Stewed Comfort

IMG_7574

Cold weather calls for soups, gumbos and comfort food. One of my favorite comfort meals as a kid was stewed chicken. It’s something easy to make, whether you are breaking down a whole chicken yourself or taking some help from the store with a mixed pack or a package of your favorite piece of meat. It’s helpful, when you can, to go for the whole chicken whether the store cuts it up or you and you can save parts for gumbo or a homemade stock for some chicken noodle soup for another week. Stewed chicken is simple dish and easy to serve over rice or with potatoes. I like to double down on the veggies with sautéed greens and a side salad. The cook time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, though the slow cooking for the latter 35 minutes can be spent elsewhere in the house with a set phone or stove timer. Though a standard 10″ deep pan will do, a cast iron pot or a Dutch oven. Check out the recipe below.

Ingredients:
1 3-3 1/2 chicken (cut into serving pieces)
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion (2 cups diced)
1 small bell pepper (1 cup diced)
4 cloves of garlic ( 2 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. onion power
1tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. salted butter
1 cup chicken stock or water

Directions:
1. Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat.
2. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel before sprinkling on salt and pepper. Brown chicken in 2-3 batches for 2-3 minutes per side. Add batch to a plate once browned and repeat.
3. Add butter and then flour to melted butter. Using a fork or whisk, mix flour continuously for 3-5 minutes, browning in the pan dripping and butter. Once brown, add water or stock and remaining seasoning and mix with the fork or whisk.
4. Peel and mince garlic. Peel and dice onion and bell pepper.
5. Add onion and bell pepper, garlic and chicken back to the pan. Top and reduce to medium-low heat to simmer for 30-35 minutes.
6. Put on rice 10 minutes after chicken begins to simmer so that food is ready about the same time.
7. Plate and enjoy.

Fall Flavor Fix

IMG_8141.JPGIf you’re as excited as I am for the cooling weather, it’s both a great time to get outdoors and to step into soup recipes. The Fall is abundant with a variety of vegetables that are easy to make into soups. I am a fan of roasting vegetables to bring out and transform their flavors. For my first soup of the season, I decided on roasting eggplant, butternut squash and garlic for a buttery and nutty flavored soup. Not only is it rich and creamy, but nice and flavorful. If you’re missing the meat, crumble a slice or two of bacon on top with a little fresh green onion for an added punch of bold. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts!

Soup ingredients:
1 medium purple eggplant
1 medium butternut squash
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup of water
1 cup of milk (2% or whole recommended)
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh minced rosemary
1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Cut squash in half longwise and scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon. Add to baking sheet.
3. Rinse eggplant and cut off each end then cut in half. Cut 1-inch thick chunks and slice longer slices in half. Add to baking sheet.
4. Peel garlic and cut in half. Add to eggplant and coat it in olive oil on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
5. Remove eggplant and garlic and place into a bowl to cool. Check squash with a fork and if it is tender (fork sinks in) remove sheet from oven and let cool. If not, let cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off oven.
6. Once cooled (10 minutes) remove skin from eggplant and squash. Add to a food processor or blender with water and blend until smooth.
7. Add to a medium pot and add seasoning and milk and stir until well blended. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
8. Serve and enjoy.

Winging It

IMG_8118

With football season upon us, it’s good to have a recipe or two of something easy and game worthy in your back pocket. Dips and chips are always a crowd pleaser and rotel certainly pops to the forefront of easy options. I like to make my own mix with a couple hunks of good cheddar and pepper jack and cream cheese to smooth things out; add ground meat and a can rotel and you’re in business. Though there are not often leftovers, this is great on top of fresh baked fries, topped with fresh tomato, pickled jalapeño and a little sour cream to boot.

In addition to my take on rotel, I like to wing it at home with crispy oven baked wings that I can sauce any way I please. Not only is it easy, but certainly more cost effective. My package of 7 whole wings (14 pieces) totaled $5.05 and on average I’ve spent about a dollar per wing.

Try your hand at making both dishes with the recipes below.

Rotel ingredients:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced bell peppee
1/2 lb. mild cheddar cheese (block or shredded)
1/2 lb. pepper jack cheese (block or shredded)
1 8oz package of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 10oz can of rotel original
1 diced medium jalapeño (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and dice a medium onion. Slice, remove seeds and dice the bell pepper. Add both to a pot over medium heat.
2. Add ground beef and seasoning and break up with a fork or large spoon.
3. Slice or shred cheese (if block) while beef cooks.
4. Dice optional jalepeno. Add the can of rotel with liquid and diced jalepeno. Reduce heat to low-medium.
5. Add pepper jack and cheddar cheese and mix to melt. Add cream cheese.
6. Reduce heat to simmer and stir occasionally until fully melted.
7. Serve with chips or over fries

 

Wings ingredients:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of wings
1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1/2 tbsp. coarse black pepper

Sauce ingredients:
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tbsp. sirracha
1/2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. ketchup

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Add wings and other ingredients to a ziploc bag, close it and shake and massage bag to evenly distribute oil and seasoning.
3. Add to baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes. (Should be crispy and browned.)
4. In a bowl, whisk BBQ sauce and honey until well blended. Add in other ingredients and mix well.
5. Remove wings from oven and add to the bowl.
6. Toss well then add back to the baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes.
7. Remove from foil and enjoy.

A Bowl of Fun

IMG_8097.JPGRice and beans are an easy and inexpensive go-to for a portion of weekly meals. It is also a great meatless option that still provides the needed protein when paired with a whole grain such as brown rice. A 1/2 pound of beans ($1-$3 depending on the variety) can be stretched a long way. I like to try different varieties from the self serve isle of Whole Foods when I want a change from my beloved local Camilla beans. A cooked pot of a 1/2 pound of beans will give me 10 servings which I will eat with greens, a lean protein or sometimes I’ll create a veggie bowl of fun. Changing things up by adding a variety of sautéed veggies and other chopped vegetables is an easy way to transform an otherwise plain dish. It’s also easy to prep ahead of time by simply peeling and slicing onion and bell pepper and sweating them out over medium heat in water. Once the water cooks out, I add a 1/2 tbsp. of butter and a pinch of salt and pepper to brown them and add a punch of flavor. This can be stored in the fridge all week until needed. Check out one of my go to bowl mixes below for an easy change to a rice and bean week.

 

A Bowl of Fun

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup cooked beans ( any color)
1/2 cup sautéed onion and bell pepper
2 tbsp. fresh jalapeño chopped or sliced pickled jalapeño
2 tbsp. sour cream
4 tbsp. salsa of choice
1/2 cup fresh diced tomato
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup guacamole

Directions:
1. Add half of the rice,beans and sautéed veggies to each bowl and microwave for 1- 1.5 minutes each.
2. Divide cheese evenly and add to each bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients in layers.
4. Enjoy.

Spice Things Up

IMG_8087

Every now and then, I get a craving for some good curry and I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone of yellow curry and try something new. Curry is a wonderfully complex flavor profile that mixes different spices and herbs and it works well with just about any meat or seafood out there. Since I am also a fan of red and green curry dishes, I decided to give red curry a try with ground pork. This was simple and quick and full of flavor. Check out the recipe below and share your thoughts.

Red Curry with Pork

1 lb ground pork
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh garlic (8-10 medium cloves)
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup diced carrot (2 medium or 1 large carrot)
2 tbsp. red curry paste
1 cup of torn fresh basil
1 14oz can coconut milk
7 oz water
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Place a large pot over medium heat and warm oil.
2. Add pork to oil and break apart with a spoon.
3. Peel and dice onion and peel and mince garlic. Add to pork with onion powder and half of the salt and pepper and mix well. Cook until pork is browned.
4. Rinse and chop bell pepper and peel and chop a large carrot. Add both to the pot and stir well.
5. Add red curry paste and mix in well. Add coconut milk and fill can halfway with water and add water. Rinse and roughly chop basil and add to the pot.
6. Add remaining seasoning and stir. Reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Serve with 1/2 cup of rice and top with fresh basil.