Real Food for Real Life

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A different twist on an old standby...

Bell Pepper Puttanesca with turkey Italian sausage
and whole grain penne

Now to keep up with the bell pepper theme of the last post.  On another recent occasion of bell pepper bargains, I decided to make one of my pantry favorites, substituting the fresh red bell peppers for the canned, diced tomatoes I would normally use.  I love puttanesca, not only for its ease of preparation, but for the savory, spicy, and salty flavors that suit me so well.  This recipe makes a lot, so it's perfect for freezing half for a later, hectic, day.

Red Pepper Puttanesca

2oz. can anchovy fillets, in oil
6 red bell peppers, seeded and diced fairly small
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 tbs.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 finger pinch of coarse salt and a generous grinding of black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp. crushed red papper flakes
6oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 to 2 cups dry white wine
1/2 of a 2oz. jar of capers, drained
1 heaping cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise

The anchovies break up quite easily.
In a fairly large nonstick pan, warm the olive oil with the anchovies and their oil over medium heat until they break apart (this doesn't take long if you assist with a wooded spoon).  Add the garlic and bell peepers and continue to saute until tender.  Season with the salt, pepper and pepper flakes, stir in the tomato paste and cook a few minutes, or until the paste just starts to darken.  Add the white wine to achieve the desired consistency and bring to a boil before adding the capers and olives; heat through and taste for seasonings before serving.  Enjoy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bell pepper bounty...

$1.50 a package!  Really!!

I know you've all heard it before, but here it goes again...bell peppers are one of my favorite veggies, especially the red ones (and avocados, and summer tomatoes, and summer corn :).  Well, lucky me, I keep finding these packages of  six huge bell peppers at Kroger for only $1.50!!  Just like 'day old' bread, it bothers me not in the least to buy "day old" peppers, especially when the red, orange and yellow ones are usually $1.50 EACH. 

I like to cut the side into strips and dice the tops and bottoms.  Now I'm ready to cook from the prepped peppers for a week.  And if I'm not going to use them all within the week they are ready for the freezer to be used this winter when I am unlikely to find these bargains.

I had really been in the mood for a repeat of the chilies rellanos I had created using midget sweet peppers (kinda like midget bells), so I thought I'd make it again, this time using the bottom thirds of some of these beauties.  This could easily be a more traditional looking "stuffed pepper" by using four whole bells and baking a bit longer.

 Ready and waiting.

Oh, look at these just out of the oven :)

Just looking at this photo makes me want these all over again.
You can find the recipe here if you too are jonesing for some
chorizo goodness.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A new kid favorite...

Red Chili Enchilada Meat Loaf

I recently picked up a copy of Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Mexican, and must say that I am ready to try just about every recipe in here.  The first up on a busy night was the Red Chili Enchilada meat Loaf (pg. 125) and this was a definite kid pleaser.  Chris had seconds, went looking for thirds, and was disappointed to find it all gone.  If you are looking for an easy dish the kids will love, be sure to give this one a try, just don't try to feed too many with it, because they'll be asking for more.


Red Chili Enchilada Meat Loaf

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup salsa
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tbs.)
2 tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 pkg. corn muffin mix
2 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
additional salsa to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl combine the first seven ingredients.  Shape into a ball and place in a 9 inch pie pan lightly covered in cooking spray; flatten into a 6 inch circle.*  Prepare the muffin mix according to package directions and spread over the meat in the plate.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a temperature of 160 degrees.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese; cover loosely and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with additional salsa and any other Mexican inspired sides you desire.

*This was how directed in the recipe.  by time the meatloaf reached 160 degrees, the cornbread was browner than I would have liked.  In the future I will spread the meat out flatter, leaving less of a gap between it and the edge of the plate.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

So simple, so delicious...

 Burger on wheat kaiser roll with avocado, smoked mozzarella and balsamic reduction.
The onion rings are also drizzled with the reduction.

One of the delicious things we had when we ate at Robert Irvine's restaurant was the balsamic reduction we had with the bread and drizzled over the fried green tomatoes.  We were having burgers one night last week and I asked Ben what gourmet direction he wanted to take them using the nice piece of smoked mozzarella I had on hand.  Without hesitation he said he wanted them drizzled with a balsamic reduction, some balsamic reduction it was (so fortunate too, that I has an unopened bottle of balsamic vinegar in the pantry).  I simmered the bottle (in a nonreactive pan, of course) until it was reduced by about 3/4, with a nice syrupy consistency.  This did take a while and you have to be careful not to inhale the fumes directly, but it was simple and only required that I check it occasionally to make sure that it did not burn.  What was left I put into a plastic condiment bottle and stored back in the pantry to use later. I would highly recommend giving this a try, even if it means going out and buying a (moderately priced) bottle just for this purpose.

Same burger (mine), with the addition of tomato.
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