Smoky Baked Goulash

(Becky, the Mama.)

The other night was crazy.

I performed my usual bedtime routines: bath, then walked through the kitchen on the way to the bedroom, put lotion on my feet and legs and got in bed.

Suddenly my feet were on FIRE! Could not imagine why, but I rushed to get a wet cloth and washed them off.  Thankfully, the pain subsided, so I padded back through the kitchen, applied  more lotion, back in bed. Feet on fire!

I trekked back to the  kitchen where I saw that while making the recipe, I somehow spilled Tony’s Cajun Seasoning all over the kitchen floor. So basically, I was putting salt and cayenne pepper on my feet, then rubbing it in with lotion.

I hate it with this happens, don’t you?

So enjoy this recipe for Smoky Baked Goulash, as it is delicious and easy and great for a crowd.  (When your family is tired of turkey, this is a great make-ahead dish to stick in the oven and serve with a simple salad.)   Just make sure to let it melt in your mouth, and not on your feet.

Smoky Baked Goulash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Serves six to eight people

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1/2  lb  sweet Italian turkey sausage

(*Vegans: In place of beef and sausage, use a mixture of crumbled vegan sausage– Field Roast Apple Sage brand recommended; lentils or beans; and chopped Portobello mushrooms to equal about  2 ½ cups)

3 cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

½ c. BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s brand)

1 t. cumin

1 t. smoked paprika

1 t. Hungarian paprika

½ t. Tony’s Cajun seasoning

Salt & Pepper to Taste

8 oz  Penne Noodles (I used a high fiber Barilla Plus brand)

½ c to 1 c. cheddar cheese

1 red onion, diced

1 chopped sweet red or yellow pepper (or mixture)

½ cup Lite Ranch Dressing

¼ cup sliced olives, green or black

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions.  While they are cooking, brown the hamburger and crumbled turkey sausage in a large skillet  (Vegans, use a little olive oil and sauté the mushrooms and vegan sausage, then add beans or lentils.)

Add can of crushed tomatoes, bar-b-que sauce and seasonings to browned meat in skillet  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a separate pan sauté onions and pepper in olive oil. (To save time, you can do this when you brown the meat.  But it is prettier to see that layer of color on top of the casserole.)

When noodles are done, lightly oil a large rectangle casserole pan, and place noodles in it, in an even layer.   Gently spoon the meat sauce over the noodles.

Next, spoon sautéed onions and peppers over the sauce.  Then sprinkle cheddar cheese over all, as much as you like.  (We go light on the cheese, but if you love it, go for it! Vegans, omit cheese or use a vegan cheese product.)

Then pour pretty “squiggles” of Ranch Dressing over cheese layer. (Vegans use Vegan Ranch Dressing or make Rachel’s awesome recipe!)

Finally top with olives.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until melts and dish is hot all the way through.

Variations: This is a great recipe for using left-over veggies: corn, diced carrots, mushrooms,  diced squash, beans — it is all good.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Smoky Baked Goulash
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-MW
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

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Sweet n’ Sour Green Beans and Bacon

(Becky, the Mama.)

Greg is away this evening, having dinner with a friend.  And therefore, I decided to make this dish that I created and love and that he considers, actually, to be the Side Dish From Hell.

His three least favorite foods are onions, peppers and green beans, so even the addition of a scrumptious sauce and bacon could not turn his head.  It would turn his stomach, but not his head. Greg worked many summers as a kid in Oregon either picking green beans or in a bean cannery and he has vowed, and I respect this, never to eat another green bean again.  Onions and peppers, according to him, have an “icky, slimy” texture and are also to be avoided.

So while Greg is gone, and won’t have to even look…I made my own Dream Dinner to Eat in Bed, while snuggled in my PJs.  Tonight’s dream meal is made of this sweet and savory green bean dish, below,  loaded with sautéed onions and sweet peppers, with a side of (I know, it’s bad, but try not to groan) boxed Kraft macaroni and cheese. Served with a spoon in a big flat pasta bowl. With a glass of ice cold milk in a frosty-frozen mug.  And a cozy blankey tucked around my feet. While I watch non-action-related shows like Parenthood and Oprah’s Next Chapter, TV my husband enjoys about as much as green beans.

Of course, I miss my man, as I do adore him.

But in the meantime, I’m soldiering on the best I can,  a bowl in one hand, remote in the other.

Sweet n’ Sour Green Beans with Bacon

Ingredients

2 cans or 4 cups frozen or fresh green beans, cooked and drained well

1 T. olive oil

1/2 c. red onion, diced

½ c. chopped sweet red pepper (I used some mini red and yellow peppers)

3 T Thai sweet chili sauce (in the Asian aisle…or World Market)

2 T. brown sugar

¼ c. red wine vinegar

1/3 c. crumbled bacon (I used some Hormel pre-cooked bacon pieces this time.  Some nights you just take the easy way.)

*Vegans can use a vegetarian bacon bits product instead or use sliced almonds that have been sauteed in smoked paprika and a little olive oil instead.

Salt and Pepper to taste (I like a lot of black pepper in this)

Directions

Turn oven to broil

Drain green beans as well as you can. (I even use a paper towel to sort of pat them dry in the colander.)

In an oven-proof skillet saute onions and peppers in olive oil.  Add the Thai sweet chili sauce, red wine vinegar and brown sugar. Cook and stir all together until it is syrupy.

Add well drained green beans and stir once again until well heated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  (This will vary quite a bit depending on whether you used canned or fresh or frozen green beans.)  Sprinkle the top with bacon crumbles and put pan under broiler for a minute or two until bacon is crisp and beans are bubbling.

Serve as a side dish (a nice alternative for a Thanksgiving green bean casserole) curl up with a bowl of it, while lounging in your PJs.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sweet n’ Sour Green Beans and Bacon
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-LT
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Bloody Mary Veggie Soup (Vegan)

Becky’s Bloody Mary Soup — Creamy, loaded with vegies and tastes AWESOME!

My husband had surgery on Thursday for a deviated septum and to keep him company while he rested in the living room, breathing like Darth Vader, I went on a nonstop experimental cooking spree.

I suddenly morphed into one of those chefs on America’s Test Kitchens, except that I cook without cleaning as I go, so it looked like unsupervised Kindergarteners were allowed to play with food on my counter tops.

I made this mess in less than 20 minutes. I do this sort of thing with amazing regularity.

At one point I was happily and furiously cooking when I lost my grip on a slippery lemon just before it became airborne and hit me in the head. My mother warned me about hot stoves, boiling water, and sharp knifes when explaining kitchen safety,  but nobody told me to beware of flying citrus.

I am most interested lately in cooking with foods that are known to help lower blood pressure.  My BP was up last week and all medications I’ve tried thus far make me feel like a sloth with a migraine. I’m determined to try to let “food be my medicine” as best I can, and see if I can wrestle those numbers down without pharmaceuticals.

So when Greg said he’d like some tomato soup,  I got inspired and created a super-healthy vegie-tomato soup, chocked full of foods known to  help lower blood pressure.  When I took a sip,  it was truly delicious. Something about it reminded me of Bloody Mary mix, so I added some typical Bloody Mary ingredients (Worcestershire, celery seed, lemon, hot sauce)  to jazz it up even more, then used chopped celery as a garnish and a celery stick as a “stirrer.”  Cute, eh?  And the taste?  Amazing!  It was so good that after Greg and I enjoyed hot soup for lunch,  I sipped a nutritious, warm mug full at mid-afternoon for a snack.  Today I enjoyed it cold, adding tiny diced cucumbers and a little parsley as a gazpacho-like treat.

The basic recipe can be played with dozens of ways, adding bits of veggies that are on hand in your crisper.  Hot or cold, I’m proud to share this soup that is as tasty as it is healthy.

Creamy Bloody Mary Soup

Becky’s Bloody Mary Veggie Soup

Serves 4-6 

Ingredients:

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil

2 cloves garlic

½ red onion

1 red bell pepper

1 carrot, rough chopped

1 stalk celery, rough chopped

1 handful fresh spinach (about a cup, loosely packed) (You may also use fresh basil if you have it on hand, instead)

1 ½ c. veggie broth (or chicken broth)

1 ½ c. almond milk (don’t substitute dairy milk as it may curdle)

2 t. organic sugar (or brown sugar)

½ t. salt

1 t. pepper

1 t. Worcestershire sauce (Look for vegan Worcestershire sauce, if you are a vegan purest, as many contain anchovies,)

1 t. celery seed

Juice from ½ fresh lemon

Dash hot sauce (Tabasco or Buffalo Sauce)

2 stalks celery diced small, for garnish (about 1 T. in each bowl)

Celery stalks with leaves attached for garnish, one in each bowl

Directions:

In large blender or food processor put ½ the can tomatoes, garlic, onion, red bell pepper, carrot, celery and spinach and 1 c. veggie broth.  Blend on high until as creamy as you your machine will get it.

Pour mixture into large pan, add rest of can of tomatoes (the crushed tomatoes will add some texture to soup, but if you prefer it smooth, whirl in the blender as well)  and rest of veggie broth, almond milk, sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil, stirring often.  Turn heat down to medium and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire, celery seed, dash hot sauce and juice of ½ fresh lemon.  Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.   Garnish with a tablespoon of chopped celery and stick of leafy celery and serve.   Delicious with grilled cheese or grilled roasted veggie  sandwich.

Variations: Try other veggies in this basic recipe.  Add chopped cucumber,  chopped green onion and/or diced tomato and serve it cold, like a refreshing gazpacho.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com

The Title:  Bloody Mary Veggie Soup

The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-ic


Momma’s Messy Greek Sandwiches

A Favorite of Momma's Dishes

Happy Mother’s Day to each one of you, whether a mother, a daughter, a son, or even a husband. We all have someone’s life to celebrate today. My mom and I both have a special place in our hearts for those whose moms aren’t with them anymore or for those with difficult mom relationships. Today can be a tough day for some, we know.

I don’t ever take for granted how blessed I am to have  a relationship that is based on love, acceptance, trust, and laughter with my mom. I think the reason I don’t take it for granted is that I’ve watched her use her mothering and nurturing gifts (truly her spiritual gifts) beyond our family. She often spends her afternoons cooking up lunch for 20-somethings and their little chicks on her patio, many of whom are learning for the first time what motherly love should look like.

Several of these young women have become like sisters to me, a bonus to having a mom that girls my age love to hang out with. When we get together at mom’s house, we all know to expect it to look a bit like a monkey on speed was cooking in the kitchen. Literally, the way this woman cooks boggles my neat freak mind. Last time I visited, I watched her use 13 utensils to make one cake. But, she’s quick in the kitchen, which gives her more time to focus on her chickadees. So we don’t complain and we all pitch in after lunch to try and piece her kitchen back together.

This Messy Greek Sandwich is one of the typical lunches she whips up for “her girls” on the fly. She’s made it for me several times and it’s always a hit. It’s one of those sandwiches you really want to enjoy in the company of those you don’t have to try and impress. It’s big, it’s messy, and it’s delicious. Mom always laughs when she serves me this, because I vocalize my approval with each bite. “Mmmmm mmmmm mmmmmm.”

Happy Mother’s Day Momma! Thank you for teaching me mothering is not just for mothers,  if you cook good food, guests will overlook a messy kitchen (and even help you clean it), and when all else fails, laugh…or write it down and hope you’ll laugh later.

Momma’s Messy Greek Sandwiches
(Rachel’s Variation)

Serves 2 big messy sandwiches

Ingredients

Two Hoagie Rolls (or other hearty bread)
olive oil
garlic powder
salt
8 1/4 inch slices of eggplant
1/2 a bell pepper (any color of mix of colors), sliced
1/4 medium onion, sliced
4 T. Spicy Pepper & Olive Mix (a mix of green & black olives, pepperocinis, & jalapenos)
1 Avocado
4 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of Baby Kale or Spinach
2 T. Sundried Tomatoes

Directions

Heat 1 T. of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat (an iron skillet works well for browning veggies), add eggplant to the skillet, trying not to overlap too much, sprinkle with just a little salt. Let brown on one side, then turn over, sprinkle with a dash more salt and add a little more oil to the pan if needed. Once both sides are golden, set on a paper towel lined plate. Add onions, peppers, and mushrooms to the pan. Don’t add salt yet and try not to stir too much. You want the mushrooms and onions to get nice and golden. Once the onions are soft, add in the kale, sprinkle with a drizzle more of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.

Coat the inside of the hoagie rolls with olive oil and garlic powder and toast under the broiler until golden.

Now pile on the ingredients: avocado slices, eggplant, onions, peppers, mushrooms, greens, sundried tomatoes and the spicy olive & pepper mix. You might want to tackle these with a knife and fork, or if you’re brave and don’t mind a mess just pick it up with both hands and go for it. As the old saying goes, Eat Like Nobody’s Watching (or something like that!)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:  Momma’s Messy Greek Sandwiches
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/12/mommas-messy-greek-sandwiches/


Balsamic Roasted Garlic Veggies

“I don’t like asparagus. I don’t like broccoli. I don’t like onions. I don’t like garlic. I don’t like vegetables. Well, I do like corn … and potatoes. I like potatoes.”

This was my husband when we first got married.

I don’t remember cooking much in our first year of marriage. In fact, I have no idea what we ate. I hardly have a single memory in that tiny galley kitchen. Between Jared’s aversion to all things that made food delicious to me and the hideous marbled yellow laminate counter tops with cracks on the corners, I must have felt less than inspired.

When we moved to a new town house with a bright white kitchen near Galveston, I suddenly found myself looking for excuses to be in the kitchen. I started shopping at Farmer’s Markets and reading food blogs and became determined to get Jared to love veggies. Little by little, I found ways to prepare certain vegetables in a way he would eat them. He’ll eat onions if they are caramelized or chopped fine and sauteed in a dish. He’ll eat his peas in a split pea soup. And I can get him to eat almost anything wrapped in a tortilla and dipped in salsa. Thank goodness, because in a crazy turn of events, before we moved out of that town home a year later, we had become full on vegans.

The preparation that finally got Jared raving and begging for veggies was roasting them. If it’s coated with a little evoo and seasoning and crisped up to perfection (to him that includes a few burnt bits on the pan), he’s a happy husband and a happy veggie eater!

This method works wonderfully with asparagus, any root vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower, onions, even chickpeas. Try it with a vegetable you think you don’t like and see if it changes your thoughts on it.

Roasted Vegetables with Roasted Garlic

Roasted vegetables are easy enough to serve up on a weeknight and beautiful enough to serve to guests for a celebration dinner.

Rachel’s
Balsamic Roasted Garlic Veggies

Ingredients

(Note: The vegetable  list is just a guideline. Use whatever you have in your refrigerator or is on sale at the market. The seasoning ingredients listed are for about 4 cups of vegetables.)

Potatoes, chopped (small, soft-skinned work great, but Idaho & sweet potatoes are wonderful too)

Carrots, chopped

Onions, quartered (leave one end in tact so they don’t get burnt)

Peppers (bell peppers, sweet tri colored peppers, poblanos) (seeded & quartered)

Broccoli (cut into “trees”)

Cauliflower  (cut into “trees”)

Zucchini (chopped into large chunks or long ribbons)

Squash (chopped into large chunks or long ribbons)

2 T (maybe more) Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T. Balsamic Vinegar

2 t. Salt

2 t. Pepper

1 T. Italian Seasoning Blend

A full head of garlic

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

Put all the veggies except the garlic in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle 2 tbs of olive oil over the veggies. Toss until all of the veggies are lightly coated, adding more olive oil if needed. Don’t drench them or you’re veggies won’t get crisp. (The amount of olive oil varies because some veggies soak up more, like cauliflower, and others hardly absorb any, like peppers.)

Add balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and toss again. Pour veggies onto the cookie sheet and spread around. If they are piled on top of each other, use a second pan.

Take the garlic, remove the lose skin, and chop the top of the head off the garlic so the inside of each clove is exposed. Place the bulb on a piece of foil and drizzle the top of the bulb with olive oil. Wrap the foil around the clove. Add the foil wrapped garlic onto the pan of veggies (sitting upright). Check this tutorial out if you need a visual.

Bake the veggies and garlic for approximately 40 minutes. The potatoes and carrots take the longest to cook, so cook until they are soft in the middle and crispy on the outside.

Remove the garlic from the foil and allow to cool for a few minutes. Carefully either squeeze the garlic out (like toothpaste), or use a fork to remove each clove. Toss in with the roasted veggies. The garlic is delicious and really elevates roasted veggies! Your friends will most definitely track you down for the recipe. Trust me.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Balsamic Roasted Garlic Veggies
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/24/balsamic-roasted-garlic-veggies


Marinated Portobello Burger

Marinated Portobello Burgers

When I was about 12, I went on a ski trip with my family. While hanging out at the base, some older teens hollered out to me and my brothers “Hey, you want some shrooms?”

I giggled and naively said, “Those guys must be on drugs or something. Why would they think we want some mushrooms while we are skiing?”

My big brothers busted out laughing.

I didn’t know how right I had been until they finally stopped laughing to explain to me what the “shrooms” those dudes spoke of were.

Lucky for me, I didn’t like mushrooms and would have turned down the offer even if my big brothers hadn’t been there to fill me in.

Nowadays, I might be in trouble if someone hollers out and offers me some shrooms, though.

It turns out after more than 25 years of hating mushrooms, I’ve discovered I actually love a good shroom!

The first time I ordered a Portobello Burger was shortly after going vegan. It was the only thing on the menu I could eat, so I figured I’d give it a try. It was thick, chewy, flavorless and spongy. I stayed away from portobellos after that and eased my way into the land of shrooms with baby bellas sauteed in evoo and garlic.

Recently we were at the new plant-based cafe in Dallas, VSPot, and I decided to try their marinated portobello burger. Some people at the neighboring table were raving about it, so I thought I’d give the portobello one more go. It was so succulent it almost melted in my mouth. The mushroom was cooked down really thin so you would never have guessed you were biting into a thick spongy portobello cap.

Tonight I made my own portobello burger and I have to say, it was awesome. The flavors are quite different than the one we had at the VSpot and I didn’t manage to get it quite as thin, but it will definitely hold me over until our next visit!

Wanna shroom?

Rachel’s
Marinated Portobello Burger

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Portobello Mushrooms, stems removed and gently wiped clean with a damp sponge
4 Buns (I used Whole Grain Ciabatta Sandwich Rolls from our store’s bakery)
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup of Braggs Aminos (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Topping suggestions: sauteed spinach, caramelized red onions, roasted red peppers

Mix the marinade in a bowl. Pour into a gallon sized zip top bag and add the portobello caps. Shake it up to cover the mushrooms and place in the refrigerator. I let mine marinate for about 5 hours, but I think you could go as little as an hour if you’re short on time or as long as 8-10 if you want to marinate them while you’re at work.

Heat a skillet on medium heat with evoo covering the bottom. Put the mushroom caps in 1-2 at a time bottoms down and with a spatula or the bottom of a sauce pan, gently hold the mushrooms down. Don’t apply too much pressure at first or you’ll tear the edges. Turn the mushrooms over and continue applying gentle pressure. Repeat turning back and forth every few minutes for about 10 minutes until the mushroom cap is only a few centimeters thick.

I ate mine on ciabatta rolls that I smeared with Vegenaise (vegan mayo) mixed with minced garlic and toasted on a lightly oiled saute pan (this gives the bread a nice crunch), topped with sauteed spinach and garlic and caramelized red onions. I thought I was going to need a protein like some beans to add to this, but I was plenty full after one mushroom burger and a side of sauteed yellow squash and zucchini.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Marinated Portobello Burger
The URL:https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/27/marinated-portobello-burger
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved