Shakshouka

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I was inspired to try this Middle Eastern egg dish for a mid-morning brunch thanks to friends on my timeline. I am so glad I did. I did not have fresh tomatoes to make it from scratch and used a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. It was still delicious and incredibly easy.

I put a tablespoon of olive oil in an iron skillet and brought the heat up to medium. I added 1/4 tsp of cumin and 1/4 tsp of cardamom and let them simmer in the oil until the rich aromatics scented the room. Meanwhile, I diced a small yellow onion and 2 garlic cloves.  I added the onion, salt and pepper and let sauté and then added the garlic along with 1 cup of finely chopped fresh kale. The kale is not usually found in Shakshouka but I don’t care. It was what I had on hand and added a delicious grounded earthiness to the flavor.

I then added a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and some salt and pepper. I filled the can about 1/3 full and added water and let it come to a nice simmer. Then I cracked 6 eggs on top and let them cook. I wanted the yolk a little more done than recommended, so I put the lid on towards the end. I continued to let them poach until completely done.

This made 3 servings You could, if you like, reserve the sauce and poach just 2 eggs at a time. It’s rich, spicy and very filling.

I sprinkled some feta on top but that could easily be left off because with the spicy tomatoes, it was superfluous.

I heated the leftovers for another meal – using very low power so they eggs didn’t freak out and this time, I sprinkled a bit of sumac on top and that seemed to marry the flavors even better.

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Chicken and Dumplings with Tomatoes and Kale

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Does everything taste better with kale? I don’t know, but the evidence is piling up.

I made an easy chicken and dumpling soup. I had the broth reserved in the fridge from a chicken I cooked a couple weeks ago. You could use canned broth, too, probably, but it’s easy enough to make your own broth and make it rich and flavorful with lots of vegetables and herbs. I just strain it twice and save it in containers.

I put the broth in a sauce pan, added 1 14.5 ounce can of canned tomatoes to heat and began to mix up the dumplings. I made a big batch because you can cook up some dumplings, serve them and then add more dumplings back to the soup broth. To make the dumplings I mixed 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 tsp of baking powder and 1 cup of flour. The batter was soft, but hung together on the spoon. I dipped a soup spoon in the boiling water and then into the batter to spoon it into the broth. By dipping my spoon into the hot broth, I ensured that the batter didn’t stick to the spoon and slid easily off into the broth. I let them boil until the floated on top of the broth. While they cooked, I clean two ribs of kale, removing the ribs and chopping the kale leaves. I added them to the soup and served when done.

After I had two bowls of soup, I cooked up the rest of the dumplings and put the soup in the fridge for later. This made 8-12 servings of soup, depending on your bowl. It’s a rich, flavorful soup with a bit of heat from the jalapeños in the canned tomatoes. I frankly love those particular canned tomatoes and will use them in soups a lot.

From start to finish was about 25 minutes.

Kale & Italian Sausage Lasagna

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I seldom make lasagna. How seldom was brought home to me when I was washing out my food storage bins and discovered that my lasagna was past its expiration date. I had not realized pasta had an expiration date, so there you have it. That poor box of lasagna has been dragged through two moves and I still had not emptied it, so I decided to finish it off and actually make a pan of lasagna. Now, I didn’t happen to have ricotta or mozzarella on hand since I seldom buy specialty cheese as I don’t use them quickly enough and they spoil. So, I made do with substitutes that made a tasty but totally inauthentic lasagna.

But let’s work through it. First I started water boiling. When it began a rolling boil I added eight pieces of lasagna pasta. I also added 3 pieces of Italian Sausage right out of the freezer. I figured why dirty two pans…and if anything the sausage might add some flavor to the pasta.

I got out a rectangular baking dish that was about as wide as 2.5 pieces of lasagna and just a bit shorter than the pasta. I laid down three pieces of lasagna, the middle one overlapping the two outer pieces. I then thinly sliced one of the pieces of Italian sausage and laid it down over the pasta. Taking about 1/2 cup of cream cheese, I dotted cream cheese in the spaces between the sausage. I then layered finely chopped kale on top. I used one full stalk, removed the ribs, and then chopped the kale.

Then I laid down two more strips of lasagna for another layer. I took the other two Italian sausages and  removing the skins, I chopped them up in a bowl and added 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes with jalapeños. I would have used fresh but didn’t happen to have any on hand. I mixed the sausage and tomatoes together and layered them on the pasta. On top of that I added a layer of black beans from a can, thoroughly rinsed in cold water.On top of that I added some sour cream which made a nice bed for the next layer of kale – using one more more stalk of kale finely chopped. I added a final layer of pasta and baked until done in a 350° oven. When it was done, I sprinkled some parmesan and some pepper jack cheese on top and broiled for just a few minutes to brown the cheese.

So, this made 12 servings which is why I don’t make lasagna very much. Luckily my friend came over and had some, too. It was delicious and easy to make and really did a good job of cleaning out some remnants in my fridge (cream cheese and sour cream). It was not too spicy, rich and flavorful.

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Chicken and Kale Soup

Chicken & Kale Soup

Normally I would use olive oil to start my soup, but I had some bacon fat from breakfast. I have to count that fat for my diabetes management, so you know darn well, I am going to use the rendered fat for something else. I heated it up and poured it in the stock pot and turned the burner to medium. I chopped up a large yellow onion (about 2 cups of chopped onion) and minced 4 large cloves of garlic and let them cook until the onions were transparent. Meanwhile I rinsed a whole fryer in water under the faucet and removed the organ meat and neck from the insides. I use rinse to make it clear that you do not use soap – which one of the Real Housewives used for her roast chicken.

I put the chicken in the pot and added enough water to cover it completely, turned the heat up to med. high to bring it to a boil. I tossed in two bay leaves and added salt and pepper. One it began to boil, I turned it down to a simmer (4 on my stove) and let it cook until the meat fell off the bone. I then put it in a colander inside of a bowl to cool off enough for me to remove the meat from the bones. I reserved all the white meat to use in salad and sandwiches and returned the dark meat to the soup. All the meat from an entire chicken is just too much meat relative to veggies and this way I get more meals from it. At this point, the soup can go in any direction. I decided to go for a kale-chicken soup because I saw one of the kale leaves had turned yellow and I wanted to use the rest of the kale before it turned.

Kale likes a certain heartiness and needs some acid so that it does not become bitter. So, I added a can of diced cooked tomatoes for the acid. I used canned only because I had already used the fresh tomatoes I bought. Otherwise I would have added two tomatoes, chopped. I added some sweet potatoes julienned on the mandoline and then cut into smaller thirds. I rinsed, removed the stems and cut the kale in narrow strips. I tossed this all in at the same time and grated about 1 tsp of fresh nutmeg over the pot. The aroma was heavenly.

In about 20 minutes it was done and ready to serve. On day two, the aroma and heady flavor is even more intense.

This makes about 12 servings, so you will have to store it in containers.