amounts to a week worth of produce on one entree- which if given a recipe I can most likely replicate at home with very similar results.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

So when I was chatting with friends the other day and mentioned the lack of good Chinese food  and they all agreed with me I knew I wasn’t being picky.

Want to know how bad it really is? Our local paper just released a “best of” list. The best Chinese restaurant? P.F. Changs. That’s how bad things are around here.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

Thai food is another story. We have lots of great Thai. And Mexican. But for now in order to get a good Chinese food fix I have to make it myself. You know what? I don’t mind.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

This simple yet satisfying vegan dish is a great first step into Chinese food. It requires little to no prep work (other than some chopping) and cooking takes less than 10 minutes. It is start to table in 15 minutes flat.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

And veggies! Look at all the veggies you would be chowing down on. That alone should be enough reason for you to make this. Oh and it is yummy. There’s that too.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

Baby Bok Choi and Mushrooms (serves 4)
My own

1 lb mushrooms (Any mushroom will do. The more flavor the better. I used cremini.)
1 lb baby bok choi
2 tbs olive oil
2-3 tbs soy sauce
1/3 cup beer or rice wine (hoppy beer is best but that is also my stance in life)
1 tbs corn starch
Rice for serving

Place your wok over your largest burner and set the heat to medium. While the wok is heating separate the bok choi steams and leaves. Chop in to bite size pieces. Place in two separate bowls. Chop up the mushrooms. Once the wok is hot add 1 tbs olive oil and then the bok choi steams. Cook for about 2 minutes then add the leaves. Cover with a lid and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Remove to a plate. In the same hot wok add the last tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for about a minute. Add the soy sauce, beer or wine and mushrooms and cook for another minute. Mix the corn starch with 2 tablespoons of cold water making sure it all dissolves and then add to the mushrooms. Stir till the sauce if thick, about another minute. Pour the mushrooms and sauce over the bok choi. Serve with rice.

Baby bok choi and mushrooms. Filling, healthy and vegan!

On Delivering Dinner

Hopefully we have been friends for a bit. If not no worries. I’m always happy to make new friends.

If we have been friends for a awhile one thing you will know about me is my reaction to pretty much any major life event is to throw food at it. Not literally but figuratively. You moved? Had a death in your family? New baby? Generally speaking an awful week? Birthday? Anniversary? I’m there with food in hand.

On delivering dinner

Over the years I feel I have become a bit of an expert on what to take to people. There are a few things I try to take into consideration:

1. I never make anything for a someone I wouldn’t feed my family. Good food but also good for you (well besides the cookies maybe). This means whole grains, locally sourced meats, as much organic produce as I can afford, little or no refined oils

2. Aim to include veggies. So often I feel when people drop off dinner the dishes are rich and calorie laden. I always pick main dishes that are chocked full of veggies.

3. Include something for breakfast. Ages ago I read a post about delivering dinner to a new mom and it suggested to take breakfast foods along with the dinner. I tend to make something like muffins or scones for an easy next day breakfast.

4. If you can just bring along some plain fresh fruit- apples, watermelon, grapes, strawberries. you know- whatever is in season. When we are in the midst of a life changing event I don’t think we tend to eat well. Wash and cut up the fruit for easy, mindless snacking.

5. Always ALWAYS ask about allergies, aversions, preferences before deciding on your menu. I don’t like blue cheese but you wouldn’t know that unless you asked. Or know me well.

6. Don’t break the bank. The reason I have such a deep repertoire of recipes is I cook and deliver based on what is in season, on sale, or on hand. Most meals I deliver cost me less than $10 to make. The entire meal- fruit, breakfast, and entree.

7. Only deliver on dishes and in tupperware you don’t want or need back. The last thing these people need is to keep track of your stuff. Make sure they know they don’t need to wash or return anything.

Do you ever make and deliver food to friends and family? This little blog has a long list of recipes that are perfect for delivery. Here is a list of my favorites:

Casseroles:

Black bean and spinach enchiladas

Black bean and spinach enchiladas– Healthy and hearty. I actually delivered this to a new mama yesterday.

lighter tuna noodle casserole

Tuna noodle casserole– First reference #5 above. Not everyone loves tuna casserole BUT if they do this lighter version is packed full of veggies and is sure to please!

chicken or turkey biscuit pot pie

Chicken or turkey biscuit pot pie– A twist on pot pie that is a bit quicker to prepare. Still a showstopper and again loaded with veg.

Baked penne bolognese

Baked penne with bolognese– This dish packs a veggie punch without you realizing it. Plus there isn’t anything out there as hearty or heartwarming as homemade pasta sauce.

Baked mac and cheese

Baked mac and cheese– This recipe offers two ways to make it- both with veggies! And who doesn’t love homemade mac and cheese? Fascists that’s who.

Easy to reheat dinner:

Easy veggie curry

Easy veggie curry– Perfect vegan or vegetarian dish. Make brown rice for an extra hearty fiber punch.

Lentils, sausage and swiss chard

Lentils, sausage and swiss chard– Yes this sounds a bit unusual but make it and I promise the recipient will be impressed. This basic dish has so much flavor.

Soups:

Broccoli cheese soup

Broccoli cheese soup– Loads of veggies in this lighter version of an all around classic. Be sure to include bread for dipping!

Beef barley stew

Beef barley stew– Veggies, meat, barley. Yum. Stick to your ribs soul food.

Saffron chicken veggie soup

Saffron chicken veggie soup– Did you know saffron is a mood booster? Ideal dish if someone if having a particularly hard time.

Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup– One of our standby faves for weeknight dinner. Simple mild soup made with nourishing chicken or veggie broth. A must make for anyone recovering from illness.

Sweet potato quinoa chili

Sweet potato quinoa chili– Another great recipe for the vegetarian or vegan. Be sure to make cornbread (suggested recipe below).

Breakfasts:

Banana bread

Banana bread– Does this really need an explanation? A classic favorite.

Cranberry orange muffins

Cranberry orange muffins– Perfect around the holiday season or if you have frozen cranberries lurking in your freezer.

Homemade granola

Homemade granola version one or version two– Cereal lovingly made by someone else is always a welcome treat.

blueberry-muffins

Blueberry muffins– I make this recipe so often I have it memorized. First time I made them was to deliver to a friend at the hospital right after she had her baby.

Sides (to go with soups or casseroles!):

Brown butter rosemary cornbread

Brown butter rosemary cornbread– I think this would go great with the sweet potato quinoa chili. Just sayin.

Artisan bread

Artisan bread– This bread is no effort at all on your part and is a stunner. Sure beats spending $5 on a loaf at the store.

Cheddar scallion drop biscuits

Cheddar scallion drop biscuits– Ridiculously cheesy and flavorful biscuits. Goes great with the saffron veggies soup.

 

I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration. What are your favorite recipes to deliver?

 

 

Ciabatta Bread

I have debated sharing this or not.

I should preface this by saying I am NOT a bread baker. That has strictly been Nathan’s realm. I tackled and love the easy artisan bread that requires no kneeding or really any skill. And some hamburger buns. But that’s IT.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Somehow last weekend I got a wild hair and decided that making ciabatta sounded like fun. Well, it was fun but it was ALOT of work. I didn’t notice that much because it was lots of little short steps sprinkled throughout the day but by the time it was done I felt like I had been working on it for four years.

It was incredibly delicious. I found some short cuts, made a couple of “no way am I going through all that” modifications, and they still turned out lovely. Not the big huge holes in the dough I was hoping for but they were tender, a bit chewy, and certainly nice and crispy.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Instead of making loaves I made mine in to little buns which we used for hamburgers that night. My brother-in-law didn’t realize I had made the bread and, when I informed him that I had in fact slaved away all day, he said he has just assumed it came from the store.

Win. Honestly.

So here you go. Tread with caution as this is a monster. Leave me comments if it is completely screwy should you attempt it.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Ciabatta Bread (makes 12 rolls or 2 large loaves)
Adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Day 1- Make poolish

2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (11.25 oz)
1 1/2 cups room temp water
1/4 tsp instant yeast

Stir together all the ingredients in a bowl till well mixed. The dough should be soft and sticky like thick pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 3-4 hours till bubbly and foamy. Refrigerate up to three days.

Day 2- Make the bread

1 poolish (see above)
3 cups unbleached bread flour (13.5 oz)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
6 tablespoons to 3/4 cup water

Remove the poolish from the fridge 1 hour before making the bread.

Stir together the flour salt and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the poolish and 6 tablespoons of water. Mix on low speed till the ingredients make a sticky ball. Add water as necessary. You want the dough to clear the sides of the bowl but not necessarily the bottom. Mix with the paddle attachment till well mixed then switch to the dough hook for 5-7 minutes of kneading. The dough should still be soft and sticky.

Sprinkle the counter generously with flour and scrape out the sticky dough onto it. Pat the dough into a rectangle. Let it rest for two minutes. Gently stretch both sides of the rectangle out till the dough is double the size. Fold the dough over itself in thirds, like a letter, returning it to the original rectangular shape. Mist with spray oil, sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the counter for 30 minutes. Repeat stretch and fold, re mist, sprinkle, and cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It will swell but not necessarily double in size.

Find a tea towel and mist with oil then sprinkle liberally with flour and rub it in (this is called setting up a couche). Gently remove the plastic wrap and cup the dough with a pastry cutter into either two loaves or smaller rolls. Be careful to not degass it by handling it too much. Gently lift each piece, lay on the floured cloth, then bunch the cloth between the rolls to create little walls. Cover with a towel. Proof for 45-60 minutes.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!

Meanwhile place your pizza stone in the oven on the bottom rack and a heavy duty baking pan on the top rack. Preheat oven to 500 F or as hot as your oven will go. Gently transfer the dough to the pizza stone (I did this by hand but you can use a well floured pizza peel) either six rolls at a time or one loaf at a time. Before shutting the oven door carefully (don’t get water on your oven door or stone as they might crack) pour 2-3 cups of water in the baking pan. Shut the door quickly. Bake for 10-15 minutes or to an internal temp of 205 F. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 45 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy. Cause that was a ton of work.

Ciabatta bread- so cheap to make at home!