Dinner

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage

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I believe I mentioned a few posts ago how I was going to leave the entire garden to my husband. I am basically still being true to my word. I have only harvested a few asparagus and only weeded that bed. He has spent more time out there more this years than in years past and has harvested cauliflower, lettuce, radishes and now Swiss Chard. Which this is the first time we have tried growing Swiss Chard. It is doing great out there and looks gorgeous. My daughter was the one that wanted it to be rainbow chard and that was a great choice too.
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Friday nights dinner needed to include Swiss Chard only because I am not sure how long it will last sitting in the fridge. And it really is pretty cool to pick, cook and eat what you have planted, nurtured and harvested.
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When I told my daughter what we were having she immediately said “yum” some of our favorite things, pasta, sausage, cheese. Pretty fail safe that dinner will taste like it was made with love. And it was!

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 ounce box of pasta - small shells, rigatoni. cavatappi
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 3 links sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, crumbled
  4. 4 tablespoon butter
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 1 bunch of Swiss chard, remove stems and roughly chop leaves
  7. 2 tablespoons flour
  8. 1 3/4 cup milk
  9. 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano grated
  10. 1 lemon - zested
  11. kosher salt
  12. freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pasta; make pasta as directed on the box. save 1 cup up the pasta water
  2. in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat add the olive oil and the sausage. breaking up while cooking. transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.
  3. remove most of the fat from the pot and add the butter, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute being careful not to burn.
  4. Add the Swiss chard and saute until it wilts 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for another minute or so. lower the heat to a simmer
  5. Add the milk and bring to a boil. cook for a minute then add the sausage, parmesean, lemon zest and add a little salt and black pepper.
  6. stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the pasta to the pot and toss. Add pasta water as needed.
Adapted from Food Network
Adapted from Food Network
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Sirloin Tip Steak Bearnaise Butter

First day of summer means end of school for some, allergies for most, and BBQ season has officially begun. That doesn’t mean we haven’t fired up the grill several times already. When I plan on grilling out, I try to make sure that if it can be grilled it will be grilled.

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I usually complain how the asparagus in my garden is not producing, it is still not where I think it should be; more like where I want it to be. But I was pleasantly pleased with how many cuttings I was able to harvest. 

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I don’t usually make compound butters and I am not sure why I don’t; they taste delicious and they are very easy to make.

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This is a great weeknight dinner if you need it to be or a date night meal with a nice glass of wine. 

2 large sprigs fresh tarragon
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs minced shallot
1 Tbs dry white wine
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs water
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 ½ lb. beef flap meat – aka sirloin tip – cut so they are uniform sized pieces
1 bunch of asparagus – trimmed
T Tbs olive oil

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Bearnaise Butter

Strip the tarragon leaves from the stems, finely chop the leaves; about 2 tsp. And set aside.

In a skillet over medium-low heat melt 1 Tbs butter along with the shallots and the tarragon stems. Cook for a couple of minutes till the shallots are translucent. Add the wine, vinegar and 1 Tbs of water. Increase the heat to medium, and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, remove and discard the stems and let cool complete.

Once cooled add the last 3 Tbs butter, the chopped tarragon, ¼ tsp kosher salt, and ⅛ tsp pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

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Steak and Asparagus
Heat your grill to high about 400’F – 475’F

Using a sheet pan place some plastic wrap down; use one end for the beef and the other for the asparagus. Coat both with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

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Grill the meat turning every 2 minutes. Around 6-8 minutes, you are looking for medium rare 140’F for best flavors.

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Remove plastic wrap place beef on sheet pan cover loosely with foil, while it is resting, cook asparagus turning once till slightly charred 2-3 minutes.

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Thinly slice the meat against the grain, arrange on plates or a platter with the asparagus, top both with dollops of the butter.

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Mangia Mangia!!!

 

 

leftover takeout white rice

If you have ever ordered takeout from a Chinese, Japanese or Thai restaurant you probably ended up with a container or two or even three of white rice. I mean who is not going to eat the fried rice first over the plain, sticky and starchy white rice am I right?
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If you are anything like me you can’t just throw it away. So you put it in the fridge with the rest of the leftovers since you ordered way more than you could ever eat in one sitting and wait for someone to eat it. Until it stays in there a week, or more and you end up throwing it away on fridge clean out day. I too am guilty of this!
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I started out thinking I was going to make fried rice, but with the ingredients I wanted to add to my dish we ended up with a stir fry. You might think they are similar and they basically are. Both using leftover rice, both cooked on high heat with a little oil. You cook them both in a wok but you don’t have to if you don’t have one. Both have some veggies and a protein plus a little soy sauce or oyster sauce; maybe some hoisin sauce top with a few sliced scallion and you’ve got a meal.
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Here is what I threw in my stir fry – you make yours with what you like and what you have on hand.

2 containers leftover white rice
2 chicken breast
2 carrots – match stick
1 medium onion
1 can water chestnuts
1 can baby corn chopped
1/2 bell pepper
handful pea pod
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon ginger – grated
kosher salt and black pepper

Prep by slicing and dicing all of your ingredients.
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heat your pan with a little oil and add the chicken or whatever protein you are using if it is not already cooked. Remove from heat, add the onion, carrots, pepper stirring constantly around the pan until lightly cooked, add the garlic stirring for another minute or two. Add the remaining already cooked veggies along with rice and chicken. Add the soy sauce and the hoisin. It only takes a minute or two for everything to come together.
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Serve topped with sliced scallions.
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Date Night Dine In

In my opinion the key to a successful marriage is communication. Why we have made it 30 years is beyond me. We are not great a communicating but apparently it is working for us. Do I think things could have been easier had we been better at it, definitely.
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It seems we always have some sort of plans either out or at home. Yesterday was no exception he worked, I went shopping; stop laughing SF. Had we discussed during our morning coffee/tea what our plans were we might have eaten dinner before 9pm. My plan was to hang out 2 loads of laundry, go shopping come home and put everything I bought away and then wash a couple of cars; after all that then I wanted to make this date night dinner for the two of us. His plan was to disrupt my plans.
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Mid washing he made a cheese, cracker, salami board and invited his parents over for wine and snack on the porch. Oh and then he got a call and had to leave because one of his tenants needed their AC unit put in. Parents show up, he leaves and I continue to wash cars, it ended up being 5 vehicles but hey who is counting. Parents leave around 8 when the wine and board were empty. Took me a little less than an hour to throw this meal together but I was great and I would totally do it again or something that resembles it.
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I had most everything on hand, steak tips, half a bag of shrimp and cocktail sauce were all in the freezer. I literally only picked up the lettuce and the small potatoes. Oh and the fresh bread that we ate some before hand; but it made it into the pictures.

Ingredients
Steak Tips
Shrimp
Baby potatoes
Iceberg lettuce
Bleu cheese dressing
Feta crumbles
Bacon
Cocktail sauce
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Directions
Shrimp
Make the shrimp first so it has time to cool. I used to boil them but find that baking them add a little more love to them. a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 8 minutes till cooked through. Set aside to cool.
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Baby Potatoes
slice in half, a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350’F
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Steak Tips
a little salt and pepper and a swirl of olive oil in your heated pan is all you need.
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Wedge Salad
I cooked my bacon in the microwave between some paper towels. 4 pieces for 6 minutes.
Slice the head of iceberg lettuce in half and then half again.
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If you use 2 boards or platters, you can keep the warm stuff away from the cold and it looks nice.

 

 

Meatloaf – low sodium low fat

My mother might be shocked to read this blog – nothing bad trust me just me making and sharing a meatloaf recipe someone might have to pick her up off the floor! I am sure everyone has a childhood food trauma – OK trauma might be a little harsh but I am still not a meatloaf fan by any stretch. My poor husband sometimes orders it out since I pretty much never ever make it.
IMG_4063My mother might fall over again when she reads that I not only made a meatloaf but I used ground turkey WHO AM I? When I was a punk teenager my mother tried to pull off ground turkey as ground beef – who did she think she was kidding – my teenage self was not falling for it one bit. My adult self is far more evolved I usually have a package or two in the freezer.
IMG_4065.JPGYou might be wondering why I would even attempt making this meatloaf; but my Dad should be eating a lot more healthier than he has his entire life so I guess I am going to try to convert him on a few things I know he likes. I feel that if I can make him a couple staples that are lower in sodium and with healthier choice of protein maybe he’ll try a little harder.
IMG_4066.JPGI found this recipe from Genius Kitchen and changed it from ground beef to ground turkey. Yes I did try a bite of it, but I also put a chunk out on the table for the fam, immediate and extended, and they all liked it a lot so I think it is a winner.
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Low-Sodium Low-Fat Meatloaf
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Meatloaf
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  4. ⅓ cup celery, chopped fine
  5. ⅓ cup carrot, chopped fine
  6. 2 pounds ground turkey
  7. 1 cup rolled oats
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  10. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  11. ½ cup milk
  12. 2 teaspoons Mrs Dash seasoning mix
  13. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  14. Sauce
  15. 8 ounces no salt tomato sauce
  16. ¼ cup brown sugar
  17. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  18. 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil just till tender, let them cool a bit.
  3. In a large bowl mix all the meatloaf ingredients together using your hands.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish.
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meatloaf ingredients.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Maple Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

It will be 6 years this June since I started writing this weekly food blog and I do not see myself stopping anytime soon. I hope you are all OK with that; well I guess if you are reading this; you are on board with me continuing.
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With that being said I have upgraded my subscription on WordPress (more $) and am getting some help with how to make it a little more professional; and I hope easier for you to save and hopefully print out your favorite recipes. At least that is my goal. I just finished day 2 on how to build a better business blog so we’ll see where this takes me/us.
IMG_4029I have mentioned before that I am not very good at “self promoting” but yesterday I went to The Flying Butcher to pick up more pork chops and am making them tonight for my niece and her husband. I mentioned to the guy that helped me that I write a food blog and mentioned them in one of my posts because the pork chops we SO good. He said I should tag them and they will share it on their site. Look at me go! The name of the pork chops are Hatfield I need to ask them next time what Hatfield refers to. Name of the farm? Name of the pig? Company they get them from?
IMG_4037.JPGThe recipe I am going to share here today is what I am making for them later today. Not only because it is delicious but also because they collect and boil sap to make maple syrup and who doesn’t love having recipes that go along with what you worked so hard for.
IMG_4033.JPGThis recipe is even easier than the pork and apple recipe from a couple of weeks ago. Plus it’s fresh maple syrup season right now so let’s get cooking!
IMG_4030Pork Chop
4 pork chops – bone in or thick cut
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Balsamic Glaze
½ cup maple syrup
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons beef broth
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic – smashed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a small saucepan add all the glaze ingredients together and bring to a boil. You’ll want to boil it down for about 4 minutes.
IMG_4031Using a cast iron pan; if you have one. Either pre-heat it in your 350’F oven while you prepare the glaze, or place it on the stove top and put it on low to heat it up nicely.
IMG_4034.JPGPat the chops dry using paper towels. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add a little olive oil. Once your pan is almost to the smoking point. Add the chops and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes. Flip and add some of the glaze to the browned side. After another 2-3 minutes flip again and add more glaze. You can keep flipping and adding glaze or finish them off in the 350’ F oven till they have an internal temperature of 140’F.
IMG_4035.JPGRemove them from the pan adding more glaze and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes.

Sage Butter Garlic Pork Chops

A couple of weeks ago I made pork chops for dinner. Sound simple enough but apparently they were the best pork chops my husband has ever had. I am not entirely sure how to take that. Were all the other pork chops terrible? Am I too sensitive? Was it my way of preparing them or was it because I bought them from a butcher? Honestly I believe it was the butcher but I am going to take a little of the credit. I mean I went to the butcher shop and bought them, I seasoned them and I cooked them to the correct temperature. So I can take some of the credit right?
IMG_4016For some of my local followers I got them at the Flying Butcher in Nashua and they were bone in. I will be picking them up again soon. Maybe I will make them differently just to see if it was me or them? Let it go Donna!
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I didn’t start out adding apples, white wine and a little chicken stock but I couldn’t help myself. I had all on hand and they go so well together it was hard not to add the apples.

I started with just making seasoned chops and was going to make a simple garlic butter and sage pan sauce with sweet potato rosemary chips on the side. I ended up adding apples, wine and a little chicken stock. I really don’t measure so if your pan is too dry add more liquid.
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Ingredients

Ingredients 4 bone in pork chops Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper 2 tablespoons butter Olive oil 5-6 sage leaves 1-2 apples peeled and sliced 2-3 garlic cloves chopped ¼ cup white wine ½ cup chicken stock Potato wedges 1-2 sweet potatoes Rosemary chopped Olive Oil

Directions

Directions Let the pork chops sit on the counter and come to room temperature while you get everything out. Season both sides with salt and pepper. IMG_4008IMG_4009If you are making the sweet potato chips, peel and slice, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper them; add chopped fresh rosemary. Place them a sheet pan and place in a 350’F oven for about 30 minutes; flipping once. Till they are soft and have a little color IMG_4005IMG_4007IMG_4017Heat your pan a little and then add some olive oil. Once the pan and oil are heated add the chops. Let them sit there for at least 3 minutes. Flip them and let them sit there for another 3 minutes or so. Continue flipping after 2-3 minutes until they are cooked through. I recommend 145’ internal temperature for a juicy chop. Once cooked through remove them from the pan and set aside. IMG_4011IMG_4012IMG_4013Add white wine or just use chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Add the butter and sage as well as the apples and garlic and saute till the apples are cooked through. Adding stock as needed. This should take around 5-6 minutes. Place the chops on your serving dish and pour the apple mixture over them and enjoy!

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Roasted sheet pan dinner

It is finally feeling a little like spring around here. The sun is shining, the wind isn’t too bad and the bugs are not around yet so I spent 4 hours outside raking and still have another 4ish or at least someone else has another 4 or so I mean I don’t want to have all the fun!
IMG_4025.JPGI mentioned the other day I wanted to make a sheet pan meal. Well it was worth the wait. It was easy to prep, mostly hands off cooking and the flavor was on point. I will confess I was a little hesitant to add everything including the chicken into one bowl but everything was going to be cooked on the same sheet and at 425’ for 35-45 minutes it will be fine!
IMG_4018I will be making this again; and am looking forward to playing around with different flavors; I think there is endless possibilities to try. It actually might become a staple this summer especially when there is so many other things to do with the longer days.
IMG_4019I do want to mention that you might need to pay attention to what veggies you are cooking. Carrots take longer than potatoes, beets take longer than carrots you get the picture. If you want to stagger than you can, I did not and beets and carrots were cooked but still had a little firmness to them. You can also slice the carrots smaller than the potatoes so the cook around the same time.
IMG_4020.JPGIngredients
6 chicken thighs
2-3 potatoes – or use 6-7 small baby reds
4-5 carrots
3 beets – optional
1 large onion sliced
2-3 garlic cloves sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 lemons juiced
Salt and black pepper

Directions
Peel and slice the veggies and place in a large bowl. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides; add them to the bowl. Add the oil, lemon, rosemary and season with salt and pepper.

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I added the beets after I put everything else on the sheet – didn’t want everything purple

Spread everything out on the sheet pan. For easy clean up (it still made a mess but it was less) cover your sheet with non stick foil. Spread everything out the best you can and bake for 35-45 minutes.
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Sausage & Broccoli Pasta

“I hope you are going to blog about this; it is delicious” “I am going to have this for lunch on Monday; maybe even tomorrow too” just a couple of quotes from my fam after eating last night’s dinner. So here I am going to share it with you. Though a little back story, it was NOT what I had intended on making at all. I had some chicken thighs that needed to be cooked and I wanted to do a sheet pan chicken thigh and veggie dinner; until I opened the package; damn they had been in the fridge too long and went right into a sealed bag into the trash. So this was a back up plan as I also had some sweet Italian sausage in there that needed to be cooked. Thankfully they fared far better and made a great quick simple meal.
IMG_3999.JPGI am still trying to go through the freezer; I know; how deep is that damn thing that I am going on what 2-3 months of trying to use up what is in there. I had seen enough progress so that I took everything out the other day and placed it on the counter. Then called my husband out of his office to “come and pick something out for dinner” he picked arancini (fried Italian rice ball) and egg rolls – Um no thank you! That night was arancini; the next night was the egg rolls. It’s a good thing he is cute!

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I spy in the upper right hand corner my Godiva bottle*Chocolate Martini’s was also on the menu 

Back to how my Italian sausage and a few things from my freezer turned into a quick, simple and blog worthy dinner. When I laid everything out on the counter from the freezer I noticed the broccoli that I put in there from my garden was getting beat up a bit. Apparently being in there since September and getting knocked around a bit it was turning into smaller and smaller pieces. So I thought it best to use it or lose it. I have homemade chicken stock in there majority of the time; thankfully so I added a little pasta and voila dinner.
IMG_3995The best tip I can give you is brown the sausage; without browning it in the pan and letting the pan get all dark in coated with the yummy bits, I am not sure my fam would have been raving about it. The browned sausage made all the difference in the world. The chicken stock helped to deg-laze the pan which gave such a deep rich flavor to the otherwise boring pasta.
IMG_3996I didn’t and usually don’t measure anything so I am going to ballpark it for you!

3 links of sweet Italian sausage – casing removed
1 pound broccoli
1 pound penne pasta – cooked to the packages direction
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup or more Parmesan cheese – grated plus more for serving
Olive oil

Add a little olive oil to your pan and let it get warmed up, add the sausage; breaking it up and letting it get brown. Remove and set aside.
IMG_3997Add the broccoli and let it get a little browned on each side. Add the red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the sausage and pasta back into the pan. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese and let it meld.
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Serve and enjoy!

Corned Beef & Cabbage – Hash

Did you pick up your corned beef for next weekend? I was sitting here wondering about the origin of the New England boiled dinner and why it is synonymous with St Patrick’s day! So instead of writing I have been reading. What I came up with is it was basically a poor man’s meal. Brisket is a cheaper cut of meat, corned comes from the large salt pieces to cure it. Americans didn’t invent it, it didn’t come here with the Irish immigrants, from what I read they are not eating this meal next Sunday in Ireland. the English were boiling meat long before we made this a staple here in New England on St Paddy’s day.

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this is an older picture of the same meal – been making this for YEARS!

None of this has changed my mind on whether or not I am going to make it next weekend; I am and yes I picked up my corned beef along with many other people. It was actually kind of like a frenzy at one of the stores I went to. Well there was a few people who were grabbing 3 or 4 of them a little more aggressively than I thought warranted.

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chopped up leftover corned beef hash

Confession time I actually made this last weekend as well. I was craving corned beef hash and yes I could have just bought a chunk of beef from the deli but it’s just not the same as having all the veggies and cabbage cooked in the salty water. In my reading this morning I am going to do something a little different for me. I am going to add beets to the pot. I don’t know of anyone that adds beets to their boiled dinner. But I am going to try it out. And I am looking forward to making red flannel hash which I have never had and honestly never really thought about why it was called that. So now I am interested it trying it next week.
img_3964.jpgSince this is such a simple meal and you can totally make it your own here is just the basic information.

Ingredients
2 Corned beef – flat cut or point cut / either is fine, I like point cut better – always 2 think leftovers
Potatoes – peeled and chunked – you don’t want them too small they will disintegrate
Carrots
Rutabaga
Cabbage
Bay leaf
Peppercorns

Above is what I grew up with and still make. But you can use any root vegetable you like. Parsnips, turnip, beets.

Directions
Place the corned beef in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a bay leaf or two, some pepper corns. Bring to a boil and then lower the temp so it is simmering. Place the cover to your pot a little crooked so the steam can escape. Simmer for 3+ hours till the beef is nice and tender. Remove the beef to a plate or bowl and cover with tinfoil. Place the potatoes and veggies in the same water and bring to a boil, lower and simmer for about an hour till the rutabaga is soft. Add the cabbage during the last 15 minutes.

Veggies can be cooked separately if you would rather; but that’s a lot of dishes to clean. You can also stagger the veggies.  Rutabagas take the longest, then carrots and finally potatoes.
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Corned beef hash

leftovers
onion – diced  – I had some shallots so I diced one of those up too
olive oil
egg

dice up the veggies and beef. In a fry pan add a little oil and saute the onion. add the veggies and fry up till crispy edges, add the beef and cook till all warmed through. top with a poached or fried egg.
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