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Archive for the ‘Soups and Stews’ Category

Over the last few years I have gotten into the habit of making a pot of vegetarian chili for myself when I’m making traditional chili for Brandon. It’s not that I don’t enjoy beef-based chili but I try to be mindful of my meat intake and chili is a meal where I don’t miss it at all. I also find it extremely easy to make two separate batches because the base exactly the same, I just added the butternut squash in place of ground beef in my veggie variation.

I think I have finally perfected my chili recipe. This is my go-to and it always turns out delicious. I’m not much of a leftover fan but I’ve had this for dinner three times this week and I’m still craving more. It also freezes well for an easy dinner later down the road. This veggie chili is healthy and very satisfying. I like to top mine with cheese, plain Greek yogurt and sliced avocado along with a warm slice of cornbread or cheesy beer bread on the side!

Vegetarian Butternut Squash and Bean Chili
(A Bakin’ and Eggs Original)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2-3 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
2 cups uncooked butternut squash, peeled and cubed (1-inch cubes)
1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can filled 3/4 with water
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onions, peppers and jalapeño until mixture become soft. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Add spices and continue to sauté for another minute. Add squash, tomatoes, beans and water and bring to a simmer. I usually simmer covered on low heat for 60-90 minutes and then uncovered on low heat for 30-60, depending on how much time I have and how thick I want my chili. The longer you simmer it uncovered, the thicker it will get. Add the cocoa powder in 10-15 minutes before serving and stir well.

Yield: 8 servings

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In general, I don’t love soup for dinner. I usually find myself wanting more and struggling with what to pair it with to make it a meal. Don’t get me wrong though, I love heartier things like chili and chicken and dumplings so I was pleased to find that this Chicken Tortilla Soup was more similar to chili than soup. It was filling, comforting and relatively healthy!

My favorite part about the soup was how easy it was to put together. I had to work late last night and didn’t get home until 8 p.m. I quickly diced, chopped, sauteed and dumped and the soup was cooking away in just 15 minutes. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes before serving it but this is flexible. You could easily leave this to simmer for longer if you want to develop the flavors even more.

This recipe is a great use of leftover chicken and most of the ingredients are pantry friendly. It also freezes nicely and the leftovers taste even better!

One Year Ago: Pear and Cranberry Cake
Two Years Ago: Sushi

Chicken Tortilla Soup
(Recipe adapted from All Recipes)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (10-ounce) can of corn or 2 ears, cut off the cobb
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
2-3 cups cooked shredded chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings: cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese, hot sauce, tortilla chips, diced avocado

Directions:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and jalapeno and sautee for about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and green chilies and cook for another minute or two. Add chili powder and oregano and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, water, chicken stock, black beans, corn and chicken and bring to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper and serve with toppings.

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Winter has arrived in the Carolinas in full force. It is freezing but I won’t complain about the temperatures because I know I have many readers who live in cold, snowy climates…I don’t know how you do it! One thing I will say is that cold days and even colder nights make me crave warm, hearty dishes like soup. I’ve had this Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas bookmarked for months and the perfect opportunity finally arose to make it on a chilly night when Brandon was out to dinner with friends.

I didn’t know how receptive Brandon would be to the soup. While he loves curry dishes, I didn’t know if he’d go for a vegan soup for dinner so I made it on a night he wasn’t home. I loved cooking this dish. It was so fragrant and very easy. I was extremely pleased with the results – the soup was flavorful and filling. I am happy to report that Brandon loved the leftovers for lunch the next day. I will definitely be adding this soup to the “winter warmers” recipe collection.

A few notes about the recipe…I almost doubled the curry powder and could have gone for a bit more. If you are a curry lover don’t be afraid to be a bit heavy handed. Next time I make this I am going to experiment with adding other spices like cayenne pepper to up the spice factor and cumin or coriander. This recipe was great as written but I would love to play with developing the flavors a bit more.

One Year Ago: Pork Chops with Cider Cream Sauce and Sauteed Apples
Two Years Ago: Greek Pasta

Curried Coconut Soup with Chickpeas
(Recipe source Epicurious, March 2009)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned
1-2 teaspoons mild curry powder, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Directions:

Heat the oil over medium heat. in a medium stockpot. Add onion, bell pepper and chili and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and stir until onion mixture is coated. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 servings

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I am not exaggerating when I say that I have no reason to ever try another chicken and dumplings recipe. This one is going straight to the “tried and true, will make this for years and years to come” file. I have tried a lot of chicken and dumplings recipes and have never been blown away by any of them – except for this Chicken Pie With Biscuit Crust but it’s not truly chicken and dumplings.

I was in the mood to cook on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to make a dinner that would take a while so that I could spend the evening hanging out in the kitchen, one of my favorite activities to relax and unwind. I chose this recipe from Tyler Florence because I loved that it featured homemade stock, sauce and dumplings. No canned stock, cream of yuckiness soup or refrigerated biscuits.

I made the stock by placing an organic/free range chicken in a pot with garlic, peppercorns, thyme and salt. I covered the chicken with water and boiled. This was a great reminder that homemade stock is easy and far superior in flavor to what you buy in the store. While I am guilty of buying stock, I will be trying to keep some homemade stock in the freezer moving forward. I only used about half the stock this rendered in the chicken and dumplings so I was able to freeze a good amount of leftovers!

I put Brandon to work shredding the cooked chicken while I prepared the sauce. I sauteed carrots, celery and garlic in a mixture of butter and oil and then added in flour to make a roux. I slowly incorporated the chicken stock and then added in extra veggies. I love that this recipe includes peas and pearl onions. The sauce simmered until it was thickened. You get a nice creaminess with the sauce by adding a little heavy cream at the end. Side note: please remember to taste your sauce as you go and season – you might need to add a good bit of salt.

Soon enough it was time to add the chicken and dumplings and sit back and watch magic happen. I love dropping the dough in and then seeing it turn into perfect dumplings.

While this is a labor intensive recipe, it is not hard. I highly encourage you to try this now that the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning. This dish is so comforting and it just feels good to eat it knowing that everything is made from scratch.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Chicken and Dumplings
(Recipe source Tyler Florence)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
1 (3 to 3 1/2 pound) whole organic chicken
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
4 to 5 black peppercorns
1 head garlic, split through the center (leave garlic unpeeled)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Enough water to cover chicken

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped chives
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish

Directions:

FOR THE CHICKEN AND STOCK
Place the chicken and all stock ingredients in a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for one hour until the chicken is tender and internal temperature registers at least 165 degrees. Skim the surface of fat as it cooks.

Remove chicken from pot and place on a cutting board. Let rest until it is cool enough to handle. Strain the stock and set aside. When chicken has cooled, shred and set aside.

FOR THE DUMPLINGS
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, using a whisk, lightly beat the eggs, chives and buttermilk together; pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold. Mix just until the dough comes together; the batter should be thick and cake-like.

FOR THE SAUCE
In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, add the butter and oil. Add the carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux and continue to stir for two minutes to coat the veggies in flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add frozen peas and pearl onions.

Let sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.

Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded. Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy. Discard the bay leaves, season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped chives before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 47

This is going to be short and sweet. I am sick for the first time in almost two years and need to get to bed! My throat is so sore but luckily no fever. I made this Thai Beef Noodle Soup on Monday night when the sore throat was first making its appearance. It has great flavor. The ginger and lime juice gave the broth so much flavor. And I’m usually not really into beef-based soups but thought it was perfect in this dish. I had some leftover noodles and whipped up another batch of broth using chicken stock and left the beef out – also delicious.

Needless to say, there isn’t much to report on the fitness front. I taught BodyPump Monday morning but after that the sickness started creeping in. I was really feeling ick by Tuesday. It has taken every ounce of my willpower not to go to a yoga class the past couple days but I know that my body needs the rest and my instructors and classmates would not appreciate my attendance while sick! I’m itching to practice though since I’ve missed my regular Sunday and Tuesday classes. But since I’ve been sick my appetite has been a little off and I’ve struggled to get enough fruits and veggies in. Hopefully a good night of sleep will be just what I need!

Thai Beef Noodle Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, February 2008)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound flank steak (I used a flat iron steak, much cheaper!)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai green-curry paste (or more if you want to kick it up a little)
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra slices for serving
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
3/4 pound dried Asian egg noodles

Directions:

Mix together soy, honey, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking dish. Add steak and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

While steak marinates, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until it shimmering. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. then cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until browned well, about 8 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute. Add add broth and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice, remaining tablespoon fish sauce and salt to taste and keep warm, covered.

Heat grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, then lightly oil. Cook steak, turning once, about 12 minutes total or until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss bell pepper and scallions with remaining tablespoon oil, then grill, turning frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

While steak stands, cook noodles following package directions. Drain well, then add to vegetables and mix well. Divide noodles among 4 bowls and top with 1/2 cup broth. Cut steak in half lengthwise, thinly slice across the grain and serve on top of noodles. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 29

I feel terrible that I’ve been such a bad blogger this week. I started in the hole since I didn’t get to make my weekly menu and grocery shopping trip. It was a major pain to scramble every night to figure out what to have for dinner. Now we’re back in town and settled back into our routine.  I promise that I have lots of fun cooking and baking projects planned for this weekend that I can’t wait to share with everyone!

I was looking for something simple to make last night for dinner. I was browsing through the easy and healthy weeknight meals gallery on Epicurious and sent the link for this Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup recipe to Brandon. I was shocked when he said, “I’d eat that.” I still firmly believe that it’s only because this soup included sausage in the ingredient list! Also, kale is one of my grandmother’s signature dishes so Brandon has discovered that he loves it. I love using kale in recipes – it packs a HUGE nutrient punch. Check out this overview of the nutrients in boiled kale.

So back to my struggle with blogging and dinner this week…I work out pretty much every day after work. I usually don’t get home from my workout until after 7 p.m so if I haven’t planned dinner, it’s very challenging to make it happen. I’m very proud to share that it is extremely rare that we eat out on a weeknight. I always have something planned for dinner. I know I continue to harp on the importance of meal planning in advance but it makes a huge difference. I was stressed all week this week trying to pull together dinners and make time to get to the store.

On Monday Brandon and I went to a Vinyasa Basics yoga class at Y2 Yoga. It’s a newer yoga studio with smaller classes. I thought the class was pretty easy but it’s always nice to get back to the basics. Brandon enjoyed the class and got some great work in on perfecting the basic positions.

I planned on running with Sullie Tuesday after work but got stuck at work until 6:45. I still had to go to the grocery to get stuff for dinner (again, pre-planning people!) so by the time I got home at 7:30 I was hungry and cranky and it was freezing cold and dark. The run didn’t happen.

I set my alarm to get up and run Wednesday morning. Sullie is great motivation to get out of bed because she really needs the exercise and to get out of the apartment. We did an easy 3-miler but it was freezing – about 20 degrees and windy! Wednesday night I went to a power yoga class at Y2.

I planned on running today but got called at the last minute to sub BodyPump. Literally, at the last minute. I had to leave work a few minutes early to go home and grab my music, change and get to the gym. I hit terrible traffic and ended up being 10 minutes late to class. I felt terrible because I know how disappointing it is to have the workout you committed to cut short but hopefully all the push-ups we did made up for it! I ran 3 miles on the treadmill after.

So, hopefully I’ll be updating the blog A LOT more frequently and you won’t have to get a whole run down on my week in fitness in one post! I had this Kale and Potato soup for lunch today and it totally satisfied me for the whole afternoon! And I think the leftovers were even better today!

I made quite a few modifications to the original recipe. The original calls for only adding the kale in the last 5 minutes of cooking. There is no way it would have been done in that amount of time. We like our kale tender so I added it with the potatoes. Honestly, I didn’t  really follow the cooking directions at all for this recipe. I just did what made sense to me. But the soup turned out great and is an easy and nutritious weeknight dinner.

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2009 – the last issue ever :( )

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chouriço or linguiça (smoked Portuguese sausages) or kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (uh, I used kielbasa)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (2-3)
6 cups water or chicken broth (I used half and half)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, like Sriracha, for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add sausage and garlic and continue to cook 2-3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then add potatoes, water or chicken broth, kale, paprika and salt to taste to the pot.

Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until kale and potatoes are tender. Mash up some of the potatoes with the back of a fork to thicken the soup a bit. Taste and do a final season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Yield: 4 main course servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 28

Happy New Year everyone! The holidays have been busy for us with lots of family time and traveling. Since we spent Thanksgiving with my family this year, we stayed in Charlotte and celebrated Christmas with Brandon’s family. We rang in the new year in Asheville with The Avett Brothers and then headed to Atlanta on New Year’s Day for yet another Avett Brothers show and to spend the weekend with my family. It was so good to see them! My mom, Brandon and I went to the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday afternoon while my dad stayed home prepping our amazing dinner! He made Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Gumbo. SO DELICIOUS! He made his own seafood stock and made the perfect roux. It was exactly the dark color of Paul’s in the book. It was full of oysters, crab, shrimp and fresh andouille! I roasted up some okra for a side dish and my mom made my favorite banana pudding recipe. Yum! I love going home and enjoying my parents cooking! :)

I was happy to arrive home yesterday and get back in the swing of our normal routine. I attend an incredible hot yoga class every Sunday afternoon at 4. It’s the perfect way to end my weekend and prepare my mind and body for the work week ahead. Since I was a little crunched on time given our afternoon arrival home and wanting to make my yoga class, I was looking for an easy meal. It is freezing here (seriously – lows in the teens, highs in the 30s – that is cold in the South!) and slow cooked meat sounded like the perfect dinner. Our grocery store had chuck roasts on sale so off I went to Epicurious to look for a Gourmet magazine pot roast recipe.

I found this recipe for Oven Braised Beef with Tomato Sauce and Garlic. It only had three ingredients and had received numerous positive reviews. Decision made. You don’t even brown the beef before placing it in the dutch oven! Can it get any easier than that? Off I went to the grocery to grab the ingredients. I threw everything in my dutch oven before I left for yoga and came home to an amazing smelling house!

I was a little nervous because the recipe called for so much garlic but it really mellows out in the oven during the long, slow cook and adds a wonderful flavor. I admit that I added a couple carrots and some onion during the last hour of cooking but it totally wasn’t necessary! I just wanted more veggies. Brandon decided that this should be my “go-to” method for cooking roasts.

I served last night’s roast over mashed potatoes with a salad and french bread. I’m making shredded beef enchiladas with the leftovers tomorrow night.

And now for the announcement:
If you’ve read the “About Jen” section of this site you know that my second love is fitness and nutrition. One of the questions I get all the time is, “How do you cook and bake all that food and stay fit?” Well…I’m going to start sharing that information with you on the blog. Don’t worry, I’m not changing the focus of this blog. It is definitely still first and foremost a food blog but I am going to talk about my nutrition and exercise for the day/week in my posts. If you’re not into it – simply scroll down for the recipe!

In a nutshell, it’s all about maintaining a balance. I’m going to talk about that balance in my posts. I hope I can provide a little bit of motivation and inspiration that you can enjoy delicious food and stay fit!

Let me know what you think in the comment selection below and if you have any questions! Eventually, I hope to add separate fitness and nutrition page to the blog but that’s later in 2010!

And now for the most delicious 3 ingredient roast recipe…

Oven Braised Beef with Tomato Sauce and Garlic
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, February 2001)

Ingredients:

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3-3 1/2 pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves (unpeeled)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional: potatoes, carrots, onions or any other vegetables you’d like to add
Accompaniment: mashed potatoes, orzo or egg noodles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously salt and pepper roast. Place roast in a large dutch oven. Pour tomatoes over the roast and then scatter around garlic cloves.

Cover and bake for 3-4 hours, until roast is very tender and shreds easily. Break into chunks or shred and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

*Note: if you’d like to add extra vegetables, add them when you have about 1 hour left in cooking.

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