Full Dinner Menu: Washday Beans and Rice

Photo from JeffreyW

I’ve been watching a home show about buying and selling big mansions in New Orleans. I’m enjoying touring these big old mansions.  Since I was in a Louisiana mood, time for one of my favorite dinners.

On the board tonight:

  1. Washday Beans & Rice
  2. Sliced Steamed Zucchini
  3. Corn Bread
  4. Blueberries & Raspberries w/whip cream

Washday Beans & Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 14oz can red kidney bean
  • 4 links Italian or Andouille sausage (sweet or spicy) – slice each link into 4 pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun Creole Seasoning (start with teaspoon and work your way up to taste)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato diced (or 14 oz can)

2-quart saucepan and skillet Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac

DSC_8520 (1600x1060)

JeffreyW’s Cornbread Muffins. His recipe:  I always use the recipe on the round box that Quaker yellow corn meal comes in as a base, these also have cheddar cheese, minced fresh jalapeno, and a thinly sliced green onion, white part and all.  A half recipe yielded 4 muffins. I used 1 whole egg in the half recipe, and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.

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Sorry I have been absent of late. Work has been busy and the deadline of another project I’m working on is looming, so I’ve barely seen my kitchen. Not to mention it’s fall in Colorado and I want to be outdoors whenever possible.

I doubt there will be a Bixby update this week, but he is doing well and growing daily, though he still has not caught up to his ears or his feet. Standing on his back legs he is 53 inches.

This menu tonight is from my Kid-Friendly series. I loved chili-mac as a kid and it’s still one of those quick comfort foods I make when it needs to be easy and tasty.

  1. Chili-Mac
  2. Corn Muffins
  3. Raw Vegetable Tray
  4. Apples

Chili-Mac

  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp to 2 tbsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 qt. saucepan, skillet

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  While macaroni is cooking, heat oil in skillet, sauté onions & peppers.  Add hamburger, brown & crumble. Add hamburger, tomatoes, beans, chili powder & salt to drained macaroni.  Stir, let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Corn Muffins

( you can’t beat those 33¢ Jiffy mixes, but this is a good muffin recipe)

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 egg (well beaten)
  • 8 oz can creamed corn
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

muffin pan, paper muffin cups

Mix dry ingredients, make well in the center, add egg, corn, milk & oil.  Stir until just moistened, don’t over mix.  Add paper muffin cups to pan, fill each 2/3 full.  Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes.

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Thursday Recipe Exchange: Wash Day Beans and Rice

Click on image for full size

Since this is the weekly recipe exchange, when I settled on red beans and rice, I decided to go googling around the internet and see what everyone else thought red beans and rice should be. I stumbled across the photo above and knew I had to include it tonight. The recipe isn’t that much different from what I’ve been making for years. If it’s good enough for one of my favorite performers, it’s good enough for me.

I live within walking distance of a Lucille’s restaurant that I do not visit often enough. Mostly because it is open only for breakfast and lunch. A week or so ago, I realized I really wanted their Wash Day Lunch, but didn’t see how it would fit into my schedule that week. Then I remembered I had a big jar of Lucille’s spice in my cupboard. The solution seemed simple, I’d make a batch of red beans and rice, tonight’s featured recipe.

Of course, JeffreyW has his own take on this, with great photos to accompany his Red Beans and Rice with Pickle Pork (click here to see it, you know you want to).

For tonight’s featured recipe, I threw on my Zydeco cds and started chopping and sautéing. Set it to simmer all day and finished it off with some delicious buttermilk corn bread.

Red Beans and Rice

  • 1 lb. Kidney Beans
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Water or vegetable broth
  • 6 small Ham Hocks or one smoked Pork Butt, wash well and pat dry
  • 1 tbsp (or more as desired) of Creole spice, I favor Lucille’s
  • 1/2 lb. of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced*
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 links andouille sausage

Saucepan or dutch oven, skillet

Preparation

Wash beans thoroughly, cover them with cold water and soak overnight. Pour water off, cover with fresh water and cook until tender. I use a pressure cooker, because at this altitude it’s the only way to get tender beans and it takes less than 30 minutes. Once tender, drain and add chopped tomato, Creole spice, ham hocks, a bit of water or vegetable broth and simmer on low.

In skillet, cook bacon until slightly crisp, drain on a paper towel. Add to bean mixture.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of bacon fat from the skillet, add diced onions, bell pepper and carrot. Sauté on medium heat until tender, add garlic, cook additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add everything to the beans, turn to low and let simmer at least 3 hours, ham should be falling off the bone. I like the idea of simmering all day for the best flavor. Add more water or broth as needed to keep it from drying out.

About an hour before serving, I sliced the sausage in half lengthwise and browned on both sides in a skillet, I then added it to the bean mixture to simmer.

*carrot is optional, but I find it adds a nice sweetness to the dish.

Serve over rice with corn bread. Makes 6 good sized servings.

Rice

I used brown rice for this dish and loved the flavor with the spicy bean mixture.

  • 2 cups brown rice, rinsed
  • 2 cups water

Saucepan or pressure cooker

Add water and rice to pan, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low and cook until all water is absorbed, about 45 minutes with traditional saucepan and 25 minutes with a pressure cooker.

Super Bowl Recipes: Quick and Easy Chili

I’m nursing a cold, so I put together a spicy chicken soup and let it slow cook all day.  It was the perfect dinner when I returned from work.  That was not the first recipe I was going to try.  I was going to try one of the many recipes I’ve stumbled on since I bought the new crock-pot.  It seems I have under estimated the usefulness of slow cookers and am now going to really explore some new ideas like meatloaf and scalloped potatoes – both favorite dishes that take too long for week nights when baked in the oven.  If you have any favorite slow cooker recipes, hit the comments, I’d love to hear them.

But until then, I put out a request on facebook for favorite Super Bowl recipes.  I was rewarded with some great ideas.   Well start with my oldest brother’s chili, including stove top and slow cooker instructions.

Chili layered with fritos and shredded cheese Photo fom Fritos.com

From Gary:

Quick and Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3-5 Jalapenos finely chopped (depending on heat)
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • Lg. can V8 Juice
  • 2 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Original Ro-Tel
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Brown ground beef and drain. Saute jalapenos, green pepper, onion and garlic. In large pot combine all ingredients bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered for at least 30 minutes.

In my house we serve chili with fritos and shredded cheddar, layered in a bowl – fritos, chili, cheese and more fritos.

Slow Cooker instructions:  Following instructions above, add everything to slow cooker, cook on high for 15 minutes, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 6 to 8 hours.

Also, if you are serving at a party, you can cook in large pot above for 30 minutes and then transfer to slow cooker on low or warm to keep it hot during the festivities.

Tuscan Bean Soup

Winter is all about soups and stews for me.  There is nothing like a kitchen filled with the smells of a simmering pot of goodness. Who cares about the gloomy day outside when you can serve a steaming hot bowl of soup or stew with a nice loaf of  bread or biscuits.

Bean soups are high on my list of favorite soups.  And since discovering the joys of cooking with a pressure cooker, using dried beans are snap.  I know many people are purists and say that dried beans are the only way to go, but honestly I have never found canned beans to be lacking.  They are quick and easy and I like the flavor just fine.  So by all means, if you want to make life easier, use canned beans.

And to get us started, here is a nice bean soup.  I’m not a big kale fan, so I only added 2 cups and added spinach as well.  You can easily add as much kale as you like, the original recipe called for 2 whole heads.

Serves 6 easily.  Serve with a nice garlic bread.

Tuscan Bean Soup

  • 14 oz canned kidney beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
  • 14 oz canned cannellini beans, or 1/2 cup dried, soaked overnight*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound diced pancetta, or bacon
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock (low-sodium)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 sprig rosemary (remove before serving)
  • 1 tsp dried basil, or 1 tbsp chopped fresh
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, for serving

Place the beans in a medium pot, add water to cover by 2-inches and bring to a boil. (If using canned kidney beans, skip this step.) Turn the heat down, let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until just-tender.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta, rendering the fat and cooking until slightly crispy about 3 minutes. Sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Add the diced tomatoes, the cooked and drained beans and the chicken stock and water. Add spices, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, then add the kale and spinach. Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender.

Pressure Cooker instructions:

*At this altitude, soaking does nothing, so I skip that step. I rinse them well and then I pressure cook the beans for 30 minutes before starting the soup. It can be done the night before and refrigerate the drained beans. They will be just tender, drain and add to soup as per directions above.

 

Taco Soup: Slow Cooker and Stove Top Methods

Yesterday 3 inches of snow brought the Front Range to its knees.  Very unusual, we’re deep snow people, but I guess it was because it was so warm before and the temps dropped dramatically, it created a skating rink just as morning rush hour began.  I wouldn’t know because when my alarm went off and the traffic guy on the radio described the doom and gloom on the roads, I decided to work from home. After I slept another hour.

This morning at work we were talking about how much we love soups and taco salad, so Taco Soup didn’t seem that far of a leap. I usually like to do my own seasoning, but let’s consider this a quick and foolproof soup, using some tried and true ingredients: taco seasoning and Ro*tel style tomatoes. I won’t tell. If you’d like to make your own taco seasoning, JeffreyW had a recipe here. You can cook this in a slow-cooker or on the stovetop, the directions for both are below.

Taco Soup

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 4 cups of water or tomato juice
  • 15 1/2-ounce can pinto beans
  • 15 1/2-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans Ro*tel-style tomatoes (use your heat preference)
  • 6 oz diced green chilies
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • Corn chips, for serving
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grated cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • Pickled jalapenos, for garnish
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Black olives for garnish

(all garnishes are optional, of course)

Brown the ground beef and onions in a skillet; drain the excess fat, then add 1/2 taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water, stirring well. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Stir in the liquid, beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, jalapenos, remaining taco seasoning, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours (alternately you can simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove). To serve, place a few chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with garnishes.

Pasta e Fagoli Soup

I’m surprised I have not posted this week’s soup before, but it seems, according to the search feature (at the top and bottom of the blog  – search a recipe or ingredient and you’ll find all sorts of good stuff on the blog), I haven’t.  So in honor of my new friend Fennel Seed, I’m making this tonight.  I’ll add a tsp of fennel seed to the original recipe, having no doubts it will add a nice flavor to this pasta soup.  I’m also going to add some leftover spicy Italian sausage.

Pasta e Fagoli Soup

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 15 oz can white northern beans
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 8 oz ditali pasta

large saucepan or dutch oven and small saucepan

In saucepan, brown beef, add spices and mix in well with meat, add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté 3-5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) and let simmer 30 minutes on a medium, stirring frequently. In small saucepan, prepare pasta according to package directions, cooking to al dente.   Drain completely and add to soup, simmer on low for additional 10 minutes.

Easy Dinner: Chili-Mac

Chili-Mac

  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp to 2 tbsp chili powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

2 qt. saucepan and skillet

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain. While macaroni is cooking, heat oil in skillet, sauté onions & peppers. Add hamburger, brown & crumble. Add hamburger, tomatoes, beans, chili powder, salt & pepper to drained macaroni. Stir, let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.