Friday, December 18, 2009

Soul Food, Comfort Food

Lately, I've been making a lot of dishes that I refer to as soul food or cajun goulash (even though it's not really goulash because it lacks pasta and the consistency it really more like that of a hash). I've been cooking it with ground beef or ground venison, and it really is delightful on a cold day. My husband has been hitting the books pretty hard lately, so he really loves coming home to satisfying comfort food.

Here's what I do:

I cook about a cup of long grain rice in two cups of beef broth for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I brown a pound of ground meat in a large saucepan. It's seasoned with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Spices that could make it more of a cajun dish would be a little cayenne, paprika, and chili powder. If I'm cooking with venison, I put a little olive oil in the pan to keep it from sticking. After it's browned, I'll deglaze the pan a little with some red wine or beer, whatever is handy. Then, I like to add diced red potatoes, a chopped white or yellow onion, a about half a head of diced garlic. The last time I made this dish, I used half of a chopped green bell pepper because it was in the fridge. I also add one can of diced tomatoes, if the tomatoes are already seasoned, all the better. This dish can handle lots of flavors. I also sometimes add a can of green chiles. Then, I add one or two diced chipotle peppers. I've found the smokiness of chipotle really compliments the flavor of deer meat.

Once my potatoes are tender, I add the rice to the saucepan and mix everything together. Dishes like these are really great on a cold and rainy day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

These little muffins are practically instant gratification because they bake so quickly. Also, you don't have to feel badly about indulging in more than a few because they contain whole wheat flour. Eat up!


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup oil

1 egg

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottom of a mini muffin tray. In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix well. In a small bowl, mix milk, oil, and egg; beat well. Add wet ingredient and chocolate chips to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. The batter will be lumpy. Evenly divide the batter between the greased muffin cups and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for 1 minute, then enjoy!

Asian Honey Mustard Salmon on Spinach and Mushrooms


6 to 8 oz salmon cut into two fillets

salt and pepper

5 tablespoons creole mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons soy

1 white onion sliced

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1 package clean sliced mushrooms

1 head garlic minced

1 bag of pre-washed baby spinach (or boc choy, which is a nice substitute)

1 tablespoon salt and pepper

1 tablespoon ginger

2 tablespoons soy


For the salmon, pat dry and massage in salt and pepper. In a small mixing bowl, combine creole mustard, honey, and soy. Place in a bag with salmon and marinate for half an hour.

Cook on 450 degrees 20 to 30 minutes in a baking pan coated with a little olive oil. Make sure the salmon is well coated with the marinade.

In a large saucepan, saute sliced white onion in sesame oil. Then, add and saute mushrooms, garlic, and spinach, with salt, pepper, ginger, and soy. Cover and cook until the spinach has cooked down.

Serve salmon on top of spinach. Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Perfect Pie Crust

This is Martha's recipe. "Martha who?" You know who! The Martha. I'm not always thrilled with everything I sample from her baking handbook. The recipes tend to have a superfluous number of steps; however, I am positively delighted with this pie crust. The filling for the apple pie shown definitely requires some work, and I'm sure I'll revisit it at a later date. In the meantime, enjoy this crust for sweet and savory dishes. I used the crust for a meat pie, and it was superb!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles course crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn our the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Makes enough dough for one double-crust or two single 9 inch pies.