Stuffed Peppers..2.0 Version

Stuffed peppers are a great homey fall supper. I made them a few weeks ago and my recipe is just about the same as my mom used to make, comfort food for sure.  My garden produced more bell peppers….not sure I wanted the same flavor so I went looking for a different take. I found this vegetarian recipe by Robert Irvine on Food Network.  I changed it by adding ground chicken and removing some veggies to make room for that chicken. The result was just a great combination of flavors and very satisfying. I will put my version here.  If you want it vegetarian look for his recipe on the website. It got five stars and they are well deserved. I guess you could use any ground meat for this recipe.  I got my dark meat ground chicken at Valley Farm Markets in Bethlehem.

I don’t cook with tarragon that often but it really makes the flavor of this dish so delightful and different. Just try it.

Notes: I used cooked brown rice, the original choice was wild rice. You can use whatever rice floats your boat or is in your pantry; just cook it and cool somewhat before mixing with the other filling ingredients.  This is a naturally gluten free meal and I never got tired of it – ate all the servings up in a week and know I will be making it again for sure.

 

Angie’s Italian Stuffed Peppers   makes six

 

6 green, red or yellow bell peppers; nice sized

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb ground chicken; dark meat if you can find it

1 yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves minced

1-2 cups diced summer squash

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

½ cup diced red pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. fresh tarragon chopped

½ cup Asiago cheese freshly grated (Parmesan would also work)

Directions:

Cut the lids off the peppers, discard seeds, I cut about ½ inch down the pepper so the center and stem stays part of the lid.  Heat a cup of water in a big pot with a steamer in it. Add the peppers and their lids, cook about 8 minutes, remove lid and let cool.

In a large skillet pour half the olive oil, heat, add the chicken and cook until no longer pink.  After it is cooking a couple minutes add the onions and garlic.  Cook a minute or two and add the diced squash and red pepper.  Do not overcook the squash. I used a firm variety of squash(tromboni) so it stayed together and didn’t get mushy.  Add the tomato paste and tomato; don’t add all the juice in the can of tomatoes; reserve about half for adding to the baking pan later on. Stir and cook until onions are soft.  Total cooking time; no more than ten or twelve minutes.  Heat the oven: 375 degrees.

Dump the cooled rice in a big bowl, add the skillet’s contents. Season with salt and pepper to taste and fresh tarragon.  Mix up gently. Stuff the cooled and drained peppers, do not pack in filling. Put a bit of filling in the bottom of a large oval baking dish that will hold your six peppers and stand the stuffed peppers upright in there.  Sprinkle them with the grated cheese, put the pepper lids on the peppers, I would add that reserved tomato juice from the can to the stuffing loose in the pan to keep it moist.  Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy  stuffed pepper

 

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Chicken and Dumplings, GF of Course!

We all have times when we long for home cooking, stressful days that wear us down.  This is fairly quick to make and incredibly soothing. It is gluten free,  of course and reminds me of my old recipe for chicken fricassee with herbed dumplings. Creamy,  flavorful and totally satisfying. My IP makes it so easy to put together in less than an hour.   This recipe made 5 meals out of four chicken thighs so it is an inexpensive dish to serve.                 

Chicken with Dumplings

4 medium chicken thighs

2 Tbsp. butter

Kosher salt

¼ cup gluten free flour; I used King Arthur basic blend

2 celery stalks chopped

2 carrots in coins

1 onion chopped

2 cups gf chicken broth

¼ cup whole milk

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Dumplings

1 ¾ cup brown rice flour mix

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 Tbsp. sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs lightly beaten

¾-1 cup 2 percent milk

For herbal version; add 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds, 1 tsp. celery seeds, 1-2 tsp. dried parsley to dry ingredients.

Directions

Heat Instant Pot on sauté mode, high. Place flour, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper on some wax paper, blend up and roll the chicken in it to coat evenly, shake off excess. Add butter to IP, melt it and then add chicken thighs. Sauté for 4 minutes, flip and cook 3-4 more minutes. Remove from pot, set aside. Add the celery, onions, and carrots to the pot, cook for 3 minutes. Add back the chicken and the broth. And more salt if desired. Secure lid Cook on manual pressure for 12 minutes.  Let release naturally for 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pot.  Pull/cut apart into bite sized pieces, removing the bones, discard all skin and any odd bits like cartilage.

While the chicken is cooking prepare the dumplings.  Mix the dry ingredients, in a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients. After the chicken is shredded, pour the wet into the dry ingredients, hold back a bit as you stir it together, do not over mix. Add the rest of the milk if it looks dry; it should be fairly thick/goopy and the xanthan gum will thicken it even more as it stands.  After the release add the ¼ cup milk to the broth and veggies, stir well. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with ¼ cup hot broth. Add back to the pot and stir. Put pot on sauté, add back the cut up chicken. Use a big spoon to glop in heaping spoonfuls of the dumpling mix all over the top of the broth. Spread them out evenly. Put on cover loosely, I used my glass slow cooker lid so I could watch them steam.  Cook 18-27 minutes; until they double in size, rise to the surface and the tops are not wet or under cooked looking. Serve in shallow wide soup bowls.  Should serve 5 unless you are piggies; then serves four!

chicken and herb dumplings

Notes; I combined two recipes; one from “The Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook” by Laurel Randolph and one from Carrie S. Forbes “Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook”.  I used my usual  brown rice mix; King Arthur’s basic blend.  I had trouble getting my IP to sauté on low so I toggled back and forth from slow cooker to sauté to keep things bubbling but not boiling.  Hopefully next time I will get the low setting to work.  There will definitely be a next time.  This was a satisfying old-fashioned entree that I loved every bite of.  Try it with the herbs, they really add a lot of flavor. Enjoy!

PS: if you want to cook this in a slow cooker; do the chicken for 6-8 hours on low and  thirty minutes before serving add the dumplings, do not open lid until the 30 minutes is done.

Fig, Goat Cheese, Pancetta and Carmelized Onion Pizza

I have been picking dozens of figs most days in recent weeks. Getting creative in my cooking in order to use up this bounty and so I’m enjoying them in lots of new dishes. Pinterest is my closest bud these joyous weeks of fig festival in my tiny kitchen. Last Friday I whipped up my favorite gf pizza dough baked it for ten minutes and flipped it. Then came the toppings. Never had figs on a pizza, but won’t be the last time! My fridge held some pancetta which is uncured Italian bacon that was purchased at Aldi’s for a rediculously low price, as was a container of tiny fresh mozzarella and a log of herbed goat cheese. Some onions which I carmelized and Bam! My oven produced an amazing treat for supper. I felt like I was in Italy at a small restaurant enjoying the local fare!

Note to all, my computer croaked the end of last week so I am typing one finger on my tablet, no access to Word either. So my apologies for any and all  mistakes in my last post or in this one. Normally I am constantly double checking names, products and prior posts as I create a new post. Not so much of that here in this laborious tablet production.

I promise this pizza is going to change your taste buds into fig pizza lovers. One more great fig recipe discovery. I took elements out of several recipes to create this delightful dish. It went together really quickly. Enjoy!

PS, it was still great warmed up the next day but with two or three hungry folks, there won’t be any leftovers.

 

Angie’s Fig and Goat Cheese Pizza

one large gf pizza crust. See my previous pizza post or use your own recipe.

8-12 ripe fresh brown figs

4 oz. herbed goat cheese, Aldi’s has a great goat cheese at a super price

most of a pint container of fresh tiny mozzarella cheese balls

2 good sized onions

1 Tbsp. EVOL

2-3 ounces pancetta, Aldi’s has a small container, already chopped

a big handful of kale shredded finely

Directions

Slice the onions into rounds. Heat EVOL in a cast iron frying pan, add onion slices. Cook over medium low heat stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Cook 8 -15 minutes until carmelized. Set aside on a plate. Add pancetta to same frying pan and cook a few minutes to render out the fat. Do not overcook. Remove from pan to a small bowl. Add the kale to the frying pan and cook on low a few minutes until it wilts, stir often. Let cool.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the goat cheese into thin rounds, cut the mozzarella balls in half. Slice the figs in half or quarter them if large.

Assemble: spread the carmelized onions evenly over the partially baked crust. I like to flip the crust before topping. Spread the goat cheese slices evenly over the surface,  Scatter the mozzarella cheese between the goat cheese and top with the cooked pancetta. Then scatter the fig pieces evenly over it.  Evenly is so every slice has a decent amount of both cheeses and the other components.

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Bake pizza 8-10 minutes. Scatter kale over the top. Let stand 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving. If you can stand that long of a wait to enjoy your masterpiece of a pizza!CFF4F2B8-6D22-4AE6-94C7-A13B6222B266

 

Caesar Supper Salad Spectacular

Summertime is salad time at my house.  Salads that are full of fresh seasonal veggies and have the crunch factor.  There is a salad I eat only on special occasions but I don’t know why I don’t make it more often.  It is that good. I have it every year for my birthday party entrée. This recipe is a Drake family holiday tradition started by my parents long ago. The Full Caesar. It is a variation on the Caesar salad found in The Joy of Cooking by Rombauer and Becker, page 96, my copy of which is well used…slightly stained with tomato juice and other salad ingredients… A salad that is legendary in how much we each consume. Long ago, my dad used to like to experiment with his recipe and I shudder to think of the weird things he added sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of ingredients in this salad but I draw the line at blue cheese or even worse, cheddar cheese!  Blah!  I am the one who puts it together when we gather and there is never any cheese but real Parmesan cheese in our caesar salad.

Anyway, this salad is a meal in itself. If you are lazy you can buy a Caesar dressing; check for gf on the label. I always make it from scratch but I leave that choice to you.  The coddled eggs blends in with the lemon juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar to make an authentic dressing.  I am not a big anchovy fan but it really adds a special under flavor; you can’t really tell it’s in there but it adds a lot of authenticity to the dressing.  I bake my own French bread and we have a loaf with a meal and the next day the leftover bread becomes the croutons for this salad.  Use any gf white bread you like. Don’t use bought croutons; they are so so much more delicious when you make them fresh.

This is a show stopper salad that is always put together table side when we have it. Some of my siblings make it too and they do it very similarly to this recipe. It is a delightful treasure hunt for the various additions we have grown to love in our Caesar. Manga!

 

Real Caesar  Salad – for six

½ cup good olive oil

1 clove garlic

2 big heads of romaine lettuce

6 slices bacon

1 Tsp. salt

½ Tsp. dry mustard

½ Tsp. freshly ground pepper (only fresh will do!)

2-3 fillets of anchovy mashed to a paste or 1-2 tsp. anchovy paste

½ Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

A lemon

3 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese

7 eggs

2-3 Tbsp. tiny capers

1 14 oz. can hearts of palm

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts

A pint of cherry tomatoes, halved

Half a loaf of gf French bread

Preparation the night before; put the peeled garlic clove in the olive oil to stand for at least 4 to 12 hours. Boil six of the eggs and chill, in shell.

Salad Day:  chop the bacon into ½ inch chunks and fry until crisp; drain on paper towel.

Peel the hard boiled eggs and slice into about 5-6 rounds each, set aside.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. You can use any kind of tomato; the riper the better. Just cut into bite sized pieces. Wash and tear the romaine into 1-2 inch squares; be sure to dry it in the salad spinner.  Put it all in a big bag and chill in the fridge. Slice the hearts of palm into 1/3 inch rounds, cut the artichoke hearts in halves or quarters.

Cut the French bread into cubes, heat 2 tbsp. of the garlicky olive oil in a large frying pan and add the bread cubes, cook on medium heat tossing often until they are browned some and crisp. Set aside until time to assemble the salad.

The Big Assembly:

Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl; even a big stainless steel pot or wok will work.  Add the salt, pepper, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and the anchovy paste. Toss.

In a small pot; heat water to boil; add one egg and cook for 90 seconds.  This is the coddled egg, necessary for the dressing.

Start adding in the good stuff; the sliced hard boiled eggs, capers, the hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, tomato halves, fried bacon.  Stir gently.  Add red wine vinegar, the remaining 5-6 tbsp. of olive oil, the coddled egg which you broke in half with a knife and scooped out with a spoon right into the salad. It will totally disappear into the dressing. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add the fresh parmesan you just grated as well as the freshly fried croutons. Note: Do NOT use pre-grated cheese!  Heresy…   Stir gently and thoroughly to spread the dressing around well and mix the ingredients. Taste it and add more salt and pepper if needed plus add more vinegar and olive oil if there isn’t enough dressing.  We always discuss whether there is the right amount of dressing and have been known to add more to it tasting to be sure to balance the flavors so it is perfect.

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Serve on a big dinner plate. Enjoy!

I have been known to eat any leftovers the next day for lunch; still delicious even if the croutons get soggy.

Curcuzza Side Dish: Delish

A zillion years ago my best friend’s mom, Sparky, used to grow these long skinny Italian squashes on long string trellis’ in her tiny back yard.  They lived in a narrow row house in Harrisburg so space was at a premium.  Sparky was 100 percent Italian and a great cook. She used to make this simple but delish side dish of small cubes of curcuzza squash cooked in tomato sauce. I never had access to this old time variety until I saw them at my sister’s garden last summer and searched until I found seeds at superseeds.com.  They go by the name of trombolini heirloom Italian summer squash.  You can pick them from small to very large sized.  They can be allowed to harden and dry and then used like winter squash particularly as butternut squash. They grow on long vines and are really cool looking. So this summer they are growing wildly and I’m learning how to cook with these unusual squash fruits.

 

The other week I made a delightful sauté. Success led me to feel I should try the special dish Sparky made all those years ago. It was simple actually, with just a few ingredients and some loving attention.

I strongly suggest you find trombolini squash but in a pinch any other summer squash will do; just cook it for a far shorter time.

trombolini squash with sauce and sausage

Sparky’s Curcuzza in Red Sauce

2  Tbsp.  EVOL

½ cup diced yellow onion

3-4 cups cubed trombolini squash

1 large garlic clove

1 15 ounce can tomato sauce; good quality

2  Tbsp. dry red wine

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large saucepan, add onion, cook about 4 minutes until it starts to soften.  Add cubed squash, cook 5 minutes, add minced garlic clove, cook one minute.  Add tomato sauce. Put 2 tbsp. red wine in can to rinse it out and add to pan.  If you don’t like wine; use water.  Cover and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes until squash is cooked but still holds it’s shape. Stir it a few times to make sure it is not sticking or burning. If you used zucchini your cook time will be more like ten minutes.  I add salt before the 30 minute cooking; maybe ½ tsp of it and a few grinds of my pepper grinder.

Serve over hot spaghetti pasta.  You can serve it with some Italian sausage or fried eggplant or top your plate with grated fresh Parmesan cheese if desired. My pasta was gf of course.  This can be made vegan, gf, a side to a meat entree or just a delightful snack. Manga!trombolini squash with sauce

Smashing Summer Squash Saute

 

It is zucchini season and the deluge of large green baseball bat veggies has begun. I prefer them a bit more tender; picked well before they become gigantic. I like yellow crookneck squash as well, especially home grown and picked very tender.  You can get a yellow zucchini (absolutely there is such a thing!) at Giant Grocery stores and it looks great mixed with slices of green summer squash.  Then there are patty pan squash which are generally pale green and yes, shaped like a flying saucer.  Kinda different you might think but similar flavor to other summer squash.

You may think you know summer squash until you come across a tromboncino summer squash which is an Italian heirloom variety. It looks sort of like a zucchini and a gourd had a baby: it is pale green with a swollen end and long curvy stem. My sister grows them and I remember that my college roomie’s parents grew them up strings in their narrow back yard.  They have long vines like a gourd so a trellis works much better than just letting the vines sprawl. So, I bought a packet of the seeds from superseeds.com last winter. I have one vine at my house and one at a church community garden I administer. I picked my first one last weekend. It was 27 inches plus long not counting the curve; more like 30 inches if you ran a tape measure along the whole thing.

What to do with my lovely long squash? Bernie’s mom used to cook it in thin tomato sauce and some garlic. She called it a gourgutza! I call it tasty… I had a just picked Japanese eggplant, fresh basil in the garden and a red onion.  So I went with them as the other major components of my dish. A can of chopped tomatoes was added to create a fresh and un-homogenized sauce.  Finally, I had some red lentil rotini pasta from Aldi’s; been meaning to try it in something special. They all came together in a lovely fresh tasting one pan entree I know I will make again soon. Use what ever summer squash you have but don’t cut it thin; leave it chunky for this dish. If you ever get a tromboncini do give it a try; very tasty.

Angie’s Summer Squash Sauté

2 cups cubed or half round summer squash; cut thick; ½ inch diameter

1 Japanese eggplant

1/3 lb ground chicken or pork

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 15 oz can finely chopped tomatoes

8 or 9 fresh large basil leaves chopped fine

2 tbsp. dry white wine

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 1/3 cup dry rotini pasta; cook it until very al dente

Directions: Cut the eggplant on the diagonal into slices, cut into long strips; put in colander, sprinkle with sea salt, let drip for about 20 minutes, wipe clean with paper towel.

Heat your pan, I used my smaller wok. sauté the ground chicken in 1 tbsp. olive oil; pressing it down to a thin layer, brown and turn, add red onion, brown the meat on other side; chop up; cook about 5-7 minutes total until done; remove from pan and place in a bowl for later use.

Heat the salted water for the pasta and cook it while you are sautéing all the veggies. Reserve at least ½ cup of the cooking water to add back as needed to the final dish.

Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to the same pan, heat until fairly hot, add the eggplant. Cook on both sides, after a couple minutes on each side add ¼ cup water to keep it from sticking. As it cooks after the water goes in add the minced garlic and the summer squash. Cook 3-5 minutes more, while it cooks add the juice from the can of tomatoes. Stir occasionally to cook evenly and after a couple minutes add the can of drained tomatoes, a pinch of red pepper flakes and cover.  Let cook 4 or 5 minutes, add white wine, cook 2 more minutes until squash is barely fork tender. Add cooked pasta, the meat and red onion mixture and then the finely chopped basil, cook one minute, taste and add some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to your personal taste. If it seems dry add some of the pasta water. Serve immediately.

It was still very tasty the next day. I added a touch more of the pasta cooking water when I put my leftovers away in the refrigerator, to keep things moist. The red lentil pasta did not get crunchy or soggy as many gf pastas do. I don’t know if Aldi’s still carries it as their gf stuff changes constantly.  But if I see it there I am definitely buying more.  Enjoy!

Japanese Eggplants with Ground Chicken or Pork: Delightful!

There is this recipe for chowed eggplant with ground pork that I make often when I can find skinny Japanese eggplants. Chowed means stir fried.  It comes out great every time I make it, slight addiction is my position on this recipe. This latest version uses ground chicken thigh meat instead of ground pork. If you get tired of pork or don’t eat it this is an excellent choice.  I bought it at Valley Farm Markets; their meats can’t be beat for flavor and value! I suppose you can used ground chicken breast too. Anyway, it worked very well.

I added some sticks of fresh zucchini from my garden  and a bit of sliced cabbage.  It was delish for sure. The original recipe is by Jeff Smith, out of his cookbook, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines; China, Greece and Rome. It is full of great recipes; where I got my potsticker and other dim sum recipes.  No judging here of Chef Smith; just enjoying great food…

Notes; can change out zucchini and or cabbage, for green beans, carrots, pea pods…but you can’t change out the eggplant.  Ground pork is excellent this way as well. Can use yellow onion rather than green if you prefer; cook a bit longer than scallions if you do.  You could also serve this with rice noodles; the wide kind you let soak in boiling hot water for ten minutes; that’s all the cooking it needs.

Angie’s Eggplant with Ground Chicken

1 lb skinny Japanese eggplant

1 tsp salt

½ tsp. light soy sauce, gf

1 ½ tsp. dry sherry or rice wine

½ tsp. grated fresh ginger

½ lob ground chicken, preferably thigh meat

2 tbsp. mild olive oil or peanut oil

2 cloves of garlic minced

3-4 green onions sliced in 1 to 2 inch lengths and cut in half if white part

1 cup zucchini strips; long rectangle shape

2/3-1 cup sliced green cabbage; not too thin

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Pinch sugar

Directions:

Cut unpeeled eggplants into ½ inch thick diagonal slices and cut each in half the long way. Sprinkle with salt, let stand ½ hour draining in a colander.  Pat dry with paper towels.

Mix meat with soy sauce sherry and fresh ginger, let stand 20 to 30 minutes.

Slice or chop veggies.

Heat wok and add 1 tbsp. oil. Add ground meat mixture and flatten a bit; cook until browned lightly; flip over and brown other side; no pink showing; chop up with utensil and set aside.  Add rest of oil and then garlic, cook 30 seconds, add eggplant, cook until it appears more than half done; about 5 minutes; then add zucchini and cabbage, stir for 4-5 minutes, add sesame oil and green onions. Stir a minute, add pinch sugar, wok until cabbage is crisp tender.

eggplant stir fry on plate

Serve with brown or white rice.  I made my brown rice in my handy instant pot pressure cooker.  I did a cup of long grain brown rice, 1 ¼ cup water, 1 tsp. oil, ½ tsp. sea salt; Manual high pressure for 20 or so minutes, ten minutes natural release.  Easy peasy.