Batter Licker

January 19, 2011

one-pot chili

I have been eating meatless meals all week, so it’s only appropriate that I can’t get chili out of my mind. My brain has an obnoxiously playful sense of humor when it comes to teasing my stomach and testing my willpower. And frankly, the chilly weather seems to be conspiring with my brain this time around because there’s nothing quite like a warm bowl of chili full of warming spices to combat a cold evening or refrigerated day at the office.


For me, there’s also no Christmas Eve dinner quite as satisfying as chili not just because of the usual late-December chill in the air, but also because serving chili on that particular night has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.

However, chili isn’t just great for cold evenings and holiday eves. Chili is also the quintessential Super Bowl dish. (more…)

December 14, 2010

baked ziti

Filed under: beef,cheese,meat,pasta,pork — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 9:08 pm

When I’m in the mood for tomato-based Italian pasta that’s a little more interesting (i.e. baked and cheesy) than spaghetti, I often turn to this classic baked ziti. This a great use for my 15-minute Simple Meat Marinara Sauce without requiring too much more effort, as most of the work is done by placing a baking dish in oven for a 35-minute sauna.

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The beauty of baked ziti is that each bite features a different flavor, from rich tomato and meat flavors to creamy ricotta and mozzarella, while also providing textural contrasts between the saucy underside and the Parmesan-crusted, slightly crunchy topping. (more…)

December 13, 2010

simple meat marinara sauce

I think every cook needs a quick and easy, pantry-friendly, go-to marinara sauce if only for those nights when grocery shopping just isn’t going to happen (and hasn’t happened for over a week). This simple five-ingredient, one-pot, five active and fifteen passive minutes version is mine, derived from one of those oh-shoot-what’s-for-dinner situations that occurs far more often than I’d like to admit.

Made with canned tomatoes, half an onion, a couple garlic cloves, and Italian sausage that I buy fresh and freeze into quarter-pound balls to defrost just for these occasions, this recipe is made up of ingredients I consistently have on hand. In fact, I often double the recipe, freezing a second batch for the next time I’m in an even lazier and more desperate dinner-planning bind.
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June 13, 2010

open-faced quesadilla with steak, roasted red peppers, summer squash, and blue cheese

Here in law-law land, discrimination is frowned on. So if the sandwich can be open faced or crostini-fied and the pizza can be stuffed or calzoned, then it’s only fair that the quesadilla have an alternative, more revealing serving method of its own. The open-faced quesadilla proudly showcases its ingredients by allowing meats and veggies that are normally trapped in tortilla to parade around in their vibrant colors, which makes for a more appetizing dish. And it’s healthier too.

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One less tortilla means two things: less calories in your quesadilla without eliminating any of the good stuff inside; and less concern about indulging in a second round. To make it even healthier but no less flavorful, you can use a stronger cheese but much less of it (hello, blue cheese!), and then spread a layer of Greek yogurt on the tortilla. As it bakes, the yogurt develops a texture that’s firmer than normal but still creamy like a soft cheese, and retains a subdued tang that goes well with the sweet smokiness of roasted peppers and caramelized onions and the buttery sweetness of summer squash.

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The blue cheese puts a twist on the otherwise more traditional steak-peppers-onions combination. Just a few crumbles of the sharp, salty, yet creamy cheese bring much more flavor than handfuls of cheddar can muster. Bonus: it allows you to use up the sad little clump of blue cheese that’s been sitting – unloved – in the corner of your fridge from that one time several weeks ago, when you splurged on off-season pears because you just had to have a gorgonzola and pear salad … five days in a row … and then, having tired of blue-veined cheeses, you relegated the poor chunk to the back of the fridge. (more…)

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