Lasagna Soup

I made this soup a few weeks ago. We had a very mild early spring followed by some chilly, raw days. I knew once the heat of summer came my interest in soup would fade until fall, so I took advantage of the day and made this recipe. It was easy to put together, and it really tasted just like lasagna in soup form. I will definitely be saving this recipe to make again.

I forgot to pick up basil at the grocery, so I omitted it when I made it. Try not to be like me – remember the basil. It tasted great without it though, but I can imagine that extra fresh taste of basil would have been great.

I also did as they suggested and cooked the pasta separately to prevent the leftovers from getting mushy. I froze the leftovers with a separate baggie of cooked noodles and another bag of cheesy yum; both taped to the top of the soup container with a label.

Source: I found the recipe via Pinterest on A Farmgirl Dabbles blog, who said it was adapted from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds, as seen in the February-April 2011 edition of At Home with Kowalski’s magazine.

Lasagna Soup

Servings: 8


for the soup:
2 tsp. olive oil
1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl and sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top. If you’ve pre-cooked the pasta, place some in the bowl now, and then ladle the soup over them. You can sprinkle a little mozzarella on top of the soup if you would like. Serve hot with a good crusty bread.

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I’m Mad

Few things make me angry, but don’t waste my money and don’t waste my time. Combine the two together and you’ll make me really mad.

Well, the pickle recipe that I tried 2 weeks ago managed to do just that.

I followed the recipe exactly. I made 6 pint jars and 2 half pint jars of pickles with the recipe. And this is what I had to do with them.

I had to drain all the jars out and throw the pickles away.

They were so incredibly, unbelievably salty they were inedible. First poor Evan tried them. He screwed up his face and bravely said “They’re a little salty, mom.” I took a bite and I literally couldn’t even swallow it. Jim tried them the next day and had the same reaction I did.

Into the garbage they all went.

Pounds of pickling cucumbers, lots of spices, and hours of my time, all right into the garbage.

Now if this had been my first attempt at canning I might chalk it up to inexperience, but I’ve been canning since I was in my 20’s.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my frustration with you all. Thankfully I canned another batch with a different recipe the next week. Hopefully I’ll have better results.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, it was the Refrigerator Dill recipe out of this book.

It has great reviews at Amazon, so maybe it’s just me.

Cherry-Almond Focaccia

This recipe was on the cover of Bon Appetit this month, and I thought it looked delicious. A sweet dough with tart cherries, almonds, raw sugar and a syrup made from the cherry juice on top. Yummm. I made the dough on Friday night and finished the recipe on Saturday morning. Everyone thought it was delicious, from kids to adults. I’m thinking of making another batch to bring to Easter dinner at my dads.

Cherry-Almond Focaccia

Recipe from the April, 2012 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. 

Serves 16

Master Sweet Dough
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups drained pitted tart cherries in light syrup (such as Morello) plus 1 cup syrup (from a 24–28-ounce jar)*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup sliced almonds (with or without skins)
1/3 cup raw sugar

*Tart cherries in light syrup can be found at some supermarkets and at Middle Eastern markets and

Punch down dough. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet (about 16×12 inches) with 1 Tbsp. oil. Press dough evenly into pan, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel; let rise in a warm, draft-free area until puffed but not doubled in size, 45–50 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring cherry syrup and granulated sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; let cool completely.

Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400°. Using your fingertips, press dimples all over dough surface. Drizzle dough with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil. Scatter cherries over, pressing them gently into dough.

Drizzle reduced syrup over, allowing it to pool into nooks and crannies. Sprinkle almonds over, then raw sugar. Let rise until dough is doubled in size, 15–20 minutes.

Bake until focaccia is golden brown, 20–23 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Master Sweet Dough

Makes 1 pound, 10 ounces dough

Recipe from the April, 2012 Bon Appetit


  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus 1/2 tablespoon, melted


Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°–115°. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; whisk until smooth.

Combine remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. (If making Vanilla Cloverleaf Sweet Rolls, scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. If making Apricot-Anise Tarts, add aniseed.) Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add 1/2 cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.

Brush a medium bowl with some melted butter; place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap. Do Ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill.

Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1–1 1/2 hours (or 2–2 1/2 hours if dough has been refrigerated).

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Sauteed Scallops with Spiced Couscous and Preserved Lemon-Curry Sauce

Remember those Preserved Lemons I made just before going away on vacation? Well, they’re ready now!

This is the recipe I made them specifically for, so last night I made it for Jim and my friend Cyrena. (I don’t eat shellfish, so I just got to enjoy the beauty of the dish.) The recipe came out of the book Cooking My Way Back Home by by Mitchell Rosenthal which is an inspiring new cookbook by the chef/owner of the San Francisco restaurants Town Hall, Anchor and Hope, and Salt House.

I love to cook for Cyrena because she makes a lot of what I call “yummy noises”. A true appreciator of food is always a joy to cook for, and she made a lot of yummy noises over this dish. I almost took a picture of her chasing the last grain of couscous around the plate and then licking the plate clean.

I’m not going to lie and say this isn’t a complicated recipe. It’s not something you’re going to throw together in 30 minutes, and not something you’re likely to make on a school/work weeknight (unless you’re an idiot, like me). That said, it is a lovely and impressive dish and one that should be made on a weekend or for your next dinner party. You could even serve it in miniature as an appetizer portion (maybe with one or two scallops and small portions of couscous and fennel salad).

I had every intention of making my own shrimp stock, but I couldn’t find shrimp with their head’s on, which is what the recipe called for. In the end I purchased frozen fish stock, which I figured was close enough, but use shrimp (home made or purchased) stock if you can. I also didn’t have any fresh dill for the couscous, so I used a few shakes of dried. Prepare all of your ingredients prior to cooking as things come together pretty quickly once you start cooking and you won’t have time to stop and chop vegetables in the middle of cooking.

Jim felt a little short-changed with just 3 scallops for his meal, so you  might want to up your scallop count if you’re serving hungry men.

Sauteed Scallops with Spiced Couscous and Preserved Lemon-Curry Sauce

Curry Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1/2 leek, white and tender green parts, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, white and tender green parts, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup miring
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 2 cups Shrimp Stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

Spiced Couscous

  • 1-3/4 cups (1/2 pound) Israeli couscous
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/3 cup fennel, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely diced preserved lemon
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill (I didn’t have any fresh dill so I used a few shakes of dried dill)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 ounces mustard greens, trimmed, parboiled for 3 to 5 minutes, drained, squeezed dry, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Fennel salad

  • 1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 pounds dry-packed scallops

Canola oil, for sautéeing

To make the sauce, in a small, dry frying pan, toast the curry powder over medium heat, stirring often, for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Set aside. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, leek, ginger,and green onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the curry powder, turn down the heat to low, add the vinegar, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Cook until the vinegar evaporates, then add the mirin and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the vermouth and simmer for 2 minutes, then add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the mixture reduces slightly and the flavors are well blended. Add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and then cook for a few more minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and then return to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition until fully incorporated. When done, remove from the heat and keep warm.

to prepare the couscous, cook the couscous according to the package directions, then toss with the olive oil and set aside. Rinse off the prepared lemons in cold water (I used about 1-1/2 to get 1/4 cup), and using a knife, scrape away and discard the pulp. I also scraped away the very top layer of the white inside as it seemed a little spongy and unappetizing. Dice the lemon finely. In a large sauté pan, heat the canola oil over low heat. Add the fennel and preserved lemon and cook, stirring, until the fennel is soft. Add the dill and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the prepared couscous to the fennel mixture and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Season couscous with 1 teaspoon salt and the mustard greens. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set the sauté pan aside for finishing up just before serving.

to prepare the salad, in a bowl, combine the fennel, oil, and lemon juice and toss to coat the fennel evenly. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

to cook the scallops, heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add a thin layer of oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the scallops and cook, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until nicely caramelized on the exterior and medium-rare at the center.

While the scallops are cooking, finish the couscous. Return the sauté pan to medium heat and re-heat the couscous over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch cubes. When the couscous is heated through, add the butter and stir gently until melted and evenly distributed.

To serve, divide the couscous among individual plates. Arrange some of the fennel salad and 3 scallops on top of each serving. Pour some sauce around the edge of the couscous on each plate, then drizzle some on top of each scallop.

Serve immediately.

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Black Bean & Mango Salsa

I brought only one recipe down to Mexico with me, mostly because I didn’t have a lot of time to look for any more in the madness that comes with trying to get a family of 6 ready to go on vacation and leave your farm behind all while having yours kitchen and family room floors refinished and some rooms painted while you are gone. Amanda may be in college, but we were having major passport-renewal technical glitches that required working out, as she was flying directly from Lexington to Mexico to meet us.

We few into Cancun but are staying in a small town about 1-1/2 hours away called Akumal. We went into the tiny town today and bought the ingredients needed for this salsa and I made it after dinner tonight so that it can marinate in the fridge and we’ll have it tomorrow. I’ve made this many times before, and not only is it great alone with chips, but it’s awesome on fish and flank steak as well. It’s one of those recipes where measuring ingredients isn’t really necessary.

Black Bean & Mango Salsa

Makes about 5 cups.

Published July 1, 1996 in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Altered by Crafty Farm Girl, March, 2012.


    • 1 large can (or 2 small) black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 mango , peeled, seeded and diced small
    • 1/2 red bell pepper , cored, seeded and diced small
    • 1/2 medium red onion , diced small
    • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
    • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 medium limes
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
    • 1 small jalapeño chile , seeded and minced
    • Salt and ground black pepper


Mix all ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste, in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 1 hour or up to 4 days.

Preserved Lemons

I recently bought the cookbook Cooking My Way Back Home  by Mitchell Rosenthall and it’s really lovely. He has a recipe in there for sauteed scallops with spiced couscous and preserved lemon-curry sauce that looks amazing. After reading through it, I knew that I would never be able to find preserved lemons where I live. Luckily, he gives the recipe in the back of the book. It’s quite easy, but it takes 3-4 weeks to make it in that once you prepare the lemons they have to sit for 3-4 weeks with an occasional shake of the jar, to be finished.

So, if you think this recipe sounds like something you might want to make, then make up a batch of these preserved lemons and you’ll be ready when I am!

He prefers Meyer lemons, which I was able to find at the grocery, but says that regular lemons will work as well. Meyer lemons are a little bit milder and are say to be a bit more like a lemon with a little orange in it. They are a beautiful color and their skin is much smoother than a traditional lemon.

Preserved Lemons

  • 8 to 10 lemons (Meyers are especially fine preserved)
  • 2 to 3 cups kosher salt
  • 6 star anise pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice as needed

Cut a thin slice off one end of each lemon. Then make 2 evenly spaced cuts along the length of each lemon, cutting only three-fourths of the way through so that the lemon is divided into quarters and the quarters are still attached at the uncut end. Pull the sections apart to expose the flesh and pack each lemon with the salt.

Toss 3 star anise pods and 1 cinnamon stick into a sterilized jar, then begin packing the salted lemons tightly into the jar. When you have packed in half of the lemons, add the remaining star anise pods and cinnamon stick, and then add the remaining lemons. As you pack in the lemons, they will release their juice. When all of the lemons are in the jar (or as many as you can stuff in there), the lemons should be covered with juice. If not, add lemon juice as needed to cover all lemons.

Mash down the lemons as much as you can, and stuff more in if you can.

I could only get 7 out of 10 lemons into the jar. I squeezed the remaining 3. You should add enough juice to cover all of the lemons.

Seal the jar and store at room temperature in a cupboard. Shake the jar every few days, and add more lemon juice as needed to cover. The lemons will be soft and ready to use in 3 to 4 weeks.

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Queso Fundido

India is by far the pickiest eater in our family, so with her on her 8th grade field trip down to Washington, D.C. this week, I decided this would be a good time to make this queso fundido as it was something everyone (but India) would enjoy.

The original recipe called for 1 jalapeño, but I’ve really been enjoying the flavor of  poblano peppers lately, so I used half of a jalapeño and half of a poblano, If you like things really spicy, you can use 2 peppers. If you or your friends are more, ahem, delicate, then stick with one chile and remove the seeds and ribs. I also added a bit more chorizo, as I was making it a meal and not an appetizer, and I used black refried beans that I found at Whole Foods and also added a can of whole black beans as well.


Makes 12 servings (appetizer)

Active time: 35 minutes, Total Time: 45 minutes

No offense to salsa, but come on, who doesn’t love a gooey, cheesy bean dip, bubbling hot like lava from the oven?

I found this recipe in Gourmet Magazine’s “Comfort” special edition publication. Original recipe altered by Crafty Farm Girl, March 2012.


  • Dried Spanish chorizo, (4 1/2 ounces) skin removed and finely chopped (about a cup)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fresh jalapeño or Serrano chile, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fresh poblano pepper, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can refried black or pinto beans
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce can black beans, drains & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup water, divided
  • 8 ounce Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated (2 1/4 cups)


  • Corn tortilla chips


Preheat oven to 350o

Cook chorizo in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden and pieces start to crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

Cook onion, garlic, peppers, and paprika in fat remaining in skillet, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and turn golden, about 8 minutes.

Stir in 1/4 cup water and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are tender and almost all liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Stir in refried beans and remaining 1/4 cup water and simmer until slightly thickened and mixture is bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the can of refried beans. I know what you're thinking, so don't even say it. I was thinking it too.

But see, it looks much better once you stir it in.

Add the rinsed and drained black beans and stir them in as well.

Remove from heat and stir in reserved chorizo and half the cheese until melted.

Pour bean mixture into a shallow (2-quart) flameproof crock or baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and just starting to brown.

Serve with tortilla chips.


The bean mixture, before the cheese is added, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat it on top of the stove over medium-low heat, adding additional water if necessary, then stir in half the cheese and continue with the recipe.

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Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs

This is a recipes I got off Smitten Kitchen a few weeks ago. I made it one weekend morning for the kids, and they were so excited.

Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted from Betty Crocker and others

If you don’t wish to use buttermilk, you can replace it with regular milk and nix the baking soda (keeping the baking powder). I like to get the toppings ready first because they take so little time to bake, you don’t want to be scrambling to have something to dip them in.

Yield: 9 to 12 standard muffin-size puffs or 30-ish miniature ones. Try not to overfill as I did or you won’t get big domes on them.

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing muffin cups
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 12 standard size or 30 miniature muffin cups, or line cups with paper liners.

Prepare coatings: In a small saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat and continue to cook it, stirring frequently, until brown bits form on the bottom and it smells nutty and heavenly. Immediately remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside as well.

Prepare puffs: Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of buttermilk, repeating again and finishing with the flour mixture. Mix only until combined.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling only 3/4 of the way. (If you overfill them they won’t dome up properly.) Bake standard sized muffins for 20 to 25 minutes and miniature muffins for 12 to 14 minutes. When finished, muffins will feel springy to the touch and a tester inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer them in their pan to a wire rack.

As soon as you feel you’re able to pick one up, take your first puff and roll the top and upper edges in the browned butter. Don’t be afraid to pick up the browned butter solids at the bottom of the saucepan; they’re the dreamiest part. Let any excess butter drip off for a second before gently rolling the butter-soaked cake top in cinnamon-sugar. I find if you roll too firmly, or have too much wet/not absorbed butter on top, the sugar can clump off, which is heartbreaking. Transfer puff to wire rack to set and repeat with remaining puffs. Eat warm.

For an even more indulgent, doughnut-like puff: Make an extra two tablespoons of the browned butter and roll the whole puff in it and the cinnamon sugar. (I usually have enough cinnamon sugar to fully roll the puffs.)

Do ahead: Puffs are best within hours after they are baked. They can be made it advance and stored in a freezer bag until needed, too. Simply spread them out on a baking tray and reheat them until warm in the oven.

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Warm Black Bean & Chipotle Dip

I’ve had this recipe cut out from an issue of Fine Cooking’s December, 2006 issue since it was first published. I have copies at home and in Wyoming. It’s such a great dip for a party, to bring to a pot luck, or even as a meal (that’s what we had last night). It freezes great too. Even though I’m not a big watcher of the Super Bowl, I thought it would be fun for Jim and the kids to have some Super Bowl-type foods to eat while watching the commercials, woops, I meant game, so I divided the recipe into two smaller casserole dishes and saved one to re-heat tomorrow night.

Warm Black Bean & Chipotle Dip

Recipe from Fine Cooking, December 1, 2006 issue

Serves 10 to 12

This is a great party dip that can be fully assembled up to 2 days ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated until ready to bake.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more for the baking dish
2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into medium dice
2 teaspoons kosher salt; more as needed
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 15-1/2 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 canned chipotles en adobo, minced (about 1 tablespoon), plus 3 tablespoons adobo sauce
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (if frozen, thaw first)
1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) grated Monterey Jack cheese
1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) grated sharp cheddar cheese
¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
Tortilla chips for serving

Heat the oven to 425ºF. Grease a 1-1/2 quart baking dish with oil and line a baking sheet with foil. (Note I made to smaller dips in two baking dishes.) Set the tomatoes in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the salt.

Heat the oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium high heat until shimmering hot. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add half of the black beans, the chipotles and adobo sauce, and ¾ cup water and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid reduces by about half, 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor, add the vinegar, and process until smooth. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the rest of the beans, the tomatoes, corn, half of each of the cheeses, and ½ cup of the cilantro. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish (I used two smaller baking dishes) and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake on the foil-lined baking sheet (to catch drips) until the cheese melts and browns around the edges, about 15 minutes (longer if refrigerated). Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve with the tortilla chips for dipping.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on twelve servings; Calories (kcal): 230; Fat (g): 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 12; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4.5; Carbohydrates (g): 19; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): 510; Cholesterol (mg): 30; Fiber (g): 4;

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Indian Fry Bread Tacos

Indian Fry Bread. I hadn’t thought of it in years, but being in Austin brought it all rushing back to me. Austin was full of vintage travel trailers turned into food carts, and one that we saw served savory Fry Bread with all kinds of delicious things on them. Of course none were open for business when my sister and I stumbled across them, but they sparked a memory.

This is one of the first recipes I ever made when I was a kid, and I made a ton of it. It was a bread – sort of, but it had instant milk powder in it and no yeast. Because it didn’t have yeast, you didn’t have to wait hours for it to rise, just a 10 minute rest and it was ready to go. I guess it’s similar to the kind of fried dough you can get at most carnival and agricultural fair midways, but I can’t say for sure since I’ve never tried that kind.

I decided I had to make this for my own kids to try, and thought to use the fry bread as taco shells would be perfect. It turns out this is not an uncommon use for them, as the internet had many recipes to choose from in this style.I really just took the recipe for the fry bread and figured I’d be able to manage the taco part on my own.

Indian Fry Bread

There were tons of recipes for Indian fry bread on the internet, but I really had to search to find one that used powdered milk, which is the way I grew up making it. You can even just eat the bread plain with a sprinkle of seasoned salt, grated parmesan or cinnamon sugar.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk powder
1 cup water + a bit more
4 cups oil for frying, or as needed

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, milk powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir in water and mix until the dough comes together. Add more flour if necessary to be able to handle the dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, at least 5 minutes. Cover the dough very lightly with olive oil and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Heat oil in a large, deep heavy skillet. Oil should be about 1 1/2 inches deep. Put a small piece of dough in the cold oil. The oil is ready to fry when the dough sizzles and becomes golden brown.

I divided my dough into 6 pieces, but these made pretty large taco shells. You could divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round disc. Use a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4″-1/8″ inch in thickness. Stack the rolled dough rounds together on a plate and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel until ready to use.

Fry breads in the hot oil until golden on both sides, turning only once. Drain on paper towels.Don’t let the bread get too brown or it will be brittle. Ideally it will be a bit pliable to use as a taco shell, so keep that in mind when frying the bread.

SERVE: top the fried bread with taco meat, lettuce and the condiments you like (sour cream, pickled chillies, guacamole etc.)

Taco Ingredients

Tacos are a very personal thing. People like their own particular brand of seasoning. Some like it spicy, some like it mild. Some like guacamole or sour cream on theirs. Some like cheese. So really, all I will do is list suggestions here. My own family’s personal food quirks dictate what I can and cannot put on our tacos.

What I can say I did was ask to have my ground beef ground coarsely at the meat counter. I don’t know what inspired me to do this, but it was brilliant for tacos of this style I thought. Since I was feeding a family of 5, I got about 1-1/2 pounds of ground meat.

Ground beef for tacos
Taco seasoning (I like Old El Paso with reduced salt)
Lettuce, chopped
Plum tomatoes, diced
Cheddar cheese, grated
Taco Sauce
Red onion, finely diced
chopped olives
Refried beans
Chopped cilantro
Sliced avocado
Sour Cream

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