Tag-Archive for ◊ mushrooms ◊

24 Sep 2010 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Who eats jarred spaghetti sauce?  I hope no one.  I don’t. Not ever.  Well, I’ve had a spoonful here and there, so I do know how bad it is.  Too much vinegar.  I like wine, tomatoes, onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I’ve never used a recipe.  I learned from watching my Dad, who learned from watching the Galloping Gourmet (I think he also got permission to drink during the day from the Galloping Gourmet, but that’s a whole other story.)

My daughter, Abby, has asked me to write down my “recipe” for Spaghetti Sauce.  I put the word recipe in quotes because when I make spaghetti sauce, I just go for it.  It’s never really the same twice, but it always works out  (I’m not Italian, so I make no claims to an authentic Italian sauce).   Last week, when I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce, I carefully wrote down what I did so Abby can make her own spaghetti sauce while she is away at college.

If you haven’t made spaghetti sauce before, perhaps this “recipe” can be your starting point. Use this as a guide to add and subtract ingredients to suit your tastes. Over the years the amount of meat in my sauce has decreased.  I’d like to cut it my 1/3 more, but my son would get upset.  We all like mushrooms, so I use a good amount.  I don’t like green or red peppers, so I leave them out completely.  One thing I wouldn’t change is the “Super Six”, the must-haves for seasoning spaghetti sauce:  sautéed onions, garlic, celery, parsley, basil and oregano.

After the sauce is made, I let is sit overnight and then we usually have it for dinner. And, if I give in to the pleading of my older daughter, I’ll make a tray of lasagna, too, and then we’ll eat that for the next few days.  The remaining sauce I freeze in 3 or 4 cup batches.  This recipe will makes 10-12 cups of sauce.

I hope you never buy jarred sauce again.  Nasty stuff.  Too many preservatives.  Not enough flavor. This is so much better, so much better.

My Mom Polly’s Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil, as needed for sauteing
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (recently I have use the “Muir Glen” brand, but for years I used whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  If you have them, use blanched, chopped tomatoes from your garden.  If you don’t like  chunky spaghetti sauce, then substitute the same amount of tomato sauce.)
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (add more later if needed)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lbs to 2 lbs of ground beef (or a mixture of your choice of ground beef, sausage, pork, veal.  Use at least 50% ground beef.  I have used ground turkey before, and don’t recommend it. I found the flavor to be too mild for this robust sauce)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 cups red wine (any robust red wine), optional, of course

Heat about 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in chopped onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir in chopped celery and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and sauté for another minute.  Do not let the garlic brown or burn.  Pour mixture into a large stock pot, and turn on heat to medium.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 -60 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer the simmer, the richer the sauce). Meanwhile, in the skillet, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce after the sauce has simmered at least 30 minutes.  In the same skillet that browned the onions and the mushrooms, add the ground meat.  Brown the meat, and then drain the fat off (to drain put the cooked meat in a colander over a bowl).  Stir drained, cooked meat into the tomato sauce, along with 2 cups of red wine, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste, and more salt, pepper and brown sugar if needed. Serve immediately over hot noodles and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, or let cool, refrigerate, and chill overnight. Warm up only as much sauce as needed for your next meal.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, I always like it when you stop by!  Leave a comment and say HI!

20 Sep 2010 Hoisin Chicken in Lettuce Cups

Mmmmm… Hoisin chicken, wrapped in a crispy, iceberg lettuce leaf.  I don’t remember where I found the original recipe, it was a few years ago.  My daughter and I have tinkered with it a bit over the years and now we think it’s pretty darn incredible! And it’s so fun to eat, too! I love the crunch of the lettuce and the water chestnuts and I love the Asian flavor. This is one of my favorite dishes to serve on a buffet or take to a pot luck.  I’ve served this as an appetizer, a salad, and a main dish!  How’s that for versatility?  To serve, I put out a big bowl of the warm hoisin chicken, add a slotted serving spoon (because the sauce is a bit juicy) then surround the whole thing with “cups” of iceberg lettuce.  Guests assemble their own lettuce cups (and then eat them like a taco!)

This recipe serves a crowd. You’ll have about 8 cups of filing, which will easily fill 16-20 lettuce cups.  There should be no problem halving this recipe if  you want to make a smaller number of servings.

Hoisin Chicken in Lettuce Cups

8 boneless chicken breasts
4-6 Tablespoons oil (2-3 for cooking chicken, and 2-3 for cooking vegetables)
4 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger (or finely chopped fresh ginger, if you prefer)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups chopped celery
½ cup green onion
3 cups diced mushroom
16 oz. diced water chestnuts (2 cans), drained and chopped
1 cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons plain/natural rice vinegar (don’t use the seasoned rice vinegar)
1 cup minced cilantro
2 or 3 heads of iceberg lettuce (note that not all heads are created equal, some have better leaf “cups” than others)

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat, add chicken breasts and cook thoroughly (approximately 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the chicken).  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile, chop celery, green onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts.  When chicken is cool, dice into ½ inch pieces .

In the same pan, heat remaining oil and ginger and sauté until fragrant.  Add celery, onion, and mushrooms, sauté until soft, about three minutes.  Add diced chicken, stir until chicken and vegetables are incorporated together.  Add drained and chopped water chestnuts, hoisin, Worcestershire and rice vinegar to chicken and vegetables, sauté for an additional minute or so.  When the all the liquid has been distributed and all the flavors have blended remove from heat and stir in cilantro.  Remove chicken mixture to a large serving bowl.

Make lettuce cups by carefully pulling off individual leaves of lettuce.  They don’t all have to be perfect, or the same size. Place lettuce cups around the bowl of the chicken.

To serve: With a slotted spoon, scoop ¼-½ cup of chicken mixture into lettuce cup, eat and enjoy!

NOTE:  the chicken/vegetable mixture can be made ahead of time, stored in refrigerator, and then reheated before serving.  (I actually think the flavor improves after sitting 24 hours). If you are going to make the lettuce cups ahead of time, store in sealed plastic  bags  in the refrigerator–but don’t make the lettuce cups too far ahead, the edges of the lettuce will turn brown-when they turn brown depends on how fresh your lettuce is.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and thanks, Hannah (my older daughter), for being here and tweaking this recipe so that’s it’s pretty much perfect!

18 Sep 2010 Meatball Beef Stroganoff

Ex-husbands can be real %#$!!s. At least mine can.  After he let loose, and then hung up on me, I decided to go for a pedicure.  Unfortunately my nail salon is not known for having the most recent magazines with the biggest pictures, so I stopped on the way to treat myself to a glossy dose of gossip.  Wouldn’t you know I would walk by the cookbook section on the way to the magazines?  And there, on the discount table, jumping up and down was The Meatball Cookbook Bible, with a price LESS than that of most magazines.  What was I to do? I walked out with the 512 page cookbook.  (It was on sale for $4.99!)  My day was looking up!

The nail ladies seemed a bit befuddled by my reading material. I think they discussed it between themselves in Vietnamese.  You’d think I was the only person EVER to read a $4.99 Meatball Bible while getting a pedicure…

The Meatball Bible has turned out to be well worth the $4.99 investment.  I’ve made five recipes so far, and all five have been winners.  How often does that happen?   Now let’s get to the disclaimers. I am not talking gourmet cuisine here.  Each recipe is based on some sort of ground meat, noodles, and pantry staples.  The pantry staples, meat, spices and extras are well chosen and harmonious. These recipes work and the results are family-friendly, comfort food and there’s nothing wrong with that, is there? There’s a lot good with that, actually.  A lot of good.

Note….I am on leftovers now.  I have plenty of meatballs and noodles, but I am out of sauce.  Next time, I’ll make more sauce.  Upping the sauce by 50% would probably be perfect.

Meatball Beef Stroganoff

1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk (whole milk, preferred)
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, very finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 lbs ground beef (80% lean)

salt and pepper to taste
Pam, or some other sort of vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 – 1 lb sliced mushrooms (optional)
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock, heated in microwave to very hot

2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream (not non-fat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

To serve:  1 lb. broad curly egg noodles, cooked according to package directions (or any other pasta)

Combine egg and milk in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until smooth.  Add in breadcrumbs.  Mix well. Set aside to soak.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Sir in garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

Add half of the onion mixture, and the ground beef to the breadcrumb mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend meatball mixture together by tossing gently.  Do not compress mixture, toss.  Form meat mixture into approx. 2 inch meatballs.  Roll balls lightly between palms.  Place formed meatballs on a foil covered, rimmed baking sheet.  (If desired, meat mixture or meatballs can be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight–be sure to remove remaining onion mixture from the pan and refrigerate that, too.)

Preheat broiler.  Spray meatballs with vegetable oil (Pam, or something similar). Broil meatballs for approx 6 minutes.  Shake pan, or turn meatballs half way through the cooking time.  While meatballs are browning, finish the sauce.

Add 2 tablespoons butter to frying pan with onions.  Turn on heat to melt butter. If desired, add some sliced mushrooms to the onion mixture and saute for 3 minutes.    Sprinkle flour over onion-mushroom mixture.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 3 minutes.  Turn heat off.

Working quickly, add hot beef broth to mixture in frying pan in 3 additions:  add approx 3/4 cup stock, stir until sauce is smooth, then add another 3/4 cup and stir until smooth, then finish with remaining stock, stirring until smooth.

Turn heat back on under the frying pan.  Whisk in the tomato paste and mustard.  Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Taste sauce.  Add salt and pepper, if needed. Add hot meatballs to simmering sauce.  Continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat, stir in sour cream and sprinkle with chopped parsley.  Heat sauce, but do not bring sauce back to boil, or the sour cream with curdle.

Serve sauce and meatballs over drained hot noodles. Makes four yummy, family friendly servings.

BTW  I haven’t tested this, but the book says that this dish can be made up one to two days ahead and then reheated in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, which makes this a great dish to make for the mom with a new baby (and a toddler or two), or the lady down the block with the right broken ankle (right ankle, can’t drive), doesn’t it?

Enjoy supper with your family tonight. There should be smiles all around.