Posts Tagged ‘Oregano’

Giardiniera | Relishing It

When I first started writing here on Relishing It more than three years ago, figuring out what to make and blog about was… a process… and sometimes a struggle.  Back then my focus was on making things that I thought you would want to see, which it turn, would bring you back here more often.  It wasn’t really about web traffic or anything like that– I guess it was more about validation.  Knowing that people were seeing what I could do.

I used to bake a lot more here.  Baking posts always get the ‘oohhs’ and ‘aahs’.  I also used to pour through cookbooks and magazines to discover that impressive dish that would be “blog-worthy”.  To be honest, it was a bit stressful, and more than a bit exhausting at times.  Fast forward to the present, and I’m much more comfortable with my posts.  I feel like I’m more true to myself and my interests– which is really why I started this blog in the first place.  It wasn’t to try to make money, or to show off complex recipes that I would make only once.  I really started Relishing It to build up a recipe index that reflects who I am, and to chronicle my relationship with food.  I go back to previous posts to reference recipes so often. Many are my absolute favorites, with a smidge of randoms and experiments while I was trying to figure this whole thing out.

I still do bake, but not as much.  It can appear more impressive, but it’s also more exacting, time consuming, and from a health perspective, just not very sustainable.  Now, I focus much more on food that I’m interested in , and that my family regularly eats.   Mostly-healthy, nutritious food that I can feel good about eating.  I still enjoy learning new techniques, I think I love to tinker in the kitchen now more than ever.  Blogging has been wonderful for that.  Where was I going with all of this? Well, I guess the point is, I no longer have to seek out things to blog about– the process is just so much more organic now. For awhile now, I’ve been just making things that make me happy, and that has made blogging so much easier.

Giardiniera | Relishing It

Giardiniera | Relishing it

Now that sumer is here, I’m eating a ton of vegetables.  And not just boring run-of-the-mill-broccoli-as-a-side-dish vegetables.  I love pickled vegetables, and with this recipe I hope that you will too.  It takes almost no time to make and tastes so much better than those store-bought versions.  Grab whatever vegetables you have, chop them up, add a few dried herbs, make a super-quick brine, throw it all in a jar, and put them in the fridge.  There you have it– you just made yourself giardiniera.  It’s wonderful on sandwiches (roast beef, in particular!), salads, or straight from the jar.  Once you taste this– you’ll be making it every week, it’s that easy, and it really is a perfect snack.  Many recipes have lots of sugar (not my deal) and some have olive oil mixed in.  I’m a little frugal with my olive oil, and don’t feel like it is necessary.  For me, this is a perfect balance  of vegetables, vinegar, and sugar (just a smidge to temper the vinegar).  Add spicy peppers, if you want.  Or don’t.  As I always say– make it yours!  I truly love this version and I hope you do, too.  Give them a try!

Giardiniera | Relishing It

Giardiniera | Relishing It

The Recipe: Giardiniera

(Makes 2 quarts)

* Chop a variety of your favorite vegetables to fit snuggly into 2 quart jars

The above mix contains:

1/2 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets

3-4 large carrots, peeled and cut into coins

2 celery stalks, chopped

6-7 large radishes, sliced

1/2 red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

4-5 garlic cloves, sliced

4 serrano peppers, sliced

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

For the Brine:

3 cups white vinegar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 dried bay leaves

Divide the chopped vegetables evenly between 2 sterilized quart jars.  Pack them in there!  Divide the oregano, thyme, and peppercorns between the two jars, as well.  Bring the brine ingredients to a boil– this infuses the bay leaves and dissolves the salt and sugar.  Remove from heat, then place one bay leaf in each jar.  Pour the brine into each of the jars while it is hot.  This will soften the vegetables just a bit.  Let cool at room temperature.  Place a lid on them, give a shake and refrigerate.  Contents will be fully ready within a day.  If you’re impatient, you may even try them sooner. Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!




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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

I’ve mentioned here before that my husband and I were high school sweethearts.  We’ve been together for many years, and if there is one dish that describes “us”, it is this spaghetti sauce.  We’ve been making it together for as long as I can remember.  And even though it has gone through a few subtle changes over the years (because I certainly wasn’t canning my own tomatoes in my dorm room), it has remained much the same as it did those many years ago.  Many of you have been asking for this recipe, so I figure it’s time to to finally write it down and share it.  I mention on here fairly frequently that one dish or another is a family favorite.  But this one is the family favorite.  If the kids get to choose a meal, this is what they pick.  Valentine’s Day rolls around, and this is what we have.  It’s a bit odd, because this dish is ordinary, yet very special to us.

Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

A couple of things need mentioning.  As I’ve said, I can my own tomatoes.  I use roasted roma tomatoes for this sauce.  I love how thick and rich they become, compared to regular tomatoes with their abundance of water.  This sauce can be made with any variety of tomatoes, though I’ve settled on roasted romas as my favorite.  The key here is to know what to do if your sauce has extra liquid in it that you don’t necessarily want. Watery spaghetti sauce is, to be honest, gross.  Too much liquid, and it just doesn’t cling to the pasta.  My point, is that you should do your best to find some good quality canned roasted tomatoes.  Muir Glen is my recommendation, if you don’t can your own.  Canned San Marzanos are also another excellent choice.  Whatever type of tomatoes you choose, crushed or whole, etc– give them a few pulses in a food processor to break them up (or use your hands) so they aren’t chunky.  If the sauce is too watery near the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and let it reduce a bit.  Adding another dollop of tomato paste will also help.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

One more thing,  I normally don’t use fresh basil in this sauce– instead I pull a bit out of my freezer that I’ve preserved for the winter.   In the summer, when my basil is plentiful, I chop it and freeze it in muffin tins and ice cube trays.   Then I vacuum seal it.  When I need a bit of basil in the winter, I  just pull one out and pop it into whatever it is that I’m making.  I love this method.  So, if you happen to have a freezer full of the same, use it!  If you don’t, I’ve tested it with fresh basil, so you will know how much to use– feel free to add more, if you like.  Just please don’t used dried– the flavor is not even comparable.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

This sauce has a wonderfully earthy flavor from the herbs, garlic, and the crimini mushrooms.  It’s a complex array of flavors that I heighten by using a bit of anchovy.  As I’ve mentioned before, don’t be scared to use it.  It adds such a nice umami flavor.  The other integral ingredient is the bay leaf.  The almighty bay leaf, in my opinion.  It adds such a unique flavor that this sauce relies upon.  When the sauce is finished simmering, swirl in a tablespoon or two of good olive oil– it’s the perfect finish to the sauce.  I hope you and your family enjoy this dish as much as we do.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic | Relishing It

The Recipe: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms and Garlic

(serves 4-6)

2 pounds grass-fed ground beef

1 medium white onion, chopped

1 large bulb of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped  (yes, the entire bulb!)

1 quart roasted roma tomatoes, crushed

1 dried bay leaf

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

5-6 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (about 17 large basil leaves)

1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped anchovies

8-9 ounces crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced

1-2 tablespoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing ( California Olive Ranch, is my favorite)

Parmigiano-reggiano cheese and hot pepper flakes, for serving

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat brown the ground beef, then drain the fat.  Return the pan to the heat and add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper to the beef.  Sauté for a couple of minutes until the onions are somewhat tender, stirring frequently.  Then add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, tomato paste, anchovies, and bay leaf.  Stir.  Then finally add the mushrooms.   Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, covered.   Stirring frequently and carefully, as you don’t want the mushrooms to break apart.  Monitor the amount of liquid near the end of the cooking time.  Remove lid to reduce, if it seems too watery.  If it seems too thick, be patient– the mushrooms release a lot of liquid during the simmering time.  When it is done, remove the bay leaf and stir in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese and hot pepper flakes, if desired.  Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator, or freezer.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing It!


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I’m sitting here at my desk on this blustery Minnesota morning, reading about blizzard warnings and drinking a hot coffee.  I’m also thinking about this wonderful, warming soup.  I really wish I had a bowl waiting for me downstairs.  Last week I shared with you how to make your own homemade chicken broth and I promised  that a few delicious soup recipes would follow, so here’s number one.  This Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup) has become one of our family favorites.  I love it because I’m partial to broth soups– they warm me up in such a perfect way.  I’m also a huge fan of citrus in my soups– I love to finish them with lemon, or in this case with lime.  It really brightens them up.  This soup comes together in no time at all if you’ve done a bit of prep work– i.e., made your broth ahead of time.

Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup) | Relishing It

Assuming you’ve made the broth ahead of time, make sure you reserved your chicken meat for this recipe.  This soup is so simple and doesn’t contain a lot of other major ingredients, so the broth really shines.  Honestly, the soup is basically just seasoned broth with chicken, a bit of tomato, puréed charred onion and a lot of fresh toppings.  And it’s amazing.  Traditionally, tortillas are deep-fried for the top of the soup, but even I take shortcuts sometimes.  I generally forego the deep-frying of the tortillas and instead opt to use good quality tortilla chips.  Having a large pot of hot oil on my stove is just a bit too much effort for me, with not enough reward– but, you can certainly choose to give it a go.

Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup) | Relishing It

I’ve found that I love the flavor of broiling the onions and garlic until they have a bit of char on them– not too much.  It really emphasizes the smokey flavor.  You’ll want to watch the garlic and most likely remove it from the oven before the onion is done.  Otherwise it may burn.  The toppings at the end are a personal choice, make it as spicy (with jalapeños and cayenne pepper) as you want.  Load it up with tortilla chips, aged white cheddar cheese, cilantro, more lime, and avocados.  I’m kicking myself for forgetting to put the avocados on the soup before I snapped the photos.  Rest assured I plopped some on it before I devoured the bowl.  They’re perfect here, so don’t forget the avocados.  Enjoy!

Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup)| Relishing It

The Recipe:  Sopa De Lima (Mexican Chicken Lime Soup)

(Serves 4)

2 quarts chicken broth (preferably homemade using this recipe)

About 4 cups shredded cooked chicken (use chicken from stock that you previously made OR boil or bake some bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs– then shred)

1 medium white onion, sliced

about 1 1/2 garlic bulbs, peeled (not just the cloves– the entire bulb!)

1 cup puréed or crushed canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 4-inch cinnamon stick

1 dried bay leaf

freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt, to taste

zest from two organic limes

1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Toppings: tortilla chips, cilantro, jalapeños, ground cayenne pepper, lime slices, aged white cheddar cheese (or monterey jack), and avocados

Place the sliced onion and peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet.  Place in the oven and broil until color begins to develop, flipping once.  You may need to remove the garlic before the onion is done, so it does not burn.  Keep a watchful eye while broiling.

Begin the broth.  In a large Dutch oven or kettle, add the chicken broth, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, cumin, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, bay leaf, lime zest, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and let cook for about 20-25  minutes.

Meanwhile, place the charred onion and garlic in a blender and add a bit of broth.  Blend until somewhat smooth.  Add the mixture to the soup.  Continue to cook the soup until you reach the 20-25 minute mark.  Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon.   Add the lime juice and taste.  Season with more salt and pepper, if necessary.

You can choose to add the chicken directly into the soup, but I generally heat in up in the microwave and portion it out among the bowls and ladle the hot soup over it.  Then add the final toppings– the tortilla chips, cheese, cilantro, jalapeños, lime slice, cayenne, and avocados.  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Relishing it!



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