Categories
Main Dish

A one-pot meal won’t take up ‘mushroom’ in the kitchen

This one-pot recipe for creamy mushroom pasta is a great dinner for the whole family.

Joey and I have completely different styles when it comes to cooking.

I’m a measurements person. He’s an “add it until it tastes right” person.

I subscribe to the “clean as you go” philosophy. He waits until the meal is over.

I search cookbooks and online for ingredients that meld well. He goes with his gut.

So, it was a little out of character for me when he walked into the kitchen to me scrutinizing a video on my phone while furiously scribbling down notes.

I watched a video of a person with the online handle of “Everything Delish” make what appeared to be an amazing creamy mushroom pasta, but after a long search, I realized that if I wanted to recreate the recipe, I was going to have to figure it out for myself.

I found her through her Pinterest page, if you’re interested in watching the video as well, and she has a website at everything-delish.com, although I couldn’t find this particular recipe on it. So, for the most part, the following is my interpretation.

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One Pot Creamy Mushroom Pasta

This one-pot recipe for creamy mushroom pasta is a great dinner for the whole family.
Course Main Course
Keyword chicken, creamy, garlic, linguine, mushrooms, parmesan-reggiano, pasta, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into two-inch cubes
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 16 ounces mushrooms sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 4 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 12 ounces linguine pasta dry
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup parmesan-reggiano cheese grated
  • 6 ounces parmesan shredded
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large pan with a lid over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Don’t worry about cooking it all the way through. Add in the garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, basil, onion powder, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Cook for several minutes, letting the garlic brown slightly.
  • Add in the chicken broth and milk. Raise the heat to a low boil.
  • Add in the dry pasta. Stir to incorporate it. A bit, then lower the heat to a simmer and place the lid on the pan. Let the pasta cook for about eight minutes or until it is al dente.
  • Remove the lid and stir. Stir in the flour, then add the cheeses and continue stirring regularly for five to 10 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom to keep the cheese from sticking. Once the sauce reduces into a thicker, creamier consistency, stir in the fresh spinach. Let the pasta continue to heat through until the spinach is wilted, and serve.

This was so, so good. I was really nervous at first that the sauce wasn’t going to thicken, but after being patient, it finally got to a great consistency.

It also reheated really well out of the fridge, and Joey and I got several meals out of it.

When Joey figured out I was winging a recipe, he seemed a bit proud of me. I think maybe after a decade of marriage, he might finally be rubbing off on me.

Except for the whole kitchen cleaning thing. I’m not quite there yet.

This piece first appeared in print on June 3, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Poutine’ all this in a taco is a little crazy

Poutine tacos are a strange twist on the Canadian classic but don’t skimp in the calories the dish normally presents.

I have had several people over the years tell me that this column is promoting bad eating.

I mean, yeah, I agree at least somewhat. If you eat many of the recipes I write about every day of the week, you’re probably not making your doctor or your bathroom scale all that happy.

But I also think reading about decadent desserts or calorie-laden meals is kind of fun. There’s a reason the Food Network doesn’t have a full slate of salad shows in its line up.

It’s not that I’m against eating healthy. Actually, Joey and I try hard to eat well regularly. I have a big bunch of asparagus in my fridge right now, along with some other fresh greens, ready to be cooked for dinner this week.

But sometimes I like to try out the dark side of the cookbook, and if you didn’t see it coming, this week’s recipe is way, way on the caloric dark side.

This recipe, a twist on the classic Canadian dish of poutine, which features cheese curds, French fries and brown gravy, comes from the website “Recipe Champions” by Josh Elkin. If you haven’t ever heard of his website, check it out sometime. He has some truly crazy recipes on there. You can find the original post at https://recipechampions.com/recipe/poutine-tacos/. I took out some steps in my version. Also, I used yellow cheese curds, although the classic uses white. I’d recommend just using what is available in your local grocery store.

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Poutine Tacos

Poutine tacos are a strange twist on the Canadian classic but don't skimp in the calories the dish normally presents.
Course Main Course
Keyword bacon, brown gravy, cheese curds, French fries, mozzarella, poutine, tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 12 ounces frozen French fries
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cheese curds
  • 6 strips bacon cooked and chopped

Instructions

  • Start by making the taco shells. Set out a taco holder or a cupcake pan, turned upside down. Heat a small skillet (about five inches wide) over medium heat. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese evenly into the bottom of the pan. Let it cook, undisturbed, for about three minutes. Then turn the heat to medium high, and when you notice the edges starting to turn brown, check to see if you can move the cheese, if it can move, it’s ready. Remove the circle of cheese from the heat.
  • While the cheese is still hot, carefully place it in the taco holder to create a taco shape or place it in a taco shape between two of the cups on the cupcake tin.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of the mozzarella.
  • As the shells cool and harden, cook the French fries in your preferred method.
  • Create a brown gravy by bringing the beef broth to a boil in a small saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup cold water. Once the broth is boiling, turn the heat to medium-low and whisk in the garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire, dissolved corn starch mixture and salt and pepper. Let the gravy thicken, stirring regularly, and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  • To assemble the tacos, start with a layer of fries in the mozzarella shell, top with cheese curds, and then add gravy and bacon pieces. Serve immediately.

These were ridiculous. They were delicious, with lots of great texture, but they felt ridiculous to eat because of how bad for us they were. It was kind of like when you get something fried and delicious at the state fair.

I can’t say that we’ll be making them again any time soon, but it was definitely worth eating once, feeling bad about it, and ticking this off the life experience list.

I’m sure I’ll wound the egos of some Canadians for putting out this non-traditional version, and I’m also certain I’ll have some health professionals wagging their finger at me, but this was so, so good, and it was fun to make, too.

And to all my naysayers, don’t worry. I promise my asparagus will be made with no frying or bacon involved. I’m just not making any commitments for next week’s column.

This piece first appeared in print on May 13, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Spicy ramen makes ‘miso’ happy

Spicy garlic ramen comes together in about 15 minutes, has lots of levels of flavor and is extremely easy to customize with your favorite ingredients.

One of the first meals Joey and I had inside a restaurant after we were officially vaccinated for COVID-19 was to try out some local spicy garlic ramen we heard about online.

The restaurant serves its spicy ramen in levels, with each level getting progressively hotter. Joey started off asking for a relatively high number, and the sweet girl at the counter just shook her head at him and asked if he was sure. He went with a lower option, just in case.

We really enjoyed the ramen. It was flavorful and just the right amount of spicy. It made for a great meal, so of course, we decided we had to figure out how to make some spicy garlic ramen for ourselves at home.

If you’re not into spicy flavors, I’d recommend starting with less of the sambal oelek, which is a spicy chili sauce. I used only one tablespoon the first time, and in the four or five times I’ve made this since, I added a second tablespoon, and it gives it a good “makes your nose run” heat.

This comes from the blog “40 Aprons” by Cheryl Malik. You can find her original post at https://40aprons.com/15-minute-spicy-ramen/. I added extra garlic in my version.

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Spicy Garlic Ramen

Spicy garlic ramen comes together in about 15 minutes, has lots of levels of flavor and is extremely easy to customize with your favorite ingredients.
Course Main Course
Keyword garlic, gingerbread, miso paste, ramen, sambal oelek, sesame oil, soy sauce, spicy

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1- inch knob fresh ginger cut into fourths
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • dash rice wine vinegar
  • 2 blocks ramen
  • Optional toppings: soft-boiled eggs sliced green onion, sesame seeds, fresh sliced mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

  • Combine the broth along with one cup water in a medium-sized pot. Toss in the ginger, garlic, miso paste, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and stir to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer, letting the flavors meld for 10 minutes.
  • If you are serving this with soft-boiled eggs, place your eggs in a pot and just cover them with cold water. Bring to a rapid boil and remove from heat after six minutes. Drain the eggs and immediately plunge them in a bowl of ice water, and set them aside while your ramen finishes.
  • To finish off the ramen, remove the slices of ginger, and bring the broth back to a low boil and drop in the blocks of noodles. Cook for two minutes or until the noodles reach your desired level of doneness.
  • Serve with whatever toppings you choose.

This was so, so good. I don’t normally make something again, let along numerous times, before I share a recipe with you guys, but this one was so good that it has its own card in my recipe box already. 

It’s so easy to add extras, too. You could add shrimp or chicken or tofu, too, if you want some protein in there.

And the nice thing about controlling the spice level yourself is even if you guess wrong, you don’t have to deal with the judgmental eyes of a cashier, silently telling you, “I told you so.”

This piece first appeared in print on April 29, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Huge casserole will make you say, ‘Cheese, Louise!’

This over-the-top version of macaroni and cheese makes a huge amount of the creamy, decadent dish.

As the extremely proud aunt of a fantastic three-year-old, I have been around for quite a few meals of macaroni and cheese the past several years.

I definitely can’t argue with her taste in good food. Joey makes fun of me for ordering mac and cheese regularly, and while my niece’s dish of choice is generally a cup of the single-serving microwaveable kind, I tend to opt for a more grown up version.

After I recently saw a recipe online for a batch that claimed to be the “world’s best” and featured three types of cheese, I decided to forgo any boxes of Kraft and try my own version from scratch.

I will warn you, before we even launch into this, that this makes an absolutely huge dish of macaroni and cheese. I would highly recommend halving or even quartering the recipe if you aren’t feeding a crowd or don’t want a lot of leftovers.

The recipe I used comes from the blog “Mom on Timeout.” You can find the original post at https://www.momontimeout.com/best-homemade-baked-mac-and-cheese-recipe/. I ended up adding extra pasta to my version, because it was way too soupy for my tastes. I also added garlic powder and extra paprika.

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Over-the-Top Macaroni and Cheese

This over-the-top version of macaroni and cheese makes a huge amount of the creamy, decadent dish.
Course Main Course
Keyword garlic, gruyere, macaroni, panko, parmesan, sharp cheddar cheese

Ingredients

  • 24 ounces elbow macaroni cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar shredded
  • 2 cups gruyere shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a three- or four-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  • While the pasta cooks, combine the shredded cheddar and Gruyere in a large bowl and set it aside.
  • When the pasta is finished and drained, add it to another bowl and drizzle it with the olive oil and mix to combine. Set it aside.
  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt six tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and continue to stir for one minute. Whisk in the milk and heavy cream until the mixture is smooth. Continue stirring regularly until small bubbles start to form on the surface. Whisk in the salt, pepper and garlic powder and continue cooking, stirring regularly, for about two more minutes. Reserve two cups of the combined cheddar and gruyere, and add the rest to the pot, a handful at a time, whisking in between additions until the sauce is smooth. Once all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, add the pasta. Stir to fully coat the pasta and dump half of it into the prepared baking dish.
  • Add the rest of the cheddar and gruyere in an even layer and then top with the rest of the macaroni mixture.
  • In a bowl, combine the panko, parmesan, four tablespoons melted butter and paprika, and stir until all of the bread crumbs are moistened.
  • Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on the top of the dish and bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is browned and the cheese is bubbling.

This was so rich and really delicious, and while gruyere is not a cheap cheese to buy, it really did add some complex flavors I wouldn’t have been able to get with just the sharp cheddar.

Two things I would add as tips are, first, you might want to bake this on a baking sheet in case it spills over. My baking dish was just over three quarts in size, and I could barely fit the entire batch into it.

Second, if you want the best results, shred the cheddar and gruyere yourself. Pre-packaged shredded cheese often doesn’t melt as easily because of additives put in to keep it from clumping together.

I was amazed at the size of this batch of macaroni and cheese by the time I was done. I ended up giving away quite a few helpings so that it would all get eaten.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to enjoy this one with my niece. We’ll have to have a mac and cheese date sometime soon; although, I suspect that my use of “fancy” cheese won’t impress her too much and with her three-year-old appetite, we’re bound to have a lot of leftovers.

This piece first appeared in print on April 22, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

Spring is time to come out of your shell

Chicken Alfredo stuffed shells can be made easily with a rotisserie chicken and jarred Alfredo sauce.

With the weather finally warming up, it’s about the time of year when you begin meeting yourself coming and going, it seems.

There are so many activities outdoors, and staying inside after the harsh winter on top of a pandemic makes me want to spend every moment I can out in the yard or taking a walk instead of standing in front of the stove. If you’re a fan of a kiddo involved in spring sports, your life is about to get pretty busy, too.

This week’s recipe pays homage to that. You can make it as complicated or as easy as you like.

If you’re in a hurry, I’d definitely recommend using jarred sauce, shredding up an already-cooked rotisserie chicken and maybe even skipping the pasta shells and cooking some lasagna noodles to layer in there instead.

Regardless of how much time you spend, though, this dinner is a really yummy one.

I found this on the Julie Evink’s blog, “Julie’s Eats and Treats.” You can find her original post at https://www.julieseatsandtreats.com/chicken-alfredo-stuffed-shells/. 

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Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells

Chicken Alfredo stuffed shells can be made easily with a rotisserie chicken and jarred Alfredo sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Alfredo sauce, basil, chicken, garlic, mozzarella, oregano, parmesan, stuffed shells

Ingredients

  • 30 large pasta shells cooked according to package directions
  • 1 pound chicken breasts cooked and shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella divided
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan divided
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh Italian parsley optional
  • 15 ounces garlic Alfredo sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • While the shells are boiling, combine cottage cheese, 3/4 cup mozzarella, 3/4 cup parmesan, egg, garlic, oregano, basil and salt and pepper, stirring well. (If using the fresh parsley, dice up 1/4 to 1/2 cup and add it in, too.) Add in the chicken and stir until everything is well mixed.
  • In the prepared dish, add about one cup of the Alfredo sauce to the bottom.
  • Spoon the chicken mixture into the drained, prepared shells and place them, crowded tightly but in a single layer, in the dish.
  • Evenly distribute the remaining Alfredo sauce over the shells, along with the reserved cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is slightly browned and the dish is heated through.
  • Serve garnished with more parsley, if using.

This is a great casserole to create ahead of time and slip into the freezer or fridge to bake later. While you’re busy cooking one, why not go ahead and assemble a second one, too?

I often love cooking from scratch and taking some time preparing food, but when the birds are chirping and the temperature is rising, sometimes it’s OK to just go easy on yourself.

Grab a plate, go eat outside, and enjoy the arrival of April.

This piece first appeared in print April 1, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Andouille’ yourself a favor and try this recipe

Roasted vegetables along with andouille sausage combines fresh and spicy flavors. Paired with a side of asparagus, it’s the perfect summer meal.

I’m sure no one actually notices, but I’m sometimes worried I have a weird reputation for wandering all over the aisles of my local grocery store.

I always start with the good intentions of going aisle by aisle until I cover the whole store, my list complete and my cart full. But it rarely works out that way.

This past week, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I’d already visited the produce section and was checking out my protein options, when a package of andouille sausage caught my eye.

I pulled out my phone and searched for a recipe I could use, landing on a one-pan meal that combined sausage with fresh vegetables.

I headed back to the produce aisle, struggling to unknot the plastic bag I already had in my cart to add another onion and tossing a sweet potato and Brussels sprouts in, too.

And that got me to the recipe I’m sharing with you today. It has tons of flavor, looks pretty on the plate and is super easy to clean up.

This comes from the recipe blog “Diethood.” You can find the original recipe at https://diethood.com/andouille-sausage-vegetables-dinner/. I added extra seasonings in my version.

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One-Pan Andouille Sausage, Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Roasted vegetables along with andouille sausage combines fresh and spicy flavors. Paired with a side of asparagus, it's the perfect summer meal.
Course Main Course
Keyword Andouille sausage, Brussels sprouts, one-pan, onion, sweet potato

Ingredients

  • 12 to 14 ounces rope andouille sausage sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts cut into about one-inch pieces
  • 1 medium-sized sweet potato diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into wedges
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a large, rimmed sheet pan by lining it with aluminum foil.
  • Add the sausage, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and onion to the pan, and drizzle them with the olive oil. Sprinkle the seasonings over the sausage and vegetables and then stir to evenly coat them in oil and seasonings.
  • Spread the sausage and vegetables evenly on the sheet, and bake for 27 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through and removing the sheet when the vegetables reach your desired tenderness. Serve immediately.

This was a fantastic meal. I also bought some fresh asparagus, so I roasted that, too, to go along, and it was so good. 

(For the asparagus, line another rimmed sheet with foil, place the asparagus on the pan, drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil along with salt and pepper to taste. Mix to coat the asparagus, and then sprinkle on about six to eight tablespoons of minced garlic and dot the top with about two tablespoons of butter. Bake in the 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until it’s done.)

I don’t know if anyone noticed me zig-zagging my way through the grocery store, and honestly, it doesn’t really bother me too much if they did.

Sometimes, you have to let the ingredients speak to you—no matter what aisle you’re in.

This piece first appeared in print on March 11, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

It’s ‘Tim’ to try a brand new sandwich

The Timbo sandwich is the creation of Tim Daniels, a podcaster, who said he wanted to cement his legacy by creating his own signature sandwich, which features melty cheese, caramelized onions, and a spicy kick.

Quarantine has been a strange time for all of us. 

Despite many businesses and people moving to regular operations, especially as some people have been able to receive a vaccine, I still consider myself in quarantine.

Joey and I have a very small group of people in our “COVID bubble,” and socializing has been relegated to either those few, select souls or electronic means. I can’t imagine I’m the only one feeling a bit stir crazy and craving more interactions.

That’s probably why I did something weird this week: I made a sandwich from a podcast I listen to, and I decided to share it with you.

The podcast, “The Complete Guide to Everything,” is the brainchild of New Yorkers Tim Daniels and Tom Reynolds. Every week, they riff on a new topic, and I find the two of them and their dynamic hilarious. Back on Jan. 3, Tim announced that he wanted to use his New Year’s resolution to create a legacy for himself by getting a sandwich named after him. He described his prototype and said it was called the “Timbo.”

Now, over a month later, fans of the podcast have been posting photos of the Timbo online and talking about the creation. It’s a little silly. It’s a little weird. But it’s a way to reach out and interact with someone and something new.

So, this week, I’m sharing the Timbo with you, both to help a long-distance friend I’ve never met cement his legacy and to give you something new to try, too.

You can listen to the explanation of this sandwich on “The Complete Guide to Everything” website at tcgte.com. The episode is entitled “Hot Beverages.” I chose not to tweak the recipe this time, outside of adding some amounts and directions, since I figured it should remain the way Tim envisioned it.

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The Timbo Sandwich

The Timbo sandwich is the creation of Tim Daniels, a podcaster, who said he wanted to cement his legacy by creating his own signature sandwich, which features melty cheese, caramelized onions, and a spicy kick.
Course Main Course, Salad
Keyword American cheese, caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, potato bread, shredded cheese, spicy brown mustard

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion sliced
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 slices potato bread
  • 1-2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 3 slices American cheese
  • 1/4-1/3 cup Mexican blend cheese shredded
  • 6-8 pickled jalapeno slices

Instructions

  • In a pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and stir to coat them in the oil. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are completely caramelized to a nice, deep brown. (This could take quite awhile, so be patient.)
  • Once the onions are done, remove them from the heat and set aside.
  • Lightly spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat.
  • While the skillet warms, thoroughly butter one side of each slice of bread.
  • Once the skillet is hot, add the first slice of bread, butter side down, and spread a thin layer of spicy brown mustard on it. Place one and one-half slices of American cheese on the bread next, followed by the jalapeno slices, as many caramelized onions as desired and shredded cheese. Add the final slice and a half of American cheese, and complete the sandwich by lightly spreading mustard on the non-buttered side of the remaining piece of bread, before placing it on top of the sandwich, butter side up.
  • Let the sandwich toast for a couple minutes, flipping the entire thing over when the bread on the bottom reaches your desired level of toastiness.
  • Once you flip the sandwich, press it down firmly with your spatula to compress it. Let the sandwich toast for another couple of minutes until the bread has reached your desired level of toastiness. Remove it from the skillet and serve.

This was actually really delicious, especially if you like things that are just a touch spicy. The flavors melded well, and while it does seem like a lot of work to caramelize onions just for a sandwich, it was worth it, and now I have leftover onions to toss into something else, too.

Joey thought I was absolutely nuts while I was tossing the ingredients for this into the cart on our last shopping trip, but he did have to concede that making a sandwich from a podcast is not even close to the weirdest recipe I’ve tried over the years while writing this column.

Plus, if (and when) the Timbo really does become a worldwide sensation, we can all say we got in on the ground floor of history.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 25, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

A gift of casserole is not easy to ‘spaghett’

Baked spaghetti is an easy-to-assemble casserole that can be baked right away or frozen for a future meal.

Whenever a friend or family member is under the weather or hurt or grieving, one of my first inclinations is to try to feed them. 

An article from 2016 by Adam McDaniel lays out the reasons human beings love to share food—part of it being sharing culture and part of being sociology.

“Food has a knack for bringing people together, forging bonds and creating conversation,” he wrote.

Sharing food is a way for us to help understand one another, and in the case of a sick or injured friend, I would argue that it’s one of the few ways I feel like I can nurture someone—since I’ve decided to forgo getting a medical degree.

That desire to care for someone is the reason this week’s recipe is absolutely perfect. It’s not only an easy weeknight dinner that is a true crowd pleaser, but it’s easy to toss in the freezer to enjoy later—making it a great gift when someone might need an extra meal at their house.

This comes from the blog “The Cozy Cook.” You can find the original post at https://thecozycook.com/baked-spaghetti/. I changed up some of the amounts of ingredients and the herbs and spices in my version.

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Baked Spaghetti

Baked spaghetti is an easy-to-assemble casserole that can be baked right away or frozen for a future meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil, bell pepper, casserole, cream cheese, freezer meal, garlic, green onion, ground beef, ground sausage, marinara sauce, mozzarella, oregano, parmesan, parsley, ricotta, spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground sausage
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 32 ounces marinara sauce
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees (If you’re baking this right away. It can also be prepared for the fridge or freezer.). Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray, and set it aside.
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  • In a large skillet, brown the hamburger and sausage over medium heat until cooked through, crumbling as you cook. Drain any excess fat.
  • Add in the onion, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper, and saute until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the garlic and saute for about one more minute.
  • Add the marinara sauce, ricotta, parmesan and cream cheese. Reduce the heat to low, and stir constantly until the cheese is melted and all of the ingredients are well-combined.
  • Add the cooked, drained pasta and stir to coat all of the pasta with the sauce.
  • Add half of the pasta to the prepared dish, and top it with half of the mozzarella. Add the other half of the pasta, and finish with the rest of the mozzarella.
  • If refrigerating or freezing, cover the dish with a double layer of aluminum foil. If not, bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown around the edges. Let the casserole sit for about five minutes before digging in.
  • If you’re baking it later, let it thaw in the refrigerator, and then bake for 25 to 30 minutes covered and then uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown around the edges.

This was cheesy and warm and very simple—everything I look for in a quick weeknight meal. In my case, I made a double batch, baking one for Joey and I that night and assembling another to deliver to someone I thought could use a night off from cooking.

If you decide to follow suit, I highly recommend using a large stock pot to cook in. I ended up having some trouble with fitting all the ingredients in my large skillet.

And even if you don’t have someone to deliver this to, you might make a double batch and freeze one for yourself for a future evening that you need a night off.

Sometimes a gift to yourself can be just as comforting. 

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 18, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish

It’s OK to be a jerk as long as it’s chicken

Caribbean jerk chicken with pineapple-coconut rice is a great combination of a little sweetness, some spice and a whole lot of flavors.

Over a decade ago, when my sister and brother-in-law returned from their honeymoon in Jamaica, we sat down to view their vacation photos, only to discover that at least half of them were just shots of the food they ate.

While I have spent a good amount of time teasing her about this over the years, I can’t disagree that Caribbean food is phenomenal, and this week, I decided to try a new recipe with Jamaican-inspired flavors myself. (As a side note, this is the promised recipe to use some of that basmati rice from the Puerto Rican dish I shared with you earlier.)

I found this recipe on the blog “Ambitious Kitchen.” You can find the original at https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/one-pan-caribbean-jerk-chicken-with-pineapple-coconut-rice/. I added extra seasoning in my version.

Print

Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Pineapple-Coconut Rice

Caribbean jerk chicken with pineapple-coconut rice is a great combination of a little sweetness, some spice and a whole lot of flavors. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean
Keyword basmati rice, coconut, green onion, Jamaican, jerk chicken, pineapple, red bell pepper

Ingredients

Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Rice Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 large red bell pepper cut into one-inch pieces
  • 15 ounces lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup fresh frozen or canned pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup basmati rice

Instructions

  • Before chopping your vegetables, you’ll want to let your chicken start marinating. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, honey, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, thyme, cayenne, sea salt and black pepper and whisk until everything is well combined. Add the chicken thighs and stir to coat them completely.
  • Set the bowl aside and let the chicken marinate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • For the rice, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven with a lid.
  • When the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs and saute for about five minutes on each side. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
  • Add the green onion and bell pepper to the pan and saute for several minutes until they’re both soft.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and the rice and stir to combine. Bring the temperature up to medium-high heat and add in the pineapple, stirring again.
  • Place the browned chicken, any juices, and the remainder of the marinade on top, and cover with the lid.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Joey was majorly skeptical about the use of pineapple in this dish, but he was pleasantly surprised by the final outcome. It wasn’t overly sweet, and the little pops of sweetness from the fruit was actually a nice offset to the spiciness of this dish.

He did say that he wouldn’t have minded if the pineapple was in smaller pieces, though, so if you’re worried, you might cut your pineapple chunks in half.

This also reheated famously as leftovers.

And despite all of the grief I gave my sister, I guess it’s obvious I took a photo of my plate of Caribbean food, too. I’ll just need to take about 100 more for us to be even.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 28, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.

Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Yummy Puerto Rican food will help you have a ‘rice’ day

Puerto Rican rice and beans are full of rich flavors, and while they may use some ingredients not standard in a stereotypical Kansas kitchen, they are definitely worth a try.

Often, I launch this column by telling you a story that ties into whatever the week’s recipe is going to be. This week, however, I wanted to talk ingredients, because if you’re like me, this recipe is going to be a bit of a scavenger hunt through your local grocery store. 

My sister-in-law makes amazing Puerto Rican dishes for us when she comes to visit, and after eyeballing this recipe for Puerto Rican rice and beans, I decided I had to take the plunge.

The first ingredient that might stump some but is actually a staple in my pantry is Sazon Culantro y Achiote packets. Sazon is the brand, and the “Culantro y Achiote” means coriander and annatto in Spanish. I use a packet in with my taco seasoning regularly, so if you buy some for this recipe, I highly recommend using the remaining packets for that.

The next is adobo seasoning, which is just a seasoning mix that generally has a mix of spices from black pepper and paprika to oregano and onion powder. If you can’t find it, try looking for a homemade recipe online. It would be pretty simple to replicate.

One that did leave me scratching my head is pigeon peas. I was only able to find them at a larger grocery store in the “Hispanic Foods” section. They are a legume and are definitely more bean-like than green-pea-like. If you can’t find them, substitute a can of black-eyed peas instead.

The final ingredient that might be different for some is basmati white rice. It’s more expensive than traditional white rice, but it cooks differently, so substituting one for the other would likely mess up cooking times and liquid ratios. I have another recipe I’ll share with you soon that uses basmati rice, so if you’re worried about having a bag of it sitting in your pantry gathering dust, stay tuned.

So, now that we’ve covered the bases, it’s time to jump into this delicious dish that, honestly, I wish I would have doubled. It was great.

I found this recipe on the blog “Ambitious Kitchen.” You can find the original post at https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/video-moms-authentic-puerto-rican-rice-and-beans/. I changed the ingredients just a bit but also tried to clarify the directions in my version below.

Print

Puerto Rican Rice and Beans

Puerto Rican rice and beans are full of rich flavors, and while they may use some ingredients not standard in a stereotypical Kansas kitchen, they are definitely worth a try.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Keyword adobo, basmati rice, cilantro, garlic, green bell pepper, onions, pigeon peas, pinto beans, tomato sauce

Ingredients

Beans Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 8 cups vegetarian broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro minced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce divided
  • 2 packets Sazon Culantro y Achiote
  • salt to taste

Rice Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • Reserved tomato sauce about 1/2 cup
  • 2 packets Sazon Culantro y Achiote
  • 1/4 teaspoon adobo seasoning
  • 15 ounces pigeon peas undrained
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups basmati white rice
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • The night before you make this (or about eight hours before), combine the dried beans, vegetable broth and bay leaves in a Dutch oven with a lid. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, place the lid on top, and let the beans soak at least eight hours.
  • When you’re ready to start cooking, bring the beans back to a boil and then reduce to a low boil, leaving the lid on the pot. You’ll let them simmer for one to two hours or until they are tender. When they are tender, remove the bay leaves but do not drain the liquid.
  • While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add in the onion and green pepper, sauteing until both are soft. Add in the garlic and cilantro and saute for a few minutes until the garlic just starts to brown. Add one cup of the tomato sauce and the Sazon packets, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook for a couple minutes. If the beans are not tender yet, remove the mixture from heat. If they are, go ahead and add it to the beans.
  • Once the tomato mixture is added to the beans, cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • For the rice, while the beans simmer, in a medium-sized pot with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and green pepper, sauteing until both are soft. Add in the garlic and cilantro and saute for a few minutes until the garlic just starts to brown. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the rest of the tomato sauce, Sazon packets and adobo seasoning and let cook for about two minutes. Stir in the undrained pigeon peas and three cups of water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the rice, place the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
  • Once the beans and rice are finished cooking, add salt if desired, and then serve the beans and rice together in a bowl. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you want to.

This was amazing, and it reheated famously as leftovers. The flavor profile was great. We ended up pairing it with some smoked pork loin that Joey whipped up, and it was a fabulous meal.

Plus, I learned about some new ingredients and got a chance to explore my grocery store a little bit more. It’s always easier to be adventurous when adventure tastes this good.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 21, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.