Stew

Slow Cooker White Bean & Sausage Soup

Due to the wacky weather of a Texas Spring, it fortunately still affords us the opportunity to enjoy a warm bowl of soup.  Now, I won’t delve into the rich, hearty, creamy versions that I indulge in come Fall and Winter.  I will, however, sit down to a light broth style.

This meal is so stinkin’ easy as you simply cook and sauté your sausage and onions and then it all goes into the pot!…or the slow-cooker so to speak.  *In many, if not all, slow-cooker meals, I advise always sautéing you’re veggies prior.  Your dish will have SO much more flavor!  Same goes with meatloaf, precook your veggies first people, do not add them to your meat blend raw!…I digress…

So back to THIS bowl of light and flavorful soup, my other tips and/or advice is to use the hot Italian sausage, not the mild or the sweet.  If you insist on the others, so be it, but I promise this soup is anything but spicy.  Also, please drain and rinse your beans with a fine mesh sieve or colander.  Removing the extra starch the beans contain in the can will ensure a light broth.

Now, I suggest if you’re in a slump for what to make this week, please try this out!  You can serve it with warm bread and butter, a half sandwich or a light salad… and life will be good.

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 (15oz) cans of white cannellini (or great white northern) beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 (32oz) cans or boxes of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5oz) cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, fresh/bagged
  • 2 lbs of hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (garnish)

In a skillet on your stovetop, over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage with the onion, garlic and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.

Drain and add the cooked meat mixture to your slow cooker along with the beans, chicken broth, tomatoes and spinach leaves.  Set the slow cooker on HIGH for 3-4/LOW for 5-6 hours.

To serve:  Ladle into bowls and top with a bit of the fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with warm crusty bread.  Enjoy!

WhiteBeanSausageSoup

Pozole Verde de Pollo

I’mmm baack….with my awesome “Spanglish” in the kitchen!  Which, more often than not, means that something yummy is cooking up!  So today, mi amigos, I bring you a Carly rendition of pozole (or posole, depending what side of the tracks you’re on)!

In translation, pozole means “hominy”, which is basically a large, soft corn kernel.  This hominy is then stewed with a meat, peppers, and broth and served with various toppings for your taste bud’s enjoyment.

Now, typically, I like to make the rojo (red) version with seared pork chunks, but today I went out of my comfort zone and opted for verde (green) and chicken!  I must say, though quite different flavor profiles, this one is equally amazing!  A bit tart from the tomatillos, but the charred peppers and garlic yield that smokiness you want and they both pair wonderfully with the slightly salty broth and tender shredded chicken.

In closing, winter is not yet over (but please hurry up) and we still crave that bowl of warm soup on a cold day.  So next Domingo (that’s Sunday to my non Spanglish friends), try out this pot of yumminess!  It will not disappoint!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed & halved
  • 4 poblano/Anaheim chiles (you can mix and match if desired)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cloves garlic, in skins
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, with stems
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2+ teaspoons cumin
  • 2+ teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2-3 lbs chicken thighs, boneless/skinless, cut into rough chunks
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
  • 28oz can white hominy, drained
  • 4-8oz can chopped green chilies, drained

Garnish ideas

  • Radishes, thinly cut into matchsticks or sliced
  • Avocado, sliced or 1/2″ chunks
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Mexican crema/ sour cream
  • Pickled onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Peppitas, toasted
  • Tortillas, warmed

Verde Sauce

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with the tomatillos (cut side down) and also place the poblano/Anaheim and jalapeno peppers along with the whole garlic cloves (still in husks) beside them.

Place your baking sheet on top rack, 6-8″ from the broiler and turn the warm oven to HI Broil.  Watch closely with oven door cracked, but allow the tomatillos to brown and soften and the peppers to bubble up and char, turning with tongs as needed.  Remove and place all of the charred peppers in a large zip lock gallon bag.  Close and allow peppers to steam for 15-20 minutes.  Once time is up, peel off the pepper’s skin and stems and scrape out the seeds from each.  You can also squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skin.

In a blender, combine 1/2 cup of chicken broth with the now roasted tomatillos (and any sheet pan juices left behind), steamed chilies and peppers, garlic cloves, cilantro, cumin,  Mexican oregano, lime juice and a pinch each of salt and pepper.  *If you like a thin broth, you can now strain this through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and discard any extra skins/seeds.  However, I like the rustic’ness of it all and do not strain.

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In a large Dutch oven pot (with lid), heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Add in the cut up chicken thighs and sear and brown all sides; also add in the diced onion.

Once seared, pour the remaining chicken broth over the browned poultry to deglaze the pan; scrape up all of the brown bits on bottom of pan with a wooden spoon.  Flavor right there!

Next, pour in the Verde sauce you made in your blender along with the drained hominy and green chilies (I also like to add another teaspoon or so of cumin and Mexican oregano here again).  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, drop way down to a simmer and cover.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.  Slightly shred chicken chunks, if desired.

Serve

Ladle into bowls and top with your desired garnishes, serve with warm tortillas.  Enjoy!

PozoleVerde2

 

Chowder Fries

Besides the scents, visuals and tastes of pumpkin, nothing says Fall more than a warm bowl of soup!  Especially a creamy bowl of New England’s favorite, the clam chowder!  Now yes, I know I live in the south, but I’ve had reoccurring dreams of visiting the east coast to watch the leaves change while sipping on hot cider and bobbing for apples.  Maybe sneak in a visit to ‘creepy’ Salem too…basically every east coast Fall cliché IS on my bucket-list.  One day….

So for now, I light a spiced candle and get out my candy apple red Dutch oven to reinvent the classic into our family favorite, Chowder Fries!  …quick toying with me Fall and just get here already!!

*You can absolutely use vegetable broth instead, but I find that the chicken stock brings a richer flavor.

The Starting Lineup

  • French fries (frozen or scratch made), Old Bay seasoning optional for tossing with
  • 5 Strips bacon, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried/ or ground thyme
  • 3 Tbsp flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock/ or vegetable broth
  • 1 10oz can clams, juices reserved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Flat leaf parsley (chopped) or green onions (sliced), garnish

Chowder2

Heat a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven to med-high heat and add in the olive oil and bacon and cook until crispy.  Transfer the crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Keep the bacon grease in the pot.

Next, melt the butter into that bacon grease and then add in the onions, stirring often, followed by the garlic.  Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and finally sprinkle in the thyme and stir together.

*Meanwhile, if making a bag of frozen fries, preheat the oven and line a baking tray with parchment or foil for easy cleanup.  Whether frozen or not, I like to lightly coat my fries in a bit of oil and dusting of cornstarch, toss together.  This creates a great crispy exterior!

To the sautéed butter, onions and garlic, whisk in the flour for about 1 minute till everything ‘clumps up’ and is lightly browned.  To that, slowly whisk in the chicken stock/ or broth, milk, the juice from the clams and toss in the bay leaf.  After a couple minutes of whisking to incorporate, stir in the diced potatoes.

Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes; potatoes are tender.

**Fry or bake your fries during this time.

Once time is up, stir in the half & half, the clams and add in your salt & pepper to taste (I am pretty heavy-handed with that myself).

If eating family style, season the French fries with salt or even better, Old Bay, and transfer to a serving platter.  Ladle the warm and creamy clam chowder over top the hot fries and top with the crisp bacon crumbles and parsley and/or scallions!  Sooooo good!  Enjoy!

Chowder1

 

 

 

German Beef Rouladen

This rich and hearty dish may be foreign and unheard of if you are not of German heritage or frequent European inspired restaurants.  Now being German myself and growing up attending Oktoberfest while eating sausages, kraut and warm, soft Bavarian pretzels in loads of beer cheese…I simply adore Rouladen.  Not because we had it often, rarely ever, but because it was mainly served as a Christmas dinner dish or perhaps a Sunday supper if you were lucky.  It’s a special treat, where it takes a bit of thought and tedious work in assembling, twining, searing and braising the beef…but oh-so worth it!

Another reason that many ‘non-Germans’ may have not tried this specialty dish is because the ingredients could sound a bit odd together.  I get it.  Rouladen usually consists of bacon, onions, mustard and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef which is then braised until the beef is about fork tender.   Yes, we like a bit of ‘saur’ to our meals, but this works wonderfully….and oh that bacon!!  It cooks inside the beef, which in turn actually bastes itself and creates SUCH a rich flavor and tender meat!…drooling now.

*If you cannot find pre-sliced beef (top round/chuck), your grocer’s butcher would be happy to help!  You’ll just have to pound it thin once you get home. 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • Beef, thinly sliced and pounded 1/4″ thin to about 4″x6″ (chuck roast or top round slices).  I typically use about 8-10 slices.
  • Whole grain mustard/German mustard
  • 1 pckg Bacon (reserve 2 slices and chop up)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into thin strips or chopped
  • Dill (or German) pickle spears, 8-10 
  • Sweet pickle relish, a couple Tbsp’s
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use the leftover from the Rouladen stuffing)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Red wine
  • Beef broth
  • 1/4 cup Flour or cornstarch + milk slurry (to thicken)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
  • *Butcher twine or toothpicks’ to hold beef rolls together

Serve Alongside (optional)

  • Boiled potatoes, seasoned lightly with salt, pepper and dill (russet/peeled)
  • Warmed German red cabbage (jarred is fine)

The “hardest” part of this recipe is the assembling…once you get everything prepped (chopped, diced, rolled and secured) you’re in the clear and can enjoy a German bier while smelling the braised goodness!

When everything is in it’s place, begin by spreading about a tablespoon of the mustard on one side of the thinly pounded beef, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (easy on the salt).  Next lay 1-2 slices of bacon down lengthwise, followed by the onions, the sweet relish and finally the dill pickle slice horizontal to the length.  Roll up each prepared beef slice around that dill pickle and secure (as best you can) with the butcher twine or a bevy of toothpicks.

In a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch-oven (I used my enameled Lodge cast-iron), add in the reserved 2 slices of chopped bacon and render the fat over medium heat.  When bacon is slightly crisped add in the rolled and secured Rouladen (about 1/3 – 1/2 the batch at a time) and brown all sides to create almost a crust.  Remove the seared beef rolls and continue with the rest of the batch (should take about 20 minutes for all).

To that bacon/beef grease (you may need to add 1 Tbsp more of vegetable oil depending), add in the carrots, onions and celery and allow to sweat down for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Add in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.  Next, pour in the red wine, again scraping the bottom of the pan for any brown bits…flavor!! and simmer, stirring for 4-5 minutes.

Add the seared Rouladen back into the pot with the veggies/wine and pour in the beef broth till it covers about 2/3rd the way up the meat.  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer on low for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once finished, carefully remove the tender beef rolls to a platter.  Mix 1/4 cup of flour with 1/4 cup milk and whisk into the juices in the pot.  This will thicken and make a gravy.  Now, optional, you can whisk in the sour cream for more richness and a slight tang that the Germans love in their cooking.

To serve:  Thoroughly remove the butcher twine or toothpicks and place Rouladen on a plate, cover with a hearty amount of the gravy and serve with warmed German cabbage and boiled dill-flavored potatoes to help sop up that gravy with!  Prost!!

Rouladen3

Cajun Pasta’laya

I’ve been in a Cajun influenced state of craving lately and was REALLY wanting a New Orleans staple…jambalaya!  My only problem (ok it’s not quite a “problem” but an annoyance of mine) is that I have two toddlers and when they eat rice, well it’s not a pretty sight.  I’d say they get 1 grain of rice in their tiny mouths for every 53 pieces on my floor.  

So hey!  Let’s substitute pasta noodles (MUCH easier for them to use a fork with or even fingers) and have ourselves some dinner!  It worked out great, wasn’t too spicy, wasn’t too mild.  The boys and hubby enjoyed it alike and guess what??  There was no damn rice all over my floor when dinner was over!  Happy momma!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 lb chicken (Breasts or tenders), cut into pieces
  • 1 pckg large/extra large shrimp 
  • 1 pckg andouille sausage, cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 12oz penne pasta noodles
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes (undrained)…I like one with cajun flavors of celery, onion, bell pepper
  • 1 each green & red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp+ of cajun seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Green onions, sliced (garnish)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (garnish)
  • Crystal, Louisiana or Tabasco sauce (garnish)  

Start this feast with a ‘kick’ by prepping all of your meats, shrimp and veggies.  In two large seperate bowls (1 for chicken & 1 for shrimp), add a hefty teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to each and toss to coat.  Set aside.  Mince, dice and chop up veggies and get the EVOO heated up over medium heat in a large pan.  Also bring water to boil in a large pot for the noodles. 

     Once the oil is up to temp, add in the seasoned chicken and begin to cook.  Once just starting to brown, add in the onion, bell peppers, garlic and sliced andouille sausage.  Cook till chicken is no longer pink and the vegetables are starting to sweat/soften.  Remove the cooked chicken, sausage & veggies and set aside. 

 Next, in the same large pan, (add in a bit of butter or oil if needed) add the seasoned shrimp.  Cook just a couple minutes on each side (don’t let them curl up completely up on you.  You want the appearance of the letter ‘C’, not an ‘O’ for perfectly cooked shrimp).  Remove from pot and set aside with the other cooked goodies. 

   *By now your pasta should be al dente (boil 1-2 minutes under package directions)!  Drain and set aside. 

 Back in that same large pan, add in the butter and flour while whisking away to form a rue.  While still whisking, incorporate the heavy cream until it’s creamy and smooth. 

       Next, add in the entire can of diced tomatoes (juice & all) and stir to combine.  Here you can taste for heat level and add in either/or another tsp or two of Cajun seasoning or a couple dashes of southern style hot sauce.  Once that is perfected, add back in all of the cooked veggies, meats and shrimp and toss in the cooked penne pasta noodles! *Add more milk/cream if it becomes too thick.

     Spoon into serving bowls and top with the freshly grated Parmesan and green onions!  Enjoy!!!  *You can also add the cheese and green onion to pan at the end if serving buffet style. 

 

Chili Blanco

I’ve never met a chili I didn’t like, seriously.  With beans, without beans (‘Bowl of Red’), smoked chipotle, turkey, molé style…I could go on and on and on..and I will.

Contrary to its pale appearance, the recipe below for Chili Blanco (blanco means white 😉) is hardly pale in flavor.  The roasted peppers add depth with a touch of heat, the Monterey Jack cheese and white beans add creaminess and the cumin, oregano, cayenne and garlic round out that south-of-the-border flavor.  This one here is a winner when you’re looking to branch out on your chili culinary adventure!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb white beans (Great White Northern), soaked overnight & rinsed OR 3 cans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 cups cooked shredded & chopped chicken (you can use a rotisserie chicken if needed)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 (4oz) cans of chopped green chilis
  • 1 roasted poblano, skinned, seeded & chopped
  • 1 roasted jalapeño, skinned, seeded & chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 48oz chicken broth
  • 1 cup Jack cheese, shredded
  • EVOO 

Garnish Ideas

  • Avocado slices
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Jack cheese, shredded  

Assuming your chicken is cooked, beans are soaked and rinsed (if using dried) and your poblano & Jalapeno have been roasted, etc…let’s begin!! Whew!… 

 In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add in about 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Once heated, toss in the onions and cook till translucent (about 10 minutes). 

 To the sweated down onions, add in the green chilis, poblano, jalapeño, garlic, cumin, mexican oregano & cayenne. Stir together for 1 minute. 
   Next add in the beans, chicken broth and the shredded & chopped chicken and bring to a low boil. 
 Once the bubbles start rolling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Stir about every hour or so for 2-3 hours (1 hour if using canned beans…but the longer the better either way really).
Finally, about 30 minutes before you plan to eat, mix in that cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Re-cover and allow to melt in! 
 Serve this complex flavored chili with a dollop of sour cream, fresh cilantro, avocado slices and a lime wedge…oh and don’t forget more cheese and a fresh tortilla for dunking!! Enjoy! xo 
 

Creole Gulf Shrimp

What do you make when you have an extra bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer and a few pantry staples?  Well let me happily tell you, because this creole seafood dish is a winner!  Another plus of this meal is that it’s ready in mere minutes and you can have a gourmet dinner for your family without even leaving your home!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lb large/extra large shrimp, peeled & deveined 
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 stick butter, unsalted & softened
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cajun/creole seasoning
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce 
  • Pinch each of ground pepper & kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Garnish

  • Rice
  • Parsley
  • Lemon wedges
  • Crusty Bread (for dipping)  

Start this fun and delicious meal by peeling the shell off of the shrimp *I personally like to leave the tail on, looks ‘pretty’, but up to you. 

 In a large bowl, combine the minced garlic, cajun seasoning and the salt & pepper.  Add the shrimp to the seasoning blend and toss to coat. 

   In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil to medium-high heat.  Add the seasoned shrimp to the hot oil and cook till pink *about 2 minutes.  Remove the shrimp to a plate and set aside. 

   In that same sauté pan, add in the diced onion along the white wine, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and tabasco sauce and cook till the onions are translucent. 

   Follow that with the softened butter and stir till combined.  

 

 Finally, add the shrimp back to pan and coat in the sauce. This creamy cajun inspired sauce would be good on a shoe…but luckily I had a baguette ready to go! Tear off a nice hunk and sop up that garlicky, buttery flavor! 

  

Before baking, I brushed a bit of melted butter overtop and sprinkled with some creole seasoning!

 
I like to serve ours spooned over rice with a bit of extra sauce to dip that warm baguette into!  Enjoy this cajun delight! 
 

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