My Favorite Recipes (so far)

By: Leah Charles, Just Food AmeriCorps Member

We are in our third round of Just Cook cooking classes in 2014, which we have been offering every Tuesday and Thursday since January. And I can’t tell you how much fun we’re having! Not to mention how much everyone is learning. Coordinating these classes, along with some cooking classes for kids, has been my main focus as an AmeriCorps member for Just Food. That means I have had the pleasure of attending every class, and I swear I’m going to be a gourmet chef when it’s all said and done. Haha. I thought I would take an opportunity to share with you some recipes from the classes thus far. I have liked everything, but these were my favorites:

Thai Curry SoupCurrya
From Life of the Waters

  • 1 lb. chicken breast
  • Coconut or olive oil
  • ½ head broccoli
  • ½ onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs. Red Thai curry paste (I use Asian Creations brand)
  • 1 tomato
  • ¼ pineapple


Chop all foods in to bite sized pieces. Grill chicken in coconut or olive oil. Once chicken is finished, add broccoli, onion, & bell pepper. When vegetables are tender, stir in coconut milk and curry paste. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Add tomato and pineapple. Let simmer for 2 minutes! And enjoy!

Notes on this dish:

  • Goes well with brown Jasmine rice.
  • You can add any of your favorite vegetables..this last time I added okra!
  • The measurements have flexibility. If you want it more soupy, add more coconut milk. If you want more spice, add more curry paste!

Steak and Berry Salad
From Life of the Waters

  • 1lb grass-fed Top Sirloin, grilled and sliced
  • 1 bunch of green leaf lettuce
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • Small red onion, sliced
  • Small yellow pepper, sliced
  • 6 oz. feta cheese

Combine bottom 5 ingredients in a bowl.  Place the beef on top of salad, drizzle with dressing below.

(Experiment with different ratios. Start with 4 garlic cloves, 3 lemons, and then add in olive oil until it isn’t too “lemony”)

Garlic cloves, minced
Lemon juice
Olive Oil

Chorizo Empanadas with Avacado Cream (makes 20)
Adapted from Handle the Heat



  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • pinch paprika


  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2-3 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or other waxy potatoes), peeled, finely diced, and boiled
  • 1 cup mexican blend shredded cheese

Avocado cream:

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 avocados
  • kosher salt


  • For the dough:
    Heat water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter has melted. Let cool slightly. Mix flour, salt, and paprika in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour melted butter mixture into flour mixture and mix with your hands until you get a wet, oily dough. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • For the filling:
    Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add chorizo, breaking apart into small pieces, then add onion. Saute until chorizo is cooked through. Turn off heat, add diced and boiled potatoes, and let cool completely.
  • To assemble:
    While the filling is cooling, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment. Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 20 golf-sized balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on a lightly floured surface into 5″ circles. Place 2-3 tablespoons of cooled filling into the center of each dough circle. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the filling. Fold dough over filling and cheese to make a half-moon shape and press edges firmly to seal. Crimp with the back of a fork. Place empanadas on baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
  • For avocado cream:
    While the empanadas cool, place sour cream, half and half, lemon juice, and jalapeno in the bowl of a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Peel, pit, and dice the avocado and add to blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt. If not serving immediately, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, pressing plastic onto the surface of avocado cream to prevent browning.

Chicken and Noodle Soup (8-12 servings)
Recipe from Rick Martin, Volunteer Chef

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 6 Tbs. butter
  • 5 Tbs. flour
  • 4 ea. chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 2 qt. chicken stock
  • 1 lb. mirepoix (8 oz. onion, 4 oz. carrot, 4 oz. celery)
  • 1 ea. bay leaf
  • 6 oz. dry egg noodles
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  1. Melt butter in small saucepan, add flour and cook roux on low for 3 minutes.
  2. Cook chicken thighs in 1 Tbs. olive oil in large pot.  Brown for 4 minutes.
  3. Remove chicken, add chopped mirepoix, and sweat on medium heat in remaining olive oil until tender in same pot after chicken is removed.
  4. Add chicken stock, chicken back in, and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer, cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove chicken again and chop into bite size pieces. Then add egg noodles.  Cook for 8 minutes then add roux.  Remove from heat and add chopped chicken, salt, pepper, parsley, and thyme.

Beef Stroganoff (6-8 servings)
Recipe from Rob Wood, Volunteer Chef

Beef Stroganoff

  • 1 lb. cubed round steak
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • ½ yellow onion, julienned
  • 6 oz. button mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 4-6 Tbs. flour
  • 10 oz. can beef broth
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ tsp. dried tarragon
  • ¼ bunch parsley
  • 2 Tbs. Salt
  • 1 Tbs. Pepper
  • 4-6 oz. egg noodles
  1. Lightly salt and pepper cubed steak then lightly dust with flour (1 Tbs. or so)
  2. In stock of heat 1 Tbs. vegetable oil. Sautee julienned onions for 3-5 minutes then add mushrooms.
  3. Remove vegetables from pot. Add butter and allow to melt (DO NOT LET IT BURN).
  4. Add beef and brown on all sides. Add remaining flour stirring until completely mixed.
  5. Add beef stock then vegetables. Add tarragon and salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to boil then reduce heat and add noodles.
  7. Once noodles are cooked to al dente add sour cream and turn off heat.
  8. Garnish with chopped parsley

Burger Bites with Guacamole
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo

Holy ‘Moly Easy Guacamole (4 servings)


  • 3 medium Hass avocados
  • 1 small shallot
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Kosher salt (approximately 3 generous pinches)
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Aleppo pepper: 4 parts sweet paprika 1 part cayenne (optional)

Burger Bites with Caramelized Onions (16 sliders)

  • 1 pound grass fed ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee or fat of choice (Olive oil will work)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Roasted bell peppers (optional)
  • Holy ‘Moly (Easy Guacamole) (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (optional)
  1. Season the beef in a large bowl with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Gently mix to incorporate, but don’t overwork it. Let the meat come to room temperature (about an hour) before cooking.
  2. Divide the meat mixture into 16 equal-sized balls. Smush them into 2-inch diameter patties. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. When the oil’s shimmering, pan-fry the sliders in two batches. Cook the patties for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until nicely browned. When they’re done, transfer the sliders to a plate or wire rack, and tent with foil.
  3. Throw the onions into the used pan with some salt and pepper and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they’re golden and translucent, with lots of caramelized browned bits. Be patient — and don’t let the onions burn. Spoon some onions on a plate, and plop a slider patty on top.
  4. Feeling fancy? Make an amuse-bouche: Garnish your burger bites with Roasted Bell Peppers, Holy ‘Moly Easy Guacamole, and diced jalapeño peppers.

As you can see from the photo, at the cooking classes we made these with asparagus on the side. It gave the feeling that were eating fries. Much healthier fries.

Pork Couscous (6 servings)
Recipe by Rob Wood, Volunteer Chef

  • ½ medium size butternut squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, small cubes
  • 8 oz. pork tenderloin cutlet, small cubes
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 can diced tomato
  • ½ cup couscous
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½-1 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 pita per person
  1. Bring 1 cup chicken stock to boil. Add couscous with 1 Tbs. salt and 1 Tbs. pepper. Stir in completely.
  2. Turn off heat and transfer to metal mixing bowl and cover with foil.
  3. Rinse out pan.
  4. Thinly slice butternut squash and carrot and sauté in 2 Tbs. oil on low heat. Stir frequently. Cook for 5-7 minutes until squash and carrots start to soften. Be careful not to burn.
  5. Cube apple and add to pan. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Cube pork and add to pot with 1 Tbs. salt and pepper.
  7. Add 1 can diced tomato.
  8. Cover and allow to simmer on low until pork is cooked fully.
  9. At end, add vinegar and paprika.
  10. Serve over couscous with pita bread.

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