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Those of you who follow my wilderness cooking blog already know that I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). This ancient mother grain from the Incas is a complete protein and has a wonderfully nutty flavor. While I haven’t tried this recipe yet, it really appeals to me.

The recipe can be found at Food Done Right.

balsamic veggie sauté

balsamic veggie sauté

Today was an incredibly sunny and beautiful spring day. The kind of day that is perfect for grilling. Bryan (that’s my husband) decided that we should have some nice New York style strip loins done on the barbeque with baked potatoes, peaches and cream sweet corn and a side of mushrooms.

Well, as you know, I like to play in the kitchen so instead of just mushrooms we ended up with the following…

balsamic veggie sauté

This would also be a great side to make when car camping too. While we had this with steak it would be completely delicious in a wrap with some grilled chicken and a little provolone cheese.

1 – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup onion, sliced
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup green pepper, sliced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups baby spinach

Heat the olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent and start to show some color. Add the mushrooms and green peppers. Continue to sauté for a few minutes and add the balsamic vinegar. Let simmer until the vinegar reduces by half and then add the tomatoes. Cook for a few more minutes then add the baby spinach, turn off the heat and cover the pan until the spinach wilts.

It’s that time of year again. This coming Sunday morning the house will be filled with the aroma of Easter bread being baked. This is one of my favorite bread recipes. I’ve never had anything like it and I have never come across a similar recipe.

grandma Carlo’s Italian easter bread

makes 2 loaves

mini loaves of bread

mini loaves of bread

My sister Margaret married Larry who had a wonderful Italian Grandmother. Grandma Carlo made this savory easter bread for Sunday brunch. She would serve it with grilled pork chops, hard cooked eggs and red wine. We’d sprinkle “easter spice” on the eggs which was a combination of the spices from the bread put into a little salt shaker. I still carry on this tradition with my own family even when I can’t be with my sister and her husband for the holiday.

step one

6 room temperature eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring

Combine the above ingredients and set aside.

step two

1 envelope traditional yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar

Dissolve the sugar in the water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and sugar mixture and let rest in a warm place, for 10 minutes.

step three

Add 1/2 cup vegetable oil to step one.

step four

Mix step one and step two together. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and beat until smooth. Add about 3 more cups of flour to make a soft dough. Knead until firm and elastic. Lightly oil the dough and cover. Let rise, in a warm place, for 1 hour or until double in bulk.

step five

Punch the dough down and divide into 2 equal portions. Let rest for 15 minutes. Oil the dough a bit more and shape into oiled loaf pans. Let rise, in a warm place, for 1 hour.

step six

Bake at 400ºF for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and brush the top of each one with melted butter. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

the red chasseur

the red chasseur

Every year we host a Fall Outdoor Gathering for a large group of backpackers and canoeists in Algonquin Provincial Park. The first year we did this we had a chili cook-off and my friend Alison made a chili that was just a little bit different than the traditional style of chili I am used to.  The flavor was vibrant and dish delicious.

What I remember, other than the great dish, was that Alison actually brought her red chasseur to cook her chili in. Imagine — taking a beautiful piece of kitchen gear like that car camping! I teased Alison the entire weekend. Not about her bringing such a wonderful vessel but that I was going to take it home with me. I ended up buying my own.

After the event Alison sent me the recipe for the chili she made and it has now become a family favorite. I liked it so much that I bought the cookbook that the recipe came from, Looneyspoons, by sisters-in-law Janet and Greta Podleski.

grocery cart chicken chili

from the Looneyspoons Cookbook © 1997 Janet and Greta Podleski
makes 6 servings

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure! This super-spicy creation is based on a recipe that was found in an abandoned grocery cart at the side of a dirt road. Yes, we’re serious, and no, we’re not garbage pickers.

1-1/2 cups chopped red onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 1-1/4 pounds)
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) tomatoes, undrained, cut up
1 cup tomato-based chili sauce
1-1/2 cups low sodium, reduced fat chicken broth
1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon each Dijon mustard and “lite” Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon each cayenne pepper and  black pepper
1 can (15 ounces)  red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15 ounces)  white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

Spray a large sauce pan (or nice red Chasseur) with non-stick spray. Add onions, garlic, green peppers, and jalapeños. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 7 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, except kidney beans and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kidney beans and cook 5 more minutes. Ladle chili into individual bowls and top each with a sprinkle of cheese.

I’ve been on a bit of an Italian food kick of late so I thought I would share this recipe. It is one of my favorites and if I do say so myself; delicious.

Italian wedding soup

wedding soup

wedding soup

© 2006 Laurie Ann March
makes 6 to 8 servings

Italian wedding soup is, by far, one of my favorite meals on a cold and rainy day. It is a light meal yet fulfilling and very soothing.

1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound ground veal
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth (homemade is best)
2 cups spinach or escarole – packed, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup very small pasta

In a medium bowl, combine the meats, eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, basil, garlic and onion. Shape mixture into small balls and set aside.

In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling; stir in the spinach (or escarole), pasta and meatballs. Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 6 minutes or until pasta is al dente, and meatballs are cooked through. Serve hot with freshly grated parmiggiano-reggiano cheese and Italian bread.