GF/DF Italian Sausage & Brown Rice Soup

sausagekalesoup1Soups on! I want to jolt back to 2010, when I probably could have written a book just about anything delectable that goes into a bowl, slurped up with a spoon! THAT was a seriously cold and snowy winter. So much cold, means so much soup that needs to be in my belly :). Tom Yum, Cream of Mushroom, Creamy Potato, Chicken Noodle, Chili, Chicken Tortilla, Cheeseburger Soup. What a great year was that!!

Well, since the world started spinning reverse on its axis, and I can’t eat anything awesome without my stomach paying the price and feeling like crap for the next day and a half. No more creamy delicious soups for me (unless I’m inhaling Lactase pills to compensate)!  Woe-is-me!
On the bright side, this has just jet-streamed an alternate path of creative juices, to pair new ingredients together, as well as attempting new recipes not yet conquered or developed!

Mass prepping and left over ingredients are becoming an absolute must for me. I work late, I work out late, and get home later. By the time I step thru the door it’s typically pushing 8pm. That then leaves 3 hours to make dinner, clean the kitchen, wind (or WINE) down, and sit for about an hour before going to bed. I’m exhausted just writing that.

Leftover Italian Sausage, yellow and orange peppers, charred poblano peppers from stuff mushrooms really turned out to be a great idea for a sore throat, coughing, hacking, sick….me.

Fat burner, belly warming delight in a bowl. Boom. This is one of those dishes that isn’t the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your life. Nor should it be. Everyone’s taste is a little dulled when they’re under the weather. Broth, veggies, and a little kick of Italian Sausage seems like a good way to kick the end of this cold. It was. Soup ya!

Italian Sausage & Kale Soup
(serving size, 2)

3 cups of chicken broth
1 cup ground Italian Sausage, cooked
1/2 cup brown rice, prepared.
1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
6 Bella mushroom, chopped
1/4 cup kale, chopped

Directions
1. Cook your brown rice, this will take 30-45 min
2. Brown Italian Sausage in sauce pan
3. In the same saucepan, on medium heat, dump the rest all in!
2. Simmer for 30 minutes, or as long as it takes your brown rice to cook
3. Poach an egg
4. Dump soup in bowl, add two tablespoons of brown rice to each bowl, and place poached egg in the middle.
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GF/DF Black Bean Soup

blackbean2This month, as you know, is Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free for me! I’ve caved a few times, not gonna lie. Some of them may, or may not have been after a bottle of wine…or because I’m pretty the bag of chips  started speaking to me (I ate 3…lol). Although it’s been a challenge to completely change my diet, I feel SO much better than before I started it. I was just sick to my stomach, EVERY time I ate, and I definitely feel more alert and not tired during the day.

This lifestyle change is absolutely inconvenient, haha! It’s almost impossible to snack, and breakfast has been a real challenge which is heartbreaking, since it’s my favorite meal. I really miss my eggs+french toast…like, a lot.
Or…my homemade Pepperoni Egg-McMuffins. Sad.
The flip side of feeling better is just about worth it though 🙂 I don’t miss feeling like a filled up balloon all the time, and dropping 10 lbs since last week didn’t exactly break my heart either! Heading to Mexico in a couple of weeks, so getting the summer bod back is an absolute necessity!

Going out to eat-is a pain in the butt, and tempting, so I’ve been staying home…A LOT. I miss being able to pick out anything on the menu, and the only things I want are things I’m not supposed to have. I try to force my eyeballs immediately move to the salad section, and I try not to glance around any further for fear of ordering and eating a whole plate of french fries.

I’ve found myself coming home and getting irritated that I haven’t planned ahead enough for dinner. Having something thawed out, or recently purchased and ready to go is not something I’m real skilled at 🙂 I’m a professional “wing it” kind of dinner person.  I’m going to have to start pre-planning my weeks a little better, remembering to plan meals so I have things already thawed out, or make my trips to the grocery store verify specific to that week, so everything is fresh.

A night this week, I stumbled in the door after a long day at work, I was exhausted from the gym, and starving. I wanted someone to make ME dinner… but that ain’t gonna happen, so I started fumbling thru the cabinets. Everything convenient (aka awesome) was pasta, cheese, or pizza related. I just stood there aimlessly staring at the same items in the pantry and fridge…for a good 15 minutes, by minute 14 I was convinced that God actually hated me for taking all my favorite things away. After checking the fridge now…for the 13th time, my eyes finally set on a Tupperware of beans I’d soaked the night before in attempts to try dried black beans for the first time. hmmmm….

I’d eaten enough salads to bore a cow this week, and it was an entire 3 degrees outside… and then….* light bulb *. SOUP. Boom, on it.
Black bean soup, is just so…different. It is its own category of soup. I’m not even real particular about the consistency, since there are so many varieties of thin to creamy.
I glanced around online at a few recipes and then just started playing around in the kitchen- which turned into a fantastic new recipe!!
Awesome new recipe accident? Check. This was phenomenal.
The in-depth flavor profile completely took me by surprise. For me, what really made this one a home run, was coffee. Weird right? I’d used a little instant coffee packet the day before for a protein shake additive, and had a half packet leftover-which just gave me a little wink in the cabinet. The warm simple flavors were good, but the coffee really brought it around and turned it into decadent dish. It doesn’t overpower anything, but you can taste the resonance at the end of your spoon, it’ll make you happy. Promise

Black Bean Soup
Serves 2
2 cups Black Beans, cooked. This is a half pound of dried.
(I soaked mine overnight in water, and then boiled them for 10 minutes) I would not recommend using canned here, they won’t stand up as well.
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
2 jalapenos, slice in half, remove the seeds
1 tsp oil (I used sesame oil)
1/2 packet of single serving instant coffee
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
s/p to taste

Directions:
1. Take the black beans you soaked overnight, and boil them for about 10 minutes if they’re not tender enough and drain
2. In your pot, add oil, garlic, and onion on medium heat, let cook for about 10 minutes, then add the beans back in
3. Dump in the rest of the ingredients (that was easy…wasn’t it)
4. Simmer for about 20 minutes
5. In your food processor or blender, blend! Add back into your pan and simmer again for 5 minutes to bring the temperature back up.
** You can pick your consistency here, if you want to thin it out, just add more water/or broth!

Lasagna Soup

lasagnasoup1I’ve really, really been into soup lately. It’s easy, it smells delicious, and there is something about being able to let all your ingredients soak into each other for hours that just grabs my attention. We typically do a Sunday soup in the winter because I can start it at noon, and let it stew and come together slowly in the crockpot or Dutch oven. By the time I get home from errands and a trip to the gym, I can open the door and become immediately engulfed in the perfect pairing of stewed meat, garlic, and whatnots that have been nestling together all day. Boom!

Normally I would have attempted this recipe with Spicy Italian Sausage, but I still have a couple pounds of extra lean deer meat in our deep freeze, sold! I just can’t get enough of it, and I love adding it to soup or pasta dishes to switch things up a bit. Next time I’ll try the sausage, but it makes me nervous, this combination was so stinkin’ good I just can’t imagine it any other way right now. Even Brad was all about eating leftovers for several days…which NEVER, EVER, EVER happens.

Everyone knows I love homemade ricotta. I will ALWAYS recommend making your own, as long as you have the people in your house to eat it. Freshly made ricotta really doesn’t last more than about a week in your fridge, which is a shame, so it’s hard for me to finish a whole batch by myself (but making Ricotta Cheesecake with the leftovers is a great idea!). I really, really, dislike store bought ricotta. I tend to ‘give it a shot’ a couple times of year, and it’s just not appetizing. In fact I don’t think it tastes like anything, I always end up trying to doctor it up, or use it for texture in another dish. I guess that’s my personal punishment for making ricotta from scratch at home, it will just never compare to anything that comes from the store. If you ever make your own, you’ll notice a night and day difference between the smell, taste, and subtle sweet flavors, it’s bizarre.

This particular recipe combines the ricotta with grated/shredded cheese, so I didn’t mind as much purchasing the smallest container at the store I could find, since I’m not eating it solo. Really it’s about the texture here since the shredded cheese and salt/pepper mask the ‘twang’ the store bought ricotta has. I compare the ‘twang’ to leaving your tea bag in your cup for too long. It’s still drinkable, but it gets almost a little bitter….see what I mean, a ‘twang’. 🙂

*I used my Dutch oven for this round, but feel free to use your crockpot, set on the lowest setting possible. Also if you’re in a time crunch, you really only have to let it simmer for 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table.

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Adapted by A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Lasagna Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 ground pepper
1 lb. ground venison (hamburger or sausage will work as well)
1 cup of onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground oregano or 2 tsp of dried
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (cut this in half if you’re spicy sensitive)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
3 bay leaves
8 cups water plus 10 tsp of beef bullion

2 cups Cavatelli Pasta, prepared (feel free to substitute another shaped pasta)

Ricotta Topping
I made this for two bowls of soup, so you can half it if you’re using it for a single bowl reheat.

4 Tbsp. of ricotta
4 Tbsp. of Italian Cheese blend (Mozzarella or Parmesan work great too)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Directions
1. In your Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add your venison. Cook until browned.
2. Add your onions and let cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. You want them to reduce in size by half.
3. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Add tomato paste, make sure to mix very well, incorporating completely and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and prepared water/bullion, stirring to combine.
6. Bring pot to a boil and then reduce heat to low. If you’re using a Dutch oven, cover with Dutch oven lid. Even on low this will simmer with the lid in place, simmer for 3-4 hours on low or until you’re ready to eat.

15 minutes before serving

7. Prepare you pasta al dente separately right before you’re ready to serve. By adding in the pasta separately the pasta stays firm instead of getting mushy from absorbing the soup liquid. While pasta is boiling, prepare your ricotta mixture.
8. Combine your ricotta, cheese, s/p. I used a fork to really smash it all together. The consistency should be enough to form it into a loose ball.
9. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
10. To serve, add 1/4 cup of prepared noodles into each bowl, ladle desire portion of soup, then split the ricotta topping between the two bowls. Garnish with fresh basil.

Chicken FRITOS® Soup

ChickenFritoSoup2As the weather starts to cool, soup begins to warm my thoughts. It soothes the soul and makes the cold a little more enjoyable, for those of you winter haters. Soups are so simple, and time is their best friend as the flavors blend meld together all day in your slow cooker. I love walking in the door after work all day and inhaling all the mouth-watering slow-cooked aroma that my crockpot has magically produced all day without me having to touch it.

I actually got this idea from a basic Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe I saw in a weekly ad, however, we happened to not have many of the ingredients, or it involved things Brad wouldn’t go near (big surprise). Per usual, some of my favorite new recipes start off as me trying to follow a recipe, then completely going off-course allow for an accidental new recipe. Oh well, that’s the fun part of cooking, you don’t always have to follow recipes, soup ones especially, you can mix and match anything you want, or just whatever is stocked in your kitchen.

Recently I’ve been trying to incorporate my new darling husband into meal-making. I think of doing this similar to having your kids help you with dinner. If they’re helping put it together, they eat better. Yes, I treat my husband like a child, at least when it comes to food. He would rather polish of an entire bag of Halloween candy for dinner rather than eat a vegetable, but the more I ‘ask for help’ the easier it’s been for me to get him to eat things he normally would pick out and shuffle to the side of the plate.

I really liked this soup, and even though it was in the slow-cooker the entire day, I think it was even better the next day as leftovers. The soup is broth based, with some cream added in at the very end, so it’s like a creamy soup’s….cousin. I was trying to save on some calories, so I used 1/2 and 1/2 instead of cream, and I just topped my bowl with cheese. Brad likes a creamy soup, so I stirred in a tablespoon or two of shredded cheese in his which thickened it up right away. Neither of us are huge fans of tortilla strips, and not their expensive, but it would have been an extra trip to the store, and we pretty big fans of FRITOS® so this was a no-brainer trade!

Added bonus, we had plenty of leftovers, the first day we both brought soup to work, and the following day, we just scooped the soup into mini-Cassoulet dishes lined with biscuits for a quick homemade pot-pie. Hubby had a great time playing with the biscuits making the base and the crust 🙂

Chicken FRITOS® Soup

3 cups of shredded chicken
3 cups of chicken broth
1 can of peeled tomatoes, then pulverized
1 small can of green chilies, undrained
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 can of corn, rinsed
2 jalapenos
1 tbsp and 1 tsp lime juice (or a whole fresh squeezed lime)
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 tsp of cumin
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup of 1/2 and 1/2
1 handful of shredded cheese (we use Kraft Mexican Blend)extra cheese for garnishing

1. In a slow cooker combine all of the ingredients except for the 1/2 and 1/2 and cheese, mix well. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Stir in 1/2 and 1/2 and cheese until combined.Let the soup heat up again for another 10 minutes.

3. Ladle soup into bowl, top with your favorite ingredients like cheese, cilantro, or sour cream then top with FRITOS® , or get the FRITOS® Scoops instead of a spoon!

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Crockpot ‘No Bean’ Chili

nobeanchili2I woke up Saturday morning, and my house was 58 degrees. Unacceptable. As our first chilly weekend has come to pass, I get overwhelmingly excited to have NO excuse to go and play outside, allowing me to be locked indoors all day and play in my kitchen. First day below 55 degrees and all I can think about is Chili, Cinnamon Rolls, Apple Butter, and Caramels. (I may or may not have accomplished 3/4 of that list Saturday afternoon)

I love summer, but man, I love winter, with just a little extra enthusiasm. I’m sure this isn’t news to any of you that know me, yes feel free to yell your curses at me regarding my love for cold weather, but remember who feeds and provides you with delicious winter treats all season. *this girl*

It’s taken me about 3 years to work away from the chili I grew up on. My mother’s chili is sweet on its own, but then loaded with extra brown sugar. It’s been quite a challenge to teach myself to be open to other variations, since MOST other variations are not sweet. Now that I’ve had a few years to develop my own favorite chili flavors, I have a few things that I keep in my bowl every time, none which include brown sugar or Campbells Tomato Soup (sorry Mom).

As you know, I love anything that is customizable, I hate having to follow an exact recipe every time, no fun there. I love being creative, but it’s also a necessity in my household since Mr. Husband, can be so picky. He’s never liked beans, ever. Just another thing to add to the list of his dislikes beneath mushrooms (aka fungus), and anything that grows out of the ground that’s green or red. Oi.

Saturday’s challenge: making a chili that would please both Mr. Husband, and myself. I had to sadly look at all my cabinets and shut the door quietly to all the different bean variations and tell them ‘next time’. If I’m going to get him to try his first Chili ever…it’s not going to happen with beans in it.

Ok here it is, probably one of my favorite chili’s to date, and there wasn’t even beans in it. (If you have a picky eater like I do, add your beans separately at the end) But, the great news is, it passed the Husband test, I wasn’t expecting him to like it, but he didn’t spit it out, bonus!

Want the quick cinnamon roll recipe to go with, checkout my 1 Hour Cinnamon Rolls while your chili is in the crockpot!

Crockpot ‘No Bean’ Chili

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 jalapenos, diced (I didn’t remove all the seeds, but some, my jalapenos from garden are VERY hot!)

6-8 tomatoes, seeds removed ( I know you’re not supposed to leave the rind on, I did…still turned out awesome)                                                                               **If you don’t have tomatoes at home, use 2 cans of whole peeled an cut them to desired portions.

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 lb of ground beef

2 brats, removed from the casing (I use two beer brats, local)

3 cups of beef broth

2 shots of whiskey

1 tbsp of dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp of cumin

1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp pepper

1. Ground your beef and brats together, drain of any fat, then add to the crockpot. For the brats I usually slice them in half, then squeeze the meat out.

2. In the same saute pan (don’t clean it) add 2 tbsp of oil, then your onions and garlic on medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes

3.  De-glaze the pan with 1 shot of whiskey,  add your red pepper and jalapeno’s, cook for another 5 minutes, then add to the crockpot.

4. Add your tomatoes, and oregano, cumin, chili powder, pepper, and the second shot of whiskey.                                                                                                           ( If you want to add a can of beans here feel free, I personally use black beans.)

5. Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours. Taste as you go starting at the 5th hour. Also, the longer you cook it, more the spicy peppers you add will cool off. If you want to add more kick, keep the seeds in the jalapeno, and/or just add another one.

6.  I top my chili with sour cream AND shredded cheese, maybe another jalapeno if I’m feeling risky 🙂

This is a smaller batch, I would say it’s approxmiately 4-5 servings, if you’re looking for leftovers, double it.

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President Potato Soup

baked potato soupWinter, the perfect time to spoon as much soup in your face as possible. You know the other great thing about the perfect winter day and making soup? The most amazing aroma, bacon and cream. If bacon ran for President, it would win. President Potato Soup?

All though the only thing that could make the best soup better is a bread bowl, which I didn’t do… I was so overwhelmed with the bacon aroma in my house I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. President Bacon wins again. Easy to make, cheap ingredients, and takes no time at all to throw together. Creamy, rich, and smooth, with all your favorite toppings to finish it off just the way you like it!

President Potato Soup

6 Russet Potatoes (sliced into 1/8ths, skin on)

5-6 slices of bacon

3 celery stalks

1 onion, finely diced

2 tsp minced garlic

7 cups of chicken broth (low sodium)

4 tbsp flour

4 tbsp butter

1 1/2 cups of half and half

2 japanenos, chopped (optional)

1 cup sour cream

green onion

cheddar cheese

1.Slice your russets in half, and then each half into fourths. Place them in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until softened, drain water.

2. While potatoes are boiling, begin frying your bacon. After it’s crisp, chop finely and set aside. Pour off the grease but do not clean your pot.

3. On medium heat in the bacon pot, add your celery, onions and garlic, cook thru about 4 minutes, then add your potatoes (and japapenos).

4. Add in your broth and butter to the pot. In a separate cup, mix your half and half and flour with a whisk. Once combined add to the pot.

5. In small batches add to a blender until you get a smooth consistency (I just used my hand blender since I cut the batch in half). Once you have a smooth consistency of the soup, keep on low-medium heat, careful not to boil and add the sour cream.

6. Top each serving bowl with bacon green onion and cheddar cheese.

Red Roma Gazpacho

Why am I dumb? Fresh farm (and free) tomatoes at my taking any time and I’ve never done a gazpacho? Is this just a non-Nebraska thing? I’ve never seen it here, nor have I seen it on a menu for that matter. I found a pretty good basic recipe in the paper this week, and decide to do some digging around and make my own version. If you have a couple of lbs of tomatoes lying around, 10 minutes, and a blender…pretty sure you can make gazpacho. No joke. This is just stupid simple, not to mention…just a breath taking dish to look at.

Have problems lighting your kitchen on fire, burning all your dishes, no idea how or what spices to use in a dish,or can only make things out of can/box??? Have dying to try something legit to impress your friends and no skills??….HERE IT IS! I have no idea why I’ve been holding out on this for so long. I’m sure the fact that ‘Cakes’ doesn’t like tomatoes (but loves tomato soup….??) has something to do with it. I try to pick the evenings when he’s busy to play with things I know he doesn’t like so this was obviously one of those.

Jalapenos, olive oil, romas, and red onions steal the spotlight.

This is a great dish for a starter or even just a light summer afternoon dish. Best thing about this is how NOT-complicated it is. You can make this list of ingredients as long or as short as you want. You just have to taste as you go and let your palette guide you. Just a few minutes to blend it all together, and a couple of hours in the fridge, and you have the classic, Spanish dish.

Yep those are almonds. Delicious!

Tip: So…make it and it just wasn’t something you loved? Add more avocado and serve with tortilla chips or my new favorite multi-grain crackers from Special K! Set on the coffee table while your watching the football season get kicked off…they’ll disappear…promise.

Summer Red Gazpacho

  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • Couple splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • Couple splashes of red wine vinegar
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Put it all in the blender, and let it go! Make sure to taste as you go to figure what you need to add. Top it off with chopped cilantro and a slice of avocado. Let chill in the fridge at least a couple of hours, you want it cold.

Side Note:  Do your taste buds a favor…pair this with a bold red wine.