Cuban Ropa Vieja Stew

It’s beautiful and fall and chilly and that means its time for soups and stews! Open all the windows and set aside a few hours this weekend to make a rich, hearty Cuban stew.

6 oz bacon, chopped
2 lbs flank steak, cut into small strips
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
16 oz can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 cup halved, pitted green olives
1/2 cup jarred pimiento peppers, sliced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1) Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
2) Slice flank steak and season with salt and pepper. Brown the steak in the Dutch oven in batches, approximately 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and continue browning remaining steak.
3) Add sliced onions and peppers to Dutch oven and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in cumin, thyme, oregano, garlic, bay leaf, and tomato paste. Cook for 3 more minutes.
4) Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the Dutch oven to deglaze. Return the steak and bacon to Dutch oven.
5) Add in stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 2 hours.
6) Stir in olives, pimientos, and vinegar. Cook uncovered another 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, serve with fresh cilantro and maybe a dollop of sour cream!

Recipe found from the Wanderlust Kitchen. Check her out!


Tortellini Bolognese


This week I had one of those days where no matter how many recipes I looked at, all I wanted was some savory, comforting, meaty pasta dish. Nothing else would satisfy my mood. I had the time, so decided to be patient and make a bolognese sauce. Few pasta sauces are better than one with three meats that has been simmering for two hours in vegetables and wine. Because health was out the window last night, I served the sauce over cheese tortellini, but it would also be delicious with a simpler noodle. Try this next time you’re making pasta, but don’t rush it! The long simmering time really makes this sauce.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 0z ground beef
6 oz ground veal
3 oz pancetta, chopped
2 1/2 cups beef broth (more as needed)
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 tsp oregano
3 tbsp tomato paste
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
3/4 cup half and half
grated Parmesan as a garnish

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook onions, celery, and carrots, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
2) Add all three meats, and cook until brown, about 10-15 minutes.
3) Pour in wine and cook for 1 minute. Then add stock, paste, and oregano. Stir and remove heat to very low. Cook, uncovered, for 1 and a half hours.
4) After that time is up, season sauce with kosher salt and fresh black pepper.
5) Cook for another 30 minutes, with the lid on. Stir in half and half, 1/4 cup at a time until the 30 minutes is over. Add more stock if you want for desired consistency.
6) Serve garnished with Parmesan and your favorite pasta!


Southern Living’s Chicken and Wild Rice Skillet Bake


The weather this weekend in VA was beautiful, but confusing! I sat by the pool, baking in the sunshine with a cold iced tea, while flipping through the latest issue of Southern Living, full of crockpot meals, soups, and other fall favorites. I enjoyed one last poolside weekend, but bring on the chilly weather! This recipe from Southern Living caught my eye and didn’t disappoint. It takes a little time, but was savory and satisfying and good for a crisp fall night. Make sure to use a big enough skillet or oven-proof pan! I started off with a smaller cast-iron skillet and halfway through had to switch to a bigger pan. Oops. Enjoy!

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
6 oz uncooked wild rice
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup skim milk
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp fresh black pepper, divided
1/2 cup bacon, chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp dry sherry
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
fresh flat-leaf parsley and sliced almonds for garnishes

1) Bring 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in rice, return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 30 min.
2) Meanwhile, melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat, then whisk in flour until smooth.
3) Gradually whisk in milk, then broth and dry mustard. Turn heat up to medium and cook for 4 minutes, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and starting to bubble. Stir in 1/4 tsp salt and pepper.
4) Cook bacon in 1 tbsp oil in a large (12-in +) cast-iron skillet or large oven-proof pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Stir in the onion, carrots, and mushrooms, and cook for another 5 minutes or until onions are tender.
5) Stir in garlic, cook 1 minute. Stir in sherry, and cook 1 minute until evaporated. Remove mixture to a bowl.
6) Preheat oven to 375.
7) Season chicken with remaining 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to skillet or pan you were using before, and cook chicken in oil over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side, or until brown.
8) Remove skillet from heat, transfer chicken to a plate.
9) Drain rice if there’s any water left over, then pour into your skillet. Mix in the bacon/veggie mixture and the sauce, and stir together.
10) Put chicken on top of the mixture and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve with chopped up fresh parsley and sliced almonds!

Pioneer Woman’s Black Bean Soup


As I dragged myself out of bed for a lazy Saturday, I turned on the Food Network channel just in time for a new Pioneer Woman episode. She was cooking up a big batch of black bean soup as a “mothership” recipe, to use for several different meals. Brilliant! Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t had breakfast yet, or because it looked so damn tasty, but I decided I had to make these beans. We had them as a dinner side to green chile chicken and cilantro lime rice. I’m having them for lunch today. And they’ll be a side to slow cooker tacos tomorrow! Mothership recipe, indeed.

1 pound dried black beans
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1  yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin

1) Put beans in a large pot and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil and boil for two minutes, then turn off heat and cover the pot. Let sit for one hour.
2) Drain beans and rinse with cold water, then return to pot.
3) Add chicken broth, water, garlic, onion, and bell peppers to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half.
4) Stir in salt, chili powder and cumin, and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour. Serve with your choice of toppings, like sliced avocado, Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo – it’s up to you!

Spaghetti Squash Sausage Bake


In an attempt to eat a little healthier, I’m making an effort to come up with some recipes that don’t include pasta, or rice, or bread or some other carb. But for the love of all things delicious, don’t take my cheese! I found this recipe on a great blog you can find here. Roasted spaghetti squash is combined with chicken sausage, garlic, and onions and topped with skim milk mozzarella cheese and scallions. Savory and cheesy, but without all the carbs!

1 3-lb spaghetti squash
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
2 links spicy chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup shredded skim-milk mozzarella
scallions, sliced

1) Preheat oven to 370.
2) Slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out all the seeds and stringy thingies. Drizzle a tbsp of olive oil on a baking sheet and place spaghetti squash cut side down on the sheet. Roast for 45 minutes.
3) Remove spaghetti squash from oven to cool slightly. Meanwhile, heat the other tbsp of oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for a minutes. Stir in the sausage and cook until done.
4) Add the spaghetti squash to the skillet and stir until well combined. Top with mozzarella and bake for 6-8 minutes until cheese is good and melty.
5) Remove from oven and top with scallions and serve!

Jamie’s Bad Day Spicy Meatballs


Ever have one of those days where you just need some feel good food that makes both your heart and your taste buds happy? My friend Jamie sent me this recipe for just that. I made it on a Monday and it was just what the day needed. I mean really… who doesn’t feel better after spaghetti and meatballs? Especially ones filled with basil and spicy Italian sausage.

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh basil, chopped
19 oz package spicy Italian sausage links

1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Mix together the 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
3) Remove sausage from their casings and add to bowl. Stir in basil and mix together well with your hands.
4) Grease a baking sheet and form meatballs (makes around 18-20).
5) Bake for 20 minutes and serve with spaghetti and marinara, or some veggies and fresh bread. And feel better!