Friday, January 16, 2015

3D Printer Bean Soup

First, you don't really make this soup with a 3D Printer...but it's ALMOST that easy!   Thick, hearty bean soup is great on a cold winter day.   It'll thaw out your innards and 'get you moving', if you know what I mean.  And it's DELICIOUS!!!

You can kind of go nuts with this recipe, adding or subtracting root vegetables like parsnips, turnips, rutabaga and carrots, or add/subtract herbs to your liking, but this is the basic recipe.  You need a crock pot, which is kind of like the culinary version of a 3D Printer.   Sort of.  Well, maybe not.

In this recipe, I used a grapefruit-sized chunk of smoked pork shoulder (Usinger's brand), but any chunk of ham product would work, as would a 16 oz. package of diced ham, which would even save you the trouble of dicing.  

1/2 lb chunk of Smoked Pork Shoulder or Butt
16 oz bag of Great Northern Beans
1 large Onion
4 medium Carrots
2 Qts Water
1 T Chicken Bouillon powder
2-3 Bay Leaves (Mom always said it's not soup without Bay Leaves)

Dice the Smoked Pork and the Onion.  Slice the Carrots.  Put all ingredients in a crock pot, turn on High for about 4 hours.  Stir, check progress (all crock pots cook at a little bit different rates), leave on high or turn down or turn off at your judgement.  Beans and Carrots should be soft, liquid should be milky and not clear, ham should be starting to fall apart a little when done.  Salt and pepper to satisfaction.   As with all soups, the longer it sits, the better it is. 

About 5 minutes of prep, and an occasional stir.   That's it!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wise Guy Baked Ziti

Ok, I admit it.  I'd never heard of Baked Ziti before I watched the Sopranos.  Of course, growing up in Central Wisconsin as I did, I wasn't exposed to a lot of Italian neighborhoods.  You'd have to travel a few hours to find one.  Mostly, it was Poles, Germans and Norwegians around where I grew up.

I developed this recipe over several years of tinkering with a very basic Ziti recipe, and it's always a big hit.   No, not that kind of's not going to rub you out, but it will sure fill you up!  Throw this in the oven, pop "The Godfather", "Goodfellas" or "The Sopranos" in the DVD player, get the Grappa ready for afterwards, and enjoy!

1 box Penne (Ziti) Pasta
1 lb Italian Sausage
1 16 oz container Ricotta Cheese (use Cottage Cheese in a pinch)
1 T finely chopped fresh Basil
1 T fresh minced garlic
16 oz grated fresh mozzarella
1 can of Red Sauce of your choice (I usually used canned Hunts or Del Monte and jazz it up with red  wine and seasonings)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, diced finely
1 small container Feta cheese crumbles
A small amount (1/3 cup at most) milk

Start by boiling salted water and adding the Pasta, cook til Al Dente (so they're just on the cusp of being 'done' but a bit chewy yet).   While the Pasta is cooking, fry up the Italian Sausage and drain off the grease.   Strain the Pasta and cool.   Mix the Pasta with the Ricotta cheese, Feta cheese, Minced Garlic, Chopped Onion, Chopped Basil and Milk.   In a 9x12 Pyrex dish, lay down a layer of half of the Red Sauce, then the Pasta
mixture, then the layer of Italian Sausage, then a layer of Mushrooms.   Grate the Mozzarella Cheese over the top and finally cover completely with the other half of the Red Sauce.   Bake in a 350 oven for 1 hour.