Pasta with Chard and Bacon

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A few years ago I watched the Rachel Ray episode where she made this dish, sharing it was one of her husband’s favorites.  It’s easy peasy and so delicious!  It reminds me of a pasta with bacon that I made when the kids were small.  Delicious!

PASTA WITH CHARD AND BACON

1 large bunch or 1.5 pounds large, leafy Swiss chard
1/2 pound meaty bacon
2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, white or yellow
1 leek
4 cloves garlic
salt & pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup stock, optional
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup pecans
about 3/4 cup heavy cream
about 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

  • Gather your ingredients.
  • Place a large pot of water on to boil for pasta.
  • Stem the chard. Chop the stems. Coarsely chop the greens and keep separate.
  • Stack the bacon and cut the bacon into batons 1/8 to 1/4-inch wide.
  • Peel and chop the onion. Halve the leek lengthwise and trim the tough green tops. Run the leek under the water and wash thoroughly. Chop the leek, whites and light greens. Peel the garlic and grate or chop.
  • Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and render, then remove from pan, if desired. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in pan, drain off excess if there is any.
  • Add EVOO or butter to pan and add the stems, onions, leeks and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and thyme and soften, 5 to 6 minutes. Add wine and stock if using and let it absorb.
  • Salt boiling water and cook pasta to 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup starchy water.
  • Toast nuts while pasta cooks in small skillet over moderate heat.
  • Add cream to sauce, wilt the greens into stems and add a little nutmeg. Return bacon to pan. Drain pasta and add to sauce and greens with reserved water and cheese. Toss pasta 1 minute. Adjust seasoning and serve topped with chopped toasted nuts and pass more cheese at table.

Recipe adapted from RachelRay

Crock Pot Beef Bourguignonne

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Beef Bourguignonne is savory, hearty meal of tender beef with rich flavors.  I’ve enjoyed it many times with friends in their homes or in a restaurant but this was my first attempt to make it at home.  It was easy to make and even better to eat.

CROCK POT BEEF BOURGUIGNONNE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5 lb. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 thick bacon slices, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
6 fresh thyme sprigs
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
1 lb. white button mushrooms, halved
1 bottle Pinot Noir
1 tbps. beef demi-glace

  • Place the flour in a large bowl. Season the beef with salt and pepper, add to the flour and stir to coat evenly. Transfer to a plate, shaking off the excess flour.
  • In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the beef on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker.
  • Add the bacon, carrots, onions and garlic to the sauté pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker along with the bay leaves, thyme, parsley and mushrooms.
  • Off the heat, pour the wine into the sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Whisk in the demi-glace and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add to the slow cooker, cover and cook until the meat is fork tender, 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Discard the bay leaves.
  • Transfer the beef bourguignonne to a platter and serve with steamed potatoes. Serves 10.

Slovak Sauerkraut Soup

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Czech and Slovak heritage is of great interest to me, given my Father’s family roots.  Late 2020, I participated in ‘Czech & Slovak Christmas’ offered through Global Slovakia Academy.  It was a wonderful class, offering education of the Slovak advent and holidays, celebrations and food.

One of the recipes shared was this Slovak Christmas Sauerkraut Soup.  It is traditionally made for Christmas Eve. I was not willing to wait until next December to make the soup!  The ingredients are things our ancestors would have had on hand:  wild dried mushrooms, sauerkraut, smoked sausage, etc.

I love to tweek recipes and decided to add homemade egg noodles for the last hour of cooking and loved the addition.  The soup was thick enough, so I chose not to add the flour and additional water.  This is a hearty soup and great paired with a hearty roll or rye bread.

SLOVAK CHRISTMAS SAUERKRAUT SOUP

1 package (32 oz) sauerkraut
2 quarts chicken or beef broth
6 whole black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 cups of dried wild mushrooms
1 klobásaor chorizo (Note: I used Kielbasa)
½ cup pitted prunes
1 large onion chopped
3 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Optional:  2 tbsp plain flour and 1 cup water
Salt and pepper
Optional:  I added homemade egg noodles to the soup about an hour before serving
  • If you are not keen on the sour flavor of the sauerkraut, you can wash it before proceeding with the recipe. However, we do recommend keeping it as it is – this is when it contains the most goodness and gives the iconic flavor and smell to the soup. Fry the onion in a large pot over medium heat. Traditionally, Christmas Eve dinner was strictly meat-free. Leave klobása out if you wish to stick with the tradition.
  • Place the sauerkraut, broth, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and mushrooms into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the sausage, prunes, and paprika. Lower the heat to gentle simmer and allow to cook for at least 2 hours. Our grandmas used to set the soup on lowest heat and keep it simmering until dinner time. It fills the entire house with quintessentially Slovak Christmas smell. (Note:  I simmered the soup on low for 4 hours).
  • Remove the bay leaves from the soup and discard. Season to taste. Serve.

Snickerdoodle Bars

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Snickerdoodles have always been a family favorite.  What do you do when you want a Snickerdoodle but too lazy to make individual cookies?  You find a Snickerdoodle Bar recipe.  I doubled the recipe and made it in a 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment paper.  This recipe is easy and uses ingredients that are in most pantries.  Another recipe that will be made over and over again.

SNICKERDOODLE BARS

  • 1/2 c. Butter, room temp. (can use Vegan butter)
  • 1 Egg room temp.
  • 3/4 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. Flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 tsp. Cinnamon

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • Allow butter and egg to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, mix together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined.
  • Add vanilla and egg and stir until fully mixed.
  • Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl. Fold into the butter mixture until combined. Evenly spread the batter into the baking dish.
  • In a small bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle on top of the cookie batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing and cutting into 16 squares.

Recipe from Mylifeafterdairy

Beef Macaroni Skillet–blast from the past!

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Beef Macaroni Skillet, a  one skillet meal, was a regular menu item when my children were young.  It was a quick meal that I could put together after work.  I haven’t made it in over 20 years and it was a fun walk down memory lane.

My older daughter, Megan, and her girls were here to experience it.  Megan didn’t remember it but liked it as did her two year old daughter.  The five year old didn’t care for it, but then again, she’s in a phase of only liking what she knows.

The original recipe card is in my handwriting, probably around the age of 11 or 12, when I started my recipe box.  It’s funny to look back at it and find humor in the reference to ‘this main dish’.

BEEF MACARONI SKILLET

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups tomato juice (add more if it becomes too dry)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni

  • Brown beef and onion in a skillet.  Drain fat.
  • Add remaining ingredients and cook, covered, until the macaroni is cooked, about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally while cooking to prevent from sticking.

Royal Riviera Pear Salad

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Juicy, fresh pears are such a treat!  For the past few years, I’ve treated myself to Harry and David pears. The grandkids beg for sliced pears like it is candy.

In addition to enjoying the pears by themselves, this Pear Salad is to die for.  The combination of blue cheese and candied, or spiced, nuts it wonderful.  The dressing is light and a perfect compliment to the salad. My pears are almost gone but I’ll savor every remaining bite!

ROYAL RIVIERA PEAR SALAD

1 head Butter or other lettuce, washed and dried
2 Pears, peeled, cored and sliced (or diced)
2/3 cup blue cheese (if you despise blue cheese–replace with a cheese you like)
2/3 cup candied nuts (I use my homemade spiced pecans)

Dressing:

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup walnut oil (or canola)

  • To create dressing, whisk together the first 5 ingredients.  Gradually whisk in the walnut oil.
  • Gently tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Arrange on four chilled plates.
  • Place fans of pear slices on lettuce.
  • Crumble blue cheese evenly on top.
  • Drizzle dressing generously over the salad.
  • Sprinkle with nuts and serve at once.

Recipe adapted from HarryandDavid

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

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Scalloped Potatoes with Ham in comfort food for the soul.  My Mother often made a version of Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and I have made in in the crock pot for years.  I wanted a new version, and loved this recipe.

While perusing the reviews, several people added additional seasoning to the sauce, parboiled the potatoes, added broccoli, etc.  This is a solid base recipe that you can use to get creative.  In the photos below, I did not cover the dish while baking and it took a solid hour to cook.  It is delicious ad comforting…just what we all need!

SCALLOPED POTATOES WITH HAM

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt & Pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
12 ounces 1/4 inch sliced baked ham, cubed
2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish.
  • In a saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in milk. Return pan to heat and bring to a simmer while stirring. When sauce has thickened remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • In a skillet, cook onions in melted butter until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Spread 1/3 of the white sauce in bottom of baking dish and top with half of the potatoes. Spread out half of the onions, ham, cheese and another third of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Continue layering ingredients, ending with the remaining cheese on top. Bake, covered, for 45 mintues.  Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Hungarian Goulash Soup

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Hungarian Goulash is different from the Midwest Goulash I grew up with.  The Midwest version was always elbow macaroni, hamburger, tomatoes and sometimes, cheese. I experienced the traditional version in a Hungarian restaurant in Denver and again in Eastern Europe.  Goulash (Gulyasleves) is one of the national dishes of Hungary.  It reminds me of our traditional Beef Stew, although not as thick as stew and uses different spices.

This recipe is an adapted version of the recipe from a tour guide, Food Tour Budapest.  We had a marvelous tour of wonderful restaurants, meandering the streets of Budapest experiencing traditional food and drink in historic and unique restaurants.  How I wish I could travel again and experience such a tour.  Some day… In the meantime, I can recreate the food memories in my own kitchen.

HUNGARIAN GOULASH

2 tablespoons lard or cooking oil (I used Olive Oil)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika; add a bit of spicy paprika if desired
1 pound cubed beef stew meat or pork shoulder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons caraway seed
4 cups water (I added a bit more as the goulash cooked)
1 whole red pepper, chopped
1 whole tomato, peeled and chopped (or a can of tomatoes)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, halved and sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
Optional:  small bits of pasta

  • Add the lard or oil to the stew pot.
  • Add onions to the hot lard or oil.  Cook the onions until they are glossy and saucy.
  • Remove from the fire and add the paprika.  Mix with the onion.  Add a bit of water, to prevent from burning.
  • Add the meat cubes and put back on the fire.  Sprinkle with salt and caraway seed.  Add more or less, depending on your tastes
  • Add the chopped carrots and celery.
  • Once the meat has a bit of color, add water, chopped pepper and tomatoes. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  • After one and a half or two hours, check the meat. Add the chopped potatoes and cook through, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the pasta pieced (optional) when the potatoes are almost done.
  • Taste the broth and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve with bread (white or rye).  Optional: add freshly ground paprika or spicy green pepper.

Recipe adapted from FoodTour Budapest and Hungarian Cooking Goulash Soup.

 

 

Czech Garlic Soup

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I discovered the Czech Cookbook and author, Kristýna Koutná, a few years ago.  I was thrilled when she published her cookbook and I bought it immediately!  It is great fun reading her book and trying new recipes of my Father’s heritage in Bohemia, now, the Czech Republic.

Garlic Soup, or Česneková polévka, sounded interesting to me.  It’s a very simple recipe and full of flavor.  I toasted rye bread for croutons, a delicious addition.   Next time, I will be creative with the recipe,  adding leftover chicken, pork, beef or adding additional vegetables.  It would be a wonderful soup to have when you’re not feeling well. This recipe is definitely a new favorite for the Fork-Lore kitchen.

GARLIC SOUP

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves
7 cups water
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
3 large potatoes
1 tablespoon chicken or beef base (or bouillon)
1 egg
2 teaspoons marjoram
Swiss cheese
Croutons

Instructions are shown in the attached video from CzechCookbook.

January 1, 2021

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January 1, 2021

We made it! At 12:01 am on Jan 1, for the first time ever, Hindsight will actually be 2020.  Hindsight means it is easier to evaluate situations when we are looking back at them, and with perfect vision (20/20). 

2020 was a year filled with isolation, fear, skepticism, loneliness, tragedy, depression, addiction, brain fog, strife, injustice, sacrifice, and much more. We learned so much about ourselves and the tremendous strength and perseverance we hold in times of difficulty.

Turning the calendar to 2021 doesn’t change everything, but what it gives us HOPE.  Hope, by definition, is a feeling of expectation and desire for certain things to happen.

Which brings me to my favorite bible verse from childhood, Hebrews 11:1 (KJV), memorized in the southeast Sunday school room of our church in rural central Iowa, the Carlton Brethren Church

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It’s as if this verse was ingrained in my mind for hope then and for this very moment. As we begin this year, my wish and prayers for 2021 are:

  • To experience peace
  • To be gentle with ourselves
  • To be kind and gentle with others
  • To be grateful for all we have
  • To breathe
  • To see the beauty around us
  • To stay connected
  • To remember what matters most in our lives
  • To experience rest and joy
  • To have good health and an end to the pandemic
  • To continue to see humor in the everyday things

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with many blessings!