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April 18, 2021

3/26/2021 11:17:00 AM
Simple ingredients, complex on flavor

Far too often, when I’m looking to try a recipe for the first time, everything sounds good and I get excited to start it. I’ll get through the first four or five ingredients thinking, “Great, I’ve got that in the pantry,” or “I’ve got extra of that in the freezer.”

But then I keep scrolling and realize there’s ingredients on there that I don’t have. In fact my local grocery store barely ever has them. Things that I’ve never heard of. Things that I can barely pronounce. Things like saffron, ancho chile powder, achiote paste and mango chutney.

This week’s recipes are all about simplicity, or if they have an ingredient that isn’t usually on hand in the your fridge or pantry, an easy substitue for it.

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My wife and I just made this recipe together last weekend. It was super simple, and the one ingredient in it that isn’t on hand very often was easily substituted.

1 lb. Italian sausages crumbled
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 pound potato gnocchi
1.5 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

Sauté the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up as you go along, until browned (about 5-7 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
Add the chicken broth, cream, lemon juice, sun-dried tomatoes, and gnocchi to the pan. Give it a good stir.

Reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook for five minutes.

Give the gnocchi a stir and then add in the spinach. Cover the pan again for 1-2 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Stir in the parmesan. Ensure the gnocchi is cooked through and the sauce is thickened to your liking (cook for another minute or two if necessary). Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Gnocchi is one of those that doesn’t seem like it’d be on hand, but you can buy it in air sealed bags and store it in a pantry for some time and it stays good, so I suggest keeping a two-pack on hand. It’s really a nice ingredient to change things up that isn’t hard to store.

As for a substitute, we don’t keep sun-dried tomatoes on hand, so my wife decided to use a can of diced tomatoes, and it was still phenomenal.

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The next recipe is simple, warm and delicious. A perfect combination!
TACO SOUP                
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 4 oz. can green chilies, mild
2 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
2 14 oz. cans black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced

Optional toppings:
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Green onions

In a large soup pot, brown the beef along with the onions. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 30 minutes. Serve warm with cheese, sour cream and/or fresh cilantro.

Taco Soup is always a simple staple, and almost never requires any substitutes. You have most of the ingredients on hand at all times. It’s great in these spring days that aren’t exactly warm and still require a nice, warm cup of after a day spent outside.

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Korean food has always been very intriguing to me, but I’m usually intimidated by the ingreident list. There is some specialized things that I just don’t always have, but this one’s most exotic ingredients are ground ginger and sesame oil, which are easy to find in grocery stores and store easy, so having them on hand isn’t hard.

1 lb. lean ground beef
3 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups hot cooked white or brown rice
Sliced green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

In a large skillet cook the ground beef and garlic, breaking it into crumbles over medium heat until no longer pink. Don’t cook this at too high of a heat as your garlic will burn before the beef is done if the temp is too hot.

In a small bowl, whisk brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, red pepper flakes and pepper. Pour over the ground beef and let simmer for another minute or two. The longer the simmer, the thicker the sauce will get.

Serve over hot rice and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Any common rice works — white, brown or jasmine.

I’ve made this recipe multiple times, and I’ve even left out the ground ginger and it still tasted really good, so if you’re in a pinch with the ginger, no sweat.

Also, if you like spice like me, you can up the crushed red pepper to your preferred amount. The sweetness of the brown sugar really balances out the extra heat.

TFD: I saw a friend this past weekend that I hadn’t seen in sometime and her mother has multiple sclerosis and we had a long conversation about it. I was reminded that a positive attitude is always the best medicine.

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