Category: Recipes

Broccoli, Kale and Blueberry Salad

Broccoli, Kale and Blueberry Salad
THIS!!! Not only beautiful, but a nutrition POWERHOUSE…

I love broccoli salad!  I love “THE” broccoli salad that you can buy in almost any deli you visit, you know the one with bacon, and nuts and craisins??  Seriously, what is not to love?  The one that is so good, but maybe not the best choice all the time. 

I really wanted to make a healthier version of that salad I love so much.  I wanted to replace the heavy dressing with a lighter vinaigrette, the bacon with a healthy fat and olives fit that bill, the crasins with antioxidant packed, sweet blueberries and some kale (because we really can’t get enough) for all of it’s wonderful nutritional value and it’s beautiful color. (more…)

Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Spinach, Pomegranite and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

Spaghetti Squash Bowl with Spinach, Pomegranite and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Beautiful color and fantastic texture Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Spinach, Pomegranate and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas is a perfect meal in a natural “bowl”…

Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Spinach, Pomegranate and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas are the result of me almost writing off spaghetti squash…a desperate attempt to learn to love this beautiful produce item.  If this sounds familiar, try this recipe and you too will become a believer!! 

Friends lets not pretend that “spaghetti” squash is a comparable alternative to spaghetti , lets instead learn to appreciate it for what it is.  Yes, it does have the “strand-like” texture, but because it is a vegetable not a product made from flour, the TEXTURE is TOTALLY different.  Once you know this and accept this we can work together on loving this SQUASH! (more…)

Mixed Vegetable and Bean Soup with Basil Pesto

Mixed Vegetable and Bean Soup with Basil Pesto
A weeknight hot date dinner or a weeks full of healthy, hearty lunches…this soup is SOOOOO GOOD!!

Friends….how beautiful is this??  I know it is possible that I get a little more excited about pretty food than some, but come on…this is STUNNING!  Mixed Vegetable and Bean Soup with Basil Pesto is the result of a challenge issued by my daughter, Katie.  She said, “Mom, lets do a week of only vegetarian food.”  We do eat plant based meals often, but I loved the idea of a full week.  “Challenge accepted” I say!! (more…)

Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Fresh Lemon Juice

Rosemary and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Fresh Lemon
The PERFECT, cozy,  hot date dinner for these cold winter nights….

Who doesn’t love a perfectly, juicy roast chicken dinner?!?  Thyme and Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Fresh Lemon will certainly impress for your hot date dinner this weekend.  Serve this with roasted fingerlings (potatoes) and broccoli  and this dinner will rival any you have out on the town.  (more…)

Leek and Potato Soup with Dill and Pancetta

Leek and Potato Soup
Leek and Potato Soup with Fresh Dill and Pancetta

Leek and Potato soup with crispy pancetta and fresh dill is perfect any time of the year.  Grab most of the ingredients during the summer at your local farmers market  or pick up the ingredients at your local grocery store.    As soon as I start to see these ingredients at the farm stands Leek and Potato Soup with Crispy Pancetta and Fresh Dill comes to mind, but this soup is also amazing on the coldest winter day.  Leek and potato soup is quick, healthy and so satisfying.  It is a mild, smooth, comforting, soup that you will make over and over.  Follow along friends, this is a cheap and easy make-ahead meal!!  If you are looking for something vegetarian, try my Vegetable and Chickpea Soup. (more…)

Thai-Style Sweet Potato Noodles with Crisp Green Veggies

Veggie heaven!! Color...Texture....Flavor, this dish has it all!!
Veggie heaven!! Color…Texture….Flavor, this dish has it all!!

How beautiful are these Thai-stlye sweet potato noodles with crisp, green veggies??  Can you believe this…up until this dish I had not yet tried sweet potato noodles?   Just kidding…sweet potato noodles, seriously?!?   This honestly seemed ridiculous to me when I was first made aware of the idea.  Who really has tried sweet potato noodles anyway??  (more…)

Cranberry Orange Scones with Cardamom and Toasted Pecans

Cranberry Orange Scones with Cardamom and Toasted Pecans
Scones….done right…their flaky texture is irresistible. This recipe will walk you through how to master the technique and these cranberry orange scones will become a holiday staple…

(more…)

Beef Ragu Slow Cooked with Vegetables and Shiitakes

Beef Ragu, Slow Cooked with Vegetables and Shiitake Mushrooms
Irresistible on a cold winter night, beef ragu with vegetables and shiitake mushrooms is comforting and scrumptious..

It gets cold here in MN this time of year and almost automatically I start thinking about slow-cooked, hearty, delicious food!!  Beef ragu that is slow cooked with vegetables and shiitakes is EXACTLY what I am thinking.  Ragu by definition is a northern Italian dish that  typically uses minced, chopped or ground meat, cooked with sauteed vegetables in a liquid. The meats may include one or more of  beef, chicken, pork, duck, goose, lamb, mutton, veal, or game.   (If you are looking for a similar vegetarian sauce, consider my roasted tomato marinara,  http://www.hotdatedinner.com/roasted-tomato-marinara/).   In this recipe I am using a boneless beef chuck roast with carrots, onions, celery, tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms.  The liquid part is a combination of beef broth, juice from the tomatoes and wait for it…RED WINE!!  Now, do I have your attention?!?!

This is the perfect hot date dinner on a cold winter night!  Prep is minimal and you can let this simmer on your stove for a good part of the day or let your crock pot do the work and it will be waiting for you.  Tim LOVES homemade gnocchi (http://www.finecooking.com/recipe/potato-gnocchi) so that is what I usually serve this with, but pappardelle pasta or your favorite pasta would work beautifully with this as well.  Let’s cook..

First, reconstitute the dried mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water...
First, reconstitute the dried mushrooms by soaking them in boiling water for 20-30 minutes…the addition of the mushrooms and the broth will be a delightful flavor boost to your beef ragu..

Isn’t that a beautiful picture??  Have you ever used dried mushrooms?  Even know they exist?  They can be found at some grocery stores on online  (https://www.amazon.com/Mushroom-House-Dried-Mushrooms-Shiitake/dp/B00PXRL39C/ref=sr_1_5_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1513781648&sr=8-5&keywords=dried+shiitake) and by reconstituting them in boiling water you will have the added bonus of a flavorful broth that can be a big enhancement to any dish.  Cooking with dried mushrooms also allows you to enjoy mushrooms when they aren’t in season, and it allows you to use mushroom varieties that may not be readily available to you in fresh form.   For more information on dried mushrooms check out  https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-substitute-dried-mushrooms-for-fresh-mushrooms-1388871.  

A beautiful, boneless, beef chuck roast will be the star of this dish....
A beautiful, boneless, beef chuck roast will be the star of this dish….

The chuck cut comes from the shoulder of the cow, an area of the animal that is continually exercised, which allows the muscle tissues to develop more flavor.  This cut requires low, slow cooking which makes it ideal for this dish.

Cut the roast into 8 equal portions, season all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper and brown all sides evenly...
Cut the roast into 8 equal portions, season all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper and brown all sides evenly…
Once the beef is browned, place in a large Dutch oven (this could also be done in a crock pot) on top of the sauteed vegetables. Next, comes all of the liquid, followed by time...
Once the beef is browned, place in a large Dutch oven (this could also be done in a crock pot) on top of the sauteed vegetables. Next, comes all of the liquid, followed by time…
All ingredients into the pot and now it slowly simmers for 2 1/2 -3 hours (or all day on low in your crockpot)....
All ingredients into the pot and now it slowly simmers for 2 1/2 -3 hours (or all day on low in your crock pot)….

Your house is now smelling ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!  Once the ragu has simmered for 21/2-3 hours, it is time to remove the meat, shred it and add it back to the pot.

Slow cooking with the wine and tomatoes will tenderize the meat to the point that it will easily tear with two forks...
Slow cooking with the wine and tomatoes will tenderize the meat to the point that it will easily tear with two forks…
Add the shredded beef back into the pan and allow the ragu to simmer for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up and you are ready to serve. Make this a day or 2 in advance and the flavors will only improve with time...
Add the shredded beef back into the pan and allow the ragu to simmer for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up and you are ready to serve. Make this a day or 2 in advance and the flavors will only improve with time…
Cheers to hot date dinner!!
Cheers to hot date dinner!!
Print

Beef Ragu Slow Cooked with Vegetables and Shittakes

Add the shredded beef back into the pan and allow the ragu to simmer for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up and you are ready to serve. Make this a day or 2 in advance and the flavors will only improve with time...

5 from 1 reviews

NOTHING is more comforting on a cold winter night than beef ragu that is slow cooked with vegetables and shiitake mushrooms.  Make this ragu, let it cook a good part of the day and serve it over pasta or gnocchi.  No one will be able to resist!!  This recipes makes enough to feed a crowd, but also freezes very well.

  • Author: Emily
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 1/2-3 hours
  • Total Time: 3-3 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 12 + servings

Ingredients

1 oz dried shittake mushrooms (use any dried mushrooms you prefer), rehydrated and broth reserved

3/12 pounds beef chuck roast (boneless), cut into 8 pieces

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 T evoo, separated

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 onions, chopped

3 carrots, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes

6 T tomato paste

2 cups full bodied red wine (I prefer Cabernet)

2 cups beef broth

1 cup mushroom broth from re-hydrating mushrooms (substitute beef broth if you wish)

6 sprigs fresh thyme

4 bay leaves

pinch of sugar (optional)

Instructions

Reconstitute dried mushrooms by covering in 2 cups of boiling water.  Let the mushrooms sit for at least 30 minutes.  Drain and RESERVE 1 CUP of the broth, set aside.  Slice mushrooms.  

Pat the beef dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat 3 T of evoo in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear on all sides, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and set aside.  

Turn down the heat to medium low and add remaining 3 T of evoo.  Saute garlic, onions, carrots, celery and (reserved) sliced mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Add the remaining ingredients and reserved beef with juices.  Bring mixture to a low boil, turn down to low simmer, cover and cook about 2 1/2 hours.  

Remove the beef and coarsely shred with 2 forks.  Return beef to pot, simmer an additional 30 minutes until sauce is reduced by 1/2 and thickened.   Season to taste with salt, pepper and pinch of sugar (optional, as needed).  Serve ragu over your favorite pasta, polenta or gnocchi.  Cheers!!

Notes

Pair this rich meaty sauce with an Italian Barbera wine which is produced from a Northern Italian grape that tends to have happy cherry fruit and tart acidity that’s great with rich sauces.  Look for bottles from  Vietti or Cavallotto   (http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/3-best-wines-pair-pasta-bolognese).

This recipe improves over time so make a day or two in advance.  To freeze, place in zip-loc bags and lay flat to freeze.

Beer Cheese Soup with IPA and Smoked Cheddar

Beer, Cheese Soup made with IPA and Smoked Cheddar
This beautiful soup is rich in flavor, perfect for any football Sunday and EASY to make..

Looking for that perfect item to add to your “football Sunday” menu OR if you are like many die hard Minnesota Vikings fans, you may already (with out wanting to say it out loud) be thinking of that Superbowl party you are going to have.  This year COULD BE “the year.”  Beer cheese soup with IPA and smoked cheddar would be a perfect hot date dinner as well.  Serve this soup with a light salad and your favorite IPA.  Truth be told, I have never made a beer-cheese soup.  I’m not sure why….everyone I know LOVES beer and cheese and here in the Midwest we have some of the best beer being brewed and the best cheese being made so it is time to get SERIOUS friends!!  Beer cheese soup with IPA and smoked cheddar might just be a match made in heaven….hoping you will love it like we do! (more…)

Cilantro Pesto with Pepitas and Queso Fresco

Cilantro Pest with Queso Fresco and Pepitas
Normally thought of and made with basil, cilantro pesto with pepitas and queso fresco is another option and way to jazz up any dish you are making…easy, quick, beautiful and so delish!!

“It tastes like soap,” I hear people say about cilantro …WHAT THE HELL??  I think this must be some sort of genetic oversight or something.  To me, this beautiful herb is fresh and almost citrus-like.  I usually have a bunch in my refrigerator to jazz up this or that.  Recently, I had a bunch and had no plans for it, so pesto, I thought, let’s make pesto.  Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic and olive oil, (check out this beautiful post from Cookie and Kate for more on that https://cookieandkate.com/2017/how-to-make-basil-pesto/).  SO…..I used that as my guide and used cilantro, pepitas, queso fresco, garlic and olive oil….same ratio and components, just different flavors.  This is good friends, I used part of it for a hot date dinner that looks like this….

shrimp, chorizo and grits with cilantro pesto
The inspiration…shrimp and grits, the end product…shrimp, chorizo and grits with cilantro pesto…how beautiful is this?? It tasted amazing…

I wasn’t sure how the grits would look with the pesto mixed in, but after a small trial, the color was gorgeous and the flavors were on point.  Real simple to make…here we go..

Raw ingredients including fresh cilantro, garlic and pepitas/almonds..
Raw ingredients including fresh cilantro, garlic and pepitas/almonds..a food processor will do all of the work for you..
All ingredients (cilantro, nuts/seeds, garlic and cheese) will go into the food processor and extra virgin olive oil will be streamed in while the processor is running until a desirable consistency is achieved...
All ingredients (cilantro, nuts/seeds, garlic and cheese) will go into the food processor and extra virgin olive oil will be streamed in while the processor is running until a desirable consistency is achieved…

Other ideas…stir this into mayo for a fantastic, herby aoli for sandwiches or to dip fries in (http://www.hotdatedinner.com/crispy-baked-sweet-potato-fries/)….OR use it as a marinade for chicken, chops or shrimp a few hours before the grill….OR stir into pasta or rice.  This is a great way to use up cilantro or just a really delicious way to use cilantro…

Print

Cilantro Pesto with Pepitas and Queso Fresco

Cilantro Pest with Queso Fresco and Pepitas

Cilantro perfection…

  • Author: Emily
  • Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Total Time: 10-15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T slivered almonds
2 T pepitas
1 1/2 cups loosley packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsly leaves
1/4 cup evoo
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Salt and frehsly ground pepper

Instructions

In a food processor, finely chop the almonds, pepitas and garlic. Scrape down the sides of the bol. Add the ciantro and parsley adn process until finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly add the oil to create a smooth puree. Add the queso fresco and pulse until evenly incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!!

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

Creamy wild rice soup with chicken and vegetables is hearty and oh, so declicious...this is a soup you will make again and again.
Creamy wild rice soup with chicken and vegetables is hearty and oh, so delicious…this is a soup you will make again and again..

Creamy wild rice soup with chicken and vegetables is a Minnesota classic and would make the perfect hot date dinner.  Make no mistake this along with a nice glass of wine and some candle light would be the perfect, cozy date night in and it is SO EASY to do at home.  I have said it before and I will say it again, make it at home, that way you control the quality of ingredients that go into the food you are eating as well as those that you love.  This recipe makes A LOT of soup, so feel free to cut it in half if that works better for you.  I love this recipe as is because I can cook once, have enough for dinner, lunches throughout the week and some to give to my dear friend and neighbor Ron.  You see, he is widowed and so I try to help him out by making soup every week for him.  ‘Tis the season friends, make some extra and give it to a friend.  We all love the comforting warmth of soup so brighten someones day with a homemade gift…make someone wild rice soup!!  Now, let’s cook…

Minnesota harvested, GORGEOUS wild rice....endless possibilities..
Minnesota harvested, GORGEOUS wild rice….endless possibilities..

Look at the color of this rice, isn’t it beautiful?  Wild rice is native to MN and Canada, but can now be found nation wide due to advancements in it’s ability to be grown and harvested   https://minnesota.agclassroom.org/educator/card/wildrice.pdf.    Wild rice is naturally gluten free, sodium free, fat free and cholesterol free.  It also has more zinc,  protein,  phosphorus and other trace minerals than either brown or white rice.  Use it where you would use either brown or white rice.  Cook it according to package directions, drain and reserve until the soup is ready for it.

Cooking wild rice will increase it's volume A LOT. 1 1/2 cups raw wild rice will yield about 8 cups of cooked wild rice...
Cooking wild rice will increase it’s volume A LOT. 1 1/2 cups raw wild rice will yield about 8 cups of cooked..the perfect amount to provide the  bite and body you are looking for in wild rice soup…
While the rice is cooking, prep your veggies for the saute pan..
While the rice is cooking, prep your veggies for the saute pan..

Friends, once you cook the rice, prep and saute the veggies you are almost done.  Only, a few more steps to go.  Make this a day or two ahead…the flavors will marry and develop making the soup even better AND you will have an amazing dinner or hot date dinner for that night this week when things are BONKERS.  Such a great feeling to know that you have something delicious, healthy and cheaper than “not-so-good-for-you” takeout.  

I have added shredded chicken to this soup, but feel free to use turkey or to leave it out and increase the vegetables..soup is always very versatile..
I have added shredded (dark meat) chicken to this soup, but feel free to use white meat,  turkey or to leave it out and increase the vegetables..soup is always very versatile..IDEA, shred the meat from that rotisserie chicken you pick up at your local deli and use the bones to make stock.  Find the recipe for chicken stock here,  http://www.hotdatedinner.com/basic-training-tip-tricks-recipes/
After the chicken stock, wild rice, chicken and half and half are added to the soup, add 1 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg to take things to the next level...
After the chicken stock, wild rice, chicken and half and half are added to the soup, add 1 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg to take things to the next level…

Fresh nutmeg, what??? WHY??  Here’s why, once nutmeg is ground, it soon loses the oils which provide its flavor and taste, so grating fresh nutmeg is recommended to achieve the full benefit of flavor.  Use a mandoline as pictured here to grate the nutmeg or the smallest holes on a box grater.  The difference between fresh nutmeg and commercially-ground is like night and day.  Buy these seeds in bulk at your local co-op (I buy mine at   https://www.valleynaturalfoods.com/) or look for them in a jar in the spice section of your grocery store.  Nutmeg is essential in any cream based soup or bechamel based dish. If you have never tried FRESH nutmeg, now is your chance.  You won’t look back, the fragrance of fresh nutmeg will steal your heart.  

 

Easy to make, packed with nutrition and DELICIOUS, this one is a real crowd-pleaser...one you will make again and again..
Easy to make, packed with nutrition and DELICIOUS, this one is a real crowd-pleaser…one you will make again and again..
Print

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Chicken and Vegetables

Creamy wild rice soup with chicken and vegetables is hearty and oh, so declicious...this is a soup you will make again and again.

5 from 1 reviews

I make soup every week of the year (almost) and this was the request from the kids for this week.  Creamy wild rice soup with chicken and vegetables is hearty, healthy and one that you will make again and again.

  • Author: Emily
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Yield: about 20

Ingredients

evoo or bacon drippings

1 1/2 cups wild rice (cooked according to package directions)

2 onions, chopped

4-5 stalks of celery, chopped..leaves included

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme

1/2 cup of flour 

12 cups of homemade chicken stock

4 cups shredded cooked chicken

3 cups of half and half

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (1/2 tsp dry)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Rinse and cook the wild rice according to package directions.  Drain off any excess water and reserve cooked wild rice until needed.  

Meanwhile, heat the a large splash of evoo or 2-3 T of bacon drippings in a large soup pot.  Saute the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the flour, stir until the flour in fully incorporated  and coating the vegetables evenly.  Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly.  Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (soup will thicken as it simmers).  

Add the cooked wild rice (should be about 8 cups), shredded chicken, half and half and fresh, grated nutmeg.  Return to a gentle simmer and cook until heated through 5-10 minutes.  Remove the stems from the thyme (leaves should have fallen off) and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and serve with saltines, some good bread or a side salad.  Bon Appetit!!

Notes

This makes A LOT of soup!!  I make it this way so that I have enough to give some to a neighbor and for lunches all week for those that want it.  Easily cut this recipe in half if that works better for your family.  This soup freezes well also. 

Mixed Citrus Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Spicy, Roasted Chickpeas

Mixed Citrus Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Spicy, Roasted Chickpeas
LOOK AT THIS COLOR!!! Isn’t it just gorgeous? I had some of my favorite women over for a very early Christmas lunch and wanted to make them something that was packed with color, flavor and all kinds of nutrition and this salad was the creation…

‘Tis citrus season, friends….I like to think of it this way instead of ’tis flu season.   Citrus season is just beginning…it peaks right after the new year, so good news….you can make this beauty over and over for the next few months.  Mixed citrus salad with avocado, pomegranate and spicy, roasted chickpeas is light and refreshing, and is packed with fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and phyochemicals….all warriors against that other season we are in (not to mention preventative measures against all kinds of other things that our bodies don’t want).  Did I mention it is absolutely stunning…a real show-stopper and EASY to make???  Let’s do this…to begin with, we will talk about roasting chickpeas….genius, I know!! (more…)