Around Halloween (I told you I was behind in my posts), I decided to make a sweet treat that fit in with the pumpkin theme. While persuing my usual blogs, I kept stumbling upon recipes for cinnamon rolls. I’ve always been pretty hesitant about making anything involving yeast, but I’ve had some recent success with pizza dough, so I decided now was the time. Plus, Stu and his family are cinnamon roll fanatics, and I was trying to impress. I found a few different recipes, but I liked the one posted on Naturally Ella the best. It had whole wheat flour and lots of brown sugar in it’s ingredient list, so I figured it would be slightly healthier than the regular buttery cinnamon rolls. I also referenced a recipe posted on The Kitchn, and used a sort of combination of the two. Unfortunately this was weeks ago, so I’ll link both recipes and do the best that I can do remember what exactly I did for mine.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin and Brown Sugar Glaze
from Naturally Ella and The Kitchn

For the rolls:
3/4 cup milk
2 and  1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup natural sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
4- 4  and 1/2 cups Unbleached all purpose flour (I used half white/ half wheat)

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup natural sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

For the glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
2  and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin

Heat milk (either in a sauce pan or microwave) until milk begins to simmer- add butter. Let cool until a warm temperature (about 120˚).

In a stand mixer bowl, at milk mixture, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for five minutes. Add 3 cups of flour, salt, pumpkin, eggs and start mixer with dough hook. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time continuing until the dough pulls together. Continue kneading the dough until smooth and elastic- at least eight minutes.

Either in the mixer bowl or a separate bowl, lightly spray the dough with cooking oil and place in a warm draft free spot until dough has doubled in size (around an hour and a half.)

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a 10 by 14 rectangle. Rub butter over entire surface and cover with sucanat mixture. Roll the dough into a log, squeeze slightly and adjust to form. Cut into 12 pieces (cut in half, the cut each half into half then each piece is cut into three pieces.) Place in a sprayed 9 by 13 pan.


Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. (or if you want to continue on, cover and let rise for another hour and follow with remaining instructions.)


The next morning, preheat the oven to 350˚ and remove cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a half hour. Bake for 25-30 minutes until cinnamon rolls are a nice golden brown color. Let cool slightly.

While they are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. When the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the brown sugar has melted. Remove from heat and strain into a mixing bowl to remove any sugar clumps. Stir in the powdered sugar. This should form a thick but pourable glaze.

Let the baked rolls cool for about five minutes and then pour the glaze on top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of pecans over the top, if more nuttiness is desired. Eat them immediately. Leftovers will keep for several days and are best reheated for a minute in the microwave.

This was an incredibly lengthy process. Although I was pretty pleased with how they turned out, I wouldn’t ever say that they were easy to make. I was pretty time consuming and required a lot of patience. I also ran out of pumpkin so my glaze ended up being more brown-sugar based than pumpkin. The whole process was definitely an exciting one, however. I was really impressed with how nicely the end result mirrored the pictures from both recipes. It was pretty incredible to assemble these guys and watch them rise and then bake into the actual rolls, looking almost like what you’d buy from the store!

Taste-wise, they lacked a little sweetness that I think everyone expects from a cinnamon roll. I thought they were pretty great, but Stu’s sweet tooth disagreed. I am sure this had a lot to do with the natural sugar and brown sugar, as opposed to white sugar and lots and lots of butter. I congratulated myself for taking the healthier route, but I suppose that if I’m going to be making these again for more people, I’ll probably use a recipe that has all of the sweet stuff, as opposed to all of the kind-of-good-for-you stuff.

Either way, this was a pretty big feat for me, and I’m rather proud of my accomplishment. It’s nice to know that this will be a breakfast option over the upcoming winter months. Next time I will probably make them when I know I’ll have something coming up where lots of people can enjoy them. I accidentally ate a whole bunch of cinnamon rolls for about a week and a half. Oops.

I’m pretty behind in my posting these days, but that’s mainly because I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen and cooking way more than I have time to keep up with. That being said, if I don’t share this CSA post now, I’ll be even farther behind. This CSA pickup is from two weeks ago, but I feel the need to share because it’s produce captured the autumn harvest season so well. It was also our second to last pick-up, and I’m sad to say that our last pickup was this past Saturday. Because our CSA days are numbered, I’ll post this now.

A beautiful bunch of carrots

Tomatoes and Peppers from Lancaster County

Daikon Radishes

Cheddar Cauliflower

Vampire Slayer Cheese!

Maple Pumpkin Peanut Butter from the Better Butter Company

We also got some beets, brussel sprouts (although they were from the bottom of the barrel, so not that great), Gala apples, and eggs. I’ve been pretty busy with my apples and the tomatoes. Most of the other produce from our share that week kept for pretty long and I am just now getting around to using the beets, carrots, and cauliflower. We used the brussel sprouts to make a terrible frittata. The carrots just went into a delicious carrot and red lentil soup, the tomatoes went into a pasta with tomato almond pesto, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the daikon radishes. The apples went into an awesome apple butter that went on pretty much everything I’ve been eating for the last two weeks, along with the Maple Pumpkin butter. And the cheese is just plain awesome and I want it to last forever.

Since the fall came around, I was a little nervous that the quality of our produce would drop, but I have to say that I’ve been so pleased with what we’ve received over the last few weeks. Check back for more seasonal meals!

This fall I’ve found myself pretty obsessed with butternut squash. I don’t think I’m the only one who has this sentiment, but I can’t stop myself from picking one up every time we go to our CSA or I hit up a farmer’s market or farm stand. My goal this year though, is to find new and unique ways to cook with the squash, instead of just roasting it or putting it in soups. I’ve had some success with this so far, although I did use some squash in a delicious butternut squash and pear soup. My favorite recipe so far though, has been a butternut squash sauce recipe that I’ve been using on pasta for the past few weeks.

Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce
from Martha Stewart

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
Coarse salt and ground pepper
5 cloves garlic, peel on
1 cup half-and-half
Pasta (such as cheese ravioli or any short pasta), for serving
Toppings, such as grated parmesan cheese, chopped toasted walnuts, finely chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a large, sharp knife, trim ends; halve squash crosswise to separate bulb from neck. Peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut both pieces in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out seeds; discard.

Cut squash into 2-inch chunks; transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and sage; season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter garlic around squash. Roast until squash is very tender, about 40 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Remove and discard skin from garlic.

Transfer squash and garlic to a food processor; puree. With motor running, add half-and-half through the feed tube; process until smooth. Add 1 to 2 cups water; continue to process until smooth, adding water to thin if necessary. Season again generously with salt. (To freeze, see below.)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to coat. Add some pasta water to thin sauce if necessary. Serve with desired toppings.

I made this recipe with ravioli the first time. I loved it because it was almost the same as making butternut squash ravioli with a squash filling, but it was much easier and less time-consuming. I don’t have a pasta maker, so making my own ravioli is out of the question at this point, but the sauce gave a taste that was just as good. It was fairly easy to make and there was a ton leftover. We had the sauce with another pasta dish the following week, and there is still some leftover. There is now some in the freezer for later on in the winter when I can’t access the squash as easily as I can now. I’m curious to try the sauce with something other than pasta, but I’m not sure how that would work. Post in the comments if you have any suggestions.

As harvest season is coming to  a close, it is refreshing to still see lots of leafy greens available. I was pretty excited last week when we received a beautiful bunch of swiss chard in our CSA share. I’ve cooked with chard throughout our CSA season, but I was interested in looking for a more autumn-themed dish. I can always count on my Eating Well: In Season cookbook to provide me with a seasonal meal.

The recipe that I found was pretty similar to some of the frittatas that I’ve made throughout the summer except that this recipe called for a tart crust made from scratch. I was pretty excited to give it a try.

Chard and Feta Tart
Adapted from Eating Well In Season

Crust

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons cold water

Filling

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups chopped chard (about 1 bunch), leaves and stems separated.
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

To prepare crust:

Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oregano, salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add 1/3 cup oil and 5 tablespoons water. Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to the prepared pan and press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim an overhanging dough and use it to patch any spots that don’t come all the way up the sides. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork in a few places. Bake the crush until firm and lightly brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.


To prepare filling:

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems and cook, stirring until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add chard leaves and 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring, until the leaves are just tender and the water has evaporated, about 2-5 minutes. Transfer the greens to a sieve over a bowl and let drain and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk eggs, ricotta, lemon zest and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Fold in the greens olives, and feta. Spread the filling into the crust. Bake the tart until the top is lightly browned and knife inserted in the corner comes out clean, 30 5o 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

 

This was an awesome meal. The home-made crust was so savory from the black pepper and oregano. The filling was delightful. I didn’t have lemons on hand, so I added some lemon-pepper seasoning and it worked just fine. It probably wasn’t as strong as it would have been with the addition of grated lemon peel, but it worked. I loved the combo of the olives and feta with the chard.

This was a great recipe because it involved plenty of baking, but served as a dinner. Although I thought that making the crust would be an extra step and inconvenient, it was one of the best parts. I didn’t have a tart dish, so I used a regular pie dish which worked fine, but didn’t have the same aesthetic. If you are planning to serve this to guests or has hor d’eourves, I would recommend using the actual tart dish. I’ve stumbled upon a few recipes since that require them, and I’ll probably purchasing one in the near future, if I can find one at an affordable price. In the meantime, it’s not really about what this tart looked like, but how good it tasted while I was chowing it down!

If there’s one thing I’ve been obsessed with this Fall it’s apples. In the same way I fell in love with peaches this summer, for the first time in my life, I’ve seemed to really develop a liking for apples. Probably because most of the times I’ve been sinking my teeth into them, they’ve been right off the tree, as opposed to the grocery store display. I can’t get enough of Galas, MacIntosh, Honeycrips, and Jonagolds. I’ve been trying all different recipes, but was really excited to put these blushing red beauties into donut form. A few problems arose. One: I had no desire to fry up donuts, and preferred to bake them instead. Two: If I did find a recipe for baked donuts, it involved a donut pan, which I did not have.

After a while of searching, I was pretty excited to find a baked donut recipe that involved baking the donuts in a mini-muffin pan to make donut holes. I ended up having to purchase a pan, but I’ll definitely put it to use more often than I will a donut mold pan.

Oven Baked Apple Donuts
from Jennifer Bartoli, contributor to The Kitchn

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups bite-sized chunks of apple, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

To Coat:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Preheat your oven to 350F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugars salt and and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the cold chopped butter. Rub the pieces of butter with the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Mix in the milk and fold in the chopped apples. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir using a spatula or spoon making sure not to overmix. Place a spoonful of batter into each mold of a buttered mini muffin pan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the donuts are just golden. Remove from the oven, unmold and lightly brush each donut with the melted butter. Dunk in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon mixed in. Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

 


These donuts were everything that I hoped they’d be. Filled with soft chunks of apples, dipped in butter, and coated with cinnamon and sugar. The mini muffin tin made them just the right size to pop in one or two for an afternoon snack or a quick dessert after dinner. I’ve found myself snacking on them after a long day at work, with a mug of hot apple cider. It was delightful! These also make a really great gift for friends, or would be great to bring along to a party of brunch. They’re fairly easy to make, so this won’t be the last time I’ll enjoy them.

Pizza night on the weekends is nothing out of the usual in our apartment, in fact it’s become quite a routine. We both really look forward to staying in on a weekend night and letting the pizza dough rise, while kicking back a six-pack from the bar down the street. We’ve become quite good at making our dough from scratch, to the point where buying dough is no longer an option. And we’re getting more adventurous with our toppings, especially after we gave the fig and prosciutto pizza a try.

A few weekends ago the Phillies were in the playoffs for the Pennant. We’d been going out a lot to watch the games, and we decided it would be  a good night to kick back, make a pizza, and watch some baseball.

The process was made all the easier by the addition to a pizza stone that we purchased from Fante’s in the Italian Market. We’ve been saying for months that we really needed to invest in one. In the meantime, we’d been using an upside-down cast iron skillet, which worked well enough, but was quite sloppy. We both shelled out a measly $20 each and purchased a lovely stone, and it made all of the difference.

I wasn’t quite sure where to turn to when it came to recipes. We usually make a Margherita pizza and usually a veggie. I had a few recipes stored up and I decided it was time to channel Martha Stewart. I had a recipe for hazelnut pizza dough, but I couldn’t find any hazelnut meal in the Acme (surprise, surprise), so I settled on a regular dough. I found  a link to a onion, pepper, and mushroom pizza on Martha’s website, and then turned to The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook for one more.

First, I started out with a basic red sauce recipe from the cookbook. This would be used for the mushroom, pepper, and onion pizza, and maybe a Margherita if we decided to go that route. (Spoiler alert: we didn’t.)

Pizza Sauce
from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 28-ounce can whole Italian peeled plum tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet, and place over medium heat. Using your hands, squeeze the tomatoes in the can to crush them. Add to the warm olive oil, along with the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium-low heat, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until the sauce is thick, 40 to 50 minutes.

Pass sauce through a food mill fitted with a medium disk, discard the seeds and let cool.*

*I just put the mixture into a food processor, and it worked out just fine.

 

Next up I settled on a great recipe, also from Martha Stewart Living. Check it out, because it was awesome.

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Turkey Sausage Pizza
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 medium red onions, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
8 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces turkey sausage
pizza dough
5 ounces goat cheese
1 cup fresh arugula, optional

Heat 2 tablespoons oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic cloves, and cook until they begin to soften, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and cook until golden brown, stirring often, about 50 minutes. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a cutting board, and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place your pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a pizza peel. Brush with olive oil. Top pizza with a layer of the onion mixture, the sausage, and the goat cheese. Sprinkle with a handful of arugula. Bake until the dough is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cook slightly. Top with more fresh arugula and goat cheese. Serve hot.

This was all that remained of our pizza by the time I got around to grabbing my camera. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. The rich colors of the red onion and the pop of the arugula were awesome. It was seasonally appropriate and super savory. We scarfed the whole thing down pretty quickly, but I would definitely make it again.

Along with our caramelized onion pizza, we made a pepper, mushroom and onion pizza (with a little sausage thrown in), and an eggplant pizza with mozzarella and fresh basil. The eggplant was leftover dinner from Eggplant Parmesan at the South Philly Taproom the night before. Delectable!

Our pizza stone in action, with some mushroom, pepper, and onion pizza.

 

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Phillies lost that night, therefore giving up their chance to win the Pennant. Fortunately for us, we had tons of awesome pizza and some Yards Philadelphia Pale Ales. We did hang our heads in sorrow for the Phils’ loss, but only until our next pizza came out of the oven.

Happy Halloween, ya’ll! This year instead of celebrating like I normally do, I spent nearly the entire weekend in the kitchen. What started out with some butternut squash ravioli on Friday night, was followed by home made apple butter in jars, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin cinnamon rolls over night and into the morning, ginger snaps. With a few oatmeal cookies tossed in by Stu. Of course in the midst of all of my stove-opening-and-closing and pot-stirring was some good old fashioned Jack O’Lantern carving.

Last weekend I dragged Stu and his bee-hind to Linvilla Orchards in Media, PA. This was a good idea in theory, but the place was packed. After waiting in line for apple donuts and fighting through crowds to pick out the best pumpkins, we ended up spending way too much money on three pumpkins. However, I am pretty determined to make these suckers go for as long as possible and get all I can out of ’em.

Two awesome pumpkins joined the ranks of our gourds from our CSA and my Happy Fall pumpkin from my Aunt Angela when she came to visit. These guys were perfect for carving and their seeds went to great use.

This beaut is a Fairytale Pumpkin. Aside from looking awesome, it’s particularly great for eating and has a sweet flesh that’s perfect for cooking and baking. If I can ever bare to party with it (pumpkins are appropriate decorations for Thanksgiving, too!), it will be cut open and the flesh will be made into a pumpkin puree for a pie, and if there’s enough hopefully for a mousse or maybe even a pumpkin soup. I’ve finally finished off my 28oz. can of pumpkin puree, so I’m excited to use real pumpkin in my next few recipes. Hopefully I can get a few more in before November ends and Christmas season approaches. That is, if I’m not entirely sick of pumpkin by then.

Happy Halloween!

Lately our Saturday or Sunday mornings have become quite a nice breakfast tradition. I’ve been trying to take at least one day a weekend and make a substanial meal. Something other than cereal or eggs. Recently we gave the collards and potato frittata a try, so I decided to do something a little less savory.

Recently I discovered the website Joy the Baker. I know a lot of my cooking-friendly friends have been using it for ages, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure out how amazing it is. Recently I’ve been trying to make one baked good a week, and so it was good timing to stumble upon this really lovely blog. I’ve already bookmarked quite a few recipes, but one stood out from the others. A great recipe for chai pancakes. I enjoy pancakes just fine, but I especially enjoy them when there is something special about them. Particularly pumpkin pancakes, blueberry pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes, etc. I thought that a lovely Saturday morning in October would be a great time to give these Chai pancakes a try.

Chai Spiced Buttermilk Pancakes
from Joy the Baker

2 eggs
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
healthy pinch of ground cloves
scant 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns (or a dash of freshly ground black pepper)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup brewed black chai tea
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
oil or cooking spray (for cooking)

In a large bowl beat eggs. Add buttermilk, chai tea, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Let batter set for a few minutes.

Heat griddle or pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil (I used grapeseed oil) to the pan or spray with cooking spray. You can test to see if the pan is hot enough by adding a few drops of water, when the drops start to dance its hot enough.

Pour 2 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. You can also gently lift up the pancake to make sure the bottom is not overcooking, if it is the pan may be too hot and you will need to adjust the heat. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Let cooked pancakes rest on a heat proof plate in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

These were perfect. The batter was a little different than anything I’ve worked with, but it made some awesome pancakes. I used to be pretty terrible at making pancakes (some of my readers can attest to that…), but recently I think I’ve mastered my technique. I’ve been having so much fun with them lately, and this recipe definitely contributed to how much fun they are to make. They were perfect with a little bit of maple syrup, but I got a little crazy and spread some blackberry jam (ahh, summer) on top. I had about 4 pancakes, and then had some more the next morning. Give these a try and impress yourself, and your friends!

I know I said I wasn’t going to post about this recipe, but after having if over and over again I’ve become quite fond of it. I was really excited to receive some kale in our CSA share last week. It is really one of my favorite leafy greens and so nutritious! I have a few friends who have been talking about it a lot lately with their own recipes, so I was anxious to use it. We purchased some chorizo from our CSA that was made from a local source, and referenced a recipe that was included in our CSA newsletter. The results were not as pleasing as I had anticipated, but I was able to make a few changes to improve it after first taste.

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale and Chorizo Soup)
from Food and Wine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
6 ounces chorizo, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 quarts water
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound kale, stems discarded and leaves finely shredded

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the garlic, onion and half of the chorizo and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 8 minutes. Add water, potatoes and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Using an immersion blender, process the soup to a coarse puree. Bring to a boil. Add the kale and simmer until it is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining half of the chorizo and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve in bowls, drizzled with olive oil.

What I didn’t really realize about this recipe before I started cooking, was that most of the potato and chorizo were cooked, and then blended into a broth. More importantly, there really isn’t a lot of chorizo in this in the first place. I ended up reserving some of the potatoes and sausage before pureeing into broth, so that it would still be a bit chunky, but it really wasn’t enough. The broth came out pretty watery and flavorless. There was a little kick from the chorizo, which was nice, but it just wasn’t as hardy as I had imagined it would be. My other big mistake, was that I forgot to chop the kale before adding it. I discarded the stems, but just threw in the full leaves, which left it tough to chew and swallow. It was definitely not one of my best meals.

Unfortunately, this recipe made a ton of soup! A ton of bad soup, that is until I found the remedy. After eating it, I went back to the stove, cut up some more potatoes and added them to the pot. I turned the burner on and let the soup sit for about another hour, until the potatoes were tender. Then I ended up going into the soup and cutting up all of the kale so that it ended up in smaller pieces. Overall, it turned out pretty ok. I had it for lunch a few times this week and enjoyed it much more the second and third time around. Next time I go to make a potato, kale and chorizo soup, I’ll read over my recipes a little more thoroughly.

Now that chili season is officially upon us (even though it’s probably going to hit 80 degrees this week), I’m getting excited to try out some new recipes and some old favorites. I always appreciate a good vegetarian chili, or a recipe that adds some unique ingredients, such as chocolate and dried chilis, or cranberries and butternut squash. I am always looking for a new twist on the classic recipe, but Stu has his own thoughts on this cool-weather staple: Meat. Meat. More Meat.

After cooking up the first batch of the season with a shredded chicken chili, Stu decided to take charge last Sunday night. I objected a little, because I know that his main ingredient in all chili’s is chunks of steak, which I tend to avoid at all costs. But I decided to let him take the reigns, and it turned out that his chili was quite good.

Stu’s go-to recipe is from All Recipes, but he usually tweaks it a bit. You can find the link here, and Stu’s adaptation below.

Boilermaker Tailgate Chili
from AllRecipes.com

2 pounds shoulder-cut steak (or any general slab of steak, I suppose), chopped into 1/2-inch cubes.
1 pound hot Italian sausage, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans
1 15 ounce can black beans
1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, or beans of your choice
2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
3 ounces can tomato paste, or a little less
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup frozen corn
2 green jalapeno peppers, with seeds, chopped|
1/2 cup beer (we used Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 and 1/2 teaspoon Sriacha sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar
3-5 scallions, chopped for garnish
cheddar cheese, for garnish

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the steak and the sausage into the pan. Cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.

Pour in the red kidney, black, and canellini beans, the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, jalapenos, corn and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, Sriacha sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day.

To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with green onionsand shredded Cheddar cheese.

This chili is as classic, hardy, manly man meatfest as it gets. Surprisingly I quite liked it. I’m not saying that I will look forward to eating this again and again throughout the winter, but I really didn’t mind eating it while drinking a Dogfishhead Punkin and watching the Phillies play on a Sunday evening. (Football, like steak, is not really my thing.) It was a pretty good ending to my weekend. The recipe made plenty so we had leftovers for lunch (yes, I did have a 2nd or 3rd helping during the week) and we froze some for a few weeks down the line. If you are into meaty meals, or trying to please your manly man significant other, I strongly suggest you give this recipe a try. Stu knows what he’s doing… Go meat!