Archive | October, 2008

Comfort for the Single Girl: Black Bean, Pork & Sweet Potato Stew

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As a single woman, I’m not always up for cooking a meal and have been known to nuke my dinner.  I try not to that often since I’m on the road so much; the limited access to my kitchen makes me want to cook, not visit.  One of my “default” meals is a bowl of black beans with a baked (nuked) sweet potato on the side and a green salad.  This has become a fairly standard fast, comfort meal.

During my recent weeks at home, I decided to mix up the comfort, put a little work into and, gasp, turn on the stove.  I came up with a Black Bean, Pork & Sweet Potato stew.  Yum!  I still served it with a green salad.  

For pork, I used a pork chop that I had bought from Peach Creek Farms, but you could use pork tenderloin or ham or any other cut that you like.

I’m in Florida this week, but I understand it’s pretty chilly at home.  This would be a great stew to warm you from the inside out.

Black Bean, Pork & Sweet Potato Stew

Olive oil

10 oz pork (I had pork chops, but you could use pork loin or whatever you had available), cut into bite-sized pieces

½ an onion, chopped

A clove or two of garlic, chopped

Sweet red peppers, seeded and sliced (you can use any variety.  I used a Hungarian variety from Milagro farms.)

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 can black beans (if you are less lazy than me, you could make the black beans, but it was a Tuesday)

Cumin, salt & pepper to taste

Sour cream or white cheese


Corn tortillas

Saute pork in olive oil until cooked through.  Add onion, sweet peppers and garlic and cook until just tender.    Add sweet potatoes and cook until almost tender.  Add black beans, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until warmed through.    

Garnish with sour cream or white cheese and avocado.  Serve with warm corn tortillas.  (Cornbread would be pretty good with it also.)

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You know you’re a real friend when…

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I’m willing to make you risotto.  

I love risotto, but it is more of an upper body workout to make it than I’m usually willing to commit to for a dinner for one.  Luckily my friend Claire called recently to see what I was up to so I had the perfect excuse to commit to a risotto – a guest! (Or a guinea pig depending on how you look at it.)

I was delighted when I saw the fall/winter squashes appear at Steele Farm’s booth at the market.  I’ve always been a fan of butternut squash, but had never done much with it besides roast it.  Claire coming over was the perfect reason to make butternut squash risotto.

I decided to wing it without a recipe and the results turned out pretty well according to Claire,  and I was pleased as well.   It even reheated well for lunch later in the week.  If you have your own favorite preparation of this, please feel free to share.

Butternut Squash Risotto


1 butternut squash, cut in half and seeded

Olive oil

Onion, chopped (I recommend not using a red onion since it won’t be as pretty)

Chicken broth (I prefer the Central Market brand)

1 cup Arborio rice

Parmesan cheese, to taste

Sage, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter the flesh of the butter nut squash and the pan you are going to cook it in.  Place the squash flesh side down in the pan and cook until tender – about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the squash.  (I use the fancy technique of sticking a fork in the skin side of the squash, and if it feels tender then it’s done.)  Set the squash aside to cool.  Scoop the flesh of the squash out of the skin and set aside to add to the risotto later.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pot you are using for the risotto.  Saute the onions until tender.  Add the risotto and stir until full coated with oil/onion mixture.

Add ½ cup of chicken broth and stir until almost completely absorbed.  Add ¼ cup of chicken broth every few minutes (about 3-5) stirring constantly until the risotto takes on a creamy consistency.  When you taste it, the pasta should be just tender (al dente). 

Add the squash, parmesan and fresh sage to the risotto.  Stir and taste.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Adjust seasonings (particularly the sage & parmesan) as needed.

Enjoy and now go rest that stirring arm!

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Pizza-licious Game Night

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I am not one of the fortunate 98,000 people who had a ticket to last night’s big University of Texas game vs. Missouri so I invited some friends over to eat dinner and watch the game. (It was an excellent game if you missed it.  Go Horns!)
And what goes better with watching football than pizza!  Of course, being me, I couldn’t just make pepperoni, and decided we needed some farmers market inspired pies.  I settled on four different types of pizzas:  sweet pepper, mushroom and Italian sausage; zucchini, basil and bacon; shrimp, zucchini and feta; and the piece de resistance – an Octoberfest pizza.
I had made two of the pizzas before which allowed me to be more “creative” with the others.  It helps to have some confidence in part of the dinner.   So, about that Octoberfest pizza…
I’m not really sure where I got this crazy idea, but I think it started when I saw that Steele farms had red cabbage last week at the market.  I love sausage and cabbage.  I know, I know, but I love it.  And then I had the idea to have pizza for my game night party.  Then I saw Jamie Oliver make a pizza with cabbage.  The tumblers clicked and the Octoberfest pizza was born.  
I did do some googling to make sure I wasn’t totally nuts and I found a similar pizza from Germany that included sauerkraut, apples, bratwurst and Swiss cheese.   I now had evidence that I hadn’t completely lost it.  
Surprisingly, I could get almost all the ingredients from the market.  I bought the pizza crust (don’t really have the counter space to roll out dough – but got some great pre-made crusts from the the HEB deli case), the pesto, tomato sauce, the mustard and some of the cheese.  
All four pizzas turned out great based on the empty plates.  The general consensus was that the Octoberfest pizza was good and was a little like eating a hot dog on pizza crust.  I’m going to take that as a good review.
The other great thing was I pre-cooked all the ingredients so all I had to do was throw the pizzas together and toss them in the oven.  It was the perfect combination for a football party.
I cooked all the pizzas at 450 degrees on the bottom shelf (if you have a pizza stone it’s even better) for about 15 minutes.
P.S.  My apologies for being the slacker poster.  For the first time in 2.5 years, I am in town for three weeks in a row.  I have cooked up a storm, but I have been playing instead of posting.  Just know there are lots of recipes coming….
Octoberfest Pizza
1 lb German Sausage
1 red onion, sliced
1/2 small red cabbage, sliced
Bavarian mustard
2 bottles Shiner Bock Beer
Olive Oil
Swiss cheese, grated
Put 1 lb of German Sausage (from the fabulous Peach Creek Farms of course) in a pan with 2 bottles of Shiner Bock beer.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes (until they look done).    Remove from the pan, but reserve the Shiner Bock.
Put about a tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and sweat the onions.  Add the red cabbage and ladle the shiner bock from the other pan (I don’t like to waste beer so I reused.  If this grosses you out, you could open a new bottle).  Add a tablespoon of Bavarian mustard – not Dijon, not regular mustard – and stir.  Allow to cook until the cabbage is just tender.
For the sauce, in a small bowl, take 2 tbsps of Bavarian mustard, about a tbsp of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of Shiner Bock.   Whisk.  If it doesn’t look like enough sauce, then increase the amounts of everything in the proper proportion.
Spread the sauce over the pizza crust.  Leave about 1/2 inch around the edge of the crust dry.  Spread the onion and cabbage mixture evenly over the sauce.  Slice the German Sausage on a slant so that it isn’t too thick and then layer over the cabbage mixture.  Sprinkle Swiss cheese across the top.  
Be careful not to layer too many ingredients in the middle of the pizza.  It makes it soggy. 
Cook for about 15 minutes, check along the way to make sure it doesn’t get too “crispy.”
Shrimp Zucchini Feta Pizza
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 zucchini, peeled into ribbons (use a vegetable peeler like you are peeling a carrot)
Feta cheese
Pesto, I used TexaFrance Classic
Red Pepper flakes
Spread pesto over the pizza crust, leaving about 1/2 inch dry at the edge of the crust.  If you have more time and energy than me, then you will make your own perfect pesto.  I bought Texafrance Classic from HEB.   I am not Martha Stewart.
Layer the zucchini over the pesto – not too thick because you want the zucchini to cook.  Add the shrimp and sprinkle with feta.  Add the red pepper flakes.
Cook until the zucchini and shrimp are done.  Yum!
From the Garden Pizza
Pizza sauce (homemade or from the jar – no judgment! – I used the yummy pizza sauce that came with the HEB pizza crust and it was great)
Zucchini, shaved – use a vegetable peeler to make strips
Bacon, uncooked and chopped (Jamie used pancetta – I didn’t have pancetta from the market)
Mozzarella, grated
Red pepper flakes
Parmesan, grated

Layer sauce on the dough. Sprinkle bacon on top of the sauce. Then, layer zucchini. Sprinkle with mozzarella (not too much cheese).

Place in the oven until the top bubbles and is cooked through – about 10-15 minutes if you have a precooked crust and longer if the crust was raw. 

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and parmesan to taste.

National Championship Pizza or Sausage, Red Pepper, and Wild Mushroom Pizza 
The last time I made this was when Texas won the Rose Bowl, aka the National Championship.  I do not believe it’s an accident that we won the Missouri game – BIG.
2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/2 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
5 to 6 small red peppers, thinly sliced
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
7 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 1/4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 3/4 cups coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 7 ounces), divided
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Sauté until
brown, breaking into 1/2-inch pieces with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon,
transfer sausage to bowl. 
Add peppers and garlic to skillet. Sauté until crisp-tender, about 2 to 3  minutes; transfer to plate. 
Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add mushrooms and 1 tbsp rosemary.  Sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Leaving 1/2-inch plain border, spread the pizza sauce thinly around the crust.  Then top with 3/4 cup mozzarella, then onion, sausage, peppers and mushrooms.
Bake until crust bottoms are crisp and brown, reversing sheets after 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons mozzarella, then parmesan, if desired.

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Farmers Market Enchiladas

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I have had an extraordinary week in Austin.   I got to cook 4 times, spend lots of time with friends and family, shop at the market on Saturday and watch UT win the big game.  It was a really good week.  And the best part of all is I get to do it again this week!  I love my Austin clients.

I taught on Tuesday, but I wanted to cook and for some I was craving enchiladas.  This is peculiar for me because I don’t really love enchiladas.  They are ok, but not my favorite.  When I do eat enchiladas, I usually prefer the vegetable variety, particularly spinach and mushroom. So, when I started craving enchiladas, I decided to hit the vegetable drawer.
I didn’t have spinach, but I did have swiss chard, mushrooms and zucchini.  I decided to wing it and was pretty happy with the results.  Since it was mid-week and I was hungry, I cheated and didn’t make the green sauce from scratch.  Instead I substituted HEB Green Chile Enchilada Sauce.  It was pretty darn good for a thrown together dinner.
Farmers Market Enchiladas
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, chopped
a couple of peppers, seeded and chopped – I had a couple of sweet peppers and one jalapeno
1/2 lb swiss chard, discard the large stems
salt & pepper
corn tortillas
1 can green chile enchilada sauce
cheese – I used a pepper jack that I got at the market
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Saute zucchini, mushrooms and peppers until almost tender.  Add swiss chard, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the chard is slightly wilted.
If needed, soften the tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave so they don’t break while you roll the enchiladas.  Place a scoop of the vegetable mixture in each tortilla and roll closed.  Place in a baking dish.   Pour the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese.  
Cook for 25-30 minutes until cheese is bubbly and enchiladas are cooked through.  
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