Braised Lamb, Veal or Pork with Polenta

Braised Pork Shoulder with Polenta5

(If you don’t eat pork, this also works really well with lamb or veal shanks!)

Grocery shopping from home during Covid-19 is an adventure on the best of days, but as someone occupying a spot in several high risk groups, I am really happy and grateful not to have to suit-up and sally forth to the market. Besides, our local grocer has been surprisingly well-stocked (even if they can’t deliver wine, and active dry yeast cannot be had to love or money.)

Anyway, something interesting always shows up. Yesterday’s surprise was an 8 lb Boston Butt. I had ordered a three-pounder, and had told them not to substitute pork chops, so I’m guessing the mega-size I got was the only one available. I cut out a three pound chunk, and froze the bone-in section for later. The boneless piece is in the Ninja Cooker right now along with some red wine and lots of chopped vegetables; and in about four hours, I’ll have enough Braised Pork Shoulder for several Saturday night dinners.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive-oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
3 lb. pork shoulder or picnic roast
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups fire-roasted canned diced tomatoes with juices
1 tbsp dried herbes de provence mix
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes

1. Sauté the chopped vegetables in the olive oil until translucent. I use a Ninja multi-cooker, or a heavy, stove-top-to-oven covered casserole.

2. Transfer to a bowl, increase the heat and in the same oil, sear the meat on all sides.

3. Reduce the heat, return the veggies to the pot, season with salt, cayenne flakes and dried herbes de provence.

4. Pour the tomatoes and the red wine over all, cover, and cook at a bare simmer for 3-4 hours.

5. Using two forks, pull the meat apart, and mix with the vegetables and broth in the pot.

6. Serve with polenta, or over pasta if desired.

Servings: 8

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/8 of a recipe (12.4 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.

nutrition braised pork with polenta

Recipe Type: Gluten-Free, Main Dish, Meat

Meat, Rice and Bean Tostados

Rice Bean Meat Tostados

We’re in week six of ” Covid-19 Stay at Home” and it’s raining again, but at least the lights are back on for nearly everyone in Hamilton County. I’ve lost count of how many days it’s been wet and gray here in East Tennessee, but I do know that it’s been 11 days since Easter evening when a series of deadly tornados swept through. So, that makes any day without tornados a good one.

What I really feel like doing is taking a long nap, but it’s mid-afternoon, and even if I am not hungry right now, I will be in a couple of hours, and cooking tends to wake me up. The challenge is trying to cook relatively simple, nutritious meals, that don’t begin with a can of soup, and don’t end up as one more example of brownish-something-or-other casserole.

Today I am going for color, flavor, crunch, and more than one texture. Also something that won’t produce a week’s worth of leftovers which I will be tempted to freeze and lose in the next inevitable spring-storm-power-outage. Since there are only two of us, I’ll be cooking half this recipe and reserving the rest for lunch tomorrow.

Note: It’s not low calorie. It’s not low carb (though it is gluten-free). This is comfort food. You can skip breakfast tomorrow.

To make it, you’ll need dried or canned pinto beans, rice, corn tortillas, onion, fresh (or reconstituted dried) tomatoes, a meat/protein source and southwestern spices, I’m using a pork blade steak, but I’m thinking a lamb shoulder steak or a piece of beef skirt steak, or cubed tofu would work just fine. Or maybe even chicken thighs,

All the toppings are optional, but all will provide additional color, flavor and texture.

2 cups cooked, drained pinto beans
1 cup uncooked rice
2 cups water or stock
1 cup chopped onion, divided (reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
8 oz pork, boneless cubed (or chicken, lamb or beef)
2 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil) divided
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
12 corn tortillas
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chunky salsa
1 cup grated cheese (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
1 cup chopped avocado (optional)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Rice Bean Meat Tostados2

1. If you’re using dried beans, cook them. An instant pot is great for this. If using canned beans, drain and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven.

3. Liberally season the meat with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

4. In a deep casserole or oven proof skillet, sear the meat in the 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Set aside. Reserve the remaining oil for frying the tortillas.

5. In the same pan, sauté the garlic and 3/4 cup of the onion until translucent. (Reserve the remainder of the onion, and the tomatoes)

6. Stir in the rice and cook briefly to lightly brown.

7. Add the beans, seared meat, spices and the water or stock. Cover tightly and bake for one hour in the pre-heated oven.

8. Meanwhile, lightly fry the tortillas until golden and crisp.

9. At the end of an hour, stir the meat, beans and rice. Fluff with a fork.

10. Stir in the reserved onion and the tomatoes. Adjust the seasoning.

11. Spoon the filling onto the fried tortillas, top with salsa, nuts, sour cream and/or cheese, if desired.

Servings: 6

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Oven Temperature: 350°F

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/6 of a recipe (16.9 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

nutrition rice bean meat tostados

Recipe Type: Beans and Legumes, Gluten-Free, Main Dish, Meat

Easter Ricotta Dessert

ricotta easter dessert
Ready in 10 minutes, and tastes even better if you let it rest in the fridge for an hour or two before serving. This recipe has no rules. Use what you have on hand.

This light dessert is bursting with the flavors of spring.

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp golden raisins
1 tbsp chopped pistachios or almonds
1 tbsp dried rosepetals
1 tbsp chocolate chips
1/4 tsp orange rind grated
3 medium strawberries
1 mandarin orange
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Combine first eight ingredients. Taste and adjust sugar.

2. Spoon into four small dishes. Garnish with the strawberries and mardarin sections.

3. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

4. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

ricotta easter dessert3

Servings: 4

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/4 of a recipe (5 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients. One of the recipe’s ingredients was not linked. This ingredient is not included in the recipe nutrition data.

nutrition ricotta easter dessert

Recipe Type: Dessert, Gluten-Free, Holiday

Sweet Easter Egg Bread

Sweet Easter Bread 3

For a wonderful treat on Easter Morning, bake this bread the day before!

10 eggs
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
4 cups all purpose-flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Sweet Easter Bread 1

1. Boil six of the eggs, cool and set aside

2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and the warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter. Add the sugar and three of the eggs into the melted butter.

4. Add the sugar and three of the eggs to the melted butter. Mix thoroughly

5. Set the remaining egg aside to use as a wash for the bread before baking.

6. Add the butter, egg, sugar mix to the yeast and stir to combine.

7. Add salt, cardamom and the flour, 1 cup at a time, to the liquid to form a soft but not sticky dough

8. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (7-10 minutes)

9. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease all sides of the dough.

10. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot for 90 minutes. (Use your oven’s “proof” setting if you have one.)

11. At the end of 90 minutes, or when the dough has doubled, remove it from the oven and divide into three equal portions.

12. Roll each of the portions into a long thick log.

13. Braid the three strands, closing the edges together to create a ring. Place the ring onto a parchment lined cooking sheet.

14. Pry open the braid to equally space the six cooked eggs into the braided ring around its circumference.

15. With a fork, beat the remaining egg with 1 tsp water to create an egg wash.

16. Use a pastry brush or your fingertips to pain the wash onto the ring. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.

17. Return the pan to the oven or counter for the second rising. Let rise about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

18. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 F.

19. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.

20. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sweet Easter Bread 2

Servings: 12
Yield: 1 large braided ring

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours and 5 minutes

Oven Temperature: 350°F

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/12 of a recipe (3.6 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

nutrition sweet Easter Egg Bread

Recipe Type: Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Holiday

Slow Cooker Brisket for Passover

I’ve never really been happy with any recipe I’ve found for brisket, from coca-cola, to molasses, to tomatoes, to red wine. It always smelled great while cooking but ended up tough and stringy, no matter how I sliced it. So, for this year’s Passover brisket I decided to go Old School, and cook it as though I were making pot roast.

I started two days in advance and I’m using my Ninja multi-cooker which allows me to sear, simmer, chill (by removing the non-stick cooking liner and lid from the heating element and placing in the fridge overnight) and reheat in one pot.

And it tastes as good as it smells!

2 1/2 lb beef brisket
1/4 tsp or more, black pepper, garlic powder and granulated onion
1/2 tsp or more, salt
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch chunks
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
3 russet potatoes peeled and cut in thick slices
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in thick slices
1 quart beef stock
6 whole cloves
1 bay leaf

1. Season the brisket on both sides with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and granulated onion.

2. Heat the oil in your multicooker (or dutch oven) on the sear function and brown the brisket on both sides.

3. Remove the brisket to a plate, and in the hot oil, saute the sliced onion, garlic, and celery until translucent.

4. Return the brisket to the pan (laying it on top of the garlic, onion and celery.

5. Nestle the carrots and the sweet and white potatoes around the brisket.

6. With the sear function still on high, slowly pour the stock into the pan and let it begin to bubble. There should be enough liquid to just cover the meat.

7. Sprinkle the whole cloves over the meat, and lay the bay leaf on top.

8. Cover, switch the function to the high setting on slow cooker and heat until the liquid bubbles again.

9. Reduce the slow cooker heat to low and cook for about six hours.

10. Remove the liner with the brisket from the cooker and cool slightly.

11. Place a couple of silicone heat pads on the shelf of your refrigerator and place the covered brisket into the refrigerator.

12. Chill for two days, or until about five hours before you intend to serve the brisket.

13. Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and let it warm to cool room temperature. (about an hour)

14. Slice the brisket across the grain. Return it to the pot with the vegetables.

15. Set the slow cooker function to low and warm the brisket and the vegetables.

16. Remove the cloves and the bay leaf. Adjust the seasoning, and transfer the meat and the vegetables to a serving platter.

17. If desired, thicken the sauce with potato or tapioca starch. Serve alongside the brisket and vegetables.

Servings: 6

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 hours
Inactive Time: 24 hours
Total Time: 30 hours and 20 minutes

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/6 of a recipe (20.7 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Nutrition Brisket for Passover

Brisket for Passover8

Recipe Type: Main Dish, Meat

Haroseth for Passover


As Granny used to say, “Ain’t got no recipe”. Just visualize making mortar from fruits, nuts, and spices chopped, mixed together, and moistened with wine, water or juice.

I used apples, dates, dried barberries, golden raisins, apricots, walnuts, almonds, nutmeg,cloves, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cabernet sauvignon.

More or less, it’s up to you.

Braised Curried Lamb Shank with Apricots and Barberries

Braised Lamb Shank9

We needed a shank bone for the Seder Plate, so today I made a main dish of curried lamb shank with Middle Eastern Spices. It cooks slowly for several hours, then the meat is removed from the bone, the liquid is reduced, and the large pearl couscous is added for a final simmer.

It turned out so well that if I hadn’t already cooked the brisket, I might have saved this for the main dish on the first night of Passover.

Try it, you’ll like it!

1 lb lamb shanks, about 1 1/
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic
8 dried apricots, halved
2 tbsp raisins or dried barberries
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp sweet curry powder or a mixture of spices (cumin, cinnamon, cardamom etc)
1 cup dry couscous
1/4 cup walnut pieces

1. Season the lamb shank liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder and granulated onion.

2. In a heavy, lidded casserole, sear the lamb shank in the oil.

3. Add the onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned.

4. Add the halved apricots, the barberries (or raisins) and the curry powder.

5. Add the beef broth, stir quickly and cover.

6. Reduce the heat to simmer, and cook on top of the stove for 21/2 hours or until the lamb is very tender.

7. Remove the lamb shank and remove the meat from the bone. Cut the meat into 1 inch pieces.

8. Return the meat to the casserole, increase the heat and bring the liquid to a strong simmer.

9. Stir in the couscous, cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is done.

10. Serve at once, sprinkled with the walnuts.

Braised Lamb Shank6

Servings: 4

Cooking Times
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/4 of a recipe (8.2 ounces).
Percent daily values based on the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

nutrition braised curried lamb shank

Amount Per Serving

Recipe Type: Main Dish, Meat

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