Southwest Skillet Ragu

Hello friends! One of these days my goal is to get back to regular posting. I swear just when I think things will get back to normal, something else comes up that keeps me incredibly busy. This time it’s a move!! My boyfriend and I have lived in the same apartment for over 6 years now, and while we love a lot of things about it, when we got word of another place opening up, we jumped on the chance to take it. This time we will be renting the 2nd floor of a two-family house which has a lot more character than the generic apartment we live in now, and I think has a lot more potential for customization… also, I’ll be getting my own office/study/craftroom space which I am super excited about, and there’s space for a decent sized garden!!!! Anywho, our move out/move in date is January 1st, and that is rapidly approaching. With work keeping me busy much of the week, I’m using most of my spare time packing and getting ready for the move. It’s amazing how much we’ve accumulated in the 6+ years we’ve lived together.

With all the craziness around here, I’m searching for quick and easy meals that require few pans, and minimal cleanup. Okay, that’s what I’m always searching for, but even more so these days. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Two dishes, few ingredients, and all around comfort, this dish is a winner. Goulash is such a comforting food to me (it’s one of the first I started making on my own when Ron and I moved into our apartment), and this take on it with the southwest flavors of chili powder and cumin is really yummy. Definitely recommended.

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Serves 4-6


1 cup elbow macaroni

1-1.5 lbs ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, diced

1 red (orange, yellow or green) bell pepper, chopped

8-12 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper


1. Place a pot of water to boil, salt the water, and cook pasta according to directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water when done. Drain pasta and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of olive oil, and add the ground meat. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes, remove the meat from the pan and set aside, and drain off most of the grease. Leave a small amount just to coat the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the onions, and 1/2 tsp of salt, and cook about 5-6 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Add peppers, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook 30-60 seconds until fragrant.

4. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Add back browned meat, and simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauce has thickened.

5. Add the pasta and cheese, and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the pasta cooking water until the sauce is to your desired consistency. Serve, topping each serving with more cheese if desired.

Source: The Kitchn




Pan-Seared Cod with Mushrooms

Happy happy Friday everyone! I am so glad it’s the weekend, and this weekend is super-special because it if my boyfriend Ron’s birthday! He is turning the big 3-1.  Now he can officially say he’s in his 30’s. He doesn’t care at all- it seems to me that guys just don’t care as much about their age as women do. We are going to have a low-key birthday, as he’s not a big party person. I told him that I would cook him whatever he wanted, and so far the menu that he has chosen includes wings, quesadillas and pizza! I fully expect to gain about 50 pounds this weekend 🙂 This dinner was the opposite of pizza and wings! Although it is somewhat rich due to the butter and olive oil, the fish and mushrooms are so good for you that I think it evens out. I loved the combination of the buttery-lemony sauce with the mild flaky cod and earthy mushrooms! Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, so that combined with the seafood made this dish a winner in my book… and even though I didn’t have the proper spatula to flip my fish and it ended up breaking up a but, I still think this dish was really pretty and impressive looking… and it only used one skillet, and you all know how I feel about that!

Pan-Seared Cod with Mushrooms

Pan-Seared Cod with Mushrooms

Serves 2


3 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb mushrooms (I used a combination of shiitake, oyster and cremini)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of dried red chile flakes

2 skinless fillets of cod, about 1 lb (You can substitute other firm white fish such as snapper or hake)

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

2 Tbsp cold butter

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)

Fresh cilantro, parsley or chives (for garnish)

Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


1. Place a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat, and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the mushrooms, salt, peppers, and a pinch of red chili flakes, and cook until the liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms are browned, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mushrooms to a warmed serving dish.

2. Season fish with salt and pepper. Wipe down the skillet, and add remaining oil. Place again over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering add the fish. Cook about 3 minutes on first side without moving. Flip carefully, and cook until fish is done, about 2 more minutes. Remove to the serving dish with the mushrooms.

3. Place the skillet back on the heat, increasing the heat to high. Add the vegetable broth and cook about 2 minutes, until it is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, and stir in the butter and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the fish and mushrooms. Garnish with cilantro, parsley or chives if desired, and serve with lemon wedges if you’d like.

Source: Serious Eats

Skillet Pork Chops and Rice with Parsley Butter

I don’t cook with pork much (other than bacon, of course).  It’s not that I dislike it, but it is something I’m not confident cooking. This turns into a continuous circle because how will I ever become more comfortable cooking with pork if I never even try?!

For Christmas, my boyfriend’s grandparents gave us a great gift of food from the Omaha Steak Company, including some boneless pork chops. This was the perfect opportunity to increase my level of confidence!  Aren’t gifts of food awesome?!

This recipe was very simple and tasty! I especially liked the way the rice came out with this method of cooking.  Why don’t I cook my rice in chicken broth more often?!

Skillet Pork Chops and Rice with Parsley Butter
Serves 4

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and divided
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
2 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup long-grain white rice
4 (6 to 8 oz) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1. Stir together the parsley and 2 tbsp butter in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Combine the rice and 1 cup of chicken broth in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave for 6-7 minutes, or until broth is absorbed. Watch out when you remove this from the microwave- it will be HOT!  As will the steam when you open the plastic wrap!
3. Meanwhile, dry the pork with paper towels, and cut two slits about 2 inches apart in the fat cap on the outside edges of the pork chops- this will help them stay flat as they are cooking, instead of curling up. Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper.
4. Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp of butter. When it’s melted, and the pan is hot, add the pork chops.  Brown the pork chops on each side- about 3-4 minutes per side.  Remove the pork chops once browned to a plate, and tent them with foil.
5. Add the remaining tbsp of butter to the skillet.  When melted, add the onion and cook 6-7 minutes until browned. Add the garlic and thyme and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
6. To the skillet, add the rice and the remaining 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Nestle the pork chops into the rice, add any accumulated juice as well, lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for 10-14 minutes, until the broth is absorbed into the rice and the pork chops are fully cooked.
7. When serving, top the pork chops with parsley butter.

Source: Cook’s Country, Aug/Sept 2011, via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures