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Thursday
Nov212013

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

You’re going to love these! Bratwurst simmered in hard apple cider, served with a tangy, slightly sweet “kraut” made with sautéed apples and kale. It’s a little vinegary, a little sweet and a little spicy from cinnamon and cloves. Add some spicy coarse mustard and tuck it all into a bun and you’ve got my twist on sausage and peppers. German style! (Once again, I’ve continued the tradition of not being able to photograph a sandwich to save my life. They may not be gorgeous, but they’re damn tasty!)

I’m back with another Nature’s Greens kale post. It’s been a while, right? We’ve still been eating, I just haven’t been posting. Moving on though, and please read on to see how you can win a trip for two to Myrtle Beach or Charleston, SC for a two night hotel stay--plus $1,000 in spending money from Rawl/Nature’s Greens!

This contest is the Show Us Your Heritage Recipe Contest. It’s all about--you guessed it--your family heritage. I’ve touched on my husband’s heritage here once or twice, but not mine. I’m mainly German, with some Scottish, Irish and French tossed into my family tree.  I’m kind of hot tempered, but very interesting. Ha!

The Nature’s Greens products are washed, chopped and ready to go at a moment’s notice. It’s a full line of pre-cut and triple-washed leafy bagged greens like kale, collards and mustard greens. It’s available in both one and two pound packages, and ready for you to pick up year round.

Nature's Greens/Rawl

You’re probably wondering their policies on GMO’s. I asked Nature’s Greens about GMO products and was very happy with their reply:

“We support sustainability by incorporating integrated pest management into our growing practices. Integrated pest management means we release beneficial insects into the growing area, and grow certain types of flowers to attract these beneficial insects. In addition, our products are bred using traditional breeding methods and they are not genetically modified.”

Nature’s Greens are available in at Hannaford, Wegmans, Whole Foods and Wal Mart, they’re available in one and two pound packages, and available year round. They’re produced by WP Rawl, a leading producer of fresh bulk and packaged greens based in Pelion, SC.

· Visit www.rawl.net for recipes

· Like Nature’s Greens on WP Rawls’ Facebook at www.facebook.com/wprawl to stay connected

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

I was thinking about my German heritage. I don’t have any family recipes from that side, my dad’s side. His grandmother did all of the cooking when he was a kid--his mom? Zero. Zilch. Her idea of cooking was not to cook. And my dad never thought to carry on with his grandmother’s recipes--he was just a kid. To hear him talk about her cooking, though--my great grandmother and I would have been like two peas in a pod.

I was thinking about kale, and then Bratwurst came to mind. We love sausage and pepper sandwiches, so what if I could make a twist on those? Yeah, why not?! Since the Brats were going to simmer in hard apple cider, why not go that route and make an apple-onion-kale type kraut to serve with them? It worked beautifully! These are so different and delicious. Funny, we went to an Oktoberfest last month that was catered. THE most bland food I’ve ever had. When I got the “how did you like us” survey in an email? I told them I could cook circles around their caterer--and I just did. His brats and kraut were dismal. These are not!

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

Makes 5 servings

1 package of original style Bratwurst (I had a pack of 5)
2 - 12 oz. Hard Apple Ciders (I always have Woodchuck on hand, so I used that)
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced thinly
2 apples, peeled and sliced thinly (I used Macouns, but use what you have - just not too soft of an apple)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
oil for sautéing
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 - 3 pinches ground cloves
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups Nature's Greens Kale

Rolls for serving the Brats on
Coarse pub-style mustard

Bring the two ciders to a low boil in a medium sized pot. Poke just a couple of holes in each brat and add them to the cider. Reduce to simmer and let them go for 12 minutes. Remove from the cider and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat a bit of oil--just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Finish the brats by browning them on all sides, about 2 minutes or so per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Using the oil that's still in the pan, sauté the onions and apples for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic, a bit of salt and pepper, the cinnamon, cloves, honey, vinegar and kale. Cook for just a few more minutes, until the kale is wilted and everything is mixed together well. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Spread some of the mustard inside the buns, add some of the apple-kale-onion kraut, and a brat to each bun.

  • These are incredibly simple to make. From a quick weeknight dinner to just before the game, you’ll be eating in no time. Tailgating? Try these this weekend and give your friends something different to eat!
  • I made these this morning and didn’t know if I’d want to eat one so early in the day after photographing it, but I could not stop going back for just one more bite. I ate the whole damn thing, and loved every single bite. In fact, the leftovers are for dinner tonight and I can’t wait to have more!
  • I think my great grandmother would have loved these. I know my dad will, and I can’t wait to share.
  • Oh! The kraut would be a nice side dish to any pork dinner, as well!

Now, go enter the contest! Dig down into your family heritage and twist those recipes up with some greens from Nature’s Greens and Rawl! Once again, one grand prize winner will win a trip for two to Myrtle Beach or Charleston, SC for a two night hotel stay--plus $1,000 in spending money from Rawl/Nature’s Greens! Hurry up!

Bratwurst and Apple Kale Kraut Sandwiches

Monday
Sep162013

Home-Style Burgundy Beef Stew

 

Home-Style Burgundy Beef Stew

 

Beef stew is one of my all time favorite comfort foods. Luckily, we’re just hitting our stride here in New England with cooler evenings. For me, that means stews, soups and all things comforting are going to start showing up in my weekly menu planning. When it was time to choose a recipe from this week’s American Diabetes Association (ADA) cookbook, it didn’t take me very long to decide. Home Style Beef Burgundy Stew. For me! Well, I’ll share, but it makes me very happy. I love it!

We’ve got tender beef cubes, sweet carrots and silky potatoes happening here. As for seasonings, there was one I’d never used in beef stew before--Allspice! Say what? Yes, Allspice. I didn’t question, I went with it. Upon first taste of the finished stew, I was sold. It’s a lovely flavor in this stew, and very fitting for the fall season. It’s warm and cozy.

This week we’re cooking from Nancy Hughes’ cookbook Gluten-Free Recipes for People with Diabetes. There are so many recipes in this book I want to try, as in the last book we highlighted. It’s a gluten-free cookbook, but unless you actually told someone you were feeding them gluten-free food, they likely wouldn’t know. The idea is: spotlight the stars of the recipe you’re enjoying instead of talking about what you’ve left out or made a substitution for.

As I said in my previous post, for the month of September, we’re celebrating "30 Days of Family Health,” sponsored by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The best prevention for diabetes starts early in life, through maintaining a healthy lifestyle and developing good habits at a young age. There are twelve bloggers helping to promote this healthy message for the month of September, so there will be no shortage of recipe ideas brought to you by the ADA and some very talented cookbook authors! All you have to do is follow along and enjoy the ride. Check out Kitchen PLAY to get all of the latest details, links and recipes.

Home-Style Burgundy Beef Stew

Serves 4 • Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups • Makes 5 cups

1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
1 pound lean boneless chuck, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onion
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces whole mushrooms
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 packets sodium-free, gluten-free beef bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 medium carrots, scrubbed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 3-inch pieces (8 ounces total)
12 ounces russet potatoes, peeled (optional), and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown half of the beef; set aside on separate plate. Repeat with 1 teaspoon of the oil and remaining beef; set aside. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan residue, cook the onions and garlic 3 minutes or until onions are brown on edges.

2. Stir in the mushrooms, water, wine, Worcestershire, sugar, bouillon, allspice, and return the beef to the onions in the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the carrots and potatoes, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until beef is tender.

For a thicker consistency, using a potato masher or large slotted spoon, mash some of the potatoes and carrots. This technique also adds flavor as well as thickness.

NOTE: There is no mention of the ¾ teaspoon of salt in the recipe directions, but I assume it’s added at the end when you taste and adjust for seasonings.

EXCHANGES/FOOD CHOICES

1 Starch, 2 Vegetable, 2 Lean Meat, 1 Fat

BASIC NUTRITIONAL VALUES:

Calories 255
Calories from Fat 70
Total Fat 8.0 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 50 mg
Sodium 540 mg
Potassium 1025 mg
Total Carbohydrate 25 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Sugars 7 g
Protein 21 g
Phosphorus 250 mg


There will be other cookbooks highlighted this month that are available in the ADA catalog. You can shop there now and receive a 25% discount on all books until October 4th, 2013! The discount code is KITCHEN2013. Remember, follow along at Kitchen PLAY for more links all month long, and stay tuned to this space for two more 30 Days of Family Health this month.

*This post is sponsored by the ADA in conjunction with Kitchen PLAY.

Thursday
Mar222012

Mom's Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans

Mom's Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans

My mom was famous for her Boston Baked Beans. They were dark and rich, sweet and a little tangy--with molasses and spicy mustard for a little bite. I’d get so happy when I saw she’d picked up the ingredients to make them! There is nothing like sitting down to a big breakfast (or dinner!) of steak, eggs and baked beans. Steak? Yes. I’m not sure if that’s just a New England thing. I was talking to a friend in Texas about it once, and she thought we were crazy! It’s not an everyday thing, mind you--just occasionally. If you haven’t had it, you should at least once. If you’ve never attended a traditional New England Ham and Bean Supper, again--you should--at least once. You can find one in any given town on any given Saturday evening in any given church.

There was nothing more disappointing, though, than going to a family get together where someone else made the beans. It meant that they’d opened a few large cans of baked beans and doctored them up. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But I’d been spoiled. Spoiled to the point where I could go into any breakfast joint and judge them solely on their beans. What a brat I was!

My mom passed away six years ago, and I sadly didn’t know how to make her beans. I knew a few key things, but never really paid enough attention to the process. All this time, I’ve been trying to decipher the code and find the right combination of ingredients. The correct process--the right cooking time. I can’t tell you how many batches of beans went untouched. Too many were too salty, too runny, too overcooked, just too wrong. I’ve been faithfully using her cast iron Dutch oven, too. It’s about the only action that pot has seen in the last six years. She always used a slow cooker, but I don’t have one. And the cast iron pot makes me feel like a pioneer, slaving over a hot bed of coals for her family. Do. Not. Laugh!

I’m thrilled to say that I think I’ve gotten as close as I’m ever going to get with this recipe. I based it on a recipe I found at Saveur. It seemed fairly close to what my mom did, aside from a few key things. I took those key things and applied them here--and jackpot! Or rather, bean pot! See what I did there?

There's the famous cast iron pot.

Mom's Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans

Serves about 6-8
Adapted from Saveur
Total cooking time: approx. 10-10/12 hours

Be aware that the beans need 90 minutes of soaking time before you can proceed with the recipe. I always seem to forget that and get so mad at myself!

1 lb. dried navy beans, picked over for pebbles and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, diced fairly small
1-2 pinches ground cloves
8 oz meaty uncooked bacon, diced (I use an uncured applewood smoked)
1/4 cup plus about 2 tbsp real maple syrup
3/4 cup molasses (NOT Blackstrap, just regular) 
Generous 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard (I use Kosciusko Spicy Brown, half of a 9 oz jar)
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar

In a large saucepan, bring the beans and 10 cups of water to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from heat, pop the lid on, and let them sit for 90 minutes. Drain the beans and discard the liquid. 

Heat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a 4 quart Dutch oven, add the beans, onions, cloves, bacon, maple syrup, molasses, mustard and water. Stir to combine. Put the lid on the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 3 hours. After the 3 hours, stir in the ketchup and vinegar. Put the lid back on and cook 5-6 more hours.

When the beans are dark brown and tender, and the glaze is nice and thick, they're done. I find I don't need to add any salt or pepper after cooking, but I'll leave that up to you. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

  • My mom would start these late in the afternoon and let them cook all night long and late into the next morning. Her beans were seriously DARK. If you want to try that and let them go longer, I’d start stirring them after the 8th or 9th hour, and maybe turn the heat down to 200 degrees.
  • Serve these, of course, with eggs for breakfast. They’ll be perfect at your next cookout alongside ribs, pulled pork, burgers, dogs--whatever.
  • The mustard she used was always Kosciusko Spicy Brown Mustard, so that’s what I use. Use any one that’s convenient for you. And yes, add half of the 9 oz. jar! Trust me on this. It won’t taste like mustard at the end, I promise. That was one of her key things. “Use almost the whole jar of mustard.” I think that was for a doubled recipe, so I used about half.
  • Her other key thing? Don’t put on onion in then take it out at the end--that’s silly. Dice an onion nice and small, and let it all cook down in there and stay in there. It all adds to the finished product.
  • She used to use meaty salt pork, but for whatever reason, I can’t find any meaty salt pork. I use Trader Joe’s Bacon Ends and Pieces. It’s the meatiest bacon I’ve ever bought, and a total steal at $2.99! I probably shouldn’t be telling all of you about it, because you’ll all go buy it and leave none for me.

Mom's Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans



Friday
Jun032011

Tortilla Wrapped Burgers and My Weird Dog

Tortilla Wrapped Burgers

Tortilla Wrapped Burgers. Is that a good name? I don’t know. I actually sat at my desk for a while, staring at the blank “title” field in Live Writer. It doesn’t help that I have a headache. That tends to make me stare off into space instead of concentrating. They’re burgers, shaped more like a sausage so they roll up well in the tortillas. I added fresh guacamole, sliced tomato, queso blanco, sliced shallots and cilantro to top off the taco seasoned burger/sausage-type patties. We had these over the Memorial Day weekend. Still making our way through a delicious stack of Tortilla Land tortillas in the fridge, these are a fun twist on burgers with buns.

We also watched The Hunt for Red October over the weekend. Come on, it’s a classic! When my husband and I were dating, he dragged me, kicking and screaming, to see this movie. I didn’t want to see it. I thought a root canal sounded more entertaining. But I went. Playing the sweet girlfriend role. Because that’s how you get things in return. Like cameras and shoes and shiny things. It’s all give and take.

And then I sat on the edge of my freaking seat! The cat and mouse games. The stealthy hunter, stalking it’s prey. When that sub came out of the water? Whoa. They can DO that? The good looking guys in uniforms probably helped, too.

I loved it!

Still do.

Where am I going with this? I do have a point, I promise. One of our Corgis, Hamilton, has been doing something odd lately. It’s only at night, when they go out for the last time before bed. The dogs will do their thing, and then wait on the deck to come back in. They all come right in, except Hammy. He waits to be asked back in.

Hello?! I know! Quite often, he’ll just sit there and look at us like we’re crazy. My husband started giving him titles, like “Come in, Dr. Hamilton.”

Admiral Hamilton

“Sir Hamilton.”

“Lord Hamilton.”

“Your Highness Hamilton.”

“General Hamilton.”

“Colonel Hamilton.”

“Admiral Hamilton.” <--He especially likes that one. Why? I have no idea. But it does have a certain ring to it, yes?

When he hears one he likes, he’ll come in. What a goof! Sooo…while we were watching Red October, we get to the scene where Ramius is addressing the crew for the first time on the voyage. Hear that whistle right at the beginning? Hammy was asleep on the floor and as soon as that whistle sounded, he was on all four paws, straight at attention. Billy looked down and said “Oh, sorry for startling you, Admiral Hamilton!”

Totally cracked us up! Was Hammy an admiral in another life? Does he watch too much TV when we’re not home? Does he just have a damn good imagination for a dog?

Not a clue. He is entertaining, though. And although he looks sort of admiral-ish in that photo, he’s not. He’s a huge, snuggly, hairy bozo. With a personality complex.

Tortilla Wrapped Burgers

Tortilla Wrapped Burgers

These are great for those of you that don’t want to fill up on a big burger bun because you’ve been snacking on all the other goodies at your cookout. This isn't so much of a recipe, as it is a guideline. Use your own amounts and toppings according to what you like. I was going to use red onion, but it had decided to turn green, so shallot was the lucky choice for the day.

-ground beef, about a pound or so
-taco seasoning or your favorite burger seasoning
-guacamole 
-sliced tomatoes
-queso blanco, shredded, or your favorite cheese
-thinly sliced shallots (or red onion)
-fresh cilantro
-tortillas
-hot sauce

Add the taco seasoning to the ground beef and  mix well. Shape into sausage type shapes. And yes, I'm well aware of what they look like. Ha! Shhh. Quit it. Grill until they're done to your liking. Remove from the grill and set aside.

Heat the tortillas on the grill until they're warm and you get nice grill marks and delicious char marks on them. Spread each tortilla with some guacamole, add your burger next...and speaking of the burgers, we cut them in half down the middle so they didn't look like, well, you know.

So add the burger, cheese, tomatoes and all of the other goodies. Roll up and serve with something ice cold, and some crunchy corn chips. Oh, some extra guacamole on the side would be awesome, too. For the chips!

Tortilla Wrapped Burgers



Wednesday
Mar232011

Gyros For Those Who Don’t Like Lamb

Gyros

I’ve been meaning to make these for ages! Can you believe I’ve never had a Gyro? It’s true. The problem is…I don’t really care for lamb. Some of you will respond “You’ve never had it done properly, then,” to which I say “Correct!” It’s true. I had a pretty good bite of it once, from a local Greek restaurant, off of a friend’s plate. It was better than I’d anticipated, but not really any wow factor to make me rush out and get my own. I had a horrible experience one Christmas…I won’t say who in the family cooked it, (because I love my husband and don’t want to piss off his mom, haha!) but it was inedible. Like chewing on a gamey, rubber soled shoe. That had been cooked beyond recognition. And then boiled to death. So, yeah-not a fan of lamb.

Billy loves Gyros, so I wanted to find a good recipe for them. I had nothing to go on, since I’d never had one, but you really can’t miss with Alton Brown. While I was looking at recipes for authentic Gyros, his recipe was mentioned on several sites and given very high praise for being spot on, so I went with his.

Brown’s recipe calls for two pounds of ground lamb. I was expecting this. I was going to be brave. I knew I’d recently seen ground lamb at my local grocery store, but they were completely out when I went shopping. Plan B: A meatloaf mix of pork, beef and veal. It would have to do, because I wasn’t going to go all over town looking for lamb.

The recipe is simple-you’re just basically making a meatloaf. The difference is that when it’s done cooking, you’re going to weigh it down (with a brick) to get that loaf all compressed--so it isn’t going to crumble up like a soft, tender meatloaf would.

While I’m on the subject, why do most TV chefs/cookbook authors assume that every household has a brick lying around? We don’t have a brick. No pile o’ bricks out back next to the old clunkers hidden by the long grass. No. None of that stuff. I suppose I could go out and buy a brick. One brick. How silly! We weighed it down with some heavy cans from the pantry and a ten pound weight. It was a little wobbly, but it did the trick.

You can find the recipe at FoodNetwork.com. It even has rotisserie instructions, if you’d like to torture yourself by trying to cook two pounds of ground meat on a small stick. A big debate I saw when looking at recipes was whether or not to sauté the meat slices before assembling the Gyros. Some do, some don’t find it necessary. Since Billy likes them sautéed, that’s what we did. It also adds some nice color and a bit of flavor to the meat, which looks very pale out of the oven.

Notes:

  • Billy gave these two thumbs up! He said they’re just like the ones he’s had over the years. I also loved them-and will definitely make them again! These will be a fun summer food, and since the meat is sliced so thinly, it’ll serve a crowd.
  • We couldn't find any flatbreads we really liked, so we took pizza crust dough, rolled out small rounds, and cooked those on hot stones in the oven for two minutes on each side. PERFECT. Soft, fluffy-and yet sturdy enough to hold the fillings without falling apart or leaking. You could also do those on the grill!
  • The Tzatziki sauce, I thought, was lacking something. The first time I added a bit of cilantro, and the second time--fresh dill. We really enjoyed both!
  • Don’t worry if the meat itself is a little bland tasting. It’s meant to be eaten with the Tzatziki, tomatoes, and onions. When you have all of them together, it’s a flavor packed sandwich.
  • I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the recipe, but I do completely trust Alton. So, please, no comments about this being “not the way it’s done,” or “a slap in the face to the Greek culture and it’s food,” hehe. Yes, it’s happened before. Winking smile

Gyros

See how sautéing the meat slices gives it a nice color? Better color than this:

Gyro Meat

But that’s to show you how compressed it’ll be after weighing it down for 20 minutes.

Gyros