Monthly Archives: January 2009

Kale with Proscuitto and Garlic

food-8441Have I mentioned before that I love vegetables? I do…especially dark green veggies, they are easily my favorite. Kale is one example of a delicious, healthy, dark green veggie. It’s more tender than some other greens, so it’s easily cooked in a matter of minutes. It’s not as bitter as some either, so it’s more likely to be accepted by those “non-veggie” people in your household. This recipe is inspired by a bacon-laden recipe I found in an old Gourmet magazine. I’ve lightened it up by using just a bit of proscuitto, enough to put a nice flavor to the kale without as much grease. A delicious and easy side dish for sure!

1 bunch kale

3 slices prosciutto, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c water

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Stack kale leaves, a few at a time, and roll lengthwise, and cut crosswise into ½ inch wide strips. Set aside.


In a large, wide pot over medium-high heat, cook the prosciutto 3-4 minutes or until crispy. Set aside on a paper towel to drain. Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds or until starting to turn golden. Add kale, and toss until slightly wilted and turning bright green, about 1 minute. Add water and simmer, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Toss with prosciutto. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Sausage and Apple Stuffed Pork Loin

food-8241I found a little pork roast the other day at the grocery. I bought it on a whim, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with it…but I knew I wanted to do something different. I usually will rub down a simple pork roast with garlic, olive oil, and herbs, and roast it. Nothing special. This time, I wanted special. So, I decided to stuff the roast. I searched around a bit for a good stuffing recipe, and finally decided on adapting an Emeril Lagasse recipe, changing it around to utilize what I had on hand. This roast is a wonderful Sunday dinner meal, with yummy, savory sausage and apples. I wanted to expand my use of fruit in savory cooking, so I can mark this recipe down on the list of accomplishments! Feel free to substitute the sausage for an Italian link sausage, or whatever suits your fancy, and substitute the nuts for whatever you have on hand. This stuffing was quite tasty, I even considered using it in a roast chicken in the future! Also, this recipe was made for 3-4 servings (1-2 slices a piece), so if you plan on feeding big eaters, the recipe is easily doubled.

½ lb ground pork sausage

½ c chopped apples (I used Jazz apples)

1 T chopped onion

1/3 c chopped pine nuts, toasted

½ T chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ lb boneless pork loin roast

1 T vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


Brown sausage in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add apples and onions and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and add pine nuts and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool before stuffing.


Split the roast horizontally, forming a pocket. (don’t cut all the way through) Season roast inside and out with salt and pepper. Pack stuffing in the center of the roast and tie roast with butcher’s twine to hold it all together.

 pork roast

Heat oil in large sauté pan. Add roast and sear on all sides until browned. Transfer to a roasting pan with a rack, and roast in oven until thermometer in the center registers 145 to 150 degrees. (About an hour)


Remove and transfer to carving board, cover loosely with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Serve slices garnished with parsley.


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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork

Curried Lamb Riblets

food-7961 One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to expand my knowledge of Indian cuisine. If you happen to know anything about Indian cuisine, that’s a relatively large undertaking. Indian cuisine is quite diverse. The variety of cultures, religious beliefs, and family traditions throughout India all shape the meals eaten. I won’t begin to attempt to talk about all of the various types of Indian cuisine, as I am still learning (and it will probably take me a while!). This dish is adapted from a Northern Indian dish, and uses similar ingredients to Rogan Josh. However, I happened to have lamb riblets on hand, so I thought, why not use those? They took longer to cook than say, a lamb shank or shoulder, but the wait was worth it. The meat was succulent and so tasty. If you have difficulty finding the spices at your regular grocery store, you might try browsing an Indian or Asian specialty store. Actually, if you have the opportunity to visit one of these stores, I encourage you to go. The spices you can find in these stores are vastly superior in freshness than anything sold at mainstream groceries. And they’re significantly less expensive.

This dish was wonderful with some simple steamed basmati rice.

If anyone has other Indian recipes for me to try, I would love to see them!

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 T chili powder

1 T ground cumin

¼ T turmeric

1 ½ c plain yogurt

2 t garam masala

Salt to taste

2 lbs lamb riblets, cut into individual ribs (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)


2 T vegetable oil

5 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

1 1-inch cinnamon stick

1 t cumin seeds

1 T ground coriander

4 fresh green chiles, minced

1 ½ c diced tomatoes (canned will work fine)

½ c fresh cilantro, chopped


To make marinade: In a blender or food processor, combine onion, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, ½ c of the yogurt, garam masala, and salt. Blend until well incorporated. In a large Ziploc bag (or in a bowl), combine lamb ribs with marinade. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight.


Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large, deep saucepan over medium high heat. Add cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cumin seeds. Quickly add the coriander and stir, and add the lamb riblets along with the marinade. Saute over high heat, turning ribs over once and stirring up surrounding sauce, for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook until the sauce is almost dry, about 15 minutes.


Add the green chiles, tomato, and remaining yogurt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until lamb riblets are tender, about 2 hours. Serve over steamed basmati rice, garnished with cilantro.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Lamb, Main Dishes

Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Parmesan Risotto and Green Beans

food-7631So this is the first post where I am actually posting three recipes, designed to be incorporated into one complete entree. Each component of the dish is relatively simple on its own, but when they were incorporated together, it made for a delicious, satisfying meal.

Duck is a wonderful meat, one I don’t enjoy often enough. It has a richness akin to red meat, but a texture more like the dark meat of a turkey or chicken. But the taste is definitely satisfying, and doesn’t need much “dressing up”, in my opinion. A bit of salt and pepper did quite nicely. And as for the duck fat? Well, I happened to have a whole duck I broke down to use in this (and other, future) recipes. I removed all of the fat and skin and over medium-low heat, rendered the duck fat, until the skins were crispy and the fat was liquid in the pan. Then I cooled and strained the duck fat for future use. (If you decide to do this, you can keep the duck fat for weeks in your refrigerator.) Sinful, but delicious. And that skin? If you let it sit on a paper towel, sprinkle a little salt, it is quite tasty. That’s definitely not a low-fat snack!

Speaking of breaking down a whole duck, that was quite an experience for the kids. They have never seen a whole duck (well, not one that is no longer swimming in a pond, anyway). They all had to come stare the duck’s head, and gawk at how I had to use the cleaver to remove the head and neck. Our middle son begged to touch the head and webbed feet. (obviously, he’s not the squeamish one of the bunch). Of course, once the drama of that was all over, the crowd dissipated and left me to do the rest of the dirty work. Where did the rest of the duck go? Well, I froze the wings, back, and neck to use for broth in the future, roasted the legs and thighs in order to use the meat in a salad, and the fat, skin, and breasts you already read about.

Risotto is a side dish that is not really time-consuming or difficult, (it doesn’t take any more time than other rice dishes to cook), but it takes an active 20-30 minutes of stirring, so you can’t just leave it to cook while you tend to other things. But its creaminess is well worth the effort, so I try to indulge once in a while!

And I love fresh green beans. Steamed with a little butter, and they’re heavenly. Sometimes, you don’t have to fuss to make a great vegetable dish. When you use fresh, the vegetables really shine without much added to them.

Of course, feel free to substitute any meat for the duck, or whatever vegetable you would enjoy.

For the duck:

2 duck breasts, boneless and skinless

Salt and pepper

1 T vegetable oil (or duck fat, if you have it)


Season duck breasts with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat. Add oil or duck fat, and swirl to coat. Add duck breasts to pan and let sear for 2 minutes. Flip breasts, and turn heat down to medium. Let cook for 2-3 more minutes (depending on how thick your breasts are, mine were no thicker than ¾ inch), or until duck is medium. Remove from pan. You don’t want to overcook duck, and once you remove it from the pan, it will continue to cook from the residual heat. You can test it for doneness by either taking a knife and cutting into the thickest part and peeking (it should be faintly pink), using a thermometer (140 degrees is desired), or with experience, you can touch the surface of the meat, and if it is relatively firm, it’s done. Let the breasts rest for 2-3 minutes, and slice.

For the risotto:

2 T olive oil

2 T butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c uncooked Arborio or other risotto rice

½ c white wine

3 c chicken broth, warmed

¼ c parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley, for garnish


Heat a large, shallow saucepan to medium heat and add oil and butter, swirling to melt butter. Once melted, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add rice and stir, cooking for 2 minutes. Add wine and stir to deglaze. Cook until wine is almost evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth. Cook, stirring, until broth is almost evaporated. Add another cup of broth. Continue to cook, stirring often and scraping rice down so that all grains are absorbing the broth, until almost evaporated. Add a bit of the last cup of broth at a time, continuing to cook and stir, until rice is al dente. Once rice is al dente and has absorbed the broth, remove from heat. Add parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnishing with parsley.

For the green beans: 

1 lb fresh green beans, washed and ends snapped

3 T butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Fit a saucepan with a steamer basket, add water to the bottom of the steamer basket, and steam green beans for 3-5 minutes on high, or until the beans are crisp-tender. Drain, and place the saucepan (without steamer basket) back onto the burner on medium heat. Melt the butter in the saucepan, and return the beans to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 more minutes or until the beans are tender but not mushy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under Beans, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Rice, Side Dishes

Garlicky White Bean Soup

food-7791I have been trying to incorporate more soups into my diet lately. For starters, it’s winter, so soup is a yummy, comforting dish to help warm up a cold day. Secondly, they can be made without spending a lot of money, so the leftovers make great cheap lunch entrees. I happened to read a white bean soup recipe on, and decided her recipe was just what I was craving. With a bit of cayenne for subtle warmth, this white bean soup delivers a creaminess and comfort while at the same time being vegan and low-fat. It definitely makes for wonderful lunches, let me tell you! I happened to freeze some, so I can have a delicious, healthy meal on-hand anytime. This soup makes six servings.

2 cups great northern beans, or other white beans, soaked overnight

8 cups water

1 t fresh rosemary

1 t fresh thyme

1 t fennel seeds

1 bay leaf

1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled

1 turnip, peeled and coarsely chopped

3 small red potatoes, or one large russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

8 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

½ c chopped parsley

1 large pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Extra parsley for garnish



Place soaked beans, water, rosemary, thyme, fennel seeds, and bay leaf in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil and let simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a small ovenproof dish, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Cool, and peel cloves.


After beans have simmered for 1 hour, add turnips, potatoes, onion, and carrots. Return to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer, partially covered, for another hour. After simmering, remove bay leaf.


(see, I really meant coarsely chopped!)

(see, I really meant coarsely chopped!)


Add garlic cloves, and puree soup in batches using a blender, or if you have an immersion blender, puree soup in pot. (If you choose, you can reserve about ½ c of the soup mixture before you puree it, so that you have some chunky texture to your soup. I just opted to be imperfect and “mostly puree” my soup with the immersion blender.) Add parsley, and return to a simmer for 30 more minutes.


Taste and add cayenne, and generous amounts of salt and pepper, tasting until seasoned correctly. Serve hot, with parsley for garnish, if desired.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups, Vegetarian

Sweet and Sour Braised Red Cabbage

food-7491In the winter months, I begin to crave vibrant, colorful vegetables. Something to take the drab, gray, boringness from the sky. So, what could be more colorful than red cabbage? Cabbage is a vegetable that I always forget about. I love it, though I only make it a few times a year, in spite of the fact that it’s one of the most economical vegetables available. This is one delicious, easy way to make red cabbage, and is based on a recipe from Tom Colicchio’s “Think Like A Chef.” It is also diabetic-friendly, as I used agave nectar instead of sugar. Agave nectar is significantly lower on the glycemic index than other sweeteners, and makes an excellent substitute. You can find agave nectar at a lot of specialty shops (I bought mine at Sprouts), or purchase it online at (Learn more about agave nectar at 

I served it with some polish sausages (simmered in beer, onions, and caraway seeds, and then pan-fried), and oven-roasted red potatoes. However, it dawned on me, halfway through dinner, that this cabbage recipe would be splendid with a simple pan-fried pork chop. It has a delicious flavor…I couldn’t stop munching on it even as I was putting away leftovers. Guess I’ll have to make this more often!

Update: I ate leftovers with a sauteed pork chop! Tasty, I highly recommend it!

¼ c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 lbs red cabbage, sliced thinly

1 t caraway seed

Salt and pepper

6 T balsamic vinegar

3 T agave syrup or sugar


In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add a handful or two of the cabbage, and stir to wilt. Add a bit of salt and pepper. After a few seconds, add another handful, and stir to wilt. Add another bit of salt and pepper. Repeat until all of the cabbage is in the saucepan. Wilt for 3-4 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add caraway seed, and stir and cook for another minute. Add balsamic vinegar and stir, and finally stir in agave syrup or sugar. Simmer on medium-low, partially covered, for 30-40 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.


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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Roasted Butternut and Spinach Salad

food-736I recently was browsing through the recipes on and saw a salad recipe posted by It looked so delicious, I was inspired. Like so many people right now, I’m trying to make healthy choices. This is a nice, satisfying change from the same ol’ salad everyone has been eating lately while trying to lose weight. What’s even better, is that you can save time and effort by purchasing a rotisserie chicken at the grocery if you would like, and use that for the chicken in this salad. Or, of course, you can omit the chicken entirely for a vegetarian dish. What’s so wonderful about salads is the versatility. Feel free to adjust however you choose, depending on what ingredients are available.

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into ½ inch pieces

½ T olive oil

Salt and pepper


Baby spinach leaves (one large bunch), washed and dried thoroughly

2 T Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 cooked chicken breasts, torn into pieces (a store-bought rotisserie chicken works well here)

¼ c roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

4 oz feta cheese

3 T dried cranberries

Cherry tomatoes (optional)


1/8 c balsamic vinegar

1 t honey

1 small garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

¼ c olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the diced squash on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and drizzle olive oil over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash has begun to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit.


In a bowl, add balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic clove, salt, and pepper. Whisk ingredients together, and while whisking, pour in the olive oil slowly. (Alternatively, if you have a stick blender, use it to mix these ingredients.) Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.


Divide spinach leaves on four plates, and sprinkle with parsley. Top with roasted squash, chicken, and sprinkle pumpkin seeds, feta, and cranberries over. Add a cherry tomato or two if you desire. Drizzle dressing over, and serve.


Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Salads

Chicken and Shrimp Paella

food-7261A few months’  back, I had taken an interest in making paella. Had never tried it, and figured I would need a paella pan in order to “properly” make paella. (That and I don’t regularly purchase what I see in a lot of paella dishes…clams, mussels, etc. Not that I don’t like to eat them, I do, they’re just one of those things that you pretty much have to make on the same day that you purchase them. That, and around here in Dallas, they’re not exactly “cheap”.) Well, I added the paella pan (also called a paellera) to the “wish” list. Lucky me, I recieved a paellera for my birthday! (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Alas, the holidays got the best of my time, and so this dish is only now being made.

This is only one version of many. I read through several recipes before concocting my own. It is a blend of a Tyler Florence recipe and a version Hosea Rosenberg did on Top Chef a few weeks ago. I have seen a lot of chicken paellas with bone-in chicken thighs (I think I might try that next time). This one uses cut-up boneless, skinless chicken thighs, just because that is what I had on hand. Also, the frozen shrimp do quite nicely here (and fit into my budget!). But feel free to add other items as you wish…I would think clams or mussels would be quite yummy. I’ve even seen some with rabbit, snails, or even lobster! As for the chorizo, use Spanish chorizo, not the Mexican chorizo. Spanish chorizo is a cured, smoked sausage and is made of pork, smoked paprika, and salt. (Mine had garlic too, yummy!) Mexican chorizo, on the other hand,  is fresh pork , usually, and has chiles and vinegar as ingredients. The Spanish chorizo might be a bit difficult to find. I found mine at Cost Plus/World Market. Here is a link to, who also sells it. If you choose, you can omit the chorizo as well. I just find it adds another dimension of flavor.


2 chicken thighs, diced medium

1 t sweet paprika or smoked paprika

½ t dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1/3 c olive oil

2 Spanish chorizo sausages (3-4 oz), sliced into thin rings

½ yellow onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch parsley, chopped, 1/3 c reserved for garnish

3 c chicken stock

12 shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 red bell pepper, sliced

½ t saffron threads

1 ½ c short grain rice (such as Bomba rice. Arborio or risotto rice will also work)

Lemon wedges, for serving


Season chicken with paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Heat paellera (or a shallow, large frying pan) to medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Brown chicken and chorizo. Remove and reserve, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.


Sauté onions, garlic, and parsley in pan for 2-3 minutes. Fold in rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in chicken stock, and simmer 10 minutes, gently moving around the pan so the rice cooks evenly. Add chicken, chorizo and saffron. Cook another 5 minutes, and add bell pepper and shrimp, tucking it into the rice. The shrimp will take about 5 minutes to cook. Give paella a good shake, and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, about 15-20 minutes. When the paella is cooked, and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn up the heat for about 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it’s perfect. (the ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat)


Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.


Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Rice

Collard Greens

food-7241So what goes better with Red Beans and Rice ( than a big ol’ mess of greens? Now, I didn’t grow up eating collard greens. My parents are not from the South, so it wasn’t a “natural” thing. However, growing up in Texas, I was bound to discover some “Southern” foods sooner or later. Greens was one such food. I first tried collard greens as an adult. First of all, I love just about any green vegetable, and this was no exception. And when you add ham to a vegetable, how could it possibly taste bad? (That’s my opinion, anyway.) This recipe is good with any ham, smoked ham hock, smoked turkey wings, or other even bacon, so feel free to substitute. Add more ham, if desired. It will make the greens even more smoky in flavor, which in my opinion, is a good thing. When serving, it’s always tasty to offer some Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce.

1 T bacon grease or vegetable oil

½ c onion, chopped

¼ c green pepper, chopped

¼ t fresh thyme, leaves picked

2 T garlic, minced

1 c chopped ham

½ t salt

¼ t ground black pepper

4-5 c water

1 c chicken broth

1 bunch collard greens


In a large pot, bring bacon grease or vegetable oil to medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, thyme, garlic, and ham, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, and reduce to medium-low. Cook for 1 hour.


Wash collard greens thoroughly. Remove the thick stems that run down the middle, and chop greens. Place greens in pot and bring to a  boil. Reduce to medium-low. Cook for 45-60 minutes, or until tender. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. 



Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Red Beans and Rice

food-7151 When my husband John and I were early in our relationship, we took our first “weekend trip” to New Orleans. (This was years before the Katrina disaster.) New Orleans was an incredible place, especially when it comes to food, and I fell in love with Cajun and Creole cuisine at that point. Red beans and rice was something I particularly wished to recreate. Creamy, spicy, smoky, delicious comfort food, and it was cheap to make! The following recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s book, Louisiana Real and Rustic. (because when you want Cajun or Creole food, who better to ask than Emeril? Okay, maybe Justin Wilson, but I don’t have his books…) I reduced the amount of ham by half, and used andouille sausage instead of regular smoked sausage. (I had some left over from another wonderful Emeril recipe, Emeril’s Gumbo Turkey Ya-Ya. This is John’s specialty dish he makes every Thanksgiving holiday. This year, we even made it for Christmas Eve. Want to make it? You can see a copy of the recipe here: ) This is wonderful served over steamed rice. If you like a bit more spice, a dash or two of Tabasco does nicely.

2 T vegetable oil (or bacon grease)

1 c chopped onion

½ c chopped bell pepper

½ c chopped celery

1 t salt

½ t cayenne

¼ t ground black pepper

½ t fresh thyme leaves

4 bay leaves

½ lb chopped ham

½ lb andouille sausage, chopped (can substitute smoked sausage)

1 lb dried red beans, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained

3 T chopped garlic

8-10 c water

Steamed rice



Heat oil or bacon grease in stockpot over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper, and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham, and sausage and sauté for 5-6 minutes more. Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add more water if the mixture becomes too dry or thick.


Use a wooden spoon or a potato masher to mash about half of the mixture against the side of the pot. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 ½ hours, or until the mixture is creamy and the beans are soft. Add more water if it becomes too thick. The mixture should be soupy, but not watery.


Remove the bay leaves and serve over steamed rice.


Filed under Beans, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Rice