Lazy Saturday

Week one of my 80 day recovery work out plan is in the books.  I finished my sixth day this morning and tomorrow is rolling and easy stretching.  My husband is feeling under the weather today, so we decided to have a lazy Saturday in the house.  Neither one of us felt like doing anything more than hanging around the house catching up on our shows.  I finally finished the latest episode of This is Us today.  When planning our dinner, we decided on a nice, easy comfort meal.  I did tweak the recipe because I wanted to experiment with a family tradition – German Potato Balls.

Growing up, my grandmother, mother and aunt always served potato balls with our holiday meals.  They never made them other times of the year, so it was a real treat for us all when the holidays rolled around.   There’s nothing quite as good as a true, homemade German Potato Ball drenched in brown gravy.  Thinking of them always brings back so many wonderful memories of those holiday dinners, when I never had to wash a dish or pot.  Literally, just eat and run is what we kids did.  These three ladies all made this potato dish easily, but when I was newly married and tried to create it the potato balls just turned to mush.  No matter what I did, or how much flour I added, those darn potatoes turned into a big pile of mush.  Both of my cousins perfected the recipe and I wondered what in the world I was doing wrong.  My mother kept telling me I was using the wrong type of potato.  She swore they had to be Idaho potatoes and nothing else.  Tried that.  Make them the night before, use less flour, more flour, don’t over cook….  I finally decided Potato Balls were not worth the effort and perfected the art of making spaetzle.

Mom
Mom at Christmas – 1992

My mom has been in the nursing home for about three years now and hasn’t cooked a holiday meal in many more years.  We don’t get together with the cousins anymore for the holidays as we live too far apart.  The only time I ever get German Potato Balls anymore is in a restaurant and honestly they never taste like our family’s recipe.   This year, for our Christmas dinner, I decided I was going to try again.  I looked up a few recipes online to see if there was anything I was doing wrong.  I texted my cousin to check the recipe.  I could see nothing I was doing wrong.  When I posted on Facebook that I was making the meal, my mother’s cousin asked if I needed the recipe.  Then she said, remember to cook them as soon as you roll them, or they will turn to mush.  I looked at my daughter and said, no wonder I’ve had trouble all these years.  I was rolling them the night before and cooking them the next day.

This Christmas, we had Roast Pork and Potato Balls and they came out perfect.  I was so happy to have solved the 35 year mystery of this darn recipe.  Today, I decided to experiment with the recipe and see how it would come out if I used sweet potatoes.  Using the same recipe, I substituted sweet potatoes for the Idaho potatoes. They were delicious and hopefully somewhat healthier.

Laura’s Chicken Scarpiello & Sweet Potato Balls

  • 5 links of Sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound boneless Chicken breast
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup white wine (NOT cooking wine)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Rosemary
  • Sweet butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pour a glass of Malbec and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.38B1C00C-2345-4189-9151-2AE4F8E082AE
  2. Slice sausage into smaller pieces and brown in pot in tbsp olive oil until browned on outside.  Do not cook through.
  3. Remove from pot
  4. Put chicken in food storage bag with flour and shake to coat.
  5. Place chicken into pot with tbsp of olive oil and turn to brown.  Do not cook through.6C4CBFE7-484B-4227-B2EA-416A38E39463
  6. Remove from pot
  7. In same pot, put tbsp of sweet butter and olive oil.
  8. Cook chopped onions until soft, about 4 minutes.
  9. Add chopped garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  10. Add the wine and begin to deglaze the pot.
  11. Add the broth and continue to stir until the pot is deglazed.
  12. Add the vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary and stir.
  13. Arrange the chicken and sausage in an oven safe dish.DBE3D1DB-E8F7-481F-87F7-3B6CB2069B42
  14. Pour the sauce over and cover.
  15. Cook in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  16. Thicken sauce if needed when serving.

Sweet Potato Balls

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup farina
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 piece of toast cut into small cubes (normally we cook these in a pan with butter, but I just toasted today in toaster)

Directions:

  1. Roast the sweet potatoes in oven. (Mine were left over roasted potatoes, but you can boil or roast them for this recipe.)
  2. When potatoes are cool, mash or put through a ricer.
  3. Add flour, farina, nutmeg, salt & pepper to bowl
  4. Mix with hands until they no longer stick to your hand
  5. Roll into balls placing one cube of toast in the middle of each.7DE743EA-456E-4A8A-9A1C-02083A4D3725
  6. Drop potato balls into boiling pot of water and cook until they rise to the top (about 7-8 minutes)
  7. Serve immediately

C41DD6A1-F878-48C4-A344-CC64F68359B9

Meatless Monday

Today, I put on a pair of workout pants for the first time since the beginning of November when a stress fracture squashed my marathon dream temporarily.  Today, I started my road back to running.  Today, I started a new workout routine to build back my strength and prepare my muscles for this return.  I’ve been working out lightly the last two weeks to prepare for this day, but oh it felt so good to be in real workout clothes again.  I will admit that I needed the mental and physical break from my routine following marathon training.   It felt so good to have an extra hour or two in the morning to sip coffee, write, plan or just surf the internet.  If felt good not to rush, or worry about being late to work if I ran an extra mile because I was feeling good.  The extra pounds do not feel quite as good and will likely not come off as easily as they went on, but who cares.  Life is way to short to worry about it and every day is a new day to start again.

Keeping with my meatless meals journey, today we are having a meatless Monday.  I am roasting two chicken breasts and some sweet potatoes for quick meals during the week, but today we are eating Butternut Squash and Farro.  If you haven’t tried farro, I highly recommend you check it out.  It is a grain, that has the consistency of pasta which is probably what appeals to me the most about it.   It can be added to any stew, soup or side dish that calls for rice, or pasta.  It reheats beautifully and can also be eaten cold.  The possibilities for this grain are endless.

My mom has Alzheimer’s disease and has for almost ten years now.  When she first started showing symptoms, she stopped cooking.  We thought it might be the fact that it was just her and my dad at home and easier to eat out.  We thought perhaps she was slightly depressed and had no desire to cook anymore.  We thought anything other than the reality of Alzheimer’s disease.  As she got progressively worse, I tried cooking extra food to bring over every weekend.  With my work schedule, this became harder and harder for me to keep up with so I knew I had to teach my dad how to cook.  He actually found that he loved cooking and was quite good at it!  He whipped up a beautiful meal for dinner each night, and like me found it very therapeutic.  Cooking can be a beautiful distraction from the ugliness that life often serves up.

One year, at Christmas, my dad called me and told me one of his friends from the morning crew at Dunkin had given him a gift – a cookbook.   He was excited to have the cookbook and said he would show it to me the next time I saw him.  The following weekend, when I got to their house, my dad showed me the cookbook gift he received.  It was an Ina Garten book called – Make Ahead Recipes.  It’s no secret Ina is one of my favorite chefs.  Her recipes are relatively easy to follow and always turn out beautifully.  When I opened the book I noticed a card with a beautiful message to my dad.  It read,

Enjoy this book as you cook meals for your beautiful wife.  Your love and devotion to her is truly admirable.   The care you take of her really demonstrates your commitment and love.  There are not many who could walk this walk so selflessly and I am honored and humbled to know you.  I hope you find many recipes to enjoy for years to come.

Anyone who knows my dad and has watched him as a caretaker knows these words capture him perfectly.  He has set the bar pretty darn high for us to follow.64EBB326-854B-4A9D-813E-3FF7DDEEB102

My favorite side dish in this book is Butternut Squash with Farro.  I’ve made it every Thanksgiving for the past few years and we all enjoy it.  The recipe calls for bacon, but for today’s meal we are leaving that out.  One important tip I’ve learned since making this recipe is how to peel the butternut squash.  I struggled with this many times in the past, including pounding on my knife with a mallet, banging it on the cutting board and just plain cursing.  My husband kept telling me to buy the already chopped squash, but I wanted fresh.  When I figured out how to easily peel the squash, I laughed at myself for how difficult I made it.  Here are the simple directions to peel butternut squash:

Poke the squash with a fork all around.  Cut the end off the bottom and top of the squash.  Place it in the microwave oven on high for 3-4 minutes.  Let it cool off.  Cut in half and scoop out the seeds.  Cut into cubes and peel as you go.  Super easy!0F20A9CB-F494-4592-A57C-A0F82A82BDB5

I will share the recipe as written by Ina and include within the tweaks I made to make this a meatless meal.  If you are vegan, you’ll have to substitute out the cheese, broth and butter.

Butternut Squash with Farro by Ina Garten

Photo courtesy of Food Network magazine (This is what the bacon version looks like)

Baked Farro and Butternut Squash
Ingredients
  • 6 thick-cut slices applewood-smoked bacon (I left this out for meatless Monday)
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil (I only use the butter)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups pearled farro
  • 3 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade (Use vegetable stock if you don’t want meat based stock)
  • 3 cups (3/4-to-1-inch-diced) peeled butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the bacon on a baking rack set on a sheet pan and bake it for 20 to 30 minutes, until browned (it won’t be crisp). Cut the bacon in very large dice. (Skip this step if going meatless)

Meanwhile, in a small (9-inch) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender and starting to brown. Add the thyme, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the farro and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Place the squash on top of the farro mixture, cover, and bake in the same oven with the bacon for 30 minutes, until the squash and farro are tender. Check once during cooking and add a little chicken stock if it’s dry.

Sprinkle the bacon and parmesan on the squash and farro and bake uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, the farro and butternut squash are tender, and the cheese has melted. Serve hot directly from the pot. (For this step I just sprinkled with cheese and left out the bacon)

This is such a hearty side dish that tonight we are eating it as our meal.  I’m hoping to have some left over to pick on during the week.  It is really delicious with and without the bacon.  If you make it, leave me a message to tell me how you like it.  I know you won’t be disappointed as I’ve cooked many of Ina’s recipes for my holiday parties.A0ADE5FD-3BCB-453F-A375-2C5EA610711D

My review, it’s WAY better with the bacon!   So, unless you’re vegetarian keep it in.  If you are, find a spice that will give it a smokier taste.   Let me know what you figure out and I’ll try again.

 

Compromises

Sunday dinner is taking a different twist today.  We have been eating a lot of comfort meals lately and many have been meat based. Today, we are enjoying one of our favorite meatless Sunday sauce recipes.   My husband brought home a nice large eggplant today with hopes I’d make eggplant parmesan again.  Since we just had that last week, I decided to turn this beautiful eggplant into a meatless meatball for our sauce.  We’ve had this meal before and it is a nice change of pace from the traditional meatball, and surprisingly quite tasty.

My brother and my niece are both vegetarians.  George grew up on the same meals as I did and has commented on my recent blog posts.  I knew he wouldn’t be eating them though and began to wonder how to offer meatless versions of these family traditions.  I will be experimenting with that concept over the coming months and hope my brother will join me.

image
George on left, Michael on right, yours truly in middle.

During the recent snowstorm, I made a Chicken Schnitzel and George commented how the meatless gravy on spaetzle is often not quite as good as the version we grew up on.  We spoke that day about the mushroom gravy that goes on my Schnitzel. This mushroom based gravy is only used to top the chicken.  That recipe just needs one tweak to be meatless – change the chicken broth to vegetable broth in the recipe.   For Sunday sauce it’s easy to whip up marinara, but for us meatballs are a huge part of this favorite meal.  If I decided to never eat a meatball again, I’d surely be looking for ways to replace them in my sauce.  This eggplant “meatball” is one way to start thinking about alternatives to meat in Sunday sauce.  Today’s menu will include – Sunday Sauce with Eggplant Meatballs served over homemade, hand cut pasta.  Both will be accompanied with a nice robust glass of Merlot and football playoff games.

Meatless Meatballs – Eggplant

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Eggplant
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Flour
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pour glass of Merlot and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.3696CC4B-0446-4256-ABF1-53FED1C597C4
  • Cut eggplants in half lengthwise and trim off ends.  Make a few slits on the cut side and brush with olive oil.   Sprinkle lightly with salt.2881BED9-3233-4F24-BCA7-C8A79D3E2EB1
  • Place the eggplant on a baking sheet, skin side down.
  • Cook at 400 degrees 30 – 40 minutes, depending on size of eggplant.
  • Remove eggplant and allow it to cool before handling.
  • Scoop out the soft insides of the eggplant into your Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment.
  • Add cheese, egg, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs to the bowl and mix on low until combined.  You may need to add more breadcrumbs if mixture is very soft.F3552CCC-0551-41FD-9EC0-06C9DFDC02F9
  • Roll the mixture into balls and dredge in flour. Fry the balls in olive oil until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.8365AB1D-CD79-4359-8265-EC2436D05429
  • Add to sauce and serve immediately.  There is no reason for these meatballs to cook in the sauce.  They are cooked and ready.  For less saucy eggplant balls, just serve plain with sauce on side.

Last week I shared my sauce recipe, along with the recipe to make easy homemade pasta.  Both recipes can be found by clicking on this link –

Sunday Sauce

Since the eggplant was large, I was also able to make Eggplant Lasagna.   Super easy and great for a gluten free lasagna.  This meal is made and assembled exactly like the traditional version.  The substitution was eggplant for lasagna noodles.    Slice the peeled eggplant lengthwise.   Place on lightly oiled baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.   Let cool, then assemble as usual.

 

How have you tweaked your meals to include meatless versions?  Please share some of your recipes with me.  I am always looking to try something new.  If you make this recipe, please leave me a note to tell me how it was, including any tweaks you made to improve it.

 

Comfort Food

What do you do when you come home from a visit to the nursing home sad, your house is an empty nest and you’re in need of some comfort?   Of course you start menu planning and cooking.  When I get in these funks, I love to find comfort in food.  I’m not talking chips and cake, though those would be just fine.  I’m talking good, hearty meals that bring back memories of days gone by.  Using what I have in the house, today I decided to make one of my childrens’ favorite meals.  Whenever I had chicken and would ask them what they wanted for dinner, inevitably they’d all say – chicken in broth.7E10B182-A46A-4C4E-ACB6-788142EAEBF6

I have three children, two boys and one girl.  They are off being busy adulting these days, but I can still remember when they were all here.  The madness, the noise, the mess, be careful about wishing them away for you will miss it all someday.  My house is way too quiet for me on these dreary winter days, so today I will conjure up images of the past and eat some beautiful chicken with broth.  Maybe, just maybe, if there’s any left I’ll pack some up for them.

When I was a young working mother of three, I really had little time to prepare any fancy meals.  I looked for easy meals that would be finished in a short amount of time and didn’t require a lot of ingredients or preparation.  My dad always loved chicken pot pies, but who really had the time back then to make pie crusts and fill them.  My kids all preferred the insides of the pie anyway, so I just made up a simple version that did not require baking, or a crust.  I loved the simplicity of the meal, but it packs a good punch of comfort and warmth.  If you decide to try it, please let me know how it worked out for you.  If you tweaked it, I don’t get offended, let me know as well.

Laura’s Chicken in Broth

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken tenders cubed
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (If you like it thicker use one cup)
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • flour
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • unsalted butter or olive oil

Directions:

  • Pour a glass of Pinot Grigio and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchenF32DA590-EDBB-4799-B8ED-3FFA51E50D20
  • In Dutch oven over medium heat, brown chopped onion, red pepper flakes, celery and carrots in unsalted butter or olive oil. (4 minutes)A1386E2C-A490-4387-82AF-1905CF25D403
  • Add chopped garlic and sautee for an additional minute.
  • Place chicken cubes into a food storage bag with flour. Shake to coat.
  • Move onion mix to outside edges of pot to make room in center for chicken.  Add some oil and place chicken in.
  • Cook to brown, stirring as needed.95B73322-8591-4CD3-850E-B23F3B85D76D
  • Add some broth to deglaze the pot, then add remaining broth.
  • Add spices2DBEC3CB-C3C0-4EDA-A8CE-13BCBC96476B
  • Stir, reduce heat and cover
  • Cook on stovetop, covered, over low heat for 60 minutes.3E8A0B1E-3B93-4F37-AAE8-66FD92E16DE5

We have added pasta, potatoes, rice, spaetzle and many other items to this recipe.  Today, I added small red potatoes.  They were peeled and put in right from the beginning.  If adding pasta, only add it during the last 30 minutes.  Do the same for rice.

Today, since I am seeking comfort in food, but avoiding the Ruffles, I decided to make homemade biscuits.  They are wonderful for soaking up the broth.  These are NOT biscuits that will rise and be buttered   These are biscuits that you put right in the broth in your bowl.  Break them into pieces and put them right in.E31943DA-656F-49C7-BAC6-B04E6B845F7E

Laura’s Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

Directions:

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in your Kitchen Aid mixer, using paddle attachment.2C92FE4B-6464-406A-9EBC-3EE5A1E6094B
  • Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.
  • Add the heavy cream and combine on low speed.
  • Place the dough on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8-inch thick.86CE6039-C556-4394-8B04-129E10AFEC82
  • Cut out six circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter. (Makes 12 so I freeze half for another meal)
  • Bake 20 minutes in 375 degree oven.  You can put egg wash on if preferred, we like ours plain.86DDE6E6-AC93-4A0E-9793-3BC6DBA1784B

We are eating in the kitchen tonight so we can watch and listen to the playoff game.  5F2AD953-60AF-4C6B-A0CD-70B8101CFC76

Sunday Sauce

My favorite cookbooks are those that have a memoir weaved throughout.  Food, after all is woven throughout our lives.  Its connection to our memories can’t ever be overlooked.   The mere smell of onions browning brings to mind images of my mother cooking her Sunday roast beef. If I close my eyes I can almost transport myself back to that time.  Sundays around here do not find me cooking roast beef.   After all,  I live on an island known to be full of Italian people and also known for its great Italian food.  What’s a German lady to do when living on such an island?  Learn to cook Italian food without a Nona to teach her!

We’ve been eating Sunday sauce since I’ve been married.   My husband and I both love spaghetti and meatballs so I needed to learn very early in our marriage how to make this traditional Sunday meal.  I grew up in Middle Village, Queens on a block made up of brick row houses.  Each house was exactly the same, yet each was so very different.   0DF6BD35-AF6C-4530-9307-A9D0396CE93AWe were truly lucky to grow up on this block, and lived a very safe and happy childhood.  My attached neighbors to the right were an Italian family, Paul and Rita and their two sons Sal and Johnny.  Both boys were much older than the group I grew up with, but the close proximity of our homes enabled us to know each other well.   Paul was a tailor and Rita a stay at home mom.   Rita was an amazing cook and just the happiest lady.  She was always laughing and always cooking up great food.

As a newly married girl, I knew I needed to learn how to make sauce.   My mom was a great cook, but sauce was just not her thing.  She rarely, if ever, made any sauce that didn’t come from a glass jar labeled Ragu.  So, one day I called Rita on the phone and asked her to teach me how to make homemade sauce.   She shared her recipe with me and I remember being surprised by the short list of ingredients.  I wondered why my mom thought it’d be hard for her to make.  I’ve used this recipe ever since that day, though I’ve taken a few liberties with it as I’ve grown as a cook to personalize it to our tastes.

To go with this sauce, there’s nothing that compares to homemade, fresh pasta.   Dried pasta in a bag just doesn’t work for us.   I’ve been using a Kitchen Aid pasta attachment for years but can’t seem to get the consistency I want.   Sometimes it’s great, others too thick.   Today I decided to go back to hand rolling and cutting to see if that works.

Today, on this very cold Sunday, the smells of sauce permeate my kitchen.   If I close my eyes I can see Rita smiling and hear her joyful laughter.      If I close my eyes I’m sitting on the porch on 72nd Street smelling this food and wishing Rita was cooking for me.   Lucky enough she is.

Here’s Rita’s recipe that I tweaked slightly, along with my pasta recipe.

Sunday Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2 large cans crushed Tomatoes (Rita used Redpack, I use Tuttorosa)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (I don’t use)
  • pinch sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper

Directions:

  • Pour a glass of Chardonnay and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen
  • Sautee onion and red pepper flakes in olive oil until translucent (4 minutes)70879188-EB6A-4F3D-8365-4FC79FB517FB
  • Add chopped garlic and cook 1 minute longer
  • Add tomatoes and stir
  • Add sugar, salt & pepper
  • Add 1 Bay leaf
  • Refuce heat as low as possible, stir and simmer slowly for at least two hours 984859D5-526A-4957-B6C9-DF6BAEEC94E7
  • Add meatballs during last hour

Pasta Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  • Mix together in Kitchen Aid with dough hook on low setting until it forms a ball 60FEA507-1BA4-440C-BBC9-982BCCA78C86.jpeg
  • Let dough rest at least 30 minutes
  • Knead dough lightly on well floured board
  • Cut dough into four sections
  • Roll each section as thin as possible.  45B50FCC-9FD5-405B-A289-616EA14D5533.jpeg
  • Hand cut using pizza cutter as thin as possible 

  • Cook in boiling water no more than 2 minutes.

*This recipe is for two people, rule of thumb is 2 eggs for every 1 cup of flour.

I served mine today with meatballs and eggplant parmesan.  It was quite delicious.  I learned from the best!

6052F6EA-1106-48CF-B3C2-C12F54CF1FA0

If you make this recipe, drop me a note and let me know how you made out.  Enjoy!

Memory Lane

3BF88176-BDB4-4474-8CBD-137E20BB90EC
Maria & Ludwig

My grandmother Maria was one tough lady.   She had very strong opinions and made them known.   She came to this country with my grandfather Ludwig.  They raised their twins, my mother Else and her brother Walter, in Ridgewood, NY.  My mother and her brother were staying with Maria in Germany at the start of WWII.  Thankfully, they got out in time and returned to life in America.   At that time in New York, Germans were not always made to feel welcome in this country and my mother told stories of being treated unkindly at school.

One piece of Maria’s culture that was passed on to my cousins and I was the art of traditional German cooking.   All of us learned, from watching and helping, how to cook these treasured family recipes.  All of us still produce the holiday meals of our past, though not together anymore sadly.

This past week has found me stuck inside the house, but there are no complaints here. Whenever I’m home, I love to stay in my pajamas all day, read and cook – and maybe have a glass or two of wine.   Nothing soothes the soul like the foods from our childhood.  Food stirs up so many memories of my past through smell, taste and the process of creating these meals feels like being wrapped in love.  Today, I’m making goulash using my updated version of Maria’s recipe.   You see, like most of her generation, Maria never wrote down any recipes.  Else, my mother, tried to replicate the recipes and added her touch to them.  My Aunt Agnes added her input to the recipes along the way. Now, my cousins and I have taken over and added our own tweaks.

 

 

 

 

320DA4C0-6F8C-4A8E-830F-02190D403845
The cousins 2017

Here’s the most recent version of Maria’s Goulash. If you make it, let me know how you liked it.

Ingredients:
  • 3 – 4 slices of bacon chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
  • 1 celery stalk chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • Szeged Sweet Paprika Seasoning Spice

  • 2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds
  • 2 pounds grass-fed bottom round beef, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cup bone broth (I use chicken as I prefer the taste)
  • 1 bottle beer (nice German lager)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1-2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Directions:
  1. Pour a glass of wine for the chef, turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen3696CC4B-0446-4256-ABF1-53FED1C597C4
  2. Heat the oven to 275 F.
  3. Brown the bacon in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Once brown remove with slotted spoon and set aside.  399E90FA-26F5-479F-B365-35D9E2755D60
  4. Put meat in storage bag with 1 cup of flour.  Shake to coat the meat evenly.  Place the meat in the cast iron pan with bacon drippings over medium heat.  Stir to brown the meat evenly.  If you need to, add a bit of olive oil to prevent the meat from sticking, but don’t worry it just makes the gravy taste  better.  Once brown, remove the meat and set aside.61B5DF50-0541-4D23-8F67-61E55583C4AE
  5. Put 2 tbs unsalted butter in the same pan (no need to clean in between steps) and  toss in the chopped onion and celery.  Simmer for about 4 minutes.   Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onion, stirring from time to time, until the onion browns and begins to caramelize at its edges – about 20 minutes further.FF1126B2-D402-4FED-B78E-63F7918DCE2A
  6. Stir the paprika and caraway seeds into the onion, and then stir in the bottle of beer to deglaze the pot.  Use your wooden spoon to remove any drippings and release back into the sauce. Reduce heat.
  7. Add the cubed beef, broth and vinegar to the pot and continue to stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you want some spice add a dash of red pepper flakes.E3A8A963-D571-427A-BE51-39E1ACA9FEA7
  8. Cover the pot and place in the oven.
  9. Cook 2 1/2 hours, then add the carrots and stir.  Cook another hour, or until meat is tender.  The longer the better!  Add additional broth as needed if it thickens too much, but remember it is not soup.
Spaetzle:
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup of flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt – optional
Consistency if dough is softer than pasta dough.  It should be pliable.
Though I have an old metal spaetzle press, I rarely use it anymore.  It was hard to press and clean.  This very inexpensive machine has been a lifesaver.  Super easy to use and clean.  Highly recommended.  Click on the picture to see the details.  Fits perfectly on top of my stock pot.

Directions:
  1. Mix flour, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
  2. Beat the two eggs and add to the flour mix.
  3. Using a fork mix together until thoroughly mixed, and fine bubbles begin to appear.
  4. Heat a stock pot full of water to a boil.  Transfer the spaetzle batter into the spaetzle press over the pot.
  5. Press the batter through into the boiling water.
  6. Remover the spaetzle with a large slotted spoor, or drain in colander when it begins to float.  Only takes a few minutes.

Plate the spaetzle in a large pasta bowl.  Top with goulash.  Enjoy this meal with an ice cold German beer, or a nice glass of red wine.

What recipes do you make that are family treasures?  Please leave a message below and I’ll give the a try.

Resolutions are not Realistic

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential. – Ellen Goodman

Every January, I hear people talking about their resolutions for living a healthy lifestyle in the new year.  They will exercise more, eat better, stop drinking and the list goes on and on.  But, resolutions are not always realistic.  They are a promise you make to do things differently, but most times they are never fully carried out.

Every January, gyms are overcrowded with people who have made these resolutions.  They vow to come every day and start off strong, but inevitably they can’t maintain this pace because it’s not realistic.  You can’t go from not working out to working out every single day without some soreness, or loss of motivation.  I don’t set resolutions, I make plans.  They often say goals (insert resolutions) are dreams without plans.  I can’t agree more.  So, this year, instead of making a resolution to do a list of things, spend time planning for your success.  Buy a calendar and plan your weeks for healthier living – when will you workout, what will you eat.  This simple change could put you on the road to success.  Now that I’m close to being cleared to return to full activity, that is exactly my plan for this weekend.

Happy Holidays and New Year to all my readers.  I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2018.  Leave me a message below.

Click this link  –  New Year, New You!  to enjoy my New Year’s column to help you get started on your plans for 2018!