Monthly Archives: October 2015

Halloween Hash Redux

Around this time last year I posted a recipe for Halloween Hash on Mama D’s KitchenDIGITAL CAMERA Facebook page. The dish, inspired by the colors of the season and created with what was on hand was a great meatless meal that had hints of the Southwest. I remembered it fondly and thought it would taste good on a cold October evening like the ones we’ve been having a little too often for my taste lately.

I pulled up the recipe and was appalled to see that it was riddled with mistakes. Olive oil was left out of the ingredient list and the amount of salad dressing as noted would carry the entire dish away (to the trash). Mistakes happen. It’s a part of life, but this dish tasted so good I knew it was worth getting a second chance. Today is the day to share it with you since Halloween is upon. So here we go.        ( Check out the corrected original recipe here)

Sweet potato and black beans are the cornerstone of the dish. Mama D’s Trinity: onions, garlic, and olive oil create the background structure. Chilies, this time in the shape of fresh Poblano Peppers, join Cumin and Smoked Paprika to give it a bit of Southwestern style. I opted for the sweet smokey taste of the paprika, but this would be great with Ancho or Chipotle Powder or even your favorite Chili Powder blend. Dried Cranberries got in on the act because it is Fall after all.

DIGITAL CAMERAThe original recipe used Queso Fresco which is an outstanding choice. Time was of the essence and I didn’t have time to run to the store. I only had Herb and Garlic Goat Cheese, so that became the garnish. Any crumbling cheese or even a hard grating cheese like cheddar would be a great topper. All these changes show that Mama D can always find inspiration in a recipe  and make it her own; even if it was already hers in the first place.

This definitely fits in the supper category. It is quick, easy, and pretty healthy, feeding two to three people well. I am fortunate to have a dashing-ly handsome sous chef who prepped the vegetables for me. He opted for about 3/4 inch dice. This resulted in a chunky hash that retained the shape and texture of the veggies. The original recipe had smaller pieces, the vegetables being cut in about 1/2 inch pieces. Hash making is not an exact science, so cut your vegetables to the size that makes you happy.IMG_0593

Once the oil was hot, the sweet potatoes went in and when they began to brown, I added the onion. Eventually the peppers and garlic went in along with the cumin and paprika. Everything cooked together for 15 minutes or so. I added a little chicken broth from time to time to keep the party-goers circulating. About half way through this process, I added the dried cranberries. This is a great addition if you have them, but is not a required element. I also used a little bottled salad dressing. In this case, it was a Light Chipotle Lime, but any sweet and spicy dressing will add that extra pop of flavor.IMG_0601

Finally the beans went in and the color splashed hash cooked for a few more minutes. IMG_0605Topping the dish with goat cheese added a bit of creaminess as the cheese melted and the subtle tang was reminiscent of  Mexican Crema.IMG_0621

Halloween Hash, Redux
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Halloween Hash, Redux
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  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the sweet potatoes. Allow to cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Turn the potatoes and add the onions. Cook undisturbed for another 3 - 4 minutes. Continue to cook 5 minutes more, gently stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the peppers, garlic, and spices and cook a few minutes. If things seem to be getting too dry, add a little chicken stock as needed.
  4. Add the cranberries, salad dressing, and a bit more chicken stock (if needed). Cook until everything is tender and nicely browned. Stirring occassionally
  5. Stir in the drained beans and cook until they are heated through.
  6. Divide between two or three shallow bowls. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and serve.
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The meal was perfect for a blustery night, but it would be great just about any time that you had a hankering for hash. Be daring and nestle a poached egg on top and call it brunch. Remember: If you don’t like the results the first time there’s always the option of a “do over,” even in the Kitchen of Love.


Mama (and Papa) D’s Road Trip Adventures

Let me start out by saying that I love road trips. Truth be told, it’s my favorite kind of vacation. There is something about being on the road, miles from home, not knowing exactly what the next turn in the highway will hold that is exhilarating to me. Now, let me also say that as I am a woman of a more interesting age, there are certain aspects of hours on the road that raise an entirely new set of issues;  arthritis, bladder size, and road hypnosis just to mention a few. Still, I wouldn’t want to get from point A to point B in any other way, it just takes longer these days. Our recent Florida trip was just such a case in point.

Consider this your spoiler alert: There will be no recipe at the end of this. There will, however, be more than a few words about some of the places we saw and the food we ate as well as the people we spent time with. There will also be a relative lack of pictures. I’m a hands on experiencer and often get so caught up in the experience that I forget to snap a photo. Hopefully my words will help you get the images in your mind and the carefully chosen pictures will seal the deal.

Getting to Florida was an interesting 2-1/2 day experience. We took the interstate as we did have a finite amount of time. Many stretches were numbingly boring. even using apps that led us to roadside attractions.

20151010_102242The highlight of the trip down was a brief stop in Louisville; the land of southern hospitality and bourbon. We visited the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience (This is Papa D’s bourbon of choice) This new-ish addition to what was “Whiskey Row” back in the day offered a tour that included dramatizations of how Evan Williams became one of the first and most successful distillers in Louisville. The tour wound through vignettes and a working model of the distilling process and  ended in a 60’s themed bar that offered a guided educational tasting of four bourbons. Yes, that is a real thing and it was enlightening. Having been down the bourbon trail before we were pleasantly surprised to learn a few new things. We also left with a new appreciation for the bourbon we’ve been drinking for price…it’s actually a well crafted quaff.

This area of Louisville is under major renovation and in the next few  years will house a variety of Bourbon Experiences. In the meantime, it’s fun to admire the architecture and some very interesting sculpture.20151010_120314

We arrived in Florida and spent our first night in Ocala. while this city is land locked it served as the gateway to the Gulf Coast for us. Dinner that night was at Murphy’s Tiki Bar. The name seems to be a conflict of terms and the only body of water was the pool at our hotel, but the grilled scallops were magnificent.

The Gulf Coast area of Florida is well-known for its seafood. Evidently it is also home to an amazing number of Tiki Bars. While Murphy’s was the exception, a Tiki Bar is a small restaurant/bar that sits on or very near a body of water. That water can be the Gulf, the Intercoastal Waterway, even a river. Most feature fresh seafood and knee melting rum drinks amid a tropical setting that often includes palm frond roofs and entertainment in the form of a Jimmy Buffett-esque singer or combo. We went to several of these and enjoyed sautéed sea scallops, grouper bites, and fried clams. The seafood highlight however was a place at Indian Rocks Beach that was more Seafood Shack than Tiki Bar. That was Crabby Bill’s.crabby-bills-restaurant-indian-rocks-beach-fl-side-1-500We sat at the bar and joined a cheerful group of seeming regulars. We all seemed to have come for the seafood and the Bloody Marys. While I’ve had spicier and more elaborate “Bloodys”, this one has taken the top spot. In spite of coming in a plastic cup it boasted two jumbo gulf shrimp on the garnish. I do love a drink when it comes with a snack.20151012_17340920151012_173252We didn’t stop there. We had to try the Soft 20151012_173305Shell Blue Crab, lightly breaded and served simply with spicy tartar sauce. We paired that with some Wild Caught Gulf Shrimp that were sautéed in olive oil and garlic. It was a dinner fit for the gods, but we, as mere mortals, enjoyed it anyway.

The reason (perhaps it was more of an excuse) for this trip down south was to see family. The rest of the Diehl clan lives on the Gulf Coast and we were long overdue for a visit. We got to meet our grand-niece Kaya as well as celebrate my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Ninety years are an epic milestone and Mom greeted it beautifully. IMG_0486We finally had to leave and hopped back in the car and headed north. Trips home always have a different feel. There’s the reluctance to return from a pleasant escape coupled with the need to be home and sleeping in your own bed. We wisely opted to take an extra day, not to pack in more adventures, but to allow our bodies time to recuperate.

3 floyds brew pubWe did make one final stop and this was less than two hours from home. We stopped for lunch at 3 Floyds Brewery and Pub. The pub which was turning out “gastropub” food before it was the thing to do, also makes some of the most interesting beers around. There were easily 12 beers on tap. All of them have names that evoke a Germanic Dark Lord Heavy Metal Image that matches the music playing overhead. House made meats and duck fat popcorn grace a menu that is filled with interesting selections that pair magnificently with their beers. This is a local brewery that only distributes to a handful of Midwestern states. It’s modest site is tucked inside of an industrial park in Munster Indiana…there is expansion afoot, however. There was quite an impressive building going up next door that bares the name FFF Distillery. Now that will be something to investigate…

We’re settled in back at home now. The trip was filled with fun and family and more than a few memories. Thanks for letting me share some of them with you. Now it’s time to get back into the kitchen.

Mama D’s Fall Kitchen Adventures

There  is more than just a hint of fall in the air. Cool days and cooler breezes make it abundantly clear that the season has changed here. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m ready for Fall, at least I think I am. I enjoy the cooler days and the leaves changing colors. No longer having to rake them makes the whole process even more enjoyable. While I’m not anxious for Winter, I am ready for this change and the change in my cooking focus that it brings.

I want to share a few quick picks of what’s been happening in Mama D’s Kitchen. Many of these are Non-Recipe Recipes; that is they really are just musings on what’s in season and more importantly what’s in the house. So come join me as we a take a culinary walk back over the last couple of weeks.

I bought some Nan bread (the garlic variety) to go with a curry dish. The curry wound up being paired with some Brown Basmati Rice and the Nan was left to fend for itself. In case you’ve never thought of it, Nan makes a great quick pizza crust. It’s the perfect shape and size for personal pizza and works in the oven or on the grill.

I opted for a version of White Pizza using some of my Homemade Ricotta (thanks, Ina Garten) and Pesto. I mixed the two together to create the “sauce” I drizzled the Nan with some olive oil and toasted it in the oven briefly before adding said sauce. The toppings were Italian Sausage and Mini Heirloom Tomatoes both of which were on hand and waiting for their moment to shine. The cheese was a marinated mozzarella that was purchased on speculation, but perfectly suited to the pizza.2015-09-29 19.07.46 Once baked it was topped with some basil, olive oil, and served with baby greens dressed lightly with lemon juice and olive oil. Now, that was a delightful and very easy supper.2015-09-29 19.17.31

I found some lovely beets at the store and since they are one of Papa D’s favorites I had to bring some home. My preferred method of cooking is to roast them. This also is the most stain proof way, in my opinion. Wash them off and remove the greens leaving a little of the stem. Lay them on a couple of sheets of heavy foil, drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap them up tightly. Let them roast at 375 – 400 degrees until they are easily pierced with a knife and the kitchen has the earthy aroma of beets. This can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the beets.2015-09-27 19.45.11 Let them cool long enough to make them handle-able. I love beets, but beet red is not my color, so I opt to wear gloves to rub the skins off. If you enjoy red fingers go ahead and use bare hands and paper towels. Once peeled, I cut them into chunky chunks and dressed them lightly with a Balsamic Vinaigrette that was laced with some orange peel. Any dressing that you love would work here. I set them on top of some baby greens (left from guess what?) and garnished them with some goat cheese. Wonderful!2015-09-28 19.34.01

Finally I have to share another “Pork Love” dish, Stuffed Pork Chops. I have recently re-fallen in love with pork chops, particularly the thick cut, bone in, center variety. They are eating perfection. The thin ribbon of fat on the edge and the succulent bone along the side create a depth of flavor that is divine. They are wonderful simply prepared on the grill or in the oven, but I knew they were just begging to be stuffed.

This stuffing was inspired by what I had on hand and included some frozen chopped spinach, red bell peppers, and whole grain bread. Honestly anything could go into the stuffing. Leave out the bread and go all veggie, or use rice, quinoa or any other grain you have within easy reach. I started my stuffing with onion and garlic that I sautéed in a little olive oil (Is there any other way to begin?). The spinach and bell pepper jumped in and got very friendly with them. I put the bread in the toaster and then crumbled it into the veggies. I added a little chicken stock to moisten everything and packed it generously, albeit lightly, into the pockets that I had cut. I added a little wine to the pan and salt and pepper to the chops. For a crowning flavor boost I topped them with some sliced onions.2015-09-28 18.42.53

I let them bake covered for 20 minutes or so then I lifted their foil blanket and let them roast another few minutes to get lightly golden. I opted for 350 degrees because that seemed right. Baking time depends on the thickness of the chops and what’s inside…use your best guess, but do not overcook them.2015-09-28 19.38.31

The chops were scrumptious; moist and tender and positively dripping with flavor. I’ve started a mental list of what to add the next time; herbs, sausage, cheese, the ideas are endless.

So there you have it, three quick and easy kitchen adventures. Now it’s your turn to take my ideas and run with them.