Friday, January 30, 2015

Chicken and Barley Soup

Would you agree that it is definitely soup season? Brrrrrr-baby it's cold outside; how about some soup? This is super easy and "souper" good.

Olive oil
Pkg of boneless chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
1/2 large fennel bulb, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 t grated lemon zest and wedges for serving

In a soup pot, season the meat with salt and pepper and then brown the thighs quickly in some olive oil over high heat (7-8 minutes). Chicken will not be cooked through yet. Transfer to plate.
Add the carrots, fennel, onion, celery, some and salt and pepper and cook, stirring 6-8 minutes. Add the broth, barley and chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and 1/4 t salt in a small bowl.

After 40 minutes, remove the chicken and shred and return to soup. Serve the soup topped with parsley mixture and with lemon wedges. The lemon in this is really nice-don't skip :-)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Crockpot Eggs? Really?

Sometimes you just have to try a recipe to believe it. I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Kayln's Kitchen and I figured if she thought it tasted ok then I might as well try it. I always make my fritattas in the oven but hey, why not the good old crockpot? It was very tasty and the texture was good-who knew? I like to think I'm a life-long learner--ha! I served this dish with shredded hash browns topped with a bit of sharp cheddar--pretty good Breakfast for Dinner if I do say so myself.

Slow Cooker Frittata with Artichoke Hearts, Roasted Red Pepper, and Feta

(Makes 6 generous servings; recipe adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

I used a (6-Quart) slow cooker to make this frittata, but any large 5-6 quart oval slow cooker will work.

1 can (14 oz.) small artichoke hearts, drained and cut into small pieces
1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers. drained and cut into small pieces
8 eggs, beaten well until yolks and whites are completely combined
4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
1 tsp all-purpose seasoning--I used Herby which is made by Frontier
fresh-ground black pepper to taste
2 T chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Pour out artichoke hearts into a colander placed in the sink and let them drain well. While they drain, slice the green onions and crumble the feta. Spray the slow cooker insert well with non-stick spray.

Remove artichoke hearts to the cutting board and pour out the roasted red peppers into the colander to drain. Cut the artichoke hearts into fairly small pieces (quarters, or smaller if they're large) and put them in the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Cut the drained red peppers into pieces about 1/2 inch square and put them into the slow cooker. Add the green onions to the slow cooker.

Beat the eggs until whites and yolks are completely combined and then pour eggs over the vegetables in the slow cooker. Use a fork to gently stir, so the artichoke pieces, red pepper pieces, and sliced green onions are well distributed. Sprinkle the crumbled Feta over the top and season with all purpose Seasoning and freshly-ground black pepper.

Cook on low for 2-3 hours or until the eggs are as firm as you'd like them and the cheese is melted. I cooked mine about 2 hours and 45 minutes and then took the top off the cooker and let it sit about fifteen minutes.

Cut into pieces while the frittata is still in the slow cooker. Serve hot, sprinkled with chopped parsley to garnish if desired. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sausage & White Bean Ragu over Buttered Gnocchi

I browse around on various food blogs and am always amazed at the beautiful food and photography that I see. Of course, many of these people are professional food bloggers but still their sites are awesome. One such site is Half Baked Harvest This young woman is not only a great cook, but also a fantastic food photographer. Her recipes always look beautiful and delicious. Recently she posted a slow cooker recipe that I could not resist and I'm here to tell you that it was just that: totally toothsome! I made a few slight adjustments given what I had on hand. The tiny sausage meatballs are just adorable. My pictures are not as gorgeous as hers but we surely did enjoy her recipe!

Crockpot Sausage & White Bean Ragu over Buttered Gnocchi

  • 1/2 of a sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 4 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper
  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1 pound gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • fresh basil and parmesan cheese, for topping


To a 4-8 quart crockpot, add the two cans of tomatoes. Add the onion, garlic, broth, seasoning, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir.
Now grab the sausage and roll it into very tiny, bite size balls, adding the meatballs to the crockpot as you go. The smaller you can roll the balls, the better. Gently stir the sausage into the sauce. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 20 minutes before serving, stir in the kale and white beans. Crank the heat up to high, cover and cook another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package directions and then toss with 2 tablespoons butter and a little fresh basil + parmesan.
To serve, divide the gnocchi among plates or bowls. Top with the ragu and then garnish with basil and parmesan. Enjoy!
  • Preparation time: 10
  • Cook time: 6-8 HOURS

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fennel, I Think I Like You

For the longest time I haven't really thought that I cared much for fennel. I'm not sure why but tonight I decided to try a dish that I spotted in the THE WEEK magazine and fennel played a pretty large role. I was dubious but willing to give fennel a chance. Wow, this dish was really quite good--if you happen to eat meat. The recipe is for a pork tenderloin cut into thin medallions and dressed with the fennel sauce.

Pork Medallions with Fennel White Wine Sauce

1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh sage
3 T olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin cut into medallions
salt and pepper
1/2 large fennel bulb cut into small dice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup beef or chicken broth

Smash and chop the garlic and combine with the chopped rosemary and sage.

In 12 inch skillet, heat 2 T oil over high heat. Salt and pepper the pork. Add the medallions in one layer and cook undisturbed 1 1/2 minutes and then flip for another 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate.

Add the remaining oil and still over pretty high heat add the fennel and some salt. Cook for a minute, stirring. Add the herb/garlic mixture and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and the broth (and any meat juice from the pork plate) and boil down for a minute.

Serve with pan sauce over the medallions. I served with some quinoa and cooked carrots with honey and lemon. Yummy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sausage & Peppers Sub

Sometimes you just feel like a sub, don't you? This is a nice combo and you can add or delete condiments that appeal to you.

1 lb smoked chicken sausage, cut diagonally
1 green pepper in strips
1 onion in strips
4 garlic cloves, chopped
some olive oil
salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, some red pepper flakes
1/2 can tomato sauce
maybe a 1/4 cup salsa
some shredded cheese
yellow pepper rings
sub buns

In large skillet, brown the sausage pieces well. Remove to plate. Add the pepper and onion and cook for 6 or 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add the spices. Add the sausage back to the skillet and add the tomato sauce and salsa--if mixture seems too thick, add some water (1/4 cup). Stir well and then cover and simmer for 1/2 hour.

When ready to serve, ladle mixture into sub bun, sprinkle with cheese and add hot pepper rings (if you wish).