Tag Archives: dinner

Chipotle Sloppy Joe’s

What are your mandatory kitchen ingredients? I can’t imagine not having onions, garlic, eggs, parmesan, and pasta in mine. I can create enough meals out of those five ingredients, plus olive oil and a well-stocked spice and herb collection, to keep me going for days.

Chipotle has to be on that list too. I have at least one can of chipotle en adobo in the cupboard at all times. As soon as I open one can, I buy another, just in case. So, I always have my eye out for recipes to use up the leftover chipotle in the refrigerator.

I found a recipe for 15-minute Chipotle Sloppy Joe’s on the Slow Roasted Italian blog. To boost the flavor, I added onion, poblano pepper, garlic and dark beer to the recipe. Jim said he wasn’t a big fan of sloppy Joe’s because they’re usually too sweet, so I substituted molasses for half of the brown sugar.

They were no longer 15 minute Sloppy Joe’s but, holy moly, they were delicious. Too bad I didn’t find this recipe before the Super Bowl because it would be a great dish for a crowd if the recipe was doubled or tripled. I would still cook it on the stove, but then transfer it to a slow cooker to keep warm.

My side dish, vegetables al pesto (made with zucchini, mushrooms, onion, poblano, corn, and grape tomatoes), was a perfect accompaniment. I was going to serve sweet potato fries as a side, but after having a salad to start, I didn’t think we needed them. That’s another ingredient that’s always good to have on hand – frozen sweet potato fries.

Chipotle Sloppy Joes recipe from Grabbing the Gusto

Chipotle Sloppy Joe’s 

You’ll need a large skillet and medium bowl.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 pound 93% lean beef 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup (or more) stout or porter
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from chipotle peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Hamburger buns
  • Bread and butter pickle slices
  • Sweet onion slices
  • Thin slices of cheddar cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, add oil and beef.  Cook beef until browned, using a heat safe spatula to break it apart as it cooks. When nearly done, add onion, pepper and garlic. Cook until onion is softened. Add beer and cook until evaporated.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.  Whisk to combine well.

Add chipotle sauce to beef mixture.  Stir to combine.  Cook 4-5 minutes, until sauce is thick.  Remove from heat.

Serve on toasted hamburger bun with pickle and onion slices and cheese.

Original inspiration: Smoky Chipotle Sloppy Joe’s in 15 Minutes, Slow Roasted Italian


I don’t know how other bloggers do it. When I make a good meal, the last thing on my mind is taking photos and writing about it. By the time I’m done cooking, I’m ready to sit down with my guy and eat, not take photos. But every now and then I feel the call of the blog, whip the phone out and take a crappy photo. My motivation: I get lots of great ideas from other cooking blogs, so someone out there might get a great idea from mine.

What do you do while you’re cooking? If Chopped is on, I like watching that. But usually I’m making a protein, veg and side, and sometimes it can get a little crazy trying to get them all ready at once. I’m stirring and chopping and I hear Ted say, “Two minutes!” All of a sudden, I’m in turbo mode.

And then, I’m done. Already? I’ve got time to spare. I feel like I was just involved in some kind of athletic event. Am I sweating? It’s time for a glass of wine. I stand there sipping, leaning against the counter, and feel victorious. Because I just cooked a five star meal.

That happens to you too, right?

Here’s one of those five star meals. I know ground lamb is pricey, but this dish will last a few meals so it works out. I made this for Sunday dinner, we had it again Tuesday, and there was plenty left over for lunches too. Now that I sit here thinking about it in retrospect, I bet spinach would be a fantastic addition to this dish. Next time, I’m adding it.

This dish does take time – about 2-1/2 hours if it’s a lazy Sunday and you’re not watching Chopped. I broke up the recipe below so the ingredients are listed just above their part of the preparation. 

Wait for a cold day, and take the time to make this. It’s not much to look at (photographer’s fault) but it’s sooooo good. The meat sauce is incredibly flavorful and the bechamel on top puffs up, thanks to those egg yolks, into something like a light custard. Opa!


Moussaka recipe from Grabbing the Gusto

You’ll need a small bowl, 6-1/2-quart pot or Dutch oven, strainer, two sheet pans, 2-quart saucepan, whisk, and a 3-quart baking dish.

Allow 2-1/2 hours to prep/cook.

  • 1⁄4 cup dried currants

Preheat oven to 400. Put currants into a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let soften for 30 minutes. Drain currants and set aside.

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer lamb to a large strainer set over a bowl and drain; discard any liquid left in the pot.

Return pot to the heat and add the remaining olive oil along with the garlic, onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated, 10-15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, currants and lamb and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set meat sauce aside.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1-1⁄2 pounds eggplant, cut crosswise into 1⁄4″-thick slices
  • 1 large russet potato (about 1 lb.), cut crosswise into 1⁄4″-thick slices

Spray two sheet pans with cooking spray. Spread the eggplant and potato slices on the pans and spray the tops with cooking spray. Roast until tender, turning over after about 10 minutes.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter and/or margarine
  • 1⁄2 cup flour
  • 2-1⁄4 cups milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan

Make a béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add the milk in a steady stream until incorporated; add the bay leaf and cook, whisking often, until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and discard the bay leaf. Let sauce cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and egg yolks, temper it with some of the bechamel and then whisk it into the sauce until smooth.

Reheat oven to 400. Place the reserved potato slices in the bottom of an oval 3-qt. baking dish (or two 1 1⁄2-qt. baking dishes) and season with salt and pepper. Put the eggplant slices on top, season with salt and pepper, and then cover with the meat sauce. Pour the béchamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle Parmesan evenly over the top and bake until browned and bubbly, 35-45 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.  

Original recipe: Moussaka, Saveur 

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Most of us here on the east coast, even those of us who didn’t suffer from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, are more than ready for comfort food. The temperatures have dipped, the wind is gusting, cozy slipper weather is here. I found a dish on The Lemon Bowl blog that’s a little different than the usual meat, pasta or potato version of comfort: acorn squash stuffed with a mixture of Italian sausage, eggplant, tomatoes and herbs.

I bought two squash thinking we would have two halves each. Well, that was silly, and not at all what the recipe said, if I had bothered to read it carefully. I made four halves, but we only ate one each for dinner and had the other two later in the week. I served green beans and a brown rice mix on the side.

Even though I overfilled the squash cavities, I still had filling left over. Strangely enough, it disappeared from the refrigerator some time during the next day. I guess somebody really liked it.

I will make this again. You can get creative with the filling ingredients. We loved the combination of Italian sausage and eggplant, but I can imagine all kinds of substitutions.

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

You’ll need a glass microwaveable and oven-safe baking dish for the squash (or another dish that’s safe for one or the other) and a large deep skillet.

  • 2 acorn squash
  • Olive oil
  • 1-1/2 medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme or 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 pound Italian turkey or pork sausage (sweet or hot, bulk or casing)
  • 4 cups eggplant, diced (about 1/2 large eggplant)
  • One 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup some panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 thin sliver of butter or drizzle of olive oil for each squash cup

 Cut each squash horizontally to form two cups. Shave off the bottom of each “cup” to create a flat surface. Scoop out the seeds. If you’re like me, you toss the seeds with olive oil, salt and spices and roast them later.

Place squash pieces in a glass container with 1/2 inch of water, face down, and microwave until tender. The original recipe said it would take 6-8 minutes, but mine took about twice that, probably because I had more than one in there.

Meanwhile, heat up the olive oil and sauté the onion in a skillet over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and dried herbs (basil, thyme and rosemary) and cook for an additional 60 seconds. If you’re using fresh herbs, add them later with the eggplant and tomatoes.

Add the sausage from its casing to the pan. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to it up sausage into bite sized pieces. Brown the sausage for 4-5 minutes, continually breaking it up with the spoon. Add the eggplant and tomatoes (and fresh herbs, if using) plus a pinch of salt and pepper to release juices. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the juices cook down, about 8-10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, turn the oven to broil and place the squash cups in a glass baking dish. Fill both cups, I mean, overfill them, with equal parts sausage stuffing. Mix together the parmesan and breadcrumbs. Top each squash with 2 tablespoons of the cheese/crumb topping and a drizzle of olive oil or sliver of butter. Broil for 2 minutes or until the topping is browned.

Original recipe: Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash, The Lemon Bowl

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash from Grabbing the Gusto

Tilapia with Peach Salsa

My mission this month: to cook with as much local produce as I can.

After picking up peaches at a farm stand, I searched the web for new recipes. I have lots of peach dessert recipes but my belly doesn’t need that kind of temptation. I found this recipe in a slide show on Food & Wine’s site. I’m not a fan of this increasingly common website feature – slide shows – because I want to skip through them more quickly than the pages usually load. But, this time my tested patience had its reward.

The original recipe used chicken, but I wanted fish for dinner. After a review of likely candidates at the fish counter, I decided on tilapia. I added a few ingredients to Food & Wine’s salsa recipe – red bell pepper and red onion. I substituted panko for regular bread crumbs because I like panko’s heftier crunch. I also added an egg to the dredging process so the coating would adhere well.

The recipe was a big hit, even with the guy who’s not a fan of fruit on his dinner plate. He’s learning. I served the tilapia with summer squash “pasta” – another surprising hit, I’ll share that recipe later this week. Parmesan and Lemon Roasted Broccoli completed our plate — an old stand-by for a night with two new recipes.

I love the idea of fruit salsas with fish. Maybe a plum salsa next time? Know any good recipes? I’d also love to find a fruit salsa that’s bold enough for wild salmon. Any ideas?

fish tilapia chicken peach jalapeno salsa recipe

Tilapia with Peach Salsa

You’ll need a bowl for the salsa, two shallow bowls for dredging (or one bowl and one plate), large frying pan, and a paper towel-lined plate.

  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 2-4 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, for frying

In a bowl, combine the peaches, jalapeño, red bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, and sugar.

Put egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl or plate, toss together the flour, bread crumbs, cornmeal, salt, thyme, and cayenne. Dredge fish in the egg. Let the excess egg drip off and then dredge both sides of the fish in the bread crumb mixture, patting it with crumbs so it’s thoroughly coated.

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the fish and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes for tilapia (adjust for thicker fillets). Turn the fillets and cook, turning occasionally, until the pieces are golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes for tilapia. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve with the peach salsa.

Original recipe: Chicken with Peach-Jalapeño Salsa, Food & Wine



Cod with Pistachio-Crumb Coating

The last time I served this pistachio-crumb cod for dinner, Jim said, “You really have a thing for cod, don’t you?” Guilty.

I bought two large fillets of cod since it was on sale. One was enough for dinner for the two of us. The other fillet would be my lunch for several days – small pieces of cod with lettuce, in between sandwich thins, with a bit of cheese, maybe with some mayonnaise too. My version of McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. I’d eat that for breakfast. And I have. Yup, I have a thing for cod.

You don’t have to use pistachios for this recipe, although you’d miss out on the flecks of pretty green in the coating. You could substitute walnuts or pecans. And if cod isn’t available, any hearty fish, like salmon, halibut, snapper, or even the ubiquitous tilapia would work.

pistachio crusted crumb coating cod fish recipe

Cod with Pistachio-Crumb Coating

You’ll need a baking sheet and shallow bowl.

  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cod fillets (4 to 6 oz. each)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (or Dijon mustard)

Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with greased (or sprayed) foil.

Chop the pistachios into medium-fine pieces. Combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

If using fillets with tapered ends, loosely fold the ends under to create a fillet of even thickness. Spread the top of each fillet evenly with the mayo. Press the mayo-coated side of each fillet into the crumb mixture to generously coat the fish. Set the fillets, coating side up, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the fillets to form a thick coating.

Bake the fillets until the topping is crisp and browned and the fish is opague and cooked through, flakes easily separated , 10 to 12 min., depending on thickness.

Original recipe: Pistachio Crusted Cod Fillets, Fine Cooking, March 2002

Pork Milanese

We’ve all been there. You have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner, and time is running out. There’s no way you have the energy it takes to cook a decent meal. Take-out, anyone? But you really want to have a proper dinner. Take heart, I have a solution: Pork (or Chicken) Milanese. It’s quick, delicious, and doesn’t take too much effort, plus, you can pound out your stress.

I could eat Pork Milanese once a week, but I know I’ll have those nights when I need my old stand-by so I save it for those desperate moments. I love getting a hit of lemon with the crunchy coating and the tender tasty pork inside.

The original recipe on the Food & Wine website uses 1/4” of olive oil in the skillet. I don’t use nearly that much. I add just enough to cook the cutlets, perhaps two tablespoons. You have to play with your heat if you have an electric stove to keep the temperature hot enough to cook the meat but not so hot that the coating gets overly browned.

All my adult life I’ve had gas stoves until I moved here to North Carolina. Electric stoves suck! Ok, maybe that’s an over-reaction, but I can’t get that same control of heat like I could with gas. It’s high then low then high, ugh. I must be getting better at it because I don’t curse nearly as much while cooking, but if I ever have too much money hanging around, I’ll convert this kitchen to gas.

Enough bitching. Enjoy this quick dinner. It’s a great addition to the quick meal repertoire.

pork cutlet milanese recipe

Pork Milanese

You’ll need a meat pounder/mallet, two plates, two wide shallow bowls, large skillet, and some paper towels.

  • 4 pork boneless cutlets, pounded 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt (or garlic salt) and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Put the flour on a plate and the egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix the panko with the cheese, oregano, and nutmeg. Line a plate with paper towels.

Dredge the cutlets in the flour, tap off the excess, and then dip in the egg, allowing any excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Finally, coat the cutlets with the panko mixture, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.

Heat olive oil in the skillet until shimmering. Add the cutlets to the skillet and fry over medium-high heat, turning once, until crisp, golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Drain the pork on the paper towel-lined plate. I usually squeeze lemon over the pork while it drains on the plate, and serve extra wedges on the side.

Original recipe: Crispy Pork Milanese, Food & Wine

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Prosciutto, Provolone and Spinach

This is one of my favorite Friday night recipes. It’s one of those “raid the refrigerator” recipes. My inspiration was the sight of Portobello mushrooms on sale. I knew I had prosciutto and provolone at home in the refrigerator’s deli drawer, and spinach and red bell pepper in the vegetable drawer. What about some type of layered dish, like a kicked-up mushroom parmigiana without the sauce? I started thinking about the flavors — this could be really good.

And it was. Since then, I use whatever I find on sale or in the refrigerator. Last time I made it with slices of roasted eggplant layered in between the other ingredients. I’ve also used roasted poblano and red bell peppers. You could add a bit of tomato sauce if you wanted more of a mushroom parmigiana dish, but I haven’t had the urge to do that yet. There are no rules, have at it!

portobello mushroom stuffed with prosciutto provolone spinach eggplant pepper recipe

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Prosciutto, Provolone and Spinach

You’ll need a rimmed baking sheet.

  • 4 Portobello mushrooms
  • Cooking spray
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Spinach, chopped – use as much as you’d like, keeping in mind that it will drastically shrink during cooking
  • Provolone cheese, 6-8 slices, cut into mushroom-sized pieces
  • Prosciutto, 6-8 slices, cut into mushroom-sized pieces
  • Options for layers: roasted eggplant slices, roasted red bell or poblano pepper slices, different types of cheeses or hams, slices of sausage


  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (or mozzarella)
  • 1 tablespoon each fresh basil, oregano, parsley and thyme (or 1 teaspoon each of dried herbs)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the stem and gills from the mushroom. If mushrooms look like plates, carve the insides down a bit to make them more like saucers. Save and dice the inside bits and stems for the filling.

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place mushroom caps, gill-no-more side up, on the pan. Brush with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. Saute onion, red bell pepper, and mushroom stems and bits until softened. Add garlic and sauté until just golden. Add spinach and let it wilt.

When the mushrooms are tender, carefully pour out any liquid accumulated in the caps. Return the caps to the pan gill-side up. Place a layer of cheese and prosciutto into each. Or use whatever layers you’d like. Mound filling on top of the cheese/ham. Pat the filling down to make it level. Add another layer of cheese and ham (or other ingredients).

Sprinkle with topping. Bake until hot, about 10 minutes. If the parmesan isn’t melted, broil for a minute or two.

White Pizza

Back in the ’80s and ’90s I was the General Manager of Geppetto Restaurant in Bethesda MD. I was young at the time, in my 20s when I took on that role. It was a formative experience. Yes, that’s cliché to say, but I learned more about people, leadership, management and myself in those years than I probably did anywhere else. I didn’t know that at the time. I figured it out later.

Another thing I didn’t know at the time: I absorbed a lot of knowledge about cooking and food. I guess you can’t stand next to a sauté cook day after day without picking something up.

We were known for our pizza. It reigns in my mind as some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. Ever. There is nothing like a Sm Neo roni on mush – all my old Geppetto chums know that’s a small thin crust with pepperoni, onion and mushroom. It remains the pizza of my dreams.

But a rival to that Sm Neo was our Pizza Bianca. We had the best imported (and aromatic) Fontina cheese. It stunk in a good way.

While I was working at Geppetto our white pizza recipe was published in Gourmet’s “I had a delicious dish, can you get the recipe” column. Since I was a longtime Gourmet subscriber, I still have the clipping from the magazine.

The crust isn’t nearly as good as the Geppetto crust, but we had advantages at Geppetto: a guy whose full-time job was making the pasta and pizza dough, semolina in the flour mix, and a long rise for the the dough. Even though it’s not the same crust, it turned out better than I expected. Some of the center pieces could be a bit crispier but my choice of pan could have caused that. The topping (sauce and cheese) tasted just like my memories. I’m very pleased and can’t believe it took me this long to make.

white pizza bianca Geppetto

Geppetto White Pizza

You’ll need a heavy duty mixer (or you can knead for a longer time by hand), mixer bowl and dough hook, clean dish towel, food processor (or blender, or you can finely mince and mix ingredients by hand), spatula, rolling pin and two sheet pans. The recipe says to use a cake rack or flat perforated pan. I used what I had: a cookie sheet and a sheet pan.


  • 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 1-1/2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 cups (plus) all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley – I didn’t have dried, so I used about 1-1/2 teaspoons of fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound Fontina cheese, grated — Imported is best, the stinkier the better, but use what you can find.

Sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water in mixer bowl. Stir to dissolve. (I like to let it sit for a few minutes before adding anything else.) Add salt, mix to blend. Add 2-1/2 cups flour and oil. Put bowl on mixer and mix with hook at low to medium speed about 5 minutes until dough forms ball and cleans sides of bowl, adding more flour, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary. I used about 6 extra tablespoons, but your amount will depend on the humidity level of your flour plus other magic factors. Continue mixing until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Note: This is the part of the recipe where you’re on your own. The amount of additional flour you’ll need will depend on the humidity level in the house and the dryness of your flour. The time it will take to arrive at the desired “smooth and elastic” stage varies as well. Here’s some advice from Alton Brown about what that stage looks like: “Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up to the light and look to see if the baker’s windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, continue to knead the dough.”

Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it rise in a warm draft-free area for 1 hour. I usually heat the oven to 150 and then turn it off and let it cool down a bit. Then I put the bowl in and shut the door or leave it ajar if it still feels too warm.

Mix all the sauce ingredients (not the cheese) in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides every now and then.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Pat each half into a round. Let stand 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475. On a lightly floured surface, roll each round into a 1/8” thick circle (or rectangle depending on your pan shape). Transfer to your pans. Spread with sauce. Sprinkle with Fontina cheese. Bake until edges of pizza are lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes, depending on all kinds of things. Cut into squares and serve immediately.

We usually served these plain, but I had a couple of regulars who always asked for prosciutto on theirs. Many of us topped the slices with chopped pepperoncini. I’m happy to just eat it plain. Swoon.

Brazilian Fish Stew

This certainly isn’t an authentic moqueca, but it’s good enough. Better than good enough, it’s delicious. This could be a 30 minute meal if not for the 3 hours of marination. I suppose you could skip that step if you don’t have time, maybe I will some day to see if I will love this stew any less.

The original recipe on Leite’s Culinaria calls for dendê oil – a reddish/orange Brazilian palm oil. You can probably find it in a Latin American market, but I didn’t bother looking. I used olive oil instead. I added hot pepper and sweet potato (instead of hearts of palm) and paprika to the mix, and used canned tomatoes instead of plum tomatoes. I thought sweet potato would work well with the rest of the flavors and I was right. I can’t even remember what hearts of palm taste like but I wasn’t going to spend nearly $4 for a can of them.

I ignored the instructions in the original recipe to bake the fish first in its marinade with lemon juice — why dirty another dish – and just cooked the fish in the stew. I didn’t care if the fish broke apart while cooking. Watch your fish so you don’t overcook it to the point of mushiness.

If you like cod but this moqueca recipe doesn’t rock your world, try this one – Baked Cod with Andouille and White Beans. I made it again on Thursday night and boy oh boy it is good.

brazilian fish stew moqueca recipe

Brazilian Fish Stew – Moqueca

You’ll need a small bowl, resealable plastic bag for marinating, shallow bowl, and a Dutch oven or large deep pan with a lid.

  • 1 scallion (white and green parts), chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2” piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or dendê oil, if you can find it)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1-1/4 pounds of any meaty white fish, cut into 2” chunks (I used cod. You could also use swordfish, striped bass, halibut, tilapia, grouper, red snapper or shrimp.)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or dendê oil, if you can find it)
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped orange, yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, boiled until just tender, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fish stock (you can substitute clam juice, low-sodium chicken broth, or equal amounts of both – that’s what I did)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 can diced tomatoes

In a bowl, mix together half the scallion, half the onion, half the ginger, and half the garlic. Add 4 tablespoons of oil and half the cilantro. Place the chunks of fish in a resealable plastic bag and add the marinade, pressing the bag to evenly coat the fish. Remove the air from the bag and seal it. Place the bag in a shallow bowl, making sure the fish pieces are completely covered by the marinade, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Take the fish out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the remaining scallion and onion along with the green and orange bell peppers, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add the hot pepper and the remaining ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring to combine, for another minute. Add the sweet potatoes and fish stock and let it come to a full boil. Add the coconut milk and tomato paste and return to a boil. Immediately lower the heat to medium-low and simmer the sauce.

Add the fish, marinade and lemon juice to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and cook just until the fish is soft and tender, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your fish.

Uncover the pan, add the paprika and tomatoes, and let them heat for a minute or two. Taste the stew, if needed, season it with additional salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the remaining fresh cilantro. Serve it plain or over rice.

Original recipe: Brazilian Fish Stew, Leite’s Culinaria

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf with Balsamic Tomato Sauce

I tried two meatloaf recipes recently. One was a traditional meatloaf made with ground beef and a balsamic glaze on top. It wasn’t all that great. You won’t see it here. The other is a healthier version made with ground turkey and pesto with a balsamic tomato glaze. This one is blog-worthy. It’s been a hit both times I’ve made it. The leftovers are fantastic whether they’re cold in a sandwich or reheated for another dinner.

Oh yes, I do have a third meatloaf recipe. It was a sensation when I made it for Halloween a few years ago. Have you seen my Meatloaf Hand?

Wait! I have a fourth meatloaf recipe, deep in the archives. I remember it now. It’s also a tasty one using both beef and turkey. And dark beer.

Like all meatloaf recipes, this turkey pesto meatloaf is pretty straightforward. Taking the turkey out of the refrigerator ahead of time will prevent your hands from freezing when you combine the ingredients. Also, don’t keep mixing the ingredients beyond the point of just being combined. I don’t have any experience (that I’m aware of) doing this but I’ve read that over-handling will compress the meat and toughen the meatloaf.

turkey pesto meatloaf recipe tomato balsamic

Turkey Pesto Meatloaf with Tomato Sauce

You’ll need a roasting or broiler pan, small skillet, large bowl, small bowl or ramekin for sauce, pastry brush and meat thermometer.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground turkey – This is a pain when ground turkey at your market only comes in 1# packages. I used 2# and increased the garlic, pesto, cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs – Make in the food processor from whole wheat bread, 1 or 2 slices will do it.
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce, preferably low-sugar like Classico (per Kalyn) — I used Barilla, I have no idea of its sugar content.
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Let the ground turkey come to room temperature while you prep the other ingredients, so you don’t freeze your hands. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a roasting pan with olive oil or nonstick spray. I like to use the broiler pan so the fat drips into the moat along the edges.

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion over medium-high heat until it’s starting to slightly brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic, lower heat slightly, and sauté about 2 minutes more.

Using a bowl that’s large enough to get both hands into it, combine the ground turkey, sautéed onion and garlic, pesto, Parmesan cheese, salt and breadcrumbs. Mix the ingredients just until they’re combined.

Form the mixture into a loaf shape and place on the roasting pan. Bake meatloaf for 40 minutes. While it bakes, stir together the marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar.

After 40 minutes, brush the sauce onto the meatloaf, until it’s completely covered with sauce. Continue to bake, and if you have any sauce left over, brush the meatloaf a few more times. Bake until a meat thermometer shows a temperature of 160F. I cooked my meatloaf for a total time of one hour before it got to that temperature. Kalyn’s took one hour and 20 minutes.

Original recipe: Turkey Pesto Meatloaf, Kalyn’s Kitchen