Monday, September 22, 2014

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna soup

I found a recipe titled "lasagna soup", read it, and knew I could make it WAY, WAY, better. This is authentic Italian lasagna soup, not some bastardized American version that has no flavor. If you want the real thing, this is the recipe for you. It will drop jaws, raise noses and get you kisses, I promise!

- 7 cups of water
- 1 T beef consume (condensed form of beef broth)*
- 3 cans organic diced tomatoes(14 oz)
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- Half of a large yellow onion
- Half a cup of carrots
- 10 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 T dried basil
- 3 T dried oregano
- 1/4 t dried red pepper flakes
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 pound lean, organic, ground beef
- 1 1/2 cups Portabella mushroom pasta sauce (muir glen) or pasta sauce of choice
- 1/2 an eggplant, cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 cups dried pasta noodles of choice (spiral shapes look the best)
- 1 cup Ricotta cheese **
- grated Pecorino Romano or Mozzarella (optional)

Heat oil in a large stock pot. Chop garlic, onion, and carrots in food processor or by hand, then sauté a few minutes. Add basil, oregano & red pepper flakes. Add beef, cook until about half way, then add water, consume, pasta sauce, tomatoes and bring to a boil. [Optional to puree the sauce a little with a hand blender, but it is not necessary, especially if you like it a little more chunky.] Once boiling add tomato paste, and pasta. Cook 8 min; check pasta tenderness. If just about done, add eggplant. Reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes. Stir often and check tenderness of pasta & eggplant until cooked through.

Serve in bowls. Top with crumbled ricotta and/ or fresh grated cheese.

I don't use broken pieces of lasagna noodles, because noodles look so much more uniform and inviting!

* I always use beef, vegetable & chicken consume. The brand I prefer is "Better than Bouillon" - see this Link . It is much more cost efficient, and it is available organic! Win, win!

** I make my own Ricotta, because it tastes about 100 times better than the store bought stuff. If you are fortunate enough to live in a city with a lot of Italians, you can find good Ricotta. Otherwise, you will only be able to find the mediocre kind, with lots of whey in it. Despite what you'd think, Ricotta is super easy to make. There are many recipes on Pinterest. This is the one I usually use:  Homemade Ricotta

Mangia! Mangia!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hearty Italian Chicken Soup with Orzo

Hearty Italian Chicken Soup with Orzo

- 30 oz leftover chicken drippings/chicken stock (see below)
- 6 cups water
- 2 pounds organic, ground chicken
- 1 cup of dried or sun-dried tomatoes (with or without olive oil)
- 1 cup dried Orzo
- 1, 1 ounce package dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into bite-size pieces (fresh mushrooms perfectly suitable as well, but the texture remains when using these)*
- 1 1/2 cups artichoke hearts
- 1, 14oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 giant elephant clove garlic, or 10 regular cloves
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 4 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- two small pinches dried red pepper flakes
- Half a package frozen peas (about 8 ounces)
- one zucchini sliced and quartered
- 1T Salt and 1 T pepper, more to taste, if needed

Makes a large batch, but great for leftovers or even freezing.

* I really wanted mushrooms in the soup and this was the only thing I had in the house. After a quick Google search I learned that shiitake mushrooms are extremely good for you. In they went! I'm glad I experimented with them, the flavor and texture was really good, and they did not become mushy or soggy.

For the chicken stock/ drippings I simply reserved all the juice from chicken I cooked in the crock pot the night before.  A glass jar works perfect for storage. The flavor of the stock is SOOO incredibly delicious and you waste nothing this way.

Spray crock put with olive oil. Chop the carrots, garlic, and onion in a food processor, or by hand. Mix all ingredients together in the crock pot. Cook on low 6 hours on low.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Beef Enchilada Stew (It's healthy & delicious!)

Enchilada Stew

This recipe, as listed makes a pretty large batch, which I wanted, so we had plenty for leftovers and to share with a friend. You could very easily half the recipe or freeze it for the future.

2 lb lean, organic, grass fed ground beef
2 cans beans (I used 1 can pinto, 1 can kidney b/c it was what I had on hand)
3 cans organic diced tomatoes
3 cans organic tomato sauce
1 can organic tomato paste
4 cups organic beef broth
1 cup quinoa (dried)
1 small red onion, diced *
1 small bell pepper, diced *
1 head garlic, or garlic powder & fresh garlic *
1 zucchini quartered and sliced
1 small can green chilies
1 cup frozen, diced poblano peppers (fresh, of course ok)
5 T chili powder
4 T cumin
6 T garlic powder (omit half or all if using fresh garlic)
4 T onion powder (add more fresh onion if desired)
3 T oregano
2 T salt
1 T pepper
1 t paprika

* Ingredients in italics are the basis for my enchilada sauce. I've tripled it here, since the batch is really big.

In a large stock pot, brown meat, garlic and bell pepper. Add all canned tomatoes and sauce, as well as beef broth, beans, green chilies, pablanos and seasoning. Bring to a boil, then add dried quinoa, and continue on a low boil until quinoa is cooked (check occasionally on spoon). Taste for flavor and season accordingly, if needed. Near the completion of the stew, add sliced zucchini and cook a few minutes longer until slightly tender.

The poblano and green chili's do not add a ton of heat, but do add great flavor, both are pretty mild peppers and are significantly less hot than jalapenos.

Serve and top with fresh, chopped cilantro, cheese, sliced avocado & sour cream, if desired.  It's really healthy until this last part. The sour cream and cheese can easily be left off, and it will still be amazing.

I think this recipe could be easily made in a crock pot, as well. I am planning on testing it out next time. My guess is about 6-8 hours on low, similar to chili. If you do put it in a crock pot, just stir well so all flavors are even.

Please let me know if you like it!!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh my gosh, blog, how I've missed you! It's been far, far too long! It seems about time to get back in the swing of things, inspiring, cooking and finding the simpler things in life. With that, I came up with this "amazebowls" recipe!

This morning I had a brainchild coming, I could feel it, sense it, smell it in the air. We had fall today, in West Texas in early September, that is too soon. It's still supposed to be in the 80's, not gloomy and certainly not raining all day! But, while sipping my Chai Tea, it came to me...."Stick to your bones, hearty's going to be raining all tonight....?!" I couldn't quite pin point it, I skimmed dozens of "shrimp and grits", "chicken stew", "chicken and okra" recipes...Nothing was quite perfect. I also kept coming back to one of the most phenomenal breakfast's I ever had at Brown Sugar Kitchen where I had Shrimp and Grits (I've made the recipe at home, and good Lord, it's amazing!). I just decided I'd make the perfect dish, with what I had, and what I wanted to put in it, alright?! Oh, and the real kicker --I wanted it to be fast, easy, fairly full of vegetables, ready when we got home from work, with little to finish, when our guest arrived. Is that too much to ask?  New dish, passes the crock pot test and fast. Y'all should love me for this one! Oh, oh, oh!! I even used dried peppers and frozen veggies in this, given the time, I would have opted for fresh, so I can imagine it would be even better!

Amazebowls Cajun Gumbolaya Chicken and Grits (where all the finer things meet and mingle)
Serves 6-8 hungry individuals


Cajun gumbolaya chicken, in crock pot 
- 2 1/2 lbs organic chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup bacon bits
- 1/4 cup dried red peppers. Use fresh if you have the time, 1/2 -3/4 cup for sure.
- 2 cans organic, diced tomatoes
- 2 cups frozen sliced okra
- 1 small package of sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup carrots
- 1 small onion
- 3/4 cup sliced celery (I always save the tops of stalks & leaves for stews, and this is the perfect use for them, because it adds so much flavor!)
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 4 T Butter (how much better does that sound than 1/2 cup?!, I know, right!)
- 3/4 head of garlic (elephant garlic is so much easier, just fyi)
- 1 t paprika
- 1/2 t cayenne pepper
- 1 t cumin
- 1 T black pepper
- 1 T salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 T dried parsley

- 2 cups organic old fashion grits, cooked to time as indicated on package
- Use chicken broth for water, my package suggests the broth for my flavor.
- 4 T butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cream
- 3/4 grated white cheddar (*or close enough) cheese
Grits are cooked separately just before you are ready to serve your dish.

Just a disclaimer, I am all about making a recipe yours. I give suggestions, but do what you think is going to be best for your taste. *Cheese, come on, it's ALL good, use what you have!

Combine mushrooms, onion, carrots and garlic in a food processor. Chop until small pieces remain. In a crock pot, combine all ingredients, including chopped vegetables, and chicken. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
About 30 minutes prior to serving, boil amount of water indicated on grits package. Season with, 1 T garlic powder, 1t pepper, 1t salt, cheese and cream at completion.

Dish up the goodness!!!!
Best served in wide, shallow bowls. Layer grits, followed by chicken mixture. Prepare to have mind blown. Yep, remember there are vegetables and organic chicken in it!

Yes, yes, even me, who almost always opts for the organic or natural version of foods stoops to buying real bacon bits. Why, because life is too short not to have great good, and when I'm pressed for time, a bit of bacon goes a long way. I don't always have the luxury of cooking uncured, natural bacon. I think I'd weigh 200 lbs!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

End of the Bag Hatch Chips

I absolutely LOVE these chips from HEB. When I get to the end if the bag, where all the small bits and flavors are, I empty the remainder into a container. The small bites are perfect sprinkled over chili, Mexican casseroles, or even over black beans. Zero wasted food, is a plus, too!