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Full Dinner Menu: Black Bean Soup

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Mouthwatering Photo by JeffreyW

Believe it or not, they are forecasting snow by the end of the week. From 90 to snow in 4 days. Fall in Colorado. If it does snow it will be quick and brief I’m sure, then back to warm days and fall leaves. But cool weather means soup to me, so that is what I chose for this week’s menu.

This is a recipe from a restaurant in Ouray, CO that was in an old bank. They gave it to me 20 years ago on my honeymoon and I make it all the time. This was my first experience at having to change a recipe meant for 60 into one for 6-8. It’s spicy, so ease up on the cumin and chili powder if needed, you can always add more during the last 30 minutes if needed.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spicy Black Bean Soup
  2. French Bread
  3. Red Grape Salad
  4. Apple wedges & Cheese

Black Bean Soup

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 3 cubes beef bouillon
  • 1 tsp to 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • ½ onion, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb chopped smoked sausage
  • 12 cups water

Slow-cooker

Add all ingredients to slow-cooker and cook according to directions (usually 8-10 hours on low). Just before serving, take a potato masher or hand blender and blend/mash slightly to thicken

Red Grape Salad

  • ½ head red leaf lettuce, torn
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 4 oz shredded carrots
  • Poppy Seed dressing

Serving bowl

Toss ingredients together, chill and serve

Shopping List:

  • 4-14 oz cans black beans
  • 4 -6 carrots or equivalent shredded carrots
  • ½ onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 green pepper
  • 4 oz dry red wine (opt)
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • ½ head red leaf lettuce
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes
  • 1 pear
  • Poppy Seed dressing
  • French Bread
  • Apple wedges & Cheese

Also: salt, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, chili powder, beef bouillon, cumin, pepper

Originally posted December 2009

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Chicken Dumplings

DSC_8372 (1600x1060)I found a frozen block of turkey broth while rummaging through the big box and dragged it out.  I added more broth and a few more chicken thighs, tossed in some veggies and a bag of dumplings that have been in the freezer since I can’t remember when.  It all simmered for a good while but the dumplings never did get quite right, they’ll be better tomorrow when they have had more time to soak.

Mmm… Soup

DSC_8081 (1600x1060)I swear I didn’t see that bay leaf in there.  I actually had it in my mouth and had to take it out.  Nothing special about the veggies or the broth but I did use a different noodle this time:DSC_8089 (1600x1060)The package has several little noodle bundles, each just about right for a single serving.  I boiled two of them separate from the broth and then drained them and plopped them into the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup proper.  It does solve the problem of noodles disintegrating when saved as leftovers.  Tomorrow or the next day it will be a snap to boil a serving of needles, takes five minutes, and the serving size won’t be a problem.

Hamburger Noodle Bake

DSC_7793 (1600x1060)This is an old standby.  Any kind of noodles will work, and whatever cheese you have will be probably be ok so long as they will melt well enough.  I have havarti, mozzarella, and Parmesan in this one, plus some white process cheese with jalapenos that comes in a block like Velveeta and is meant for nachos.  I brown and drain the hamburger, remove it to a bowl and cook onions and celery down with some of the fat while the noodles are boiling.  Melt the cheeses along with a splash of milk in the microwave and mix everything together along with a ladle of the pasta water and then put it into a casserole pan for the oven.  Top with more cheese and cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes and then take off the foil to toast the top a little.DSC_7790 (1600x1060)Add a side salad and you are good to go!

Cream of Chicken Soup, Now with Recipe

Cream of Chicken Soup2

I have a pot of this simmering on the stove as I write this. I wanted to make it a second time to see if I could make the recipe a bit simpler. Really couldn’t, so I wrote it as I went, to make sure I didn’t miss a step. I really like this soup, it has a very rich flavor, like chicken and biscuits. Mmmm….

Because I have a vita-mix,  most of the soups I make start with a thick vegetable broth. It gives a great depth of flavor. It’s chocked full of nutrients and anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t eat enough vegetables, so I do what I can to up my daily veggies. But you may not want to go to that trouble, so you can substitute 4 cups of chicken broth for the vegetable broth in the recipe below.

Cream of Chicken Soup

  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 2 stalks celery (with leaves), rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 cup cut green beans (I use frozen)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless, doesn’t matter it will be shredded)

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  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk

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  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

saucepan, dutch oven or large saucepan, blender

In the blender, add rough chopped carrots, celery and green beans, spices, 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. Add to dutch oven along with chicken breasts and 2 additional cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Add diced carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the liquid and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender crisp.

While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in the saucepan, add onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Whisk in flour and cook about 2 minutes or more. Turn the heat up to medium-high, slowly stir in milk and bring to a low boil, whisking until thickened. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to use two forks and pull across the grain of the meat in different directions. You can then use your fingers to break apart any large pieces.

Once the vegetables are tender crisp, whisk in the white sauce and then stir in the chicken. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve with parsley garnish.

Makes about 6 cups.

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Turkey Soup

DSC_7646 (1600x1060)It was pretty cold overnight, down into the teens.  We got a bare dusting of snow but that will go away today.  Strong south wind and warming temps today, we have made it into the 40s but there is a chance for sprinkles later.  Soup sounded pretty good.  This one has the turkey and some baby carrots along with a wild rice mix from Zatarain.  They make good rice mixes and we really like the wild/long grain rice mix they sell.  It’s been absent from the local market so we ordered a case online.

Hearty Turkey Soup on a Cold December Day

It’s still chilly here, though the Arctic blast has moved on. I decided to use up the leftover turkey and test out my new mandolin at the same time and make a big pot of soup for lunches this week.

When I roast a turkey, I always save the wings and legs, freezing them for soup later on.  You can also save the carcass, which I do sometimes, but really most times it seems like too much trouble.   You can also freeze leftovers, but I find dark meat works best because the white meat tends to get tough once it’s frozen, even when simmered for hours in soup.

You can add anything you want. I didn’t have beans, so I substituted whole wheat egg noodles. I cook them separately, so they don’t get too mushy and add them to the bowl and pour the soup over them.

Hearty Turkey Soup

  • Wings and Legs of turkey, cooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 carrots,  julienned (frozen ok)
  • 2 stalk of celery and celery leaves,  julienned
  • 1 cup green beans, frozen or canned
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 15 oz can Cannellini beans*
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, add turkey, broth and water.  Bring to a boil and let boil 10 minutes.  Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, remove legs and wings, let cool enough to remove remaining meat (most will have fallen off).  Add meat back to soup and let simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve with Buttermilk Biscuits and Cranberry Sauce.

*Cannellini beans are large and have that traditional kidney shape. With a slightly nutty taste and mild earthiness, they have a relatively thin skin and tender, creamy flesh. They hold their shape well and are one of the best white beans for salads and ragouts.

 

Originally posted November 2011

Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Non-Traditional Side Dishes

JeffreyW's Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

JeffreyW’s Roasted Brussels Sprout and Potato Gratin

This is the time of year when we get a lot of blog visits from people looking for side dishes. And I have a lot of recipes for the traditional holiday sides, desserts and instructions on the various ways to cook your turkey. JeffreyW has a ton of mouthwatering photos. All of that can be found at at this link.

I thought it would be nice though, to focus on some non-traditional sides for tonight’s recipe exchange. In case you were looking for something different to showcase this year.

Soups make a nice starter at for any meal and tonight’s featured recipe is a savory winter soup. I also have a nice Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, (click here)

JefferyW favors brussels sprouts and came up with this wonderful recipe, Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin pictured above. (click here)

Roasted Brussels sprouts are pretty easy, and leave it to Emeril Lagasse to “kick it up a notch” with his Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Grilled Onions. (click here)

I’m not big on the whole candied sweet potatoes, so I went looking for alternatives and found three I like,  African Sweet Potato Salad, Cajun Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes and Apples, click here for all the recipes. You can also just roast them in the oven, and I found two really good recipes here (honey roasted) and here (thyme roasted).

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you doing the cooking or does someone else have the honors? And most importantly, what are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

The Thanksgiving featured recipe is one that works great as an appetizer:

Need to keep everyone out of the kitchen while you finish up dinner prep?  Set up a buffet table with a raw vegetable tray and dip, a bowl of nuts (in their shells) along with a couple of nutcrackers and this soup in a slowcooker to keep it warm and that should keep your guests occupied while you cook.

Winter Squash Soup

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3-1/4 pounds butternut or acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Chopped chives (for garnish)

Large sauce pan

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onions, carrot, celery and garlic; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken broth, apple juice, thyme and sage. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from stove. Puree the vegetables until smooth with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor or blender. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if desired.

***Soup can be made to this point 1 day ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.***

Return soup to pot and bring to a simmer. Add the sherry and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream, sour cream and nutmeg until well combined. Place soup into large soup tureen and garnish with chives. Place on appetizer table with small bowls & spoons and let everyone help themselves.

That’s everything this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next Friday, but next week I’ll be featuring more recipes for the holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. – TaMara

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Dinner Menu: Coconut Shrimp, Cucumber Sea Salad and Ice Cream

Winding our way to Thanksgiving I thought something as far away from holiday food would be good this week. This light menu, highlighting tropical flavors, should help you forget about holiday prep and cold fall days.

The shrimp is a bit of a different recipe, instead of traditional coconut shrimp which is fried in a coconut batter, this one is simmered in a coconut milk sauce. I like Jasmine rice and if you haven’t tried it, now is your chance, it’s a great side with this shrimp. I actually use a nice brown Jasmine rice that fluffs up almost as well as its white counterpart. And of course, vanilla ice cream is only a suggestion here, it won’t ruin the entire menu if you go all wild and choose something like mango.

On the board tonight:

  1. Shrimp in Coconut Milk
  2. Jasmine Rice
  3. Cucumber Sea Salad
  4. Crushed Pineapple & Coconut over Vanilla Ice Cream

Shrimp in Coconut Milk

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4-6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut

wok or skillet

Heat oil, sauté onions, pepper, carrots, garlic until tender (2-3 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes. Serve immediately over rice. Garnish with coconut.

Cucumber Sea Salad

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed

Combine cucumber, crab, & celery into bowl. Mix vinegar and apple juice concentrate, pour over mixture and refrigerate until served.

Shopping list:

  • 8 oz crushed pineapple
  • 1 qt premium vanilla ice cream (or other favorite)
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 4-6 green onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 oz sliced frozen carrots
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh shrimp, de-veined
  • 14 oz coconut milk
  • ¼ cup tequila (opt)
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Cilantro
  • 2 oz shredded coconut
  • 1 cucumber
  • 4 oz crab meat
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 oz frozen apple juice concentrate

Also: peanut oil or vegetable oil, crushed garlic, ginger powder, limejuice, brown sugar,

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Full Dinner Menu: Hearty Tomato Soup and Awesome Grilled Cheese

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Awesome Photo by JeffreyW

It’s been a busy week. Today I spent six hours helping clean out and organize one of my client’s offices that had two feet of water in it three days ago. Not much of the paperwork was salvageable, but they got the computers and other equipment up and out in time. The office will need to sanitized and repainted before anything can go back. It will get better with time…for everyone. The one thing that does not surprise me is how everyone has pitched in to help, even complete strangers. There are so many stories of good deeds. The sun comes out and we’re all reminded of the beauty that is Colorado, both the view and the people.

When the rain continued on last week and the floods hit, I suddenly needed to cook. Normalcy and comfort. I made a couple of batches of soup. Easy Chicken Tortilla and this tomato soup. I knew I wanted to post this as the full dinner menu this week, but it took me a while to get to it. I apologize for the delay.

This not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground flax

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

Originally posted October 2009

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