Archive for category Dylan Report

Cincinnati-style Chili

Another non-WF recipe!  There are several recipes for chili in that book, but none of them are my mom’s.  This one is.  Texans will probably want to stop reading now.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cincinnati-style chili is a savory, spicy affair with several unusual ingredients and an even more unusual serving style.  Growing up, I had no idea it was weird to put chocolate in chili, or to serve it over spaghetti, and I plan to raise my own son (as well as any future children) in the same state of blissful ignorance.  But on to the recipe.  I’ve been making this since I was allowed to use the stove, so assume any actual numbers below are made up.  (Except for the things coming out of cans.  Those I’m pretty sure of.) Read the rest of this entry »


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Ricotta Pancakes

This is from the “cooking with kids” chapter, so of course I had to let Dylan help make them.  He did a great job stirring the batter.

dscn3677 Read the rest of this entry »


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Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage

This is not from the WF cookbook.  You can tell because it involves BACON FAT as the primary flavor base.  Nom nom nom.  (It is, in fact, from the Jan/Feb issue of Cook’s Illustrated, and will be online free until the next issue comes out.  Or you can join the site for $20/year.  I think.  Maybe a different price.)  Or you can read it free here forever! Read the rest of this entry »


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Tortilla Soup

This is one of the few recipes I had made from this cookbook prior to the launch of this blog.  This is one of my favorite tortilla soup recipes because it is so easy and tasty and chock full of “stuff.”

My method for almost all chicken soups is a multi-day process, but with very little “active” time.  First, buy a whole chicken.  Take it apart, reserving the breast and thigh meat and discarding the skin and any extraneous large globs of fat.  Put the bones in a slow cooker along with one onion, a couple each carrots and celery, and other flavors if this is for a specific use.  For this stock I added a tomato and a jalapeno.  Season with salt, cover with water, and cook on low overnight.  In the morning, strain the stock and put it in the fridge.  This can be done up to a week in advance, or even longer if you freeze it.  (Don’t forget to freeze the breast and thigh meat too!)  Discarding the skin is an important step because it makes the stock nearly fat-free.  You will wind up with all of the flavor from the bones and remaining leg and wing meat, but there will be no need to degrease it before use.

For the soup:

Heat some veg oil in a large pot.  Saute 1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper, jalapeno, medium red onion.  (Seed the peppers and chop everything.)  Season with salt and cook 3-5 minutes or until softened.  Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp oregano, and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook another minute, then add 1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes with their juices and the chicken stock.  Add the chicken breasts and thighs and simmer about 20 minutes or until just cooked through.  Remove the chicken and dice.  Return the chicken to the soup along with 1 can rinsed and drained black beans (I like the low-sodium kind) and 1 10-oz package frozen corn (no need to thaw).  Bring the soup back up to a boil and you’re done!

Serve with tortilla chips (blue corn is nice), avocado, monterrey jack cheese, chopped cilantro, and fresh limes to squeeze on top.  Place the chips, cheese, and avocado in the bottom of each bowl and then ladel the soup on top.  Sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze the lime.


I forgot to take any pictures before we ate, and Dylan refused to smile for the camera.  But you can see from how little is left in the bowl how much he liked it!

Dylan Report: HUGE success with this one.  He didn’t want to use his spoon at all, but he had a great time picking out all the various ingredients and eating them separately by hand.  His favorite parts were the avocado and chips, but he also ate a lot of the veggies.  Score!

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Eggplant and Orzo Casserole with Ricotta

Last week was orzo week, this week seems to be pine nuts week.  This recipe bridges the gap.  It was Teh Yum.  (Once, naturally, I’d tripled the salt.)

Saute in a large skillet with EVOO 3-5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown:

1 medium onion, chopped

2 leeks, chopped (white parts only)

1 large eggplant, cubed

1 large red bell pepper

Add to a 9×13 baking dish along with:

2 large chopped tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 lb par-cooked orzo

1/2 c chopped fresh basil

1/2 c tomato juice


Top with dollops of ricotta cheese.  Then top THAT with a mixture of 1/2 cup each pine nuts, bread crumbs, and grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375F for about 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.


There’s not a lot too this dish – pasta, vegetables, cheese.  But it’s got a good balance of ingredients, and was a nice twist on some familiar flavors.  Oh, and top each individual serving with some fresh chopped parsley.

Dylan Report: He mostly ate around the vegetables (in spite of happily snacking on some of the fresh chopped tomato while I was cooking), but otherwise this was a big hit.  It’s pasta and cheese – hard to go wrong!


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Lentil & Mushroom "Tagine"

Not much that’s “tagine” ish about this, really, except that we ate it over couscous.  The hot sauce should have been harissa, but was sriracha instead (it’s what I keep on hand).  The original recipe called for this to go in a dutch oven, I made it in the slow cooker instead.

In the food processor, make a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) and pulse until chopped fine (not pureed).  Also chop a couple of red bell peppers, 16 oz button or cremini mushrooms, and a few cloves of garlic.  Add to the slow cooker pot along with 16 oz additional sliced assorted wild mushrooms (I buy mine presliced).  Spicing: 2 tbsp tomato paste, 2 tbsp cider vinegar, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp fennel seed, salt/pepper.  Also add 1.5 cups of water, 2 cups dried lentils, 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes.  Slow cook on high 3-4 hours or until lentils are tender.  In the last hour of cooking, add 3 sliced red/yellow/orange bell peppers.

Just before serving, stir in 1 lb fresh baby spinach and 1 tbsp grated lemon zest.  Serve over couscous with a spritz of hot sauce.

I was apprehensive about this dish when I tasted it halfway through cooking, but it actually turned out pretty well.  To be honest, it was a little too healthy for my taste.  I generally like my lentils with a little more bacon.  (ALL the recipes in this book need more salt than is called for.  It’s so much easier to eat large amounts of vegetables when they’re properly seasoned!)

I was a flake yesterday and did not take a picture of this.

Dylan Report: He didn’t hate it, didn’t love it.  I was very proud of him for being willing to try such an unfamiliar food.  And go figure – he preferred the stuff off Mommy’s plate with the hot sauce in it to his own mild version.


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Greek Style Meatballs

I thought these were delicious and would eat them again in a heartbeat.  To say that Dylan disagreed would be a massive understatement.  Let us never speak of it again.

Being meatballs, these were quite simple to put together.  In a food processor, chop:

a handful of parsley

half a handful each of fresh oregano and mint

12 oz roasted red peppers (drained if from a jar)

3-4 cloves garlic

Add to 1 lb ground round in a bowl along with 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, the zest of 1 lemon, and the juice of half that lemon.  Salt and pepper.  Form into golfball-sized meatballs (or a little larger) and bake on an oiled wire rack set on a jelly roll pan for 30 minutes at 350F.  The tops should just be starting to brown.  (The middles will still be very soft due to the peppers and cheese.)

Serve over orzo with a little olive oil.  Squeeze extra lemon on top if desired.  (You really, really, want to do this.  The lemon makes it sing.)



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Bell Pepper Quesadillas w/ Salsa Verde

The only real difference between these and the regular quesadillas I always make is that I had a cookbook open on the counter while I was making these.  Otherwise, the recipe is pretty standard.  (Ditto the recipe for the salsa verde.)  Still, they were very tasty and came together from fridge to table in under half an hour.

Heat some veg oil in a large skillet.  While the oil is heating up, thinly slice 2 poblanos, 3 bell peppers, and 2 small onions.  Add veggies to skillet.  Season with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and oregano.  Remove to a bowl.  Add 2 minced cloves of garlic (I use a garlic press) and 1 can of drained and rinsed white beans.  (The beans were not in the recipe, I added them because I like a little protein in my quesadillas.)

For the salsa verde, heat a little more oil in the same pan you used for the quesadilla filling.  Add 1 seeded & diced jalapeno, 1 diced onion, a few cloves of garlic, and 5-6 roughly chopped tomatillos (peeled and rinsed).  Don’t worry about getting a perfect dice on any of it since it’s all going in the food processor in a minute – the goal here is to soften the veggies and give them a little color.  Season them with salt & pepper while you’re at it.  Dump everything into the food processor with a big handful of cilantro and pulse several times until everything is nicely chopped and mixed together.  Chill in the fridge if you have time.

To assemble the quesadillas, spoon about 1/2 cup of the pepper & bean mixture onto a tortilla and top with monterrey jack cheese.  Fry in a skillet (more veg oil) until browned on both sides and the cheese is nice and gooey.  Serve topped with salsa verde and sour cream.


Dylan Report: He was in a very goofy mood tonight and not much interested in eating.  Once I convinced him that there really was nothing he hadn’t eaten (and liked) before on his plate he willingly scraped off and ate most of the cheese and beans.  My son the health nut.


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Dylan Report: Thai Green Curry Chicken

I didn’t really expect to be doing a Dylan Report for this dish because green curries are usually much spicier than this one turned out to be.  But I decided it was worth a shot and offered him a small bite of the sweet potato.  He liked it and asked for more, so I heated some up in a bowl for him and called it dinner.  No rice because (a) we were all out, (b) he gets is everywhere but in his mouth, and (c) it’s not like his diet is otherwise lacking in carbs.  (Not to mention (d) sweet potatos are pretty darn starchy on their own.)  The chicken had gotten a little tough overnight, so I only gave him a tiny bit of that – his bowl was mostly sweet potato with one or two pieces of tomato thrown in.

Wow.  BIG hit.  I try not to be one of those people who only gives kids “kid food” but I was honestly shocked here.  He happily ate the whole bowl chanting “curry!  curry!” the whole time.  Note to self, kids weird.


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Athenian Chicken Roll-Ups


DH and I thought this was delicious – too bad Dylan was a big old crankaboo and decided to just pick at his rice instead.  It has cheese in it!  What’s not to like??

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