Want more easy-to-make meals that everyone eats? My recipe file, adapted from a potluck of sources (Nana, Fannie Farmer, cooking shows, magazines, friends, Pinterest), includes one-skillet meals, assemble-the-night-before casseroles, and crock pot stews. Every month you’ll find a new recipe card for an appetizer, entrée, side dish, and dessert.

I'm also introducing a soupe du mois because soups are versatile and work equally well for lunch, after-school snack or first course to a cloth-napkin meal. Soups are good to have on hand for the uninvited guest who is always welcome.

Extra work = big payoff in the kitchen. (Holds true for life too.) I'm adding a few "weekend projects:" simmering sauces and complex cakes. I think these slow-cooked selections are worth your effort!

Feel free to improve my recipes: email me


Bon Appétit!

 
 

Chunky Chili

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from the kitchen of Nana

  • 5 lbs. beef chuck in 1 1/2 " cubes
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. flour 1/2 c. chili powder (not the very hot) or to taste 2 tsp. cumin 2 tsp. oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 qt. beef broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  1. Brown meat in olive oil in heavy pan.
  2. Sprinkle with flour and chili powder.
  3. Cook, stirring 3 - 5 minutes until meat is coated with flour and chili powder.
  4. Rub cumin and oregano in palm of hand and sprinkle over meat.
  5. Add garlic, broth, salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to boil.
  7. Cover and simmer 3 or 4 hours at low temperature.

RICE ACCOMPANIMENT

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 c. long grain rice
  • 1 c. Italian tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 chicken broth
  • 2/3 c drained chick peas
  1. Saute onion, garlic, pepper until transparent.
  2. Add rice & cook over low heat till rice is golden.
  3. Break up tomatoes with fingers, add tomatoes broth to rice.
  4. Bring to boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add chick peas & cook 5 minutes longer.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

Forgiving Family Chili

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so far removed from the source I wouldn't know where to begin to give credit...

You can approximate, omit or substitute just about every ingredient here—except the chili powder—and it still turns out great! It's a really forgiving recipe, and forgiveness is a good thing!

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (or tomato puree, sauce, or fresh chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • dash cayenne or chopped jalapeno (optional)
  • fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt 'n' pepper to taste
  • 2 cans beans  (pinto, kidney, black, garbanzo)
  • 1 can corn
  1. Sauté onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and bell peppers in olive oil.
  2. Add beef and pork, breaking the meat up with a spoon, and browning it until all pink is gone.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and spices.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Stir in beans and corn.
  7. Serve over brown rice, or not, with a basket of tortilla chips.
  8. Garnish with any combination of the follwoing: dollops of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, grated pepper jack or cheddar cheese, sliced olives, green onions and salsa.

 

 

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

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adapted from my own stovetop recipe for forgiving family chili

As with my stovetop chili, this one adapts beautifully to substitutions. Use up what's in your pantry!

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs. ground turkey (or beef, or beef & pork)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (or tomato puree, sauce, or fresh chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Montana Mex chile salt
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • dash cayenne or 1 tsp. Montana Mex jalapeno salt (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • salt 'n' pepper to taste
  • 2 cans beans  (pinto, kidney, black or garbanzo)
  • 1 can corn
  1. Assemble all ingredients in the crock pot the night before.
  2. Put a lid on it and stow the crock pot on the top shelf of your fridge overnight.
  3. Remove from fridge in the morning.
  4. Cook the chili 8 hours on low. (adjust timing as needed for your own slow cooker)
  5. Serve alone or over brown rice, with a basket of tortilla chips. 
  6. Garnish with any combination of the following: dollops of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, grated pepper jack or cheddar cheese, sliced olives, green onions and salsa.
 

EZ Pot Roast

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From the kitchen of Nana by way of my Texas MeMaw

  • 1 beef chuck roast (3-5lbs)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled & sliced
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  • 1 packet Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Mix
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  1. Rub roast all over with 3 seasoning packets.
  2. Lay the onion slices on top of roast.
  3. Wrap the roast in 2 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil or 3 layers of standard, being careful to seal.
  4. Place uncovered in a roasting pan.
  5. Bake at 325F oven for 4-5 hours.
  6. Open foil carefully and let stand 15 minutes before carving.
  7. Serve with onion and  pan juices.
 

Marinated Skirt Steak

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adapted from Martha Stewart magazine

These are two ways I like to marinate skirt steak for the grill, broiler or stove-top grill pan. Hanger or flank steak work great too. Throw some peppers and onions on the grill and serve alongside with fresh slices of avocado. Cilantro for garnish.

Mediterranean Marinade:

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • leaves of 5 rosemary sprigs (or 2 T dried)
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  1. Smash the garlic cloves with the rosemary, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the oil, vinegar and sugar.
  3. Marinate 1 & 1/2lb  skirt steak in a resealable bag, refrigerated, for 24 hours. Flip bag occasionally.
  4. Preheat grill, broiler or stove-top grill pan to high.
  5. Grill steak, flipping once, for 6-10 minutes.
  6. Let meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain in thin slices.

Latin Marinade:

  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • leaves of 6 oregano sprigs (or 2 T dried)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • 5 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (4 limes)
  • 1 tsp  sugar
  1. Smash the garlic cloves with the oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix in the oil, lime and sugar.
  3. Marinate 1 & 1/2lb  skirt steak in a resealable bag, refrigerated, for 24 hours. Flip bag occasionally.
  4. Preheat grill, broiler or stove-top grill pan to high.
  5. Grill steak, flipping once, for 6-10 minutes.
  6. Let meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing across the grain in thin slices.

 

 

They'll Never Know Meatloaf

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from the kitchen of Nana

I've hidden 6 veggies here and the boys still scarf it up. Chop all vegetables fine in a food processor.  Serve with bar-b-q sauce or ketchup, livened up with hot sauce, and mashed potatoes and buttered broccoli on the side. Makes a great sandwich the next day!

  • 2 lbs. "meatloaf mix" (ground chuck/veal/pork)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 pkg onion soup mix
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
  1. Mix all ingredients in a big bowl except tomato sauce. (Clean hands are your best kitchen tool.)
  2. Press into a large, greased loaf pan.
  3. Pour tomato sauce on top.
  4. Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour.
 

Crock Pot Bratwursts

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adapted from Recipe Shoebox

Here's a hearty crock pot supper. Browning brats on the stove top first improves flavor and appearance, but it's not absolutely necessary.

  • 8 - 10 knockwursts, bratwursts, smoked or cheddar wursts (any combo)
  • 2T canola oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced (optional)
  • 2 cans sauerkraut, rinsed and well-drained
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups apple juice or 1 bottle of beer
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 packet onion soup mix
  1. Layer half the apples, onion, potatoes, sauerkraut and green pepper on the bottom of the crock pot.
  2. Brown brats in oil, add to crock pot.
  3. Add remaining apples, onions, potatoes, sauerkraut and green pepper.
  4. Mix apple juice (or beer) with mustard, caraway seeds, bay leaf and onion soup mix.
  5. Pour apple juice mixture over everything in crock pot.
  6. Cook 6 hours on low. (Adjust timing as needed for your own slow cooker).
  7. Serve with crusty rye or Boston brown bread.
 

Crock Pot beef stew

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Inspired by generations of cooks but adapted from no one in particular...

In this slow cooker version of an American classic, I skip the step of browning the beef on the stove top. I don't think the dish suffers. Omit the beef and substitute vegetable for beef broth, and you've got a hearty vegan stew.

  • 3 lbs. beef for stew, cut in 2" cubes
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut in 2" chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut in 2" chunks
  • 2 parsnip, peeled and cut in 2 inch chunks
  • 4 medium potatoes, (any kind) peeled and cut in half (not necessary to peel red potatoes)
  • 4 turnips, peeled and quartered
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can (14.5oz) beef broth
  • 1 10 oz box frozen peas
  • chopped fresh parsley
  1. Combine the flour, seasoned salt, onion powder and pepper in a Ziploc bag.
  2. Shake beef in flour mixture in sealed Ziploc bag.
  3. Layer all ingredients, except the frozen peas, in the crock pot, ending with the beef on top.
  4. Put a lid on it and stow the crock pot on the top shelf of your fridge overnight.
  5. Remove from fridge in the morning.
  6. Cook the stew 8-10 hours on low or 6-7 hours on high. (adjust timing as needed for your own slow cooker)
  7. Stir once or twice during cooking.
  8. Add the peas, and another handful of fresh parsley during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  9. Serve with crusty bread and butter.
 

nana's lasagnE bolognese

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From the kitchen of Nana

Who doesn't love lasagne? Even bad lasagne is better than the best kale salad, but Nana's version is not bad at all. Flavorful filling lives between layers of wide noodles. Warning: Nana commits Italian-American heresy. She omits mozzarella. The result is a silky-smooth filling, not at all gooey. Another secret to her success: a slow-cooked Bolognese sauce. Lasagne Bolognese is a weekend project, but I doubled the sauce recipe here so you have enough to freeze for an encore lasagne, or to defrost and pour over ravioli for a quick weeknight meal. Buon appetito!

Bolognese Sauce:

  • 1 stick butter (4oz)
  • 4 lbs ground beef, veal and pork (Any combo. 1 package "meatloaf mix" plus 1 package of ground chuck will do).
  • 3 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrot sticks, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional, but does add dimension)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cans whole tomatoes (28oz), pulsed in a food processor
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  1. Melt butter in a heavy, enameled cast-iron sauce pot or dutch oven.
  2. Sautée onions and garlic briefly until golden.
  3. Add the celery and carrots and cook gently for 2 minutes.
  4. Break in  the ground meat and salt and cook only til meat has lost its rawness.
  5. Pour in wine, turn up heat, and cook til wine has evaporated.
  6. Lower heat, stir in milk and nutmeg.
  7. Cook til milk has partly evaporated, stirring frequently.
  8. Add tomatoes, lower heat, simmer 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
  9. Serve on tagliatelle, rigatoni or use for assembling lasagne.

Lasagne Bolognese:

  • 1 box lasagne noodles (regular or oven-ready, your choice)
  • 15oz container whole milk ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano or romano cheese
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and chopped (larger stems removed)
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • salt 'n' pepper to taste
  1.  Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Pulse all ingredients—except lasagne noodles—in food processor til smooth.
  4. Spread 1 cup sauce in bottom of pan.
  5. Layer 3 sheets of lasagne. (Oven-ready sheets will expand in baking to meet each other and edges of the dish. Overlap the boiled variety though).
  6. Spread thin layer ricotta mixture over noodles.
  7. Sprinkle 1 cup of sauce over ricotta filling.
  8. Repeat layers ending with noodles.
  9. Sprinkle 1 more cup of sauce (if using oven-ready sheets, sprinkle a little extra water on top).
  10. Shake grated cheese all over.
  11. Cover tightly with tin foil.
  12. Bake for 1 hour.
  13. Let rest 10 minutes.
  14. Serve with extra sauce, grated cheese, a green salad and crusty garlic bread.

 

 

GRILLED TUNA TERIYAKI

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From the grill of Uncle Teddy

I've never forgotten that summer night as a teen, when grill master Uncle Ted fired up his Park Slope deck hibachi and served this tempting tuna. Add coconut rice and steamed snow peas, drizzled with some reserved marinade, to make your own memorable meal that family will relish—and reproduce—for years to come.

Marinade:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup teriayki sauce
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • bunch of scallions, sliced
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Divide marinade, reserving half.
  3. Marinate 4 tuna steaks in other half of the marinade for 1-3 hours. (Discard this marinade after use).
  4. Grill steaks to desired doneness, turning once. (I like my tuna medium rare).
  5. Serve tuna alongside steamed snow peas, drizzled in reserved marinade, and coconut rice.
 

The Great Consolidator's Granola

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You can read more about the Great Consolidator here.

  • 8 cups old-fashioned oats (No substitutes here. DON’T use quick or instant oats)
  • 2 cups nuts (any will do: walnuts/pecans/almonds/hazelnuts/macadamia/cashew/brazil)
  • ½ cup light-tasting oil (old cookbooks call this “salad oil” canola,/corn/soybean/grapeseed/coconut etc..)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (if you don’t have honey, use more syrup, and vice-versa)
  • 1 cup flaked coconut (optional. So if you don’t have it, don’t sweat it.)
  1. Stir all together and bake in a 300F oven for 1-1 ½  hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and stir in any combo of dried fruit totaling 2 cups: Raisins/cranberries/slivered apricots/blueberries/cherries/prunes/figs. Do not return to oven.
  3. Stir gently, allow to cool and pack in air-tight containers.  Lasts a good while.
  4. Enjoy over yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, or ice cream, or with milk, or alone!
     
 

The Great Consolidator's Black Bean Soup

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You can read about the Great Consolidator here.

  • 1 large can and 1 small can black beans (or 3 small cans, or 2 large cans, whatever you’ve got on hand, roughly  50 ounces total)

  • 1 beef bouillon cube (or 1 T beef base, or 1 can of beef broth)

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (or 1 red onion, or 3 green onions, or 2 T dried onion)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 T garlic paste, granulated garlic, or garlic powder)

  • 2 cans V-8 cocktail (excellent way to address the largely un-drunk case from Costco) (or 1 can tomato juice or tomato sauce)

  • 6 cups water

  • Mystery meat from the freezer. (What have you got? Frost-bitten smoked turkey wings? Perfect. A ham bone or salt pork? Great. Breakfast sausage or bacon will do in a pinch.)

  • 1/3 cup EVOO (or not-so-virginal olive oil, or an oil blend like olive and canola)

  • 1 green pepper, chopped (if you don’t have a pepper withering in the crisper, don’t sweat it.)

  • 2 stalks celery, plus tops, chopped  (I freeze celery tops for soups)

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  •  up to ½ cup jarred salsa (optional, but does add a certain je ne sais quoi)

  • generous pinches of thyme and oregano (fresh or dried)

  • chopped fresh cilantro  (the finishing touch, but remember, if you don’t have it, it’s cheating to run out for some)

Boil up the water with the bouillon cube, V-8 juice, vegetables, turkey wings or ham bone and spices. Add EVOO and salsa. Simmer for a good half hour. Add beans and rice last.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Remove meat from pot. Remove meat from bones and return meat only to pot. 

Garnish with cilantro.  You can top with croutons you’ve made from stale bread too.
 

 

Egyptian Yellow Split Pea Soup

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adapted from Group Recipes

        I always double my soup recipes so there's plenty on hand for unexpected guests. Or freeze some.

  • 2 lemons, juice and zest (plus zest from a 3rd lemon)

  • 3 T butter

  • 3 T olive oil

  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)

  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced

  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 2 inches fresh ginger, sliced

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 4 cups dry split yellow peas, soaked for 2 hours

  • 4 stalks celery, sliced in big chunks

  • 4 carrots, peeled and sliced in big chunks

  • 8 cups water or vegetable stock

  1. Saute onion, garlic, bay leaf, ginger and salt in butter and olive oil in soup pot.

  2. Stir in cumin and cloves and cook on low heat for 3 minutes.

  3. Drain peas and add them along with celery, carrots and the water or stock.

  4. Boil then simmer until the peas have fallen apart, about 1 hour.

  5. Blend using a hand immersion blender or counter top blender (in batches).

  6. Season highly with salt, lemon juice and zest.

       Spiced Yogurt Topping

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1/2 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp salt

  1. Whisk yogurt until smooth and stir in the spices.

       Serve the soup in big mugs with dollops of spiced yogurt and pita chips.
 

 

Scotch Broth

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adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 11th edition, 1965

My wee one loves the chunks of lamb in this tasty alternative to chicken noodle hailing from north of Hadrian's wall. Look for economical packages in the butcher's case of your supermarket marked: "lamb bones for stew".  Or go to your local butcher, ask him to hatchet a leg or shoulder into chunks for shish kebab, and take the meaty bones left behind for your Scotch Broth. 

  • 3 pounds lamb bones or more (bony cuts such as neck, flank or breast)
  • cold water to cover
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 turnips, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt 'n' Pepa to taste
  1. Trim fat from lamb bones and discard.
  2. Cover bones in deep kettle with cold, salted water.
  3. Boil quickly then reduce heat and simmer, covered with lid cracked,  2 hours.
  4. Cool and remove the bones.
  5. Skim fat from broth and discard.
  6. Remove the meat from the bones and set aside.
  7. Add 1 cup quick-cooking barley or 1 cup brown rice
  8. Melt 3 T butter in a pan.
  9. Saute carrots, celery, turnips and onions for 5 minutes.
  10. Add veggies to the soup, along with the reserved meat.
  11. Season to taste with Salt 'n' Pepa.
  12. Simmer until the vegetables are soft.
  13. Toss in parsley.
  14. Serve with homemade croutons.
     
 

Crock Pot Mushroom Barley Soup

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adapted from allrecipes.com

Here's an easy crock pot soup that you can assemble the night before and store in the fridge overnight. In the AM, just flip the switch and soup's on at 6!

  • 1 carton beef stock (32oz)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 package sliced, fresh mushrooms (10oz)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 lbs beef, cut in 1" cubes
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/4  tsp. dried)
  • salt 'n' pepper to taste
  1. Mix beef stock, tomato sauce, water, onion, carrots, barley, garlic and mushrooms in the crock pot.
  2. Season beef with seasoned salt, salt and pepper.
  3. Add to the crock pot along with bay leaves and thyme.
  4. Cook on low until beef is tender and soup thickens, about 8 hours.
  5. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs and serve with crusty bread.
 

Vegan Lentil Soup

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adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 11th Edition

The V-8 was my idea. It adds dimension and the acid perks up lentils. If you like an even tarter taste, squeeze on some lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 pounds dried lentils
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, plus leaves, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 cans V-8 Juice Cocktail
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil water.
  2. Add dried lentils.
  3. Cover. Turn off heat. Let stand 1 hour.
  4. Stir in rest of ingredients.
  5. Simmer for 2 hours, or until lentils are soft.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve garnished with crisp croutons.
 

Pasta Fazool

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From the kitchen of Nana (by way of Carmela Valtaggio)

Trendy "pasta e fagioli" is Italian soul food. Everyone makes it. Ask a retiree on the bocce court in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and he'll rattle off his recipe. So will his opponent. There's no right or wrong way to make it. Some versions are easier—like this one—all in one pot. You can rough chop all vegetables, in any order, in the food processor. This approach calls for dried herbs, but you could use fresh (just use more). Nana actually took this from her landlady, not her mother, while a grad student at Tulane in the late '50s. Carmela lived well into her 90s on pasta fazool (and bloody steaks). Not uncommon for cultural comfort food, this recipe came down to me with no hard measurements, except for the beans and pasta, which should remain in a ratio of 2-1.  I approximated proportions for everything else to my own liking, and you should do the same. Now this is your comfort go-to, too. If you like, shake on the red pepper flakes and cheese, grated or shaved, Parmesan, Romano or Asiago. Buon Appetito!

  • 2 cups dry, white cannellini beans
  • 9 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, plus leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped fine (divided in 2)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
  • 1 cup ditalini (or any small macaroni you prefer) 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Quick soak beans: bring to a boil in water, turn off heat, cover, let sit for one hour.
  2. Add everything else, except the pasta, and reserving 1/2 the parsley.
  3. Simmer until beans are tender.
  4. Stir in pasta, simmer until al dente.
  5. Fold in remaining parsley.
  6. Serve with a heel of peasant loaf.
 

Crock Pot Southwestern Pinto Bean Soup

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inspired by the basic bean soup recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 11th edition

Another forgiving recipe, you can substitute scallions or leeks for the onion, canned tomatoes for fresh, and turkey bacon for pork. Or go vegan and leave the bacon out entirely. There's enough going on in this soup you won't miss the oink. You can substitute table salt for Chile Salt, but I wouldn't. Order it:  facebook.com/montanamex. Top with shredded pepper jack cheese (or not) and serve with tortilla chips.

  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 cups dried pinto beans
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dash dried thyme (or 3 fresh sprigs)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt 'n' pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Montana Mex Chile Salt (optional)
  1. Assemble all ingredients in the crock pot the night before.
  2. Put a lid on it and stow the crock pot on the top shelf of your fridge overnight.
  3. Remove from fridge in the morning.
  4. Cook the soup 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. (Adjust timing as needed for your own slow cooker.)
  5. Serve with a grated cheese of your choosing (Pepper Jack or queso blanco)  and tortilla chips. 
 

Crock Pot Lentils

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adapted from my own stovetop lentil soup recipe

Here's the solution to slow-cooked soup when you can't be home all day to watch your lentils simmering on the back burner. It's great served vegetarian, over pasta, with grated cheese. Or add lamb sausage or hotdogs, and a hunk of crusty bread for a hearty winter's lunch.

  • 1 and 1/2  lbs lentils (3 cups)
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups V-8 vegetable juice cocktail
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp Montana Mex Chile Salt
  • 1 tsp Montana Mex Jalapeno Salt
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 6 Merguez lamb sausage links, sliced (optional)
  • 6 hot dogs, sliced (optional)
  1. Assemble all ingredients in the crock pot the night before.
  2. Put a lid on it and stow the crock pot on the top shelf of your fridge overnight.
  3. Remove from fridge in the morning.
  4. Cook the soup 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. (adjust timing as needed for your own slow cooker)
  5. Serve with grated Romano or Parmesan, or shaved Asiago cheese.
 

Crock Pot Butternut Squash Soup

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adapted from Eliza Rayner on Hub Pages

Green apples and pumpkin pie spice back up the squash surprisingly well. Leeks add dimension to winter soups too, but need to be sliced open and washed well to remove all grit. Don't want to bother? Substitute yellow onion. No problem. If you want to go totally vegan, substitute olive oil or vegan butter for dairy butter.  A hand emulsifier is a handy kitchen gadget by the way.

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into chunks
  • 2 leeks, washed well and chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 Idaho potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 carton vegetable broth (32oz)
  • 1 can garden vegetable broth (14.5oz)
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • spiced yogurt topping and fresh, chopped parsley or sage for garnish
  1. Assemble all ingredients (except yogurt topping) in the crock pot the night before.
  2. Put a lid on it and stow the crock pot on the top shelf of your fridge overnight.
  3. Remove from fridge in the morning.
  4. Cook soup 8 hours on high or until vegetables are soft. (adjust timing as needed for your slow cooker)
  5. Blend until smooth with a hand emulsifier. (or transfer to a blender in batches)
  6. Serve with a multigrain roll and garnished with parsley, sage and a dollop of spiced yogurt.

Spiced Yogurt Topping

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Whisk yogurt until smooth and stir in spices.
 

Five-Minute Fresh Tomato Salsa

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adapted from Cook's Country

  • 1/2 small red onion, peeled and quartered (or 2 scallions)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup drained jarred pickled jalapenos (or fresh seeded jalapeno to taste)
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 large, ripe summer tomatoes, cored, seeded, and quartered
  1. Pulse onion, cilantro, jalapenos, lime juice, garlic, and salt in food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Add tomatoes and pulse until combined, about three 1-second pulses. Strain salsa in fine-mesh sieve and drain briefly.
  3. Transfer to a rustic bowl and serve with tortilla chips of your choice.

      (Salsa can be refrigerated in an airtight Tupp for 2 days.)

 

Lucky Black-eyeD peas

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Adapted from an original recipe of Nana

Southerners serve black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to welcome good luck throughout the year. Traditional hoppin' John is a homey porridge cooked up from dried black-eyed peas, rice and bacon, but I like to usher in good fortune on January 1 with Nana's own invention, a Mediterranean salad made from frozen black-eyed peas and a vinaigrette dressing.

  • 3 cups frozen black-eyed peas (a 16oz bag)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, larger stems removed, washed and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil black-eyed peas according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss peas with remaining ingredients and vinaigrette dressing.
  4. Serve room temperature with crackers or crostini. (thin slices of baguette, drizzled with olive oil and toasted)
 

Arabic green Bean Salad

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From the kitchen of Nana and adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Here's an easy string bean salad, a favorite side dish I've slipped from Nana's archives to mine. Served room temperature, it's a perfect party addition to a cold buffet of smoked fish or turkey. It's also just as fitting for a weeknight meal, served with whole wheat pita.

  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes (14oz) (or canned whole tomatoes if you prefer)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pan with a lid.
  2. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes (do not brown).
  3. Stir in tomatoes and spices and simmer gently 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add green beans, cover and cook 40 minutes (or until tender but not mushy).
  5. Add lemon juice and adjust seasonings.
  6. Serve room temperature in a pretty bowl, garnished with lemon wedges.
 

Nana's Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

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Crust: (merging Martha Stewart and Mom here…)

  • 1and¼ cups all-purpose flour (leveled) (or try ½ white & ½ whole wheat pastry flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water (add a cube of ice to the measuring cup)

Filling:

  • 10 stalks fresh rhubarb, washed trimmed and sliced into ½” chunks
  • 2 lbs strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 1 scant cup sugar
  • 2T tapioca flour
  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt and sugar together. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Sprinkle with 2 T ice water. Pulse until dough holds together when squeezed. Add more water as needed. Do not overprocess.
  3. Turn dough out onto counter. Form into a ¾-inch thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until firm. (1 hour or more)
  4. Combine all filling ingredients in an oblong, glass baking dish.  
  5. Roll out chilled dough on floured wax paper into an oblong, large enough to cover your pan. Lift and wrap dough around rolling pin. Unroll over pan. Fold extra dough under. Pinch between thumb and forefinger all around -- or use the tines of a fork. Make a wash of a beaten egg. Brush over the top. Sprinkle with a packet of Sugar in Raw (leftover from your latest Starbucks’ run).
  6. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes. Watch for over-browning. Reduce to 350F and continue baking another 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.  I like cobbler for breakfast, with plain, Greek yogurt.
 

 

Oatmeal Scotchies

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adapted from the back of the bag of Nestle's butterscotch chips

       Chock full of extra ingredients, I include Scotchies in my holiday cookie baking.

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated peel (zest) of 1 orange
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 2/3 cups (11-oz pkg) Nestle Toll House butterscotch morsels
  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, orange zest and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl.
  4. Beat in flour mixture.
  5. Stir in oats, morsels, raisins, and nuts.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
  7. Bake 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies, or 9 to 10 minutes for crispy cookies.
  8. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

      Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
 

 

Break Up Bars

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from the kitchen of Mary

        You can read about my devoted friend Mary here

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 T water
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 T butter
  1. Melt butterscotch chips and peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Add cereal and stir until well-coated.
  3. Press half into buttered 8"x8"x2" pan.
  4. Chill. Set remaining aside.
  5. Combine chocolate chips, sugar, butter and water in double boiler.
  6. Spread over cereal.
  7. Cover with remaining cereal.
  8. Chill.
  9. Cut into 16 squares.
  10. Enjoy your "break up bars" over a good cry.
 

Pumpkin flan

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adapted from a mimeograph recipe from Mrs. Schaefer's 4th grade class

I first made this simple yet scrumptious autumn dessert in a toaster oven in elementary school. It was such a keeper that I have continued to serve it every single Thanksgiving ever since. Sometimes I bake it in a loaf pan instead of a pie plate.

  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup mashed, cooked pumpkin
  • 5 large eggs (beaten lightly)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1.  Melt 1/2 cup sugar until it is a golden syrup. Pour into pie pan immediately. Coat bottom and sides of pan.
  2.  Mix 3/4 cup sugar, the salt, and the cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3.  Add pumpkin and beaten eggs. Mix well.
  4.  Stir in evaporated milk, water, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5.  Pour mixture into coated pie pan. Put pie pan inside another pan filled with a little hot water.
  6.  Bake at 350F for 1 and 1/4 hours.
  7.  Cool the flan. Serve chilled. You may add whipped cream.
 

Sand tarts

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Straight from Nana's Christmas Cookie Recipe Files

This cookie dissolves in your mouth like a sand castle swept under a wave. It owes its delicate texture to powdered sugar and cake flour, and is surprisingly easy to bake. Guaranteed to become a holiday tradition in your home.

  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sifted, confectioners' sugar
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325F
  2. Cream butter.
  3. Add sugar. Mix well.
  4. Stir in flour, nuts and vanilla.
  5. Shape into finger-length crescents.
  6. Bake on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  7. Roll in powdered sugar while warm.
  8. Store in tins with close fitting lids.
 

 

PLantation Gingerbread

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Nana's Gingerbread, adapted from the Junior League of New Orleans' Plantation Cookbook

A one-bowl delight you can easily assemble from pantry staples, you'll find yourself baking up this light, spongy spice cake year-round. You'll also find young and old alike scarf it up and leave no evidence...

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses (unsulphured or "robust")
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon powdered cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons soda, soaked in 1/8 cup of hot water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, eggs, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Beat well.
  4. Add dissolved soda.
  5. Sift in flour and beat well.
  6. Add boiling water, beat lightly and quickly.
  7. Pour batter into two 8" square greased and floured pans immediately.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  9. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in center.
  10. Cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out.
 

Summit Lemon Squares

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My own Lemon Squares, adapted from Nana's newspaper clipping, republished courtesy of The Southern Living Cookbook, 1976

A refreshing alternative to brownies, these bars pack nicely and travel well to picnics and potlucks. I like super sour—so sour it tickles the eardrums—so I experimented with the amount of lemon juice and ended up doubling it. Feel free to stop squeezing sooner, to suit your own tastebuds. 

Crust:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped finely

Filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 T lemon juice
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Combine butter, flour, pecans, and confectioner's sugar until well mixed. Pat mixture into 13" x 9" baking pan.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
  4. Beat eggs, and add sugar, zest,  juice, 1 T flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Pour egg mixture over baked crust.
  6. Return pan to oven and bake 40-50 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle with more confectioners sugar.
  8. Cool and cut into 24 squares.
 

cecropia chocolate cake

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Nana's best party cake for chocolate dreamers by way of Barbara Drach of Cecropia Restaurant

In the pre-gentrification era of the South Street Seaport of the early eighties, Cecropia was a creative cafe cast between fishmongers, and a favorite lunch spot when Nana worked downtown. Once tasted, Nana knew she couldn't leave her table without the recipe for this tender, complex-flavored, cocoa-based cake with a surprising frosting. Our family, and countless friends have devoured squares of  this easy-to-assemble cake at christenings, birthday parties and picnics.

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco 
  • 4 T cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Melt and bring to boil the first four ingredients.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients, then add to melted mixture.
  4. Pour into greased 11" x 16" pan. 
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Icing:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 T cocoa
  • 6 T milk
  • 1 box confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

5 minutes before you pull cake from oven:

  1. Boil butter, cocoa, and milk together.
  2. Add sugar, vanilla, pecans and coconut.
  3. Pour over cake while still warm. 
  4. Let cool and cut into squares.
 

One bowl applesauce cake

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A most moist one-bowl wonder, this easy spice cake from Nana's kitchen can be assembled from what's on hand in her pantry and yours

When you're short on time and ingredients, but don't want to show up to the potluck or coffee hour empty-handed, you'll find yourself returning to this recipe routinely. 

  • 2 cups flour (can be partly whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Pour into greased, 8"x8" square pan.
  4. Bake for 55 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
 

Heinz sweet 'n' sour Pork chops

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adapted from The Side and Back Panel Cookbook

        These saucy chops go great over brown rice with steamed snow peas on the side.

  • 8 bone-in pork chops, 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch thick
  • 1 T butter
  • 1/2 cup Heinz Tomato Ketchup
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 whole onion, minced
  • 1 T Heinz (or Lea & Perrins) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • salt & ground pepper to taste
  1. Sprinkle chops with salt & pepper.
  2. Brown chops in butter, drain excess fat.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients, pour over pork chops. Cover.
  4. Simmer 45 minutes or until meat is tender, basting occasionally.
  5. Skim excess fat from sauce.