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Dinner

Goat Cheese and Sage Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Kale and Blue Cheese

October 4, 2019

This post is basically one big ode to fall. And gnocchi. And my husband for taking me out to eat on our Anniversary. We went to the Black Trumpet and this was our main course. My meat-loving husband and I split this for our 15 year Anniversary dinner. It just oozed fall comfort food when we saw it on the menu and that’s pretty much what it is. This will help you get your fall on, I promise.

Also, why aren’t people shouting from the rooftops that homemade gnocchi is SO good and easy? Consider this my rooftop shout.

Remember that scene in Unbroken when he was on the stairs and watching his mother or grandmother making gnocchi in the kitchen, and that memory of comfort sustained him through almost dying in a boat and almost dying in the prisoner of war camp?

When I saw that scene, I was touched by the power of food memory like everyone else but now I know it really is because homemade gnocchi is that good. (RIP Louis).

Gnocchi has FOUR ingredients (five if you use cheese like I did) – you put potatoes that have been boiled and mashed (or grated) on a work surface that’s dusted with flour, then you add flour, make a well, crack an egg, add some salt and for these I added goat cheese and sage, and then you mix it all together with your hands until it forms a dough. It might actually take as long to make and boil these as it takes to boil a box of spaghetti.

This is one of those dishes that you can get all the elements together ahead of time. I cooked the vegetables and made the dough on Sunday and then our tile guys came in to finish our kitchen (yay, I can’t wait to show you all now that it’s done! Post coming soon). I didn’t get to roll out the gnocchi until two days later and it was totally fine.

To put the dish together, you just roast the kale (make extra because you will want to nibble on it all day long).

And then you make the butternut squash puree – just add some liquids to thin it out (I used milk, broth and apple cider vinegar) and some butter, salt and pepper.

Then you boil the gnocchi – it only takes 3 minutes to cook, and it nicely floats to the top of the water to tell you its done.  Then you melt 2 T. butter in a large pan and cook it until it’s browned.

Then you put these three elements together – which honestly you could have used each part alone or in a million other ways for other dishes, so keep them on hand all fall. Then you sprinkle blue cheese and chopped hazelnuts on top ( look for hazelnuts at a gourmet grocer or try Amazon).

This could be a Thanksgiving side dish, a comfort meal for a friend who had surgery or new baby, or just a date night at home. My older kids loved it, the little ones just wanted the gnocchi.

 

For the gnocchi:

4 russet potatoes (about 2.5 lbs)

2 1/2 cups flour + more for work surface

4 oz. goat cheese, softened

1 egg

2 T. chopped fresh sage

1 tsp. salt

Directions: 

Boil potatoes: put peeled potatoes in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil, then cook for 20 minutes. When fork tender, remove and let dry on a towel.

Using a potato masher or potato ricer, mash potatoes until they are the consistency you would use for mash potatoes. (You can also grate them).

On a work surface coated in flour, pile the potatoes and then add the 2 1/2 cups of flour. In the center of this pile make a well and add goat cheese and egg, beating egg with a fork. Then add sage and salt, and using your hands combine all ingredients well and form into a loaf. Using a sharp knife, slice 1-2 inch strips through the longest side of the dough. Pulling one row apart at a time, roll between your fingers until a thin log is formed. Then cut 1-2 inch pieces of dough to form each gnocchi.

You can boil immediately, for around 3 minutes or until it floats to the top of the water. If you want to serve them later you can lay them on a cookie sheet and put in fridge or freezer until ready to boil. Once frozen they can be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

For the butternut squash:

1 butternut squash, sliced in half, seeds removed

Olive oil

2 T. butter

3/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup milk

1/4 apple cider vinegar, optional

Salt and Pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and oil it. Place squash cut side down, and cook for 30-35 minutes, until squash feels tender when a knife is inserted. Let cool.

For serving, scrape squash into pan set on medium heat. Mash with a potato masher as it heats, then add butter and let it melt, then stir to combine. Thin puree out with your choice of liquids, I used 3/4 c. whole milk, 1/2 c. chicken broth, 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar. Stir and if necessary mash until desired consistency. Add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, tasting to adjust seasoning if more is needed. Keep warm until you assemble the dish.

For the kale: 

4 cups kale, steams removed and torn into pieces

2 T. olive oil

1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Toss kale with oil, salt and pepper. Divide kale among 2 sheet pans to avoid steaming and to get crisp. Roast for 15 minutes, until crisp.

To assemble: combine butternut squash, gnocchi then kale onto a plate or plater. Sprinkle 1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles and 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts on top. Serve immediately.

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

May 17, 2019

You guys, it’s been a while since we had a casserole here on THO. But I have a friend who just had a baby girl (hi Meaghan!). When I thought about what meal I could bring her I was bored with every casserole I had made before.

Enter this Chicken BLT one.

I’ve been on a BLT kick ever since I ordered one at Panera a few weeks ago. So simple! So delicious! My daughter even asked me if I had bought a large package of bacon or something because I had been cooking with it a lot. Does bacon come in bulk? If so, sign me up.

We all loved this dinner, it’s comfort food and it freezes and travels well, so it makes a great dish to share. Like most casseroles there are a few steps, but you could bake it in the same pot as the pasta is cooked in and you stir it all together if you wanted to.

The thing that makes this SO delicious is I cooked the tomatoes and the spinach in the bacon grease so it would take on the bacon flavor. I got the idea from a pasta dish at the Mother’s Day brunch we went to, where I bit into a cherry tomato and was like, that tastes like bacon! Wait, it’s been cooked in bacon grease!  This had to be duplicated. And voila! It works perfectly here. I love when greens are cooked in flavor too.

I didn’t use bacon grease for the roux as I thought it would make the dish too heavy. Instead in the same pan as I cooked the diced chicken (to save time though you could use rotisserie or bake the chicken in the oven and then dice it) I made a roux with butter, onions and chicken stock and just a little cream and parm to make it delicious.

Then I poured it over the pasta to combine it. It’s important to let the sauce coat the pasta first and then add the tomatoes, spinach and bacon so you don’t burst the tomatoes or crumble the bacon too much.

Then you toss it all together and add this delicious parm and panko topping that really mimics the toast in a BLT.

Drizzle the top with a little olive oil so it turns brown in the oven (channeling my inner Giada here since she does this topping for every casserole she makes).

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the panko turns golden, and then when you remove it, add another little crumble of bacon because why not?

True story, when I was taking these photos, I was getting my kindergartener ready to go to LaCrosse practice, and I took a few bites from this plate. It was so ridiculously good that the whole time we were at practice I was counting the minutes until we could go home and have this for dinner. (I finished reading My Brilliant Best Friend to keep my mind off of it thankfully).

Here’s to new babies, comfort food, and good books!  Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

1 pound penne pasta

1 pound of bacon

2 c. cherry tomatoes

4 c. packed fresh spinach

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 chicken breasts, diced (or meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 onion, diced

4 Tbsp. of butter (½ a stick)

¼ cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup cream

½ + ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesean

⅓ cup panko

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package, drain, and return to pot, drizzling with a little oil so it doesn’t stick. While it cooks, fry bacon (may need two pans or to work in batches if pan is too small). Once it’s cooked, remove and place on paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add tomatoes and spinach to remaining bacon fat and cook on medium heat, tossing in pan instead of stirring so you don’t break tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are slightly blistered, taking care not to overcook. In another large pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat, then add diced chicken, salt and pepper. (If using precooked or rotisserie chicken you can skip this step). Cook until chicken is nicely brown, then remove from pan on a plate and set aside. In the same pan, melt 4 Tbsp. butter, and then add diced onions. Cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Then whisk in flour for 1 minute. Then add chicken stock and whisk well. Then whisk in cream and ½ cup parmesan and mix until its melted into sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Then add the cooked tomatoes, spinach and chicken. Seperate 3 strips of bacon, and cut up the rest and add to the pot. Gently combine all these ingredients so as not to break the tomatoes and then pour them into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Combine panko and remaining ⅓ cup parmesan and sprinkle over the top, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until panko is slightly browned. Remove and sprinkle with remaining 3 strips of bacon, cut up.

Slow Cooker Noodle Bowls

April 5, 2019

 

 

You guys…I didn’t know how much I needed noodle bowls in my life until I started skiing at a mountain with a noodle bowl bar. You get to choose the broth: chicken, beef or miso. And the meat: chicken, beef brisket or pork belly. And the noodles: ramen, udon or soba.

The first time I ordered one it was late in the day and they only had Udon noodles left. And basically now I’m hooked on them. They are so chewy and light and velvety. The perfect mix in a bite of meat and broth and crunchy veggies.

When we’re skiing, I dream about the tender meat, and salty broth, and spicy bits of jalapeno and sriracha sauce and those luxurious noodles.  And afterwards, this food makes you feel SO good. Super nourished and comforted and charged with good things so you can ski for hours.

I usually have to fend off all of my kids from grabbing all the noodles, so I decided to try to make noodle bowls at home.

What I did not realize was how easy it could be in a crock pot. Or what an awesome family meal this is, since picky eaters usually love the noodles and the egg (why does the egg just make this dish?) and can be coaxed into some grated carrots. It actually would make great party food too – lay out all the toppings and let friends build them selves a customized bowl to their liking.

All you have to do is cook the chicken and broth with some aromatics and mushrooms for a few hours, and then add the noodles five minutes before you want to serve it.

Then you layout all the toppings…

And then you start to assemble…

Oh man. They are just so good. And I know that you could look around for complex broth recipes and boil pork knuckles with cinnamon and star anise like real pho broth. But the thing is I’m probably never going to make those because I don’t have time.

This broth takes 10 minutes has a complex flavor from the garlic and ginger and onions, as well as the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.

You could obviously swap beef broth and some cuts like flank steak or brisket to this recipe, and you could also use Ramen or Soba noodles instead. And if you’re looking for any of these ingredients, an Asian section at most grocery stores should have the Udon and Ramen noodles, and I also found some Miso Broth that I can’t wait to try too.

I hope you try these soon, because they are life changing. I don’t say that lightly but THEY’RE THAT GOOD.

Slow Cooker Noodle Bowl (I doubled this to feed 8 and have some leftovers):

Ingredients:

1 diced onion

6 garlic cloves, minced (may only want to do 8 when you double it)

1 T. fresh ginger, minced

4 cups chicken broth (1 32 oz. boxes)

1 lb. chicken breasts

8 oz. sliced shitake mushrooms

¼ soy sauce (more to taste for serving)

¼ rice wine vinegar

½ t. pepper

1 package Udon or Ramen noodles

 

Toppings:

Shredded Carrots

Bean Sprouts

Cilantro

Sliced Jalapeño

Hard-boiled egg, cut in half lengthwise

Sriracha sauce

Directions:

Add onions, ginger, garlic, chicken breasts, chicken broth, mushrooms, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and pepper to crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours.

When finished, remove chicken breasts and let rest, and add noodles to crock pot. Let cook for 5 minutes while you prep toppings. Slice chicken breasts then add back into crockpot, stirring to be sure noodles are broken up.

To serve, ladle broth, noodle, chicken and mushrooms into bowl. Add fresh vegetables and herbs, two halves of the hard-boiled egg, and Sriracha and jalapeños for heat.

Cheeseburger Soup

February 7, 2019

What good is having a food blog if you can’t share the strangest – and yummy and easy – dinner your kids started to love?

I mean, the soup itself has been circulating through the interwebs but the toppings are very strange and VERY satisfying.

Chopped pickles? Shredded lettuce? And YELLOW MUSTARD? And yet, it has all the comfort and flavors of a McDonald’s cheeseburger. I have no idea why I decided to use these toppings, since none of the pics of this soup anywhere do, but the textures and the familiar flavors all combine to make something so fun and delicious.

My oldest son and husband are meat lovers, so I used a whole pound of ground beef in this soup (I actually used two since I doubled the recipe – leftovers are always a good idea.)  And my 9-year old loves potatoes so she loved it. And everyone loves Velveta – it’s actually why I used this recipe since it was the only one that called for it. It is amazing but if you’re a hater you can swap other kinds of cheese.

So if you feel like fast food one night but you know you need to make a home cooked meal – try this one! And definitely make some leftovers because it gets better the second day.

Happy Eating!

xoxo Katie

 

Cheeseburger Soup (printer version here):

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1-3/4 pounds (about 4 cups) cubed peeled potatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 4 cups shredded Velveeta processed cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Toppings: shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions, or mustard

Directions

  • 1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook and crumble beef until no longer pink; drain and set aside. In same saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes, ground beef and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 10-12 minutes.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir until bubbly, 3-5 minutes. Add to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in cheese, milk, salt and pepper; cook until cheese melts. Remove from heat; blend in sour cream.
  • Serve with desired toppings

Adapted from Taste of Home

 

Slow Cooker Sauce Bolognese

November 16, 2018

A few weeks ago, right before I went to meet our farmer in Vermont and pick up our grass fed beef, I was running a 5k and thinking about all the different cuts we were going to get. I was like a kid in a candy store, and I thought to myself what should I make first??

This sauce popped into my head. It is so good, and one I used to make a lot at our ski condo since it is from the very aptly named Ski House Cookbook. I love that it cooks all day in the crock pot and then when you go to make dinner, you just boil a box of pasta.

They even recommend freezing half so it is always ready for you at your condo. I might be at home but I still took their advice, and I’m going to cook it this weekend when my sister comes over for her birthday so we can just catch up and relax.

This dish is a classic for a reason – the wine and the milk do some special alchemy to make this an elevated pasta sauce, and it it sticks to your ribs with not one but two kinds of beef – ground and cubed that are super tender from cooking all day. (If you’re in a pinch you can just used ground beef). And kids love this dish (don’t worry about the wine, all the alcohol evaporates) so it makes for great family dinners.

Definitely taste it for seasoning and add more salt if it needs it! Or just heaping piles of parm like I do.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Slow Cooker Sauce Bolognese (printer version here): 

3 Tablespoons canola oil

1 pound chuck stew meat, cut into ¾ inch pieces

2 small carrots, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 pound ground beef

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 ½ cups dry white wine

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can crushed or pureed tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the cubed meat to the pan in one layer (you will most likely need to do this in batches) and brown it on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker. Repeat until all the cubes are browned.
  2. Return to the skillet to medium heat, add the carrots, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking until the vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook , breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. When the meat is nearly cooked through (but not brown), about 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the wine and simmer until nearly all of the liquid is evaporated, about 6 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until nearly all of the liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ground beef mixture to the cooker and add the salt. Stir in the diced and crushed tomatoes. Cover the slow cooker and set it to low heat for 6 hours.
  5. Stir the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, or cool, cover and freeze in small containers for up to 1 month. Reheat over medium-low heat until simmering, adding a little water if needed to prevent scorching.

Adapted from The Ski House Cookbook by Tina Anderson and Sarah Pinneo

 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

October 11, 2018

I realized on my meal plan that I’ve never blogged about a staple meal in our house, probably because it feels so ordinary and I like a little fancy in a recipe to be blog worthy. But sometimes the classics deserve a space too.

Whenever my family comes down with a cold, like countless other mothers, I try to make a batch of this chicken noodle soup. I love how every mom makes it just a little bit differently and puts there own spin on it, so feel free to play around and make this recipe your own. This is my basic recipe but I like to change up the pasta and the herbs each time.

Sure in a pinch a can of soup works, but I don’t love the flavor anymore – it tastes like tin to me and I notice my kids don’t eat it. When you are feeding lots of people its just as easy and way more flavorful and nutritious to take 20 minutes and put a pot of this together. I usually have a batch of homemade stock in the freezer, and it really adds to the homemade, put-marrow-in-your bones feel to this dish, but boxed works fine.

Side note: One of my rules of feeding a family is always feel good about homemade stock, but never feel bad about boxed. Maybe you already know about the peaceful and easy rhythm of using up your rotisserie chicken carcass and bottom of the veggie drawer contents, and how good it makes your house smell. If not, see how I make chicken stock in this (very old!) blog post. 

One of my favorite things about this soup is using really fine egg noodles. They are creamier than spaghetti noodles, but about the same diameter. You might already have a preference, like larger egg noddles, but its fun to play around with the pasta in this soup. Ditalini? Alphabet Shapes? Orzo? All so fun especially for younger kids. But I usually have a bag of this vermicelli egg noodles in my pantry for this soup. It also goes by thin egg noodles in some brands but it’s the same thing.

And as for herbs, play around with those too. In general, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, sage, and parsley are all perfect here. I use either a tablespoon of freshly chopped or a teaspoon of dried. We like it herby.

I could go on about the health qualities of this soup but I’m not a nutritionist. Ok fine – herbs have potent healing properties and so does garlic, so feel free to double the amount if you like. My mom used to scrape raw garlic on Triscuits when were sick, which you could also do if your children will eat it.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup (print recipe here):

  1. 2 T. olive oil
  2. 2 medium onions, diced
  3. 5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  4. 5 medium celery stalks, sliced
  5. 5 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 8 cups chicken broth
  7. 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 Tablesoon fresh thyme, I was out)
  8. 1 Tablesoon chopped fresh Rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried Rosemary)
  9. 4 cups chicken, shredded or chopped – you can use raw or cooked, see recipe for when to add
  10. 6 oz. (about half a bag) thin Egg Noodles
  11. salt and pepper to taste
  12. Fresh parsley for garnish
  13. A splash of lemon juice, optional

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes more. Add carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes until onion begins to soften and brown a bit.
  2. If using raw cubed chicken add it after herbs and cook for 5 more minutes
  3. Add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add noodles.  Return heat to high.  Bring soup back to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium high. Boil for about 20 minutes until noodles are cooked through.
  5. If using cooked chicken add it here
  6. Taste soup and add additional herbs, salt, and pepper to your preference.
  7. Serve with chopped parsley for garnish