This is one of my favorite meals when the weather is getting cool! It’s so hearty and delicious. It almost didn’t happen this week. My friend decided that we were going to do a modified version of the Food Network show Chopped. He asked my boyfriend to pick out a random ingredient and let us come up with a recipe around it.
Some friends gave my boyfriend some ground venison, so we brought it over to his house as the “mystery ingredient.” I wanted to make spaghetti bolognese, but I was outnumbered. In the end I was glad because it couldn’t have been better.
It was a fun game to play too. The premise of the show is that the contestants are given a basket of food and have to create a dish out of whatever is in it. Half the time they don’t even know what all the ingredients are (the Rocky Mountain oysters episode comes to mind…) They end up making appetizer, main dish and dessert, eliminating a contestant with each round. The one ingredient game tonight was just to see if it worked, but I think it would be fun to have someone else make an entire basket.
- 2 lbs. ground lamb or venison
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
- 2 lb. red potatoes
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400.
Saute meat of your choice in a skillet until cooked through (about ten minutes.) Add carrots, celery and shallot. Saute until softened. Add garlic, saute one minute. Add tomato sauce and red wine. Stir and allow to simmer while potatoes finish.
Meanwhile, boil red potatoes in a large pot until softened, about twenty minutes. Drain and mash. You can add butter if desired, but it’s not necessary.
Place meat mixture in the bottom of a round casserole dish. Add mashed potatoes to the top. Top with shredded Parmesan. Bake at 400 for one hour. Cheese will be melted, and casserole will be bubbly.
Not a pretty picture… but so tasty!
This recipe is another one of Jim’s Specialties. I got to go over to his house and help him make it this past weekend, and it was so good! The cheeses blended into the crust perfectly and created a light, flaky crust that was even better than using tomato sauce as the base.
I also got to learn exactly how to roll out pizza dough and keep the air bubbles intact. Jim described rolling the pin over the dough as “angels kissing” which I thought was a pretty interesting way to explain. He meant to convey touching the dough lightly, but it didn’t necessarily help me touch the dough lightly because I burst out laughing and leaned forward into the dough. Oh well, it’s a beautiful image nonetheless.
While this is a more time consuming process than calling your local pizza place, it is worth the effort! It was perfection! I can’t wait to try it again on my own and see if I can make angels kiss properly.
- fresh, pre-made pizza dough
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small onion, sliced
Begin by caramelizing onions. Do this by heating olive oil over medium in a skillet. Use about one teaspoon olive oil per onion. Add chopped onions and coat, allowing them to saute about ten minutes. Add a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt to help with the caramelization process if desired. Continue cooking 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Once the onions are caramelized, add tomatoes and mushrooms. Saute until softened, about five minutes. Set aside to cool while pizza dough is baking.
Meanwhile, roll out dough into square or circular shape. Mix ricotta, egg and Parmesan and spread over top of pizza. Bake 8 minutes at 500.
Remove from oven and top with onion and tomato mixture. Return to oven and continue to bake at 500 for another 15 minutes.
This is the best flatbread I’ve ever had in my life! Our regular contributor, Jim Lewandowski, has done it yet again! This dish would work as an appetizer or for your main course, and I guarantee it will not fail to impress. The puff pastry gives it a light flakiness that you just can’t get with pizza dough. The caramelized onions, cheese and olives compliment the crust perfectly. I could go on and on about how perfect this dish is, but I’d rather be in the kitchen making some more, so enjoy!
- 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- 2 lbs. yellow onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 whole cloves garlic
- 1 package of puff pastry
- olive oil
To assemble each flatbread:
- whole black olives, halved
- cheese (fontina recommended)
For the topping, heat the olive oil in a very large saute pan and cook the onions, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic over low heat for 45 minutes, until the onions are sweet and cooked but not browned. Toss the onions from time to time. After 30 minutes, take out the garlic, chop it roughly, and add it back to the onions.
Meanwhile make the dough. Gently take the puff pastry from the wrapper and roll out on a cookie sheet. Coat edges with olive oil to prevent sticking.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Spoon the onion topping onto the pastry, leaving 3/4- inch border all around. Top with desired amount of cheese. Artfully arrange olives on top and brush the edge of the dough with olive oil. Bake 15 minutes until the crust is crisp. Serve hot.
This is another delicious recipe brought to us by our regular contributor, Jim Lewandowski! This is perfect for a BBQ, and was a huge hit at ours. Make extra if you want to have any leftovers!
- 3 lbs. red skinner potatoes, boiled until knife tender then cooled
- 2 stalks finely chopped rib celery
- 1 med. onion, finely chopped
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 cup mayo
- salt/pepper to taste
- 6 hard boiled eggs
- paprika (to sprinkle on top)
Cut potatoes into bite sized chunks. In a large bowl, place potatoes, celery, onions, mayo, diced eggs and mustard. Toss until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle paprika on top, to taste. Garnish with parsley or chopped chives. Chill before serving.
Here is another delicious dish from our regular contributor, Jim! After you make this you will get to enjoy the pride of knowing you made your own pastry from scratch! Don’t worry about the complicated process of making your own dough- the miracle that is the food processor does a lot of the work for you! This dessert tastes even better than a blueberry muffin! It goes great with a light dinner, like the Chicken Caesar Salad.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp clear vinegar
- a couple of ice cubes
- 2 Tbs. shortening
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until thick. Be careful not to over-mix. Remove dough from bowl. Take flour and and pat on the outside of dough until it becomes soft. Place on flat surface and make into a ball. Put in refrigerator for an hour to relax! After dough is relaxed, roll it out on a flat surface. Kneed dough by rolling and folding it several times to prevent sticking. Roll until it’s 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Using a saucer that is about 6-inches in diameter as an outline, cut dough into four 6-inch round discs. Set aside until filling is ready.
- 1 1/2 pints of blueberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 3 Tbs. water
Stir ingredients together until they are mixed. Quarter ingredients (divide into four) and put in the center of each disc. Fold discs in half. Crimp with an egg wash (1 egg and 1 tsp. water, whisked) so they will stay together. Add a tsp. turbinado brown sugar to the top of each tart. Bake 350 for 45-60 minutes until golden brown. Makes total of four.
This recipe is brought to us by my friend and new regular contributor, Jim Lewandowski. He is a phenomenal cook, and has inspired many of the dishes I have created. He is a trained chef, but don’t be daunted to try these recipes! You will be surprised at what you are capable of!
Not only is the salad dressing in the recipe the best Caesar dressing I’ve ever had, but the recipe itself includes only 325 calories! The salad dressing can be stored if you do not use it all in one day too. Trust me, this is the best kind of salad- filling, tasty and healthy!
- 1 bag romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup Parmesan
- 1 cup croutons
- 1 1/2 boneless chicken breast, cooked and shredded
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 3 Tbs. low-fat plain yogurt
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp. anchovy paste (the key ingredient! Don’t leave it out, even if you don’t like anchovies…)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- ground black pepper, to taste
To make dressing, combine all ingredients, except olive oil, in a food processor. With the processor running slowly, add in the olive oil until the dressing is creamy and smooth. Make salad as desired and enjoy!