New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Turkish Moussaka

Eggplant = favorite food.  My friend, Jan, shared this delicious recipe with me.  I love how simple it is and it’s not as rich as many Moussaka recipes.  I only had cheddar cheese on hand when I made it, but it would be great with Feta or other mild cheeses.

I made this dish without rice or yogurt, but enjoyed it with a nice class of red wine from my favorite winery, InVINtions.  

TURKISH MOUSSAKA

2 globe eggplants, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound ground beef (or omit if Vegan/Vegetarian)
1 large onion, diced
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced/diced
2-3 green or sweet peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 petite tomatoes, diced (I used Compari tomatoes)
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil for eggplant and another 1/4 cup for sauce
salt and black pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1-2 tablespoons dried parsley)
1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 430-450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease a 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish.
  • Place cubed eggplant in a bowl. Add salt and 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil. Toss and mix well to assure the cubes are covered in olive oil.
  • Spread the eggplant over a baking sheet, layered with parchment paper. Bake until brown, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  • Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pan.  Add ground beef and cook thoroughly until it is dry.  While cooking, crush the ground beef with the back of a spoon.
  • Add onion and peppers and cook on medium heat until soft, but not browned.
  • Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • When the tomatoes are cooked (turning darker red), add one cup boiling water.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Place eggplant cubes in baking dish.  Top with sauce and mix.  (Optional:  add sliced tomatoes on top). If using dried parley, sprinkle on top.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • If you want to serve without cheese, sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve.
    • If using cheese, sprinkle on top, and put back in oven until cheese in melted.
  • Serve as is or serve hot with rice and Greek yogurt.
New Favorite

Chicken Tikka Masala…Trader Joe’s Style

Chicken Tikka Masala is made easy using Trader Joe’s delicious Masala sauce.  The first time I made it, I followed the recipe below.  The second time I made the recipe, I used strips of red, yellow and green pepper, carrots and chopped onions.  Both were delicious and easy, peasy.  We were so excited when a Trader Joe’s was built fairly close to my house. There are always new products to try and enjoy!

During the pandemic, I went to Trader Joe’s only a couple of times.  Hat’s off to Trader Joe’s and how they managed shopper entry, masks, and cleanliness.  By far, the best job of any grocery store I ventured into.

CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…TRADER JOE’S STYLE

1 (15-ounce) jar Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup sliced baby carrots
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)

  • Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the sauce in a single layer. Pour the drained tomatoes evenly over the chicken.
  • Add onions and carrots
  • Pour the remaining sauce on top.
  • Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  (I cooked for 4 hours) 
  • Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.

Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

Garden · Vegan · Vegetarian

Braised Kale…surprise from Mother Nature

Last summer I raised kale in my garden and, unfortunately, the bugs LOVED it. I decided not to plant Kale again this year but Mother Nature took a different turn. Several volunteer kale plants popped up in my garden and it was beautiful and…no bugs!  Mother Nature, are you telling me I need to try Kale again next year?

Recently at our book club potluck, a friend made a delicious collard green dish and this sounded similar.  It is very tasty but next time I would cut back on the crushed pepper. This could easily be vegan by skipping the bacon.

BRAISED KALE

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced garlic
10 cups loosely packed chopped kale (about 2 pounds)
1 cup fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper  (too hot for me–I would reduce to 1/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 10 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.
  • Add kale, broth, 1 cup water, and red pepper; cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
Recipe from:  My Recipes
Family Favorites · My Roots · Vegetarian

Cucumbers and Onions–Mom’s Style

My Mother was an avid gardener growing lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, squash, green beans, peas, sweet corn, peppers, raspberries, strawberries, etc.  The rich top soil of Iowa made for  a prolific harvest each year. She would can and freeze vegetables and fruit for the family to enjoy all winter. Our farmhouse basement ‘fruit room’ was a treasure trove of pickles, canned tomatoes, relish, vegetables, soups, etc.

 

One of my favorite summer side dishes was my Mother’s cucumbers and onions. The recipe is simple, not written down, but made from memories in that Iowa farm kitchen.

CUCUMBERS AND ONIONS–Mom’s Style

Peel and thinly slice cucumbers and sweet onion.  Soak in cold, salted water for 30-45 minutes.  Drain.  In a separate bowl, mix mayonnaise, dash of milk, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cucumbers and onions and serve immediately.

Family Favorites · New Favorite · New Traditions

Refrigerator Crock Salad…a slaw with many faces

My Mother occasionally made this salad, often with fresh ingredients from her garden.  The last time I made this recipe was 15+ years ago for a Christmas party.  This week I resurrected the recipe and tried it out in several ways.  Each combination was wonderful.

Refrigerator Crock Salad

1)  Side dish to barbecue ANYTHING

2)  Pairs very well with fish and would be GREAT on fish tacos

3)  On a sandwich (daughter Sarah’s fiancé, Kyle, put it on a turkey, cheese, and ham salad combo sandwich).  Sounds incredibly weird, but delicious!

Besides being delicious, this salad keeps in the refrigerator for several days.  In fact it just keeps getting better and better.

REFRIGERATOR CROCK SALAD

1 head green cabbage
2 green sweet bell peppers
2 red or orange sweet bell peppers
4 carrots
2 onions
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 cups white cider vinegar
2.5 cups sugar

  • Shred cabbage, peppers, carrots, onions in a large bowl.  Soak in salt water for 2 hours.  Drain well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and the sugar.  Pour over shredded ingredients and refrigerate.  Let sit for a minimum of 3-4 hours before serving.
Family Favorites · My Roots

Traditional Midwest Red Chili

Cold weather means it’s chili time! My mother’s traditional red chili is still a favorite of mine, but I confess I now used canned, diced or crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes.

When I was a child, the only thing served with chili was saltines.  Who knew there were so many ways to serve Chili (or is it Chile?).

Red Chile (4)

Now I have been awakened the versatility of chili and how to serve it. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Chili served on top a baked potato with shredded cheese (add sour cream if desired)
  • Chili served on top of a half of peeled and seeded avocado
  • Chili with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, green onions
  • Chili with cornbread
  • Chili on top of hot dogs with onion

    Red Chili on baked potato with grated cheese

What are unique ways that you serve chili?

Today, I am sharing my Mother’s chili recipe. Add as much chili powder or crushed peppers as desired and enjoy!

MOM’S RED CHILI

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 can chili beans
1 quart tomatoes (I prefer crushed)
1 tablespoon sugar
chili powder to taste
salt & pepper

  • Brown and drain hamburger. Add onions and cook until tender.
  • Add rest of ingredients and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
Red Chili simmers
  • Serve naked (as is) or with chopped onions, cheese, tortilla chips, crackers or try one of the versions listed above.