Thursday, April 28, 2016

Meaty, Cheesy, Saucy Pasta Goodness

I'm always intrigued with the term "one pot wonder", because, more often than not, these recipes involve more than one pot.  The following recipe falls under that category.  While it doesn't deter the flavor of the dish, the allure of one pot is quickly fallen short.

The Recipe: Ground Beef & Pasta Casserole
Original Recipe Found In:  Cooking Light, March 2016 Issue

What You'll Need:
2 small White Onions, peeled and quartered
2 large Carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning
1/2 Teaspoon crushed Red Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Salt, divided
1 Pound extra-lean ground Sirloin
3 1/2 Cups unsalted Chicken Stock
6 Tablespoons sliced fresh Basil, divided
2 Tablespoons unsalted Tomato Paste
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
12 Ounces uncooked Whole-Wheat Rigatoni
1 (26.46 Ounce) carton Strained Tomatoes
4 Ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
1 Ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

To start, place the onions in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped.  Add carrots; pulse until finely chopped.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a large high-sided saute pan (or Dutch oven) over medium heat.  Add the oil to the pan and swirl to coat.  Add the onion mixture and cook for four minutes.  Add the garlic, cook for two minutes.  Add the Italian seasoning, red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add the beef and cook for five minutes.  Add the chicken stock, four tablespoons basil, tomato paste, vinegar, pasta, and tomatoes.  Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 13 minutes, or until the pasta is almost done, stirring frequently.  Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Next, arrange the mozzarella over the pasta mixture, along with the Parmigiana-Reggiano.  Place the pan in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the pasta is done.  Sprinkle with the remaining two tablespoons basil.  Serve and enjoy!

The End Result:

A super saucy mixture, added with pasta and ground beef, makes for a delightful, not so Italian dish.  The fresh cheeses and basil adds brightness, not to mention a stringy mess!  But, nevertheless, a hearty "one pot" pasta dish that will satisfy any pasta need.

Keep seeking culinary adventures, friends, you'll never know where you will be surprised.  Until the next update,


Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Good evening everyone!  The mind and pallet of a foodie always wants to try new flavors and dishes.  As a self-proclaimed foodie, I'm always gamete find new tastes and to see what appeals to me; life is too short to be picky.  If I don't like a dish, I learn from it.  Knowing I don't like it, I won't try it again.  I'm not apt to do this is restaurants, but I am willing to try it at home.  The following recipe is one of those dishes.  Not that I didn't completely hate it, but it was a new style of food that I was ready to explore.

The Recipe:  Mexican-Style Picadillo
Original Recipe Found In:  America's Test Kitchen: The Best Mexican Recipes

What You'll Need:
1 White Onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Red Bell Pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Ounces Red Potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch piece
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 Pounds Tomatoes, cored and quartered
3 Corn Tortillas, torn into 1-inch pieces
1 Jalapeno, stemmed, halved, and seeded
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Pound 85% lean Ground Beef
1/4 Cup fresh Cilantro, chopped

To start, pour the onion and bell pepper into a food processor and pulse until broken down into rough, 1/4-inch pieces, about 12 pulses.  If the ingredients become too stuck to the sides of the processor, scrap down with a spatula.  Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Next, add the potatoes and carrots to the empty food processor and pulse down the same way as the onion and bell pepper.  Transfer this mixture into another mixing bowl.  Add the tomatoes, corn tortillas, jalapeƱo, and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt into the now empty food processor and pulse until smooth, about one minute.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the oil until it shimmers.  Add the onion mixture and cook until softened, about five minutes.  Add the chili powder and garlic and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula.  Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about five to ten minutes.

Stir in the potato mixture and the tomato mixture and bring the entire skillet to a simmer.  Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.  Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Serve and enjoy!

The End Result:

With all the ingredients that were put together to concoct this recipe, I somewhat expected a flavor fest.  Instead, my tongue left unimpressed.  Judging by the quantity of how much this recipe produced (I filled up one 7 cup and one 4 cup container,) any sort of flavor didn't disperse evenly.  The spices could have been almost doubled, because any flavor that might have been in the recipe might have gotten lost.  While I was impressed with the different ingredients and mixing them into a flavor slurry, I wasn't impressed with the lack of flavor and that could have swayed this recipe in a totally different direction.

Watch for updates on the social media fronts as when the next edition of culinary exploration will be posted.  Until then,


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Brewery Review: Madhouse Brewery

Good evening!

I am delighted I live in a state that supports local business, that also happens to be local breweries.  There are plenty to choose from in the central Iowa region.  One we recently visited is Madhouse Brewery, on the southern end of the East Village in Des Moines.

When you walk in, the first thing that hits you is how industrial the space looks; I believe this was done on purpose.  Also, make sure to come at a less popular time (like 2:00 PM on a Saturday,) because there is only seating for maybe 30 folks?  But enough about the space, more about the brew!

Madhouse proudly presents their five "flagship beers" flight on a treated wood board, that is in the shape of Iowa.  If you are lucky, one of the brewmasters will describe each beer and talks to you about the process of how each is made.  If one of them aren't available, a handy dandy cheat sheet will do just the same.

Their first on the flagship flight is a Honey Pilsner, which is very light on the pallet and good for anyone who favors lighter beers.  This one is personally my favorite and I love the sweet notes it leaves when you are done drinking it.

The second is a Pastime Ale, which is a little bit stronger than the pilsner and more hearty.  If you are a fan of any kind of ale beers, this might suit your pallet.

The third on the flight is the Hopburst IPA.  Some of you steer clear of the IPA's because of the strong hoppy-ness they tend to have.  Not this one - the hops are toned down and don't kick you in the face.  If you want an IPA to change your mind about typical IPA's, this one will do the trick.

The fourth is the Oak-Aged Imperial Red.  This one has been Tyler's favorite red beer for quite some time.  For a bolder taste, without going completely to the dark beer spectrum, I'd recommend this. Not as hoppy, but a smooth texture goes down easy.

The fifth and final on the flight is a Sumatra Coffee Stout.  Really dark beers aren't my thing, and this one would qualify as a really dark beer.  One sip and it further proved my point that I am not a fan.  But, if you enjoy this style, you will really appreciate the smoothness and bold flavor.

After our flight, we got a tour of the brewery and upcoming brews.  I always find it interesting when a brewmaster takes the time to educate regular folk about their beers.

If you are looking for a quiet, well rounded brewery, I would recommend Madhouse Brewery in Des Moines.  You will not be disappointed!

As we visit more breweries, I hope to enlighten you all on our craft beer journey.  And if it's not your thing, it ain't no thing!  Until next time,


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Got an Afternoon? Good, Because You're Going to Need It

Greetings one and all!  I thought I was going to post last week, but a late winter/early spring cold/sinus infection hit me pretty hard, and thus no recipe.  But never fear!  I'm finally starting to feel like myself and ready to take on the kitchen again.

The following recipe I'll be sharing with you is not for the faint of heart.  Not because of the ingredient list, but because there is quite a bit of preparedness you will need.  You might be thinking I'm joking when I say you'll need an afternoon to cook this recipe, but I'm not.  But once it's finally finished, you will be blown away at one of the most flavorful Mexican recipes you'll come across.

The Recipe:  Beef Enchiladas
Original Recipe Found In: America's Test Kitchen, The Best Mexican Recipes

What You'll Need:
2 Pounds boneless Beef Chuck-Eye Roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 White Onions, chopped fine
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Teaspoons ground Cumin
2 Teaspoons ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
4 Garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 Ounce) cans Tomato Sauce
1/4 Cup Red Wine
8 Ounces Cheddar Cheese, shredded
12 (6-inch) Corn Tortillas

To begin this recipe, adjust the rack found in an oven to the lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees.  Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat one tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, until the oil just begins to smoke.  Brown half of the beef well on all sides, about seven to ten minutes and transfer to a bowl.  Lightly tent the bowl with aluminum foil, to keep the beef warm.  Add the remaining beef to the Dutch oven and brown on all sides.

Once the beef is cooked, pour off all but one tablespoon of fat from the pot.  Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook the onions over medium heat until they are softened, about eight minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce, wine, and browned beef and any accumulated juices and bring to a simmer.  Once this has reached simmering, cover with a lid, transfer to the oven, and cook until the meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2.5 hours.

Once cooked, transfer the beef to a large bowl and let cool slightly.  Shred the beef into bite-size pieces using two forks.  Put the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.  Strain the remaining sauce through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding any solids.  Once the beef has chilled, combine one cup of cheddar cheese, and 1/4 cup of the reserved sauce.

Once again, adjust the rack in the oven to the middle position and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  In a 13 by 9 baking dish, spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom.  Prepare the tortillas to cook, by brushing both sides with the remaining two tablespoons of oil.  Stack the tortillas, cover with a damp dish towel, and place on a plate.  Microwave until the tortillas have become warm and pliable, about one minute.

Working with one warm tortilla at time, spread 1/3 cup beef filling across the center of the tortilla.  Roll it tightly around the filling and place seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and beef mixture.  Arrange the enchiladas in two columns across the width of the dish.

Pour the remaining sauce over top of the enchiladas to cover completely and sprinkle the remaining one cup cheddar cheese over the sauce.  Cover the baking dish tightly with a greased aluminum foil sheet.  Place in the oven and bake until the enchiladas are heated through and the cheese has melted, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the dish cool for five minutes.  Serve the enchiladas individually and enjoy!

The End Result:

If you are a fan of Mexican food, this is the recipe for you!  The beef slow cooked in spices became incredibly flavorful and not at all spicy.  Each enchilada is a pop of smoky goodness, with a touch of cheese that pulls it all together.  My mouth just waters thinking about these enchiladas.  Sure it's quite a bit of work to achieve this recipe, but the work is well worth it.  You'll almost feel a sense of accomplishment just completing this recipe; a labor of love, if you will.  I've always been impressed with America's Test Kitchen and they have proved it yet again with this amazing Mexican dish!

The next food post you will be notified about, will be posted on Facebook or be tweeted via Twitter.  Keep on the food journey, my friends!  Until then,


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

I'll Take Bowl over Pan Any Day of the Week

Good evening!  Typically, before I even start to cook, I like to review the ingredient list and /or the cooking methods. Call it being prepared, but I like to give it a good study before the recipe is created.  When I found this recipe, I did a double take at he ingredient list: 8 to 10 cups for broth??  'No way can that be right', I told myself.  That is an obscene amount of broth, especially for a soup.

As I review this recipe with Tyler, he told me 'You might want to condense the amount of broth.  Unless you are preparing to feed the masses, you won't need that amount of broth;.  As you'll see, packing all those ingredients into a humble Dutch oven, got quite a bit cramped.

The Recipe: Lasagna Soup
Original Recipe found from

What You'll Need:
1 Pound lean Ground Beef
1 Yellow Onion, diced
4-5 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 (24 ounce) jar Prego Traditional Italian Sauce
8-10 Cups Lower-Sodium Chicken Broth, divided
1 (14 Ounce) can crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Sugar
1 Tablespoon dried Basil
1 Teaspoon dried Parsley
1 Teaspoon dried Oregano
1 whole Bay Leaf
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
10 Uncooked Lasagna Noodles, broken into 1/2 in pieces

For the cheese garnish, any desired amount of shredded Mozzarella Cheese & finely grated Parmesan Cheese.

To start, heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add ground beef and onion.  Cook until the beef has browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds, until the garlic has become fragrant.  Pour the beef/onion mixture into a colander and rinse to drain any excess fat.

Next, add the Prego sauce, 6 cups chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, basil, parsley, oregano, bay leaf, and lasagna noodles.  Stir and bring the Dutch oven to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cooking until the noodles have become tender, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Uncover the lid after cooking and remove the bay leaf.  If the soup is plenty liquid-y for you, do not add the remaining 2-4 cups of chicken broth.  Ladle each serving of soup into soup bowls and top with desired amount of cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

The End Result:

I'm glad I listened to Tyler,  because I ended up using about six cups of broth and the soup turned out beautifully.  Cutting the broth down actually turned out to be a more cohesive soup.  The flavors were sharper, yet it was nice to actually have that flavor within the soup, instead of it being watered down.  The lasagna noodles were a bit large and made it difficult to eat.  But having the convenience of lasagna dish in a soup bowl was worth it and a recipe I'm willing to try again.

Keep checking Facebook or Twitter for the next featured segment of Out of the Culinary.  Until then,


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

That's Some Gosh Darn Good Soup, Don'tcha Know?

Welcome all!  A bit of a history lesson:  Tyler and I grew up in the same hometown about 15 minutes south of the Minnesota border.  When you're that close to a state, you tend to pick up some of the dialect, cuisine traditions, and more.  While I realize the title of today's blog is not from Minnesota (a Fargo, North Dakota phrase,) many of those who aren't from Minnesota generalize and say it with some sort of north woods dialect.

But that's beside the point of tonight's recipe  Many culinary exploits have traveled south of this great state: tater-tot hot dish, lutefisk, and jello salads.  One dish that has its roots firmly in Minnesota needs to find its way into every home and it will delightfully warm up any soul.

The Recipe:  Minnesota Wild Rice Soup
Original Recipe Found In:  Cooking Light's Lighten Up, America!
What You'll Need:
2 Leeks
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
2 Celery Stalks, finely chopped
10 Ounces Button or Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
7 Cups fat-free, lower-sodium Chicken Broth, divided
3/4 Cup uncooked Wild Rice
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2.25 Ounces All-Purpose Flour (about 1/2 cup)
2 Cups Chicken Breast, cooked and chopped
1 Cup Half and Half
3 Tablespoons dry White Wine
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

To start, prepare the leeks: remove roots, outer leaves, and tops of leeks.  Cut the leeks in half, lengthwise, then cut into 1/4 slices.  Place the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water.  Drain thoroughly.

Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted, add the leeks, celery, and mushrooms.  Saute this mixture for 10 minutes, or until all the ingredients are tender.  Pour in six cups of the broth.  Next, add the wild rice, salt, thyme, and pepper,  Bring the ingredients to a boil, then cover the Dutch oven, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the rice has "popped".

During the last 10 minutes of cooking the soup, measure out the flour and pour into a dry measuring cup.  In a small bowl, combine the flour and one cup of broth.  Using a whisk, stir until the mixture becomes smooth.  Add the broth mixture to the soup and cook over medium heat for two minutes, or until the soup has thickened.

Bring the heat back to low and add the chicken, half and half, wine, and mustard.  Cook the final soup mixture for two minutes or just until thoroughly heat (but do not boil.)  Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy!

The End Result:

Well, I wish I could show you the end result, but this soup was so darn tasty, we gobbled it all up!  So, here's a stock photo of Minnesota Wild Rice Soup (and it actually looked pretty similar to it:)

The broth was incredible creamy, thanks to the flour/broth slurry and half and half additions.  To house wild rice, chicken, and mushrooms, you need a creamy, thick vessel, so definitely take the time to thicken the broth up when you can, because it'll turn out to be a runny mess.  For all the years I lived near Minnesota, I've never had wild rice nor wild rice soup.  But I can definitely tell you that this soup will be passed down and become a tradition.

That's all I have for you today.  Thanks for taking the time to join in on our culinary fun.  Stay tuned for further food exploits.  Until then,


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

We're Baaaaaaaack!

Welcome back, foodies and friends alike!  After almost a year, Out of the Culinary has made its valiant return!

Quite a lot has happened over the last year:  Tyler worked really hard to receive an accreditation for his job (currently, working on a second one) and I (Maggie) have changed jobs to shift more towards my career goal.  With all this, life became more busy.  We also celebrated our five year wedding anniversary, which (six months later) is still hard to believe that we've been married that long.  Trust me, it was strange not celebrating that huge milestone will all of you, our followers, but you weren't far from our hearts!

But we didn't go too far; we're still here: loving life, celebrating the journey, and enjoying whatever food that life presents itself with.  After all, that is one of our passions in life:  food.  And while the busyness of life tends to get in the way, we always take the time to enjoy ourselves by savoring the moment.

With that being said, the blog will be changing slightly.  As you'll notice, it looks a little different since the last time you saw it.  An updated picture: our engagement picture, which was taken almost six years ago, is a relatively new one of us.  And the blog's voice has changed.  Yes, the blog has shifted more towards my cooking capabilities and perspectives.

While the concept behind the blog is still relatively the same, a more predominant, but different view will be presented...that's all!  I don't plan on having a set schedule of the recipes I post, but I do plan on posting updates on Facebook and Twitter when updates happen.  I hope to be more interactive on those media fronts also.  I guess it's a hodge lodge of all sorts of things, but it boils down to one thing:  the love of food and cooking.

We've got some great things in the hopper just waiting for you.  There's a whole slew of recipes, lined up that I can't wait to share with you.  Plus reviews of restaurants and breweries will be adding to the fun.

Before I go, I can't forget to mention our loyal readers.  Without your support of the blog throughout these years, we don't know where it might have ended up.  You will never know how much that means to us!  We appreciate all love we have received and can't wait to share in this new path in the journey.

As I mentioned before, stay tuned on Facebook and Twitter to see when the next update will be showcased.  Until then,