Categories
Side Dish

Tasty collards will ‘leaf’ you wanting more

Collard greens are slow simmered and paired with bacon to create a traditional southern side dish.

While I have always thought of collard greens as something eaten mainly by southerners, an article from the website “What’s Cooking America” notes that even the ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed the leafy greens.

For the U.S., the tradition of cooking collard greens with pork—often using a ham hock to simmer in the broth—came from Africa as southern slaves honed the technique of cooking collards with the food scraps given to them for sustenance.

Collard greens, which are in the cabbage family, have a taste similar to kale or mustard greens. They have a deep, earthy flavor, and they’re especially good when you cook them down with plenty of pork fat. They’re not healthy that way, but they’re definitely delicious.

I recently decided to give collard greens a shot in my own kitchen and decide to use a recipe from the blog “Cooking with Pennies.” You can find the original post at https://www.spendwithpennies.com/collard-greens/. I added lots of extra garlic in my version.

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Collard Greens

Collard greens are slow simmered and paired with bacon to create a traditional southern side dish.
Course Side Dish
Keyword bacon, collard greens, garlic, onion

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 slices bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion diced (I used yellow.)
  • 1 pound collard greens
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Wash and drain the collard greens and remove as much of the stems as possible, leaving the leaves in large, two- to three-inch pieces.
  • In a very large skillet with a lid or deep stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat and then fry the bacon until it is crispy.
  • Add the diced onions to the bacon and saute for three to five minutes or until they’re starting to soften.
  • Mix in the garlic and collard greens. Once everything is well combined, pour in the broth and place the lid on the pan.
  • Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes or until the greens are tender. Stir them every 10 minutes or so to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

While this recipe didn’t follow the tradition of boiling a ham hock with the greens, the bacon added plenty of great flavor. I served these with some fresh cornbread, too, and sopping up the juices from the pan—often referred to as “pot-likker,” according to “What’s Cooking America,” was amazing.

And I learned you don’t have to be southern to enjoy collard greens. They have travelled all over the world throughout history, and while this particular recipe probably doesn’t count as adding vegetables to your meal, I still highly recommend them.

As Paula Deen once said, “I figure it’s almost like a balance. We’re eating these wonderful collard greens and turnip greens, which are so medicinally good for you, and OK, so what if it has a little ham hock in it?”

This piece first appeared in print on April 8, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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.

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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. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Uncategorized

Recipe proves you don’t know ‘lentil’ you try

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.

Well, I did it to myself again. I noticed a lonely bag of 60-cent lentils sitting at my local grocery store, and I decided to bring them home and figure out what to make with them.

I mean, 60 cents? Who can resist such a bargain?

I’ve only made lentils once before, for a soup, so I’m not sure why I thought it was a good idea to buy more, but then, of course, I doubled down and chose what appeared to be a pretty involved recipe to use them in.

But let me tell you what: it was so worth it. This was so delicious, so if you’re ready to undertake a cooking adventure with me, I’d encourage you to give this a shot.

The recipe I tried comes from a blog named after its author, “Bianca Zapatka.” You can find the original post at https://biancazapatka.com/en/lentil-meatballs-curry-sauce/. I added some more spices to my version.

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Lentil Meatballs in Curry Sauce

Lentil meatballs in curry sauce is a delicious meatless meal with a rich sauce and lots of great, rustic flavors.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword coconut milk, curry, gingerbread, lentils, meatless, red bell pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, vegan

Ingredients

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

Curry Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or use olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated (or sub 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red chili flakes

Instructions

  • Cook the lentils according to package directions. (Don’t worry if they get a little mushy—you’re going to process them anyway.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • For the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion until it’s soft, and then add the garlic and remove the skillet from the heat when it browns slightly.
  • Add all of the meatball ingredients to a food processor or blender and process to a coarse consistency. There will probably still be some whole lentils in there, and that’s perfectly fine. Taste the filling and add any more spices, if necessary.
  • If the mixture is too wet to hold together, add more breadcrumbs until it reaches a consistency where it will. Set the mixture aside for about 10 minutes to let it cool down before handling it.
  • Have a bowl of water handy and shape the mixture with wet hands into about one-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. They can be fairly crowded but not touching. Brush them with some additional olive oil and bake for 30 minutes, turning them halfway through.
  • While the meatballs cook, start on the curry sauce. Using the same skillet as before, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook them until soft.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, cumin and curry powder, and stir to combine. Once the garlic is slightly browned, add the tomatoes, water, coconut milk, salt and chili flakes.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat. Place a lid on the skillet and let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until it’s smooth. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and let it cook for a few minutes to thicken a bit, and taste it to see if it needs more seasoning.
  • When the meatballs are finished, drop them into the skillet with the curry sauce and then serve over cooked rice with some pita or naan bread on the side.

I added quite a bit more spice to my version, because I like spicy curry sauce. If you’re more in the mild camp, I’d encourage you to look up the original recipe and follow those amounts a bit more closely.

This was such a great meatless meal, because you honestly don’t notice that there isn’t meat in it. The “meatballs” aren’t meat-like in consistency at all, but they have great flavor. They’re a bit like a soft hushpuppy.

And while Joey was pretty skeptical watching me cook my lentils, he was totally on board once dinner finally hit the table. My forays into discount shopping sometimes freak him out a bit.

But now I still have half a bag of lentils to try to use. We’ll have to see what I come up with next.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 6, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Side Dish

This will make you ‘patty’ yourself on the back for a dinner well done

Jamaican beef patties are full of authentic flavors without the hassle of traditional techniques.

A few weeks ago, I was a bridesmaid in a good friend’s socially distanced wedding, and in preparation for the big day, I did something I have never done before: get a manicure.

I opted for French tips—a layer of very light pink on the bottom and white for the ends of each nail. It ended up being a pretty decent experience, and I especially appreciated the level of cleanliness and mask wearing the nail salon used.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve had fancy fingernails, something that’s definitely different for me. I’ve also been amazed at how well they’ve held up. Well, that is until this week’s recipe, when I gave them the ultimate test: exposure to turmeric.

I don’t know what the name for a manicure with light pink on the bottom and orange-ish yellow on the tips is, but I’m sure it isn’t French.

The good news? This recipe was so worth it.

This comes from the blog “Host the Toast.” You can find this recipe at https://hostthetoast.com/3-bite-jamaican-beef-patties/. I didn’t change much outside of using heaping spoonfuls of the listed spices.

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Jamaican Beef Patties

Jamaican beef patties are full of authentic flavors without the hassle of traditional techniques.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Jamaican
Keyword ground beef, habenero, onion, puff pastry, Scotch bonnet

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 green onion stalks chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habenero pepper finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 rounded teaspoons thyme
  • 1 rounded teaspoon all spice
  • 1 rounded teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric

Instructions

  • Set the puff pastry out about an hour before you’ll need it to let it thaw.
  • In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions and pepper until everything is soft and cooked through.
  • Add the beef, thyme, all spice, curry powder, salt and pepper, stirring regularly until the beef is cooked through. If there is excess fat in the pan, drain it off before the next step.
  • Mix in the breadcrumbs and then pour in the beef stock. Mix to combine thoroughly. If the mixture is very wet, add more breadcrumbs, and if it is very dry, add a little more beef stock or water. The goal is for the mixture to hold together well but still be moist. Remove the beef mixture from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Place the pastry sheet on a floured surface and roll it out to expand it by a couple inches on all sides. Sprinkle the entire sheet with turmeric and rub the turmeric around on the sheet to get a good coating.
  • Cut the sheet into 12 even pieces, and place the pieces, turmeric side down, into the muffin cups. You’ll want to make sure there is some dough hanging over the edge of each cup so you can pull it around the filling and seal it.
  • Divide the meat evenly into each cup, and then seal each one by pulling the sides of the dough up and pinching them together. If it is not sticking well, try using a little water along the seams.
  • Flip the sealed beef patty over so the seam is on the bottom.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the beef patties are golden brown.

I actually opted for two habenero peppers for my version, because the ones at my local grocery store were so small, and they were a perfect amount of heat.

We loved these, and the spice combination was fantastic. To go along with our Jamaican beef patties, I decided to slice up a ripe plantain, fry it in some oil and sprinkle it with salt. It was fantastic.

So, my days of fancy nails are over, I’m afraid, although it’s a slow process for me to figure out how one removes gel nail polish, which is apparently much different than the polish I grew up with.

But at least while one set of fingers soaks in acetone, the other can be holding onto a delicious treat.

This piece first appeared in print on July 9, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Soup

This soup is clearly the best way to start a meal

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.

The National Museum of American History notes that Americans started looking for different ways to enjoy outdoor grilling after World War II.

Part of the craze was impacted by people who traveled around the world and discovered they enjoyed the tropical flavors of the Caribbean and of Southeast Asia, which meant that the hibachi grill came into vogue, with some restaurants popping up that allowed diners to cook their own meals on the flat-top grills and people using the small cooktops in their backyards and even their apartments.

Personally, I love dishes that are in the “hibachi” style. They have a little char on them, and I adore the flavors of Japanese cooking.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing the components of an Asian-inspired meal I made for Joey and myself, including a fried rice and orange chicken recipe, so this week, I wanted to share the final component, a soup we both love to get as an appetizer at our favorite Japanese restaurant: clear onion soup.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Living Chirpy,” which features gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, so you might give them a look if that interests you. It’s by Roche Woodworth, and you can find the original post at https://www.livingchirpy.com/japanese-clear-onion-soup/. I adjusted the ingredients and instructions a bit to suit our tastes.

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Japanese Clear Onion Soup

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.
Course Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword cream of mushroom, gluten-free, onion, soup, sugar-free, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon oil I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 large celery stalk cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into rounds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced thinly (I used white mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute until the onion is browned and soft.
  • Add broth, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger and sesame oil and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the burner down to low and put the lid on the pot, simmering for about 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  • Strain the vegetables from the broth, and return the broth to the pot.
  • Add the mushrooms and green onions and let the soup cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Serve immediately as an appetizer for your favorite Asian-style dinner.

Joey and I discussed this soup a bit after our meal and agreed that it’s the perfect appetizer. There isn’t much to it, and it would never make a meal for someone (unless they were on a restricted diet or eating very little), but it’s a good way to get ready for your main course.

I used chicken broth in my version, but just a switch over to vegetable broth can make this recipe completely meat free, too. There’s a ton of flavor in this for such a simple recipe.

I recommend serving it in small bowls. It’s a fun way to start a meal, and now that you have all three of the components for the meal we tried, you can do it, too. It was definitely something different, and we enjoyed it immensely.

And, considering Americans have been enjoying the flavors of Asian cuisine for many, many decades, I suppose it’s a good way to celebrate our own history as well.

This piece first appeared in print on May 21, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Can’t stop thinking ‘gumbout’ New Orleans dish

New Orleans shrimp and sausage gumbo is a spicy, filling meal.

Sometimes I let my fridge do the talking when I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner, so when I had several leftover stalks of celery, most of an onion and lots of diced bell peppers at my disposal, I took to the Internet for a solution.

Much to Joey’s delight, I decided on trying a recipe for gumbo.

I headed to the grocery store to finish out my ingredient list and realized that one item on the list, gumbo file, which is made from sassafras leaves, is not sold in most Kansas grocery stores (if someone knows a hidden spot it exists, let me know).

After doing a little research, I decided to get a little weird and substitute for the gumbo file with a bit of root beer, since it has much the same flavor. I tried my gumbo before and after adding it, and I had to admit that it had a nice influence on the taste, so just go with me on this one.

I found this recipe on the blog “Little Spice Jar.” You can find it at http://littlespicejar.com/new-orleans-gumbo-shrimp-sausage/. I added more garlic and changed up the type of Tabasco (which I highly recommend), and of course, subbed in root beer in my version.

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New Orleans Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

New Orleans shrimp and sausage gumbo is a spicy, filling meal.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun
Keyword Andouille sausage, bell pepper, celery, gumbo, New Orleans, onions, shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup high-heat oil I used canola
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 2 bell peppers diced (any color)
  • 4 stalks celery diced
  • 8-10 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 ounces Andouille sausage sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning I used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce I used chipotle Tabasco
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 14.5 ounces stewed tomatoes and juices diced
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp peeled and de-veined
  • 4 tablespoons root beer
  • White rice for serving

Instructions

  • Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Whisk in the flour until it is smooth and then stir continuously for about 20 minutes or until the roux turns to a medium brown (the author calls it “peanut butter color”).
  • Stir in the onions, bell peppers and celery and keep stirring until they soften (about 10 minutes).
  • Add the garlic and sausage and keep stirring until you can really smell the garlic.
  • Now add the bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, Tabasco sauce, cayenne, chicken broth and tomatoes, making sure to scrape the pan to get all the good bits off the bottom.
  • Bring the mixture to a very low boil and lower the heat to medium-low and leave the lid on for about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the shrimp and cook for about 10 more minutes or until the shrimp is done (they will curl up a bit and become opaque). Add the root beer and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove the bay leaves and serve the gumbo over white rice.

We reheated this on the stove over the next week so as not to overcook the shrimp, and it was good every single time. It makes a ton of food, especially when you’re serving it over rice, so we had quite a few meals of gumbo before it was all gone.

It’s definitely on the spicy side, so you could leave out the cayenne and replace it with paprika to tame it a bit if you like, but it was super good with the amount of kick it had.

It also helped me clean out my fridge and gave me a new use for root beer that I wasn’t expecting.

Sometimes you have to be inventive and flexible in your Midwestern kitchen.

This piece first appeared in print on April 5, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Vegetarian soup will give you inner ‘peas’

A pastor friend of mine noted on social media the other day that 2018 is a weird year, with Lent beginning on Valentine’s Day and Easter falling on April Fool’s Day. He was excited at the sermon possibilities that may come from it.

I started thinking about folks who will avoid taking their dates out for expensive steak or lobster dinners on Feb. 14.

If that happens to be you, or you’re looking for a good, filling meatless meal for Lent, you like to get some vegetables in your diet, or you just really like good soup, do I have a deal for you.

I was very curious about this week’s recipe when I first spotted it on Pinterest, because it features chickpeas, which I’ve only ever eaten when made into hummus.

This recipe comes from the blog “Feel Good Foodie.” You can find it at http://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/vegetarian-chickpea-pasta-soup/. I added a lot of spices and increased the amounts of some ingredients in my version.

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Vegetarian chickpea pasta soup

Vegetarian chickpea pasta soup is a hearty soup despite being a meatless option.
Course Main Course
Keyword chickpeas, pasta, soup, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion diced (I used a yellow onion)
  • 3-4 large carrots diced
  • 4-5 stalks celery diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 15 ounces chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces small pasta I used macaroni
  • grated parmesan and dried parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, carrots and celery until they’re soft (about five to 10 minutes). Add in the garlic and sauté until it’s aromatic and just beginning to brown.
  • Add the spices and vegetable broth, and stir to loosen any bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas and pasta and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pasta reaches your desired level of doneness. (If you need to add any liquid, pour in some hot water.)
  • Remove from heat and serve with parmesan and dried parsley sprinkled on top of each bowl.

We enjoyed this soup a lot, and between the chickpeas and pasta, it fills you up nicely. It also has a lot of great flavors going on.

If you’re wondering, the chickpeas had the same basic texture as beans, so if you like beans, you’ll probably like this, too. And if you’re really not sure about them, throw in a can of great northern beans instead.

And if you want to make a good, vegetarian dinner for Valentine’s Day this year, I give this one my stamp of approval. Pair it with some crusty bread and a great chocolate dessert, and you’ll sweep your sweetie right off his or her feet.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 1, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.