We ordered some food from a local restaurant supply company that has started delivering to consumers. First off, the quality of everything they delivered was much higher than any grocery store. Now we know where the good stuff goes.
They had some squash so we included acorn squash in our order and it was so good. We’ve baked them, grilled them, and stuffed them. This stuffing is probably my favorite.
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano (or Italian seasoning if preferred)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 egg, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut 1-inch off the top of each acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. If necessary in order for the squash to sit upright, cut off a small portion of the bottom. Rub the melted butter in the cavity of each squash and sprinkle the inside with kosher salt and ground pepper. Set squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown the ground pork until no longer pink. Remove the meat from the pan, add the olive oil and saute the onion, celery, carrot and garlic until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 10 minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
Return the pork to the pan along with the cooked rice, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stirring constantly, heat mixture thoroughly, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, cool for 20 mins and then mix in the beat egg well.
Divide the mixture evenly among the squash, top each squash with its lid and bake for 1 hour or until the squash is tender.
OK, we tried our hand at making pizza dough again. We tried in the past and just couldn’t get the right taste and texture with any consistency. Then we found the fresh dough from Trader Joe’s and started to use that because it’s so much easier and the dough is good. For Christmas I got Curt a gift box from Marcelli Formaggi called Trattoria Pizza Maker’s Kit. It has everything you need for a truly authentic Italian pizzeria experience.
I had to find a new recipe to use for the flour that is included in the kit. We ended up using the recipe provided on a card that is included in the kit. That recipe is below. I also reached out to some friends who are my go-to people for help, advice, and inspiration in my cooking. Luke is a professional chef and is now teaching future chefs. Josh is a fellow Italian American from Texas that has some awesome kitchen skills in both Italian cuisine and traditional Texan food (think BBQ, smoking, and similar items).
Here are their suggestions and then at the end is the recipe from Marcelli Formaggi.
One 12” NY Style Crust 150g flour 4g sugar 2.5g kosher salt 2.5g instant yeast 8g olive oil 100g water
blend dry ingredients in food processor-add water and oil and blend until dough forms-place in greased bowl and cover for 4hrs (or in the fridge overnight)-punch down, shape in a ball, refrigerate 1hr-remove from fridge 1hr before baking-shape, top, bake.
I am not particularly a pizza kinda guy. But my go to is.. 2 cups flour 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon instant yeast 6 ounces of water
Combine dry ingredients, then add water. Mix, cover, and let rise at room temp for 8-10 hours. Divide dough in half, roll up in balls, and place in bags or a container to rest in ths fridge for 2 days. Let rest for an hour or so at room temp before using. That’s enough for two small pizzas
Here is the recipe that came with the Trattoria Pizza Maker’s Kit from Marcelli Formaggi.
I do want to point out that this is for a pan pizza, so it’s very runny and meant to be poured into the pan, not rolled out like a traditional pizza. We didn’t realize this and started adding flour on the second day. Then even more on the third. We were using a 1000 gram bag and ended up with about 50 grams left. The dough rested in our refrigerator for two more days, so a total of 4 days after we initially mixed the dough.
In total, we ended up with 3 lbs of dough and separated it into 3 sections. We used one section to make pizza, and ended up dividing this section into two 10-inch pizzas. Both pizzas were awesome, so about 950 grams works, it’s just that this is a whole lot of dough and you might not want to make so much unless you’re having a pizza party.
I was going to update the recipe below, but wanted to leave it because I want to try it next. If you don’t want to make a pan pizza, try one of the recipes able from Luke or Josh.
Yield: 1 10″ x 14″ pizza Time: 7 to 10 hours
300 grams Caputo 00 Chef’s flour
6 grams of salt
3 grams instant yeast
300 grams room temperature water
2 tablespoons semolina flour, or as needed, for dusting
Whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. Add the water and mix with a spatula to form a wet dough, resembling a thick batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, use a rubber spatula to fold the dough. Pull on corner to the center and then give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the process. Do this a total of four folds and then flip the dough over, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, repeat the folding process and then, instead of flipping the dough in the bowl, flip it out onto a pizza pan that’s been lightly dusted with semolina flour. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 3 hours.
After 3 hours, gently stretch the dough to fill the pizza pan. Cover the pizza pan and let it rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours before adding topping and banking the pizza.
Preheat oven to 500 F
Add toppings to your pizza and bake for 20 minutes, turning the pan at least once during the process.
Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan to cut.
We always have a lot of leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner. This year it was just the two of us, so we had even more than normal. We did get a smaller turkey (it was only 13lbs) but we made full sized dishes of everything else. One reason we made so much was for the leftovers. Our favorite thing to make with the leftovers are Thanksgiving Tamales.
For this recipe, you’ll need leftover cornbread stuffing, turkey, and fresh made turkey stock. Our cornbread stuffing has chorizo and peppers so it adds a nice flavor. Also, if you didn’t make any stock from your turkey, go ahead and use chicken stock. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, grab that too.
This recipe should make about 20 tamales, depending on the size of your corn husks and the thickness that you put the masa on the cornhusks. We used the Maseca tamale masa that you should be able to find in major super markets or from Amazon.
Making tamales is not complicated, but it helps to “see” it first so check out some youtube videos to help out. Here is how Pati Jinich makes hers as a point of reference
1 cup masa
1 cup stock (turkey or chicken) or water
1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups leftover cornbread stuffing
1/2 cup stock (turkey or chicken) or water
Start by mixing the masa, 1 cup of stock, lard, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix this together until it’s a grainy paste. Once this is mixed well, mix in your stuffing. The extra half cup is for blending in the stuffing. You want the mixture to have a grainy paste texture again, so it will probably be too dry after you add your stuffing. Slowly add the extra 1/2 cup until you get back to that texture.
tamale dough (from above)
1.5 lbs turkey pulled into small pieces
20 corn husks
Soak the corn husks in water for a few minutes, until they are soft and flexible. Then remove from water and drain them off. They don’t have to be completely dry.
Spread a thin layer of tamale dough on the corn husk over the top half of the husk.
Place a few pieces of turkey in the center of the husk. If you have leftover cranberry sauce, a thin line of this sauce is a nice treat to add to the tamale.
Fold one side of the husk over to the other side, where the tamale dough from each side come together. Push them together to make it firm, then fold the bottom part up over the seam. Then place the tamale into the steamer pot. We lay our pot on it’s side and place them in with the folded side down.
Once you’ve filled the husks with the dough and turkey, steam them over water for 2 hours. Check the water level regularly and replenish as needed. One tip is to put a penny in the bottom of the pan (in the water). If you hear the penny start to rattle, it’s time to add water.
Time: For the Roasted Pumpkin – about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours
Time: For Soup – 1 1/2 hours
Autumn is probably my favorite season. I love the seasonal flavors that start showing up on plates as we move from light summer fare to heartier savory foods. Pumpkins and other winter squash are some the best ways to celebrate this season. You can search for butternut squash on my blog and find a number of recipes. Last fall the supermarket put the huge heirloom pumpkins on sale for 4 for $1. We got $5 of them. You can do the math, but just know it was A LOT of pumpkin. This is the soup we kept coming back to last year.
We used a large Fairytale Pumpkin for this recipe. This pumpkin can come in colors from dark green to orange and has a fairly thin skin. The flesh is firm but not fibrous like Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins. It’s also bright orange. Making the roasted pumpkin filling is very simple and because it’s so easy, I don’t know why you’d want to use a can of pumpkin if pumpkins are available. We put salt and pepper on the chunks of pumpkin before we roasted them, but if you want to use of them for sweet dishes, just roast them without any seasoning and you can use them as you need.
1/2 stick (4 TBSP) of salted butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
6 cups of diced roasted pumpkin (not canned – we used Fairytale)
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cayenne (optional and to taste)
1 tablespoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
2 teaspoons Olive Oil or sour cream for topping
Tabasco Sauce or your favorite hot sauce
Red pepper flakes
These instructions are divided into two parts. The first part is for roasting the pumpkin. If you’re using canned pumpkin, skip down to the instructions for the soup here.
For this recipe, we used about 1/2 of a large Fairytale Pumpkin. However, we cut up and roasted the whole pumpkin. We will freeze the pumpkin that isn’t used and use it later in either another soup or one of my favorites, pumpkin ravioli.
Heat oven to 400 F and put foil down on 2 large baking sheets.
Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Keep the seeds for roasting them once the pumpkin is done in the oven.
Cut the pumpkin into 2 to 3 inch chunks, then toss them in a bowl with olive oil. Using our largest bowl, it took a couple bowls to get them all coated. Then we place them on baking sheets and lightly sprinkled salt and pepper on them. (Note: You can skip the salt and pepper if you want to use the roasted pumpkin for sweet dishes.)
Roast the pumpkins for about 45 minutes to an hour, until fork tender. We had large chunks and it took about 1 hour. Plus, we’re in Breckenridge, CO, and it usually takes food a little longer to cook up here at this altitude. We turned the pans every 20 minutes or so to make sure they heated evenly.
Let the pumpkins cool, then cut the skin away. Note that you can cut the skin away before roasting but some pumpkins are pretty tough when raw, so we’ve found it much easier to cut the skins away after roasting.
Cut the chunks down into 1 to 2 inch cubes.
Instructions for the soup
Melt the butter on medium heat, then add the onion and stir to coat onions. Cook the onions for 5 minutes. Then add the carrots, garlic, shallots, ginger. Continue sautéing these for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft.
Add the chicken stock, pumpkin, cayenne, cumin, and nutmeg and stir thoroughly. We added little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer the soup mixture for an hour.
Use an immersion blender to blend the soup mixture into a smooth consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender to blend the soup in small batches.
Taste the soup at this point. We added a little more salt and pepper and then 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and a couple splashes of Tabasco sauce. We like things on the hotter side, so just add it if you like the heat. We let our soup continue to simmer for another hour with the cover on it so it wouldn’t evaporate.
Serve the soup hot and top with either a splash of olive oil or sour cream. If you roasted the pumpkin seeds, sprinkle some of these onto the soup.
We made this soup for two grown men and there was a lot left over. We think this is a great thing! We’ll have soup again, but you can use this soup in other dishes. We’ll reduce the soup and then add it to some marinara for a pumpkin pasta sauce. You can also add 1/2 cup of this soup to Italian Wedding Soup to give it an autumnal flair.
This oil comes from a recipe on the New York Times food website. It’s included in their recipe for Ramen with Charred Scallions, Green Beans, and Chili Oil. We haven’t made the whole recipe, but the oil alone is worth making.
2 tablespoons red-pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup of neutral oil. (grapeseed, vegetable, or canola)
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (of course you can add more)
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Put the red pepper flakes and the salt into a heat resistant bowl.
Put your neutral oil (we used grapeseed), ginger, and garlic into a small saucepan. OK, we like garlic so we used 4 cloves, but that’s just us. Heat this mixture over medium heat until it bubbles. It will take 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the oil mixture from the heat and carefully pour the hot oil over the red-pepper flakes and salt.
Add the sesame seeds and the sesame oil. Stir well.
Let the oil mixture sit for at least half an hour to give the flavors time to meld. Make sure to shake or stir well before using it.
This chili oil can be stored in an airtight jar at room temperature for up to a month and indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Pozole is a Mexican stew that has a base of hominy. You can find versions with chicken and pork and they can either be green or red. When you’re searching for it online, a lot of the recipes use the Americanized word Posole.
This recipe originated on the side of a big can of hominy that we found at Sam’s Club. It was the Juanita’s Foods Mexican Style Hominy in a 110 oz can. We had never made this before and thought it sounded fun. The recipe on the can started with a fresh whole chicken and includes instructions on cooking the chicken. We happened to be out of town so we opted to use a rotisserie chicken. This was a great time saver. You could also use a smoked chicken, grilled chicken breast or poached chicken. To be honest, I’m not a fan of poached chicken because it doesn’t matter how many ingredients you add to the water, the chicken always tastes bland to me.
There are very many variations to this recipe that you can find online. Some call for pulled pork and some are “red” instead of green. There are also many different garnishes that you can use. We used the lime wedges and radishes, which seem to be the most popular.
This dish is typically served as a stew so you can add more chicken stock if you want it more soup like. You can also cook it down a little and make it thicker if you want to serve it with tortillas and eat it like a taco.
This serves about 7 to 8 people.
1/2 of a rotisserie chicken, or 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of cooked chicken, cut into pieces
55 oz of Juanita’s Mexican Style Hominy (1/2 of the large 110 oz can)
1 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
4 poblano peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
6 tomatillos (you can also use canned if fresh aren’t available)
Prepare the poblano and jalapeno peppers by roasting them over a flame until blistered and blackened. You can roast these on the stove top of a gas stove or on your grill. If neither are available, then you can roast them under the broiler with the tomatillos (see next step). Then put them in a plastic bag to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, gently pull the blackened skin away, then seed the peppers and chop the peppers.
Prepare the tomatillos by removing the husks. Then roast them on the grill or under the broiler to give them a nice char. This should take about 5 minutes. Let the tomatillos cool, then chop them into small pieces. If you’re using canned tomatillos, you can skip the roasting step and just chop them up.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan or dutch oven, then saute the chopped onion and garlic for 10 minutes.
Add the poblanos, jalapeno, and tomatillos to the pan and continue to saute until all items are soft.
Transfer the sauteed vegetables to a blinder and puree until smooth.
Remove the skin from the chicken and, using a fork, shred the chicken. Discard the bones (or set them aside for making a stock later).
Add the hominy, pureed pepper mixture, shredded chicken, and 4 cups of chicken stock to the large pan or dutch oven. Mix well.
Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Salt to taste.
Serve with your choice of garnish: lime wedges, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, diced onion, shredded cabbage, and/or dried oregano.
Here is our jar of marinated mushrooms. You can see buts of the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes and orange peel floating in there with the mushrooms.
We saw this recipe on one of Lidia Bastianich’s shows on CreateTV. It sounded simple enough and we have some extra mushrooms leftover from the Christmas holiday cooking. We were surprised at how much a pound of mushrooms cooked down so next time we’re going to double the recipe.
The orange peel really adds a nice flavor to the mushrooms and was a pleasant surprise. There is a lot of liquid left over from the vinegar that the mushrooms are cooked and stored in that has a really good mushroom flavor. We’re going to try to re-purpose this into a salad dressing or something like that.
1 1/4 cups of white wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves (fresh if you have them available)
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (depending on your preferred heat level)
1 pound of small white button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
Peel of 1 orange (peeled with a vegetable peeler)
Extra-Virgin olive oil (for tossing)
2 tablespoons chopped Italian Parsley
Using a large sauce pan or dutch oven, combine the vinegar, water, rosemary, bay leaves, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring this mixture to a boil.
while the mixture is coming to a boil, prepare your mushrooms. The goal is to have them be bite-sized, so smaller is best. For any larger mushrooms, cut in half or into quarters.
Once the mixture is boiling, add your mushrooms and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.
Remove the pan from the heat and then add the garlic and orange peel. Allow the mixture to cool in the cooking liquid.
Once cooled, pack the mushrooms into a jar and then pour the cooking liquid over them. Seal the jar and refrigerate. We ate ours after about 4 hours of refrigeration and they were great. You can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week.
When you’re ready to eat, serve them by placing the mushrooms into a serving bowl and drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.
Here are our mushrooms after we drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with parsley. They were eaten too fast so I couldn’t get a picture of them in a nice clean serving bowl.
It’s hot outside and what goes better with a hot summer afternoon than watermelon. Well, there are more than a few ways to enjoy your watermelons. We recently bought a large watermelon that was bigger than we expected. Our housekeeper suggested that we make watermelon water, which we did.
Once we tried the watermelon water, we knew we had to try it in an adult beverage so we tried our hand at a margarita and we both think it turned out great.
4 cups seedless watermelon diced
1/2 cup lime juice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons agave nectar (you can substitute honey)
1 cup tequila,
1/4 cup triple sec.
2 cups of ice
1 jalapeno, cut into 1/4 inch licked
12 to 15 fresh mint leaves (you can substitute fresh basil)
Mix the watermelon, lime juice, water, agave, tequila and triple sec in a blender and blend until super smooth. Stir in the ice, half the jalapeno slices and half of the mint leaves. (Do not blend the jalapeno slices, just stir them in with the ice) The remaining jalapeno slices and mint leaves are to garnish your drinking glasses. Stir very well and serve.
If you want your drink a little sweeter you can stir in some additional agave or some sugar. You can also taste your watermelon before you start mixing it. If the watermelon isn’t very sweet, you can throw in a few pieces of cantaloupe to add some natural sweet flavor.
Our pantry has over a dozen containers of mixes for meat runb but we’re still always on the lookout for something different. One of our go-to runs is the Ring of Fire rub. We recently had a brisket that we wanted to try something different with. When we looked online, we found a recipe that looked like a great starting point.
Most of the meat rubs we have lean towards the sweet side but this one has some noticeable heat. It’s not going to burn your mouth but it’s definitely going to tingle your tongue.
When we mixed this the first time, the recipe didn’t specify whether to use regular paprika or smoked paprika so we used 5 teaspoons of smoked paprika. That was WAY too much. Cutting it in half with regular paprika gives this mixture a better balance. I’ll also admit we increased the cayenne from 2 teaspoons because we like the heat. If you don’t want it as hot, cut it back to 2 teaspoons.
A final note, the original recipe says 1/2 cup of brown sugar is optional. I think it really needs the sweetness to be authentic to the flavors of Texas and to balance out the mixture. However, that was too much so we cut it in half. As you can see, this is all very subjective and you can play around with the ingredients to find the mix that’s right for you.
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon hot chili powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
Mix everything except for the brown sugar very well. Then add your broken sugar. You can use a spoon or whisk but, if you have trouble feeling it mixed well, try putting it into a mixer or coffee grinder.
You can store this is a cool dry place with you other spices and it will last for months.
If you live in the south, you probably have some sort of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. These little peas are supposed to bring you good luck in the coming year. Legend has it that this tradition comes from the Civil War era when the Northern army didn’t burn the fields of peas as they swept through the South.
I hope you don’t just eat these peas on New Year’s Day because they are really good and should eat them year-round. I have another recipe for black-eyed pea soup but it’s a lot more complicated. For this one, I wanted to make a soup with less steps and just a lot easier to make. I basically start with our favorite soffritto mixture of onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Yes, these are more items than in a traditional soffritto but we like the flavors.
As for the meat in this dish, we happened to find a spiral sliced ham at our local HEB grocery store that was on sale after Christmas so we had to get it. We parted the ham up and used the bone from the ham. The last half or so of the ham wasn’t sliced so we cut up these pieces into bite sized chunks and used these. Without this ham, I would have used sausage and some bacon.
Now, let’s talk about spicy, as in heat. We like it hot! I think a spicy soup is perfect all year round, but especially on a cold winter day (like New Year’s Day). Therefore, we put in 2 jalapenos and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You can definitely cut back or even eliminate both ingredients if you don’t want it spicy. However, I’d at least put in 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. we buy jalapenos by the dozen and grow our own during the summer so we always have plenty on hand.
To start, get all your vegetables ready.
Vegetables for the soffritto to go into the black-eyed pea soup.
Cook your vegetables in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
Vegetable cooking for black-eyed pea soup.
Once cooked, add your black-eyed peas, liquid, ham bone and ham chunks.
Black-eyed pea soup starting to cook.
Let it simmer for a couple of hours and then it’s ready for you and your family!
Black-eyed pea soup simmering
It’s become our tradition to make a black-eyed pea soup on New Year’s Day afternoon while we’re watching college bowl games.
1 pound package of black-eyed peas, sorted and soaked overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (you can cut back on this if you don’t want it spicy)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 ham bone
1 cup ham pieces
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (reduce the amount if you don’t want it spicy)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
The night before you want to make this, rinse your black-eyed peas and then place in a large pot and cover with an inch of water.
The next day, drain your peas and rinse them again in a colander to get out any remaining grit from the peas. They should have swelled up over night.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat and then put in your onions. After 2 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Next, add the carrots, celery, bell peppers and jalapenos. Stir well and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are tender.
Add your beans and chicken broth and water. Then add your ham bone and ham pieces. Next add the cumin, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. If all your ingredients aren’t covered with the broth and water, add additional water until fully covered. Then bring to a boil. After it starts boiling, reduce your heat to low, put the lid on your Dutch oven, and allow the pot to simmer for at least 2 hours, until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If the water starts to evaporate to the point that it no longer covers the peas, simply add enough water to the pot to cover the peas while they simmer.