Category: Dish
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Dish :: Not Your Nana’s Goulash!

It’s cold and rainy today in Michigan.  A typical fall Sunday.

Weather like this calls for comfort food.

Carby, meaty, spicy, hearty comfort food!

When I was a kid, I remember my grandma cooking something she called “goulash”.  It was really just hamburger, elbow macaroni, and tomato juice.

As I got older, I had a few experiences with a more traditional Hungarian gulyas, or goulash.  This dish has so much more depth, and is exactly the kind of food that you could say “sticks to your ribs”.

…Or your thighs, haha.

I’ve adapted a few recipes over the years, and this is what I’ve ended up with.  It’s got a little kick to it, and it makes awesome leftovers!  I swear it’s even better the next day!

Next time it’s cold and you want something comforting for dinner, give this a try!  You won’t be sorry!!

 
Not Your Nana’s Goulash!

  • 1.5 lbs. fajita-cut beef  (you can also use stew meat, but be sure the cubes are small!)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 small yellow (or red, or orange, or green) pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 – 14oz. can unseasoned, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup V8 or tomato juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • olive oil (or bacon fat!)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Heat enough oil (or bacon fat – seriously, it makes everything taste amazing!) to generously coat the bottom of a large, deep skillet over medium heat.  Add the diced onion, pepper, and garlic and cook till soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the beef and brown well, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Once the beef is browned, turn the heat down a bit and add the paprika, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.  Cook a few minutes until fragrant.  Add in the butter and flour and stir well so there are no lumps; this will help to thicken the sauce later.

Deglaze the pan by adding the canned tomatoes (do not drain – add the juice and all!) and scraping up the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the tomato juice, apple cider, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil, and then cook over low heat for 2 hours or until meat is tender.

If you like, you can stir in sour cream a few minutes before serving to make a creamier sauce.  I’ve done it both ways, and they are both delicious.

Serve over rice, potatoes, pasta or your favorite starch!  I like spaetzle, which is a small German dumpling.  You can find these dried in the pasta aisle, and all you need to do is boil them in salted water, drain, and toss into a sauté pan with a bit of butter to crisp up!

Enjoy!

Goulash with spaetzle… Ultimate comfort food!

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Dish :: Italian Party Salad

I bring this easy-peasy pasta salad to every party I attend, I swear.

My friends and family are probably sick of it by now, but it always seems to be a hit!

Simple, colorful, delicious, versatile, and not terrible for ya.  You can’t ask for a better combination!

Italian Party Salad

  • 6 cups of cooked bowtie pasta
  • 1 green pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pound of cubed salami
  • 1/2 pound of fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup of Kraft Tuscan House Italian salad dressing (or any Italian you like; adjust amount of dressing to taste)
  • Black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta, drain, and set aside to cool.

While your pasta is cooking, chop your pepper and tomatoes, cheese and salami.  Toss all ingredients in a big serving bowl together, chill, and serve!

Enjoy!

Variations:

  • Add in red pepper flakes, or chopped basil and oregano for a nice kick
  • Toss in some finely chopped spinach, asparagus, broccoli, or black olives for a little extra color
  • Use cubed turkey or grilled chicken instead of salami for a healthier alternative
  • Or, leave out the meat altogether for a vegetarian-friendly option
  • Use whole wheat pasta for extra fiber
  • Use smoked provolone instead of mozzarella for a heartier flavor
  • Low-fat dressings work well in this recipe
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Dish :: Pig Nuts

Let’s say you were invited to a party.  Knowing full well the alcohol consumption will be off the charts, and aware that the host and hostess will be providing a lovely spread of chips and dips, you decide that you want to bring something salty, sweet, spicy, and most importantly, easily carried around in the free hand that isn’t holding one’s beer.

I have just the thing!

I found a basic recipe for these spiced nuts online a few days ago, and when this party came on my radar, I knew this was the perfect offering to bring.  Oh, and then yesterday, while getting my toesies painted at the salon, I saw a lady on TV making candied bacon and thought, “Holy CRAP, that looks good.  Now I just need a reason to make it!”

And then, while the tiny Vietnamese woman at my feet babbled to her friend on her Bluetooth headset, inspiration hit me and that bacony little lightbulb lit the hell up.

SPICED NUTS WITH CANDIED BACON.

Oh dear Lord.  You must try this recipe next time you need to bring a snack to a friend’s house.  Or if you have an office party.  Or a family gathering.  Or for Christmas gifts.  Or even if you just want some bacon and need an excuse to candy the hell out of it.

MAKE THESE.

You will not be sorry.  They satisfy every craving you could have.  Salty.  Sweet. Crunchy.  Chewy.  Just a little kick of spice.  BACON.

What else could you possibly want in a snack??

(If you’re a vegetarian, you can make these just as well by eliminating the bacon.  They are still delicious!)

Pig Nuts

  • 6 cups of salted mixed nuts (make sure to get salted, shelled pistachios and extra pecans to mix in)
  • 1 pound of sliced bacon (I used an uncured, thick-cut bacon, but any type would do – maple bacon might be amazing in this recipe!)
  • 1/2 cup of light brown sugar,
  • 4 tablespoons of egg white, lightly beaten (3 medium eggs yielded just about the right amount for me)
  • 6 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground clove
  • Nonstick aluminum foil

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Line two large cookie sheets with nonstick foil (wrap the foil up over the edges, too, so the sugar doesn’t seep onto the pan and burn); set one of the sheets aside.

Arrange the bacon in a single layer on one of the cookie sheets.  Sprinkle a thin layer of brown sugar over the bacon slices, and use your fingers to spread the sugar evenly over the slices.  Flip each piece of bacon and repeat the process on the other side.  Bake until crisp and caramelized (20 – 25 minutes).  Watch carefully at the end so the bacon doesn’t burn; you may have some blackened ends, but those can easily be snipped away later.

Transfer the bacon to a wire rack to cool.  Once cooled and firm, use kitchen scissors to cut bacon into small, bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.

While the bacon is in the oven, measure out your mixed nuts into a large bowl and set aside.

Mix the dry spices and sugar together in a small bowl or measuring cup, and blend them well with a fork or whisk.

Measure out and lightly beat your egg whites, and toss them, and the vanilla, with the mixed nuts until they are all glossy and coated with the mixture.  Add the spice and sugar mixture and toss again.

Spread the nut mixture onto the second cookie sheet, and roast in a 325° oven for 12-15 minutes.  Watch carefully, as these should be a dark, caramelized color, but not burnt.  Once finished, remove from the oven and cool.

Notice how my pan isn’t lined with nonstick foil. I had to throw that pan away because the burnt sugar wouldn’t come off. Learn from my error, people!

Transfer your cooled spiced nuts to a large serving bowl, breaking apart any large clumps that may have formed.  Toss the candied bacon with the nuts, serve, and await the chorus of praise from your friends and family.

Makes 6 cups.

(I do not recommend halving this recipe, largely because these WILL get eaten.  I promise.  If you don’t need such a large portion for your gathering, put half of the nut mixture in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.  Because this recipe contains bacon, you want any room temperature nuts to be consumed within 12 hours, just in case.)

Enjoy!

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Dish :: Fat Free Ranch Dip

I’ve been working on eliminating some processed foods from my diet, opting instead to make some of said foods from whole, organic ingredients.

It’s not easy.

Here’s one recipe that is, though!

This is how I made a super-easy, completely fat free ranch dip recipe I found on Pinterest.  I love it for veggies, but the husband used it for chips, too.

Oh, and if you want to use this for salad dressing, you just need to whisk in skim milk till it gets to the consistency you like!

Easy peasy!

 

Fat Free Ranch Dip/Dressing

  • 18oz. Plain organic, fat-free Greek yogurt (I used the Fage 0% brand, but you can use whatever your supermarket has)
  • 1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix

Pour the yogurt into a big bowl.

Dump the dip seasoning mix on top.

Whisk together until mixed through.

(If using for salad dressing:  Whisk in skim milk until dressing reaches desired consistency.)

Serve.

 

Seriously.  It’s SO easy.

And it’s delicious!  The husband even liked it, and that’s saying something!

Give this recipe a shot.  It’s simple, inexpensive, and so much healthier for you than whatever the heck is in those bottles of ranch that sell for $4.50.

Enjoy!

 

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Dish :: Southern Comfort

A few weeks ago, the husband and I made the road trip from the suburbs of Detroit down to Knoxville, Tennessee, for his brother’s wedding.  The nine-hour drive down was nice–except for some random construction traffic in Ohio, and a few Apocalyptic-looking thunderstorms complete with torrential downpours while driving through the Smokies–but hey, no road trip is complete without a little white-knuckle driving, right?

The wedding was lovely, the people were kind, and our hotel accommodations were pleasant enough, but what I really took away from the trip was the food.  I wish we had been able to stay long enough to really experience some of the true southern cooking staples, but the meals we did have time to savor really stuck with me.

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Dish :: Spring Fever

I brought this post over from the old blog.  Original post date was March 2010, hence the springtime theme.

I’m not really down with the fungus consumption, but I know plenty of folks who are.  Here in Michigan, late spring is prime time for mushroom hunting.  Although not a fan of eating said fungus, one of my favorite memories of my childhood is that of scouring the forest for the mysterious delicacy known as the morel mushroom with my mom and grandma.

There’s a lot to experience in the woods besides poison ivy… knee-high forests of may apples, the forbidden-to-pick trillium, tiny purple crocuses and violets poking through the carpet of last autumn’s discarded leaves.  You’ll hear the soothing sounds of the cardinals and robins and chickadees, the obnoxious calls of the blue jay, and more than likely, a flock of geese coming home from their winter escape.  If you’re really quiet, you might even get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a mama whitetail and her cute baby Bambi, or a sweet, fuzzy little bunny. Read More

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And Now For Something Completely Different…

For those of you who don’t know, I used to have another blog.  Which is to say that back in the days when infertility hadn’t taken over my every conscious thought, I would sometimes write about things that I enjoyed, like cooking and memories of my childhood and such.

I lost interest in sharing those things once I realized that my body was betraying me left and right, and I abandoned the other blog about a year ago in an attempt to free up a few more minutes a week for Sexy Time.

A good friend recently mentioned to me that he enjoyed that old blog, and that I should resurrect it.  (Apparently he isn’t into rambling posts about the cobwebs in my uterus.)  I gave it some thought, and have come to the conclusion that while I just don’t have enough time/energy/interest to give to both writing attempts, that maybe there’s room here for posts that don’t have a darn thing to do with my girl-parts.

*Gasp*

I know.  Crazy, right?

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