Chipotle Beans (and Rice!)

Chipotle Beans and Rice 12

This probably should be a Wingin’ it Wednesday kind of post but it’s so good I simply can’t wait that long. This came out of the fact that I had been remiss in cleaning our refrigerator and there were some sad looking contents that really needed to be dealt with.

It also makes for a super quick dinner because most of the ingredients just need to be heated up and then you’re set.

Start by cooking up (or heating up) some rice. I’m using brown rice here because that’s the sum total of rice I had in my house but you can use whatever you want.

Chipotle Beans and Rice 1

Then I chopped some stuff: onions, green onions

Chipotle Beans and Rice 2

Some cold Italian sausages we’d barbecued the night before …

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And some very sorry-looking tomatoes.

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Then I drained and rinsed a can of black beans. You can use any kind of bean you like – just make sure they’re not dried or that would taste bad.

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Then I heated up some oil and butter in my big cast iron skillet and cooked the onions until they were translucent and smelled amazing.

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Added in some garlic and the beans and gave that a stir.

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Then I chucked in the rest of the stuff.

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Added a wee sprinkling of ground chipotle.

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And a few dollops of sweet salsa (this stuff has mangos in it and I love it).

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Then I stirred it all around until everything was soft and amazing.

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And then served it over rice with a dollop of sour cream.

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The cilantro garnish is growing on my table. I hope it will flourish in the backyard once it gets warmer.

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This was so good I don’t want to wait until I clean the fridge again to make it once more!

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Sausage Rolls

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I made these for our end-of-the-year softball team potluck, and despite me making four dozen of them, they were gone within five minutes of opening up the container. I’ve never made sausage rolls before, but I do love them, so it was easy to figure out what should go in them. I will definitely make them again, and probably tweak what I throw in, just for variety’s sake – you should, too!

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I started by chopping up a bunch of end-of-season herbs from my garden: a bit of sage, parsley, and chives. There is probably about 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs here.

Sausage Rolls 1

Then I chopped up 1 package white mushrooms, about 3 cups minced. Ordinarily I’d probably mince up 1 large onion and do half onion, half mushroom, but one of the potluck attendees is allergic to onions so I left it out.

Sausage Rolls 2

Then grab some (500g) uncooked sausages. These are a little on the spicy side, but nothing too crazy.

Sausage Rolls 3

Slice through the casing and remove the meat.

Sausage Rolls 4

Chuck the sausage meat in a bowl together with your herbs, the mushrooms and onions (if you used onions and/or mushrooms), 2 large eggs, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and about 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs. Feel free to season with salt and pepper as well. It turned out that I had bought pre-seasoned panko so I didn’t bother.

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Mix the sausage up thoroughly with the other ingredients. I found it was easier (if more disgusting) to use my hands, but you could probably get away with doing this in the bowl of a stand mixer as well.

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Now, remove from the fridge that package of puff pastry sheets that has been defrosting in there overnight.  Slice each sheet into three equal strips.

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Grab some mustard. I bought this fancy Tarragon Dijon stuff and I don’t regret it.

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Brush a line of mustard down the length of each strip of puff pastry.

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Evenly distribute all your sausage meat on top of your mustard line on each strip.

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Bring the edges of each strip of pastry together to seal the meat into a long tube. You may have to stretch the pastry a bit to do this, depending on how full it is.

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Shove your sausage tubes into the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up the dough and the meat and make it easier for you to slice them. You can preheat your oven now, to about 425°F. My oven cooks a little hotter (you’ll notice the finished ones are slightly charred on the bottom) so feel free to reduce the heat to whatever you need to if you have the same problem.

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Slice the now-firm tubes into 8 equal pieces – this will give you 48 sausage rolls.

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Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy and the sausage is cooked through.

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Allow them to cool slightly before you stuff them all in your face. I don’t know how long they will last after baking them, in terms of storage, because I never got the chance to find out.

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Chipotle Beans and Sausage: In the Woods

Chipotle Beans in the woods 15

This was our final hot meal on our camping trip, and the only one that involved the purchase of a pre-prepared element: baked beans (though if I’d had some of mine in the freezer you can bet all you own that I would have used them).  I did adapt it from The Camping Cookbook in that I used sausages, not hot dogs, as the meat addition.

Chipotle Beans in the woods 3

This is definitely my idea of campfire food.  This is something my dad would come up with over the fire – though if he made it, it would be slightly burnt coming out of his ancient frying pan. Now, this was *supposed* to be the last meal we ate at camp, but it ended up being the first meal we cooked at home after abandoning our damp post.

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Even the deer were getting the hell out.

Considering the downpour that occurred while I was cooking it in the safety of my warm and dry kitchen, I did not regret my choice to come home a day earlier.

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Drop about 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large frying pan and let that heat up.

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Add in 1 small onion, chopped finely, and sauté for a few minutes, until the onion pieces become translucent. Slice up 2 sausages (your choice, but spicy is probably better) into medallions and cook those with the onion until they’re done all the way through and slightly crispy at the edges.

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Sprinkle on as well as 1/2 teaspoon chipotle (or more if you prefer).

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Crack open a 400g can of baked beans (I chose maple, but chili style would add a kick) and add that to the mix.

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I love this can opener. It is literally the best $16 I ever spent.  I’m so miffed that Lee Valley doesn’t sell them anymore.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is hot and bubbly and nice and thick.

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Grate up some cheddar cheese (I used 1 cup grated cheddar because I am a greasy glutton) and sprinkle over top of the beans before serving.

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… Squasage?

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I did not name this, for the record.  When I was looking up basic cooking times on the internet, I found one for sausage-stuffed squash that was entitled “Squasage” and now I can’t get it out of my head.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, I had this squash (I think it’s a kabocha?) that needed eating and this is what I decided to do with it — it makes a nice winter meal for two.

Squasage 1

Preheat your oven to 400°F and cut your squash in half.  I use a grapefruit spoon to remove the seeds — it’s easier that way.

Squasage 2

Place the squash cut-side-up on a baking dish or in a roasting pan and brush with olive oil.  Dust with salt and pepper and roast for about an hour, until you can poke it all over with a fork with little resistance.

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In the meantime, rinse and drain 1/2 cup quinoa.  This is red quinoa.

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Dump the quinoa in a small pot with 1 cup broth (your choice) and bring to a boil.

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Lower the heat, cover it, and let it simmer until the broth is all absorbed.  It’ll look all fluffy with little white tails like this when it’s done, after about 15 minutes.

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You’ll also want to chop up some veg, about half an onion and half a red pepper.  Or a whole pepper.  Up to you.

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I had three Italian sausages here, but you can use two as well.

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Slice open the casing and dump the contents into a bowl.

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Heat up some olive oil in a pan and start sautéing your onions.

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When they’re soft and translucent, add your sausage and break it up with a spoon while it cooks.

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When it’s cooked completely, add in your red pepper and some herbs.  I used fines herbes, a combination of things like parsley, chervil, marjoram, and chives.

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Stir that around for a bit until the red pepper is softer.

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Then you can dump in the quinoa and lower the heat just to keep the whole thing warm until the squash is ready.

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In a small bowl, dump in a few teaspoons panko bread crumbs and a little bit of grated cheese (your choice).  Mix that together.

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When the squash is ready, lower the oven heat to 350°F and start spooning the sausage mixture into your squash halves.  You may end up with leftover mix, but it makes a great lunch the next day.

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When the squash halves are holding as much as they can, sprinkle the cheese/panko mix over the top and chuck it back in the oven for about 15 minutes, until everything is thoroughly warm, the cheese is melted, and the bread crumbs are starting to brown.

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The result is an all-in-one, piping hot meal.

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We did find it easier to tip out the contents and scrape out the softened squash before mixing it all together and eating it.  It was less molten that way.

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Wingin’ it Wednesday: Comfort Ramen

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

The week before we left for Vancouver, the Pie, poor thing, got tonsillitis.  After the fever went down and he’d rested a bit (read: slept all day and all night for two days), he still had a raging sore throat and came home from the doctor’s with an enormous jar of amoxycillin pills (sorry folks, when you’re grown up, they don’t give you the banana-flavoured liquid anymore).

To tempt his appetite (hard to be hungry when every swallow is like eating razors), I made him all sorts of his favourite soft foods, and this was one of them.  Ramen is the sort of thing we eat when one of us is out for the evening and the other doesn’t want to be bothered with really cooking.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Of course, the ramen as it comes in packages with salty broth and dried noodles cooked in coconut or palm kernel oil is an unhealthy choice, and I haven’t yet learned to make it from scratch.  So we try to add a few things to it in the hopes that it will be nutritionally redeemed — somewhat.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

This means that there’s a bit of prep work involved in making what is normally an almost instant meal, but it’s totally worth it.  Just remember that any vegetable or meat or anything you put in the ramen must be fully cooked or sliced super dooper thin, because it will only be in the boiling water for a very short time.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Accordingly, tonight I thinly sliced up a small onion, an Italian sausage, and about six mushrooms.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

I’m trying to get more protein in small packages into the Pie’s stomach (when you’re a large man and you’re barely eating, you tend to get very tired), so I’m also adding two eggs to this mix.  Beat those up and let them wait in a bowl until you’re ready.  Other things that work well in ramen are things like thinly sliced roast beef, green onions, pre-cooked baby shrimp, chopped hard-boiled eggs, red peppers, alfalfa sprouts, spinach … anything small, pretty much, will work.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

So the first thing I do when cooking packaged ramen is I measure the water into a pot and I add the powdered broth.  I like to give it a chance to simmer a bit.  I also add a healthy dollop of minced garlic.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

When the water is boiling, I slide in the blocks of noodles and cook them for about a minute.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Then I pour in the vegetables and sausage and give them a stir (cooking chopsticks are very handy here, but a regular pasta spoon will work as well), and let that cook for another minute.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Then carefully pour your egg in, in a thin stream, so it cooks and forms strings on the surface of the soup.  Give that a stir as well, and then you’re ready to serve.

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Garnish with fresh herbs if you like, or chili flakes or whatever floats your boat.  Smooth and simple!

Wingin' It Wednesdays: Comfort Ramen

Wingin’ It Wednesday: Sausage and Sweet Potato Stir-Up

Wingin' It Wednesday

This is an easy way to make sure you’re getting all your veggies in the winter time.

For this I diced up half an onion and chucked it in a large frying pan with some olive oil and a scoop of minced garlic.  Then I added one very large hot Italian sausage (in little bits) and cooked it through.  Toss in two finely sliced carrots, two handfuls sugar snap peas, and a finely sliced red pepper, and you’re almost there.  Let that cook a little until things are tender-crisp. Then I added in two small sweet potatoes that I had previously parboiled and stirred everything around with some salt and pepper.  Mmm, boy, it was good!

Wingin' It Wednesday

Summer Fresh Pasta

Summer Fresh Pasta
This quick meal is great for when you don’t have a lot of time and the gloomy summer weather outside has you craving a few carbs.
Summer Fresh Pasta
Plus it’s another method of eating the hated sausages.
Summer Fresh Pasta
And an excuse to eat more cheese.
Summer Fresh Pasta
Start a pot of water a-boiling and cook up pasta, such as farfalle, penne, or rotini.  Cook enough for four or five people.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Slice yourself up half an onion, a red pepper, and a handful of mushrooms.  Set the pepper and mushrooms aside for now.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Sauté the onion with a spoonful or two of minced garlic until softened.

Squeeze in the contents of three hot Italian sausages and cook, stirring to break up the sausages, until the meat is no longer pink.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Add in your peppers and mushrooms and stir for a few minutes longer.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Drain your pasta and stir in 1/2 cup pesto.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Add in your sausage and vegetables and a further 1/2 cup pesto and toss to coat.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Serve hot or cold, garnished with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Friday and over the weekend from Freshly Pressed, and thanks for all your great comments!Sausage Stuffed Peppers

This is a strange experience.  I’m actually eating this meal (leftover) as I blog about it.  I have already gotten rice on the keyboard.  This is one of those recipes I wrote down as a child in my magic recipe book and which I haven’t made in twenty years.  But it was also another one of those if-I-have-to-eat-plain-sausage-AGAIN-I-will-throw-something nights so, it had to be done.  And of course I changed it around a bit.
Sausage Stuffed Peppers

First you take 4 red peppers, wash them, and cut the tops off.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Pull out all the guts.  If you wish, you can parboil them for a few minutes at this stage but I like my veggies crisp so I left them raw.  Spray a small oven-proof dish and pile them all in, open side up.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Preheat your oven to 350°F and cook up 1 cup of rice, or enough that you come up with 2 cups cooked rice when you’re done.

I made the mistake here of chopping up 1 large onion.  What you should really do is chop up 1 medium or small onion.  Plop those in a saucepan with some olive oil.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Squeeze the meat out of 1lb sausage (I used about a third less, and with the extra onion, mine ended up a little meh) and add them, together with a few teaspoons minced garlic, to the onions.  Sauté those until the onions are tender and the sausage is broken up into little bits and fully cooked.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stir in the cooked rice.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Melt 3 tablespoons butter and add it to 1/2 cup bread crumbs.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stir that around.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stuff each pepper with as much of the rice-sausage mixture as will fit.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Squish it down a little at the top to make a shallow depression.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

If you have extra rice, put it in a casserole dish.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Open up a can of diced tomatoes.  Spoon on a few pieces of tomato, enough to cover the top of the pepper, and be generous with the juice.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Use more on your extra rice.  See how the tomato juice kind of percolates down?

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Top each pepper (and your casserole) with bread crumbs.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until everything is all bubbly and the bread crumbs are brown.  Serve hot!

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Sausage Risotto with Broccoli and Mushrooms

I really like risotto.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite starchy sides.  So why has it been ages (over a year) since I last made it?  Hard to say.  It’s not like it’s hard to make risotto.

The Pie really likes sausages, and they’re cheap here, so we eat them often.  I am not such a huge fan.  On this particular night, I decided that if I had to slice through another meat-and-two-veg meal with slippery hot sausages as the main attraction I might throw something at my husband.  And I like him, so I wanted to avoid such a situation.

The basic principle of risotto making is the constant adding of more and more liquid, stirring as you go.  This brings out the naturally creamy nature of the arborio rice.  If you find a recipe that tells you to add cream to your risotto while it’s cooking, then the authors don’t know how to cook it right.  The creaminess comes by itself, and don’t let anybody tell you anything different.

The traditional method for making risotto involves adding one part white wine to the mix, then three parts water, gradually.  Today we are going to use straight chicken broth instead.

Squeeze the meat out of 3 hot Italian sausages and plop that in a pan.

Slice up about 8oz mushrooms of your choosing.  You can chuck those in the pan with the sausages.  I suppose if you wanted to do it right you would saute each of those things separately, but when do I ever follow the rules?

Dice 1 whole onion and put that in a saucepan with a dab of olive oil.  Set that to sautéing, stirring occasionally, until the onion pieces are translucent.

While that is cooking, sauté the mushrooms and sausage as well.  Break up the sausage with a spatula as it cooks, until you just have little sausage-y bits. 

Drain off any juices and fat and keep warm.  We also had about 2 cups frozen steamed broccoli hanging around, so I popped that in the pan as well to thaw.

Pour 1 cup arborio rice into the onions.

Add 1 cup hot chicken broth (low sodium) to the rice and onions and cook on high heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add a further 3 cups hot chicken broth, one at a time, stirring in each one until fully absorbed.  The whole process should take about 20 minutes and leave you with a lovely creamy rice.

Season the risotto with salt and pepper.  Stir in about 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup grated romano cheese.

Dump in your sausage/mushroom/broccoli mixture and stir well.

Serve hot, garnished with more grated romano.  Makes great leftovers.

I made a pizza. From scratch. In the middle of Gros Morne National Park.

And it worked!  Beat that, Martha!

Flushed with the success of our raspberry orange crumble in the woods, we figured we’d try out one of the recipes in the wee book that came with our Outback Oven and attempt the challenge of making a pizza from scratch while camping.

First we make up the dough.

In a bowl, mix 2 cups flour with 1 packet instant yeast, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons salt.  I shook in a few teaspoons of grill herb mix (basil, oregano, etc.) from a Coghlan’s spice pack I had on hand.

Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2/3 cup warm water and stir-stir-stir.

Knead that sucker until all the flour is mixed in, about 5 minutes.  If your dough is still sticky, you can add more flour.

Flatten the dough into the bottom of your oven pan, and cover with lid. 

Place somewhere warm to rise for about 15 minutes.  I put mine next to our fire, because it was a chilly afternoon in our shady campsite.

While it was rising, I sliced up 3 cloves garlic, one half tomato (vegetables were hard to find in Gros Morne), some hard salami, and the Pie kindly grated me some cheddar cheese (because that was what we had).

Spread a few drops of olive oil on your risen dough.

Spoon on about 3 tablespoons pizza sauce and spread that around.

Add your toppings.

Then your cheese.

Cover with lid and the parka-tent thing and bake for about 20 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  You can check the crust by flipping it up, just to keep it from burning.Let it cool a few minutes in the pan or you will burn yourself.

Make sure to slide the pizza out of your nonstick pan before cutting.

The boys and I agreed that this was one of the better pizzas we had eaten recently (and we had recently eaten moose pizza, so that was saying something).

Gren didn’t get any.  Awww …