White Beans with Leeks and Thyme ‘Slow Cooker Friday’ Stew or Soup

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That ended up being quite a long title, but the ingredient list is all the shorter to make up for it. And yes, I realize it’s not Friday ūüėČ

Shorter days and all the holiday activity can leave you tired and sleepy. It’s darker earlier and after the hustle and bustle of the holidays most don’t feel like doing as much as on a sunny summer evening. Add to that the weeks of overindulgence that usually lead up to the end of the year, the lethargic feeling that comes with it and you know you really don’t want to cook at all. But luckily to your aid comes the slow cooker! After a long week of work or entertaining, you deserve to come home to a meal that’s good, good for you and won’t break the bank! Prepare in the morning and decide if you want soup or stew on your way home! (Sorry there are no picture of the soup, we were too hungry and it was dark out, but let me tell you, it was yummy)

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I used a 2 qt size round cooker for this recipe. Makes 4 servings if you add some Chicken Sausage Patties on the side.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb dry white beans ( I have used both baby lima and regular dried lima beans) rinsed
  • 1 cup leeks, white and light green parts only, (from about 2 stalks) cut into rounds and cleaned well*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cube Rapunzel (no salt added) bouillon
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups water
  • (optional) pancetta or speck as a topping or chicken sausage patties as a side

* Leeks can trap a lot of dirt, so submerge the cut rounds in cold water and move pieces around with your hands, changing the water a couple of times if necessary until no more ‘sand’ collects on the bottom

imageHere served with a nice slice of 10 grain sourdough for a vegetarian dinner (resuscitate your sourdough starter in the back of the fridge, you will need it for this yummy bread, recipe coming up soon)

Directions

  1. Rinse beans well, then layer into the slow cooker and add 3 cups of water.
  2. Add the cleaned leeks, salt and thyme sprigs.
  3. Turn your slow cooker to high and wait 5-6 hours until beans are fully cooked, adding water if necessary. (On low the recipe will take longer, about 8-9 hours)
  4. When you get home, either serve as is, or add another cup of water and using a hand held blender, puree the beans and leeks until smooth, adding more water if you like a thinner soup.
  5. Cook some chicken sausage patties until nicely browned and serve along the stew or cook a slice or two of Pancetta or Speck, crumble and top your soup with it

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Chicken Sausage Patties

Chicken Sausage PattiesSausage can be a mixed bag of tricks. Store bought it often contains a lot of fat with¬†the flavor that we all want. But if you want to control fat and sodium content, blending up your own patties (unless you know of a great source that makes chicken sausage from just breasts) is often the only choice. It’s quick and cheap and oh so versatile! Trim all visible fat from the chicken breast prior to making these.

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless chicken breast half, coarsely chopped (1/2 to 3/4 pounds)
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons scallions or onion to taste
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika, sweet
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs such as parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper pieces, red and green (about 1/4 pepper each)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper, (optional, to add some spice)

Directions

  1. Pulse all the ingredients except the peppers in the blender until chopped, but not pasty
  2. Stir in the pepper pieces and using a table spoon, form into 2-3″ patties.
  3. Cook in a hot skillet until cooked through and nicely browned. (Or bake in a 375¬ļF oven)
  4. Can be made in advance and frozen. When needed just pop in the microwave or defrost and heat in the toaster oven.

Serve as a side with soup or White Bean Stew with Leeks and Thyme

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Roasted Garlic Dressing

Let’s face it, most of us like creamy dressings to go with our salads, at least every once in a ¬†while. I have lately been hooked on lemongrass-mint white balsamic from Seasons¬†and could eat salad with just that on it. Yep, nothing else, no oil, just¬†that. It’s especially good on baby spinach with pomegranate seeds. But I digress, back to the subject: creamy dressings. The problem with salad dressing and especially the creamy kind is the caloric impact they tend to have. So you decided to have a ‘light’ lunch, a salad, but guess what, that commercial dressing you just poured on made it have more calories and in some cases more fat than a burger. So what to do? Your ticket is flavor, the more flavor your dressing has, the smaller the amount you need, plus making it at home allows you to control exactly what goes in it. For days like today, when it’s snowing and sleeting,¬†when a cold meals just isn’t the answer¬†you need something hearty that can stand up to a warm winter salad. Greek yogurt provides the creamy texture and garlic and Parmesan the flavor.¬†Slow roasting the garlic makes it surprisingly mellow, totally taking any bite out of the taste. This one will keep in the fridge for about a week (it might keep longer, but it never lasts that long in my house), the only thing is the olive oil gets solid in the fridge, so let the dressing come to room temp before using, or heat like in the recipe above.

Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • (optional) Pancetta crumbles

Directions

  1. Gently heat oil in a small skillet or shallow pan over low (yes, trust me) add the sliced garlic in one layer. Slow roast until starting to turn golden and beginning to caramelize, about 20 minutes, turning pieces over about half way through. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a mini food processor, combine roasted garlic and olive oil from the skillet, salt, pepper and cheese and pulse to blend, then add the Greek yogurt and vinegar and run the machine until well blended and thick.
  3. If desired, stir crumbled roasted Pancetta pieces into the finished dressing (you can cook them in the same skillet you just used for the garlic, no need to add any oil)

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Avocado, Sweet Potato & Corn Salad

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What’s better than a healthy meal? A healthy meal that’s easy to make, tasty AND portable. Here’s another installment in our ‘lunch salads to go’ series. Assembled in a mason jar, layered so the dressing stays on the bottom until needed. Substantial enough to hold you over until dinner time, and when you mix the avocado with the citrus dressing first, the salad can be prepared ahead and will keep for 3 days in your fridge without turning brown.

Makes 1 two-cup jar

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Ingredients

  • 1 tsp minced shallot
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/3 cup sweet potato, cooked, cooled, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup sweet corn (from a ‘no salt added’ can)
  • 2-3 radishes, sliced thinly
  • 4 slices red, hot chili pepper (optional), diced
  • 3-4 tbsp Citrus dressing

Directions

  1. Toss shallots and avocado with the citrus dressing, then layer into the glass jar, followed by sweet potato, the corn, the hot pepper (if using) and finish with the sliced radish.
  2. Store in the fridge until ready to use, then shake the jar until the dressing mixes throughout, use a fork, eat right out of the jar, or invert onto a plate.
  3. Enjoy.

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Citrus Salad Dressing

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 lime, juice only
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 pinch to 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Stir honey and salt into lime juice until dissolved
  2. Stir in mustard, then add he olive oil and stir until well blended

Use on salads, particularly anything with avocado, to keep them from turning brown

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Cranberry Orange Cream Scones

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After happily taking the frozen cranberries out of the freezer, I came to the realization that there was no butter. None. Desperation set in as, how were those cranberries going to find their way into scones, if there wasn’t any butter to be had? ūüôĀ I even checked the corn-butterer, you know that little square contraption that fits a stick of butter for the purpose of easy application to a corn on the cob? But nope, I came up empty. And if you have ever looked up any recipes for scones, you know they all include a minimum of 6 tablespoons of butter, often more. I could have gotten out of my comfy-cosy pants and gone out into the dark December night to find me some butter…

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However that really wasn’t my plan, especially once I discovered it was raining. So here is my solution, I used cream instead, plus a ¬†bit of coconut oil. So instead of a traditional scone recipe with lots of butter and cream, just cream. I think it’s a fair trade-off. They are were very yummy too, but judge for yourself, don’t just take my word for it. You know you want to, you know you have some cranberries in the freezer. Come on, it’s okay, just do it. And takes no time at all! By the time you have the dough mixed, the oven is just getting hot enough!

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tbsp raw sugar for sprinkling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp orange extract/orange essence

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400¬ļF ¬†(200¬įC)¬†and prepare a baking sheet
  2. Mix flour through baking powder
  3. Add oil, egg, cream and orange essence, stir to combine.
  4. Stir in cranberries.
  5. Drop dough by the 1/4 cup full onto the lined baking sheet, sprinkle the raw sugar over top and bake 22 to 25 minutes (cut time down if your cranberries are not frozen, try 16-18 minutes) or until slightly browned on the bottom and golden on top.
  6. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Makes about 12

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Thai Beef Salad to go

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Last Tuesday it snowed and today it’s 65F! Crazy weather for a 4th of December. If I were back home, I’d be making ‘Gr√§ttim√§nnli’ tomorrow, so they are ready for December 6th, and it was a firm plan, but how could I follow through when it is SUMMER outside? So instead I am going to mix things up and post a take along salad recipe. Most folks don’t eat badly because they want to, but because they fail to plan. With this series of recipes I am hoping to help you battle the lunchtime rush and have some healthy options on hand. I was going to start with a winter salad, something that can be warmed up, since I am not a huge salad eater in the winter, but seeing that it is summer today…

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You need a two or four cup glass mason jar per serving. The jars seal well, are BPA free, re-usable forever and stack the salad items so the dressing stays away from the more delicate items until you’re ready to eat. For this one I suggest extra greens, beyond what fits the 2 cup jar. So either pack them in a little bag or go for the bigger jar (added weight). Take a fork along, shake it up and eat right out of the jar (bigger jar only), or bring a bowl and you have a fantastic lunch everyone will be eyeing.

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Ingredients

Dressing (makes enough for 3 servings)

  • 1 tbsp garlic (about 1 clove), minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tsp dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (this is the oriental kind, it’s dark)
  • 1 tsp sambal oelek
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 2-3 tbsp Thai fish sauce ( I prefer tiparos brand)
  • This will make enough for 2-3 servings

Per Jar you will need:

  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced grilled steak
  • 1/2 medium tomato, cut into wedges
  • 2 tbsp julienned carrot
  • 2 packed cups of greens (spring mix, romaine or anything hardy works well)
  • some sliced chillies and crushed peanuts as topping (optional)

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Directions

Make Dressing: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Store any leftover dressing in the fridge and use within a week.

Then make the jars:

  1. Into each jar layer the ingredients in the following order: the steak, then pour 4-5 tsp of dressing over top, follow with tomato wedges, carrot, and greens.
  2. Top with some chilies if you like to spice up your life and crushed peanuts if desired. Close the lid and store in the fridge until ready to go!

Note: The dressing makes enough for 2-3 servings, so why not make dinner, and a jar for tomorrow? Or have a side salad with dinner and make 2 jars for y’all to take to work.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Chickpea and Rosemary Soup with Pasta

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We woke up to the quiet of the first snow. It started snowing sometime during the night and by this morning white was blanketing the fields and trees and keeping the birdies busy coming to the feeders all day. Since there was much laundry and computer work to be done today, soup always is favorite. What am I saying, soup always is a favorite anyway and the past couple of weeks, Tuesday has turned into a soup day, and we get to benefit from the big spoils for the rest of the week. Doesn’t it make any meal more special if you start with a small bowl of soup?

Oh well, here I go again with my justifying soup eating. Frankly, soup is one of the easiest things to make. Period. You can make soup even if you think you have nothing in the house. Last week I made a creamy cauliflower soup, all it used was a half a head of cauliflower, some onion, broth and half a red pepper that needed to be used, for a little splash of color. Any vegetable hibernating in your fridge can be used, leftovers can be added. And if you have beans in the freezer and some stock, you’re set, really.

Today’s simple soup was not based on leftovers but pantry staples. And there are a few options and changes that are easy to implement. It uses one can of diced or stewed tomatoes, which you then blend smooth in your blender, but you could also use your own tomatoes, or leftover spaghetti sauce. In fact I have made this with half a jar of Vodka sauce before, and it was fantastic (cut down on the cream/ half&half) And even though you are adding about a cup of cream or half and half, at 8 servings, you are talking about 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream per serving. Less than most put in their coffee, so go spoil yourself and use real cream, like I did. And since you are adding Parmigiano to the soup, you could also use up the cream you skimmed off your raw milk and then didn’t do anything with, and now it has been a week and it is starting to separate. Yes, stick it in here, it will be just fine ūüôā

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, cut into rounds
  • 2 stalks (risps?) celery, diced
  • 6 cups water or broth (make sure to reduce salt if using broth)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • about 2 cups of jumbo pasta shells*
  • 1 pack ¬†of chick peas¬†(or 14 oz can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 pack cannellini beans or 7 oz/ half can
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups pureed tomatoes (1 can diced, pureed in your blender)
  • 1 scant cup cream (or half&half)
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Parmigiano Reggiano and rosemary sprigs for serving

* Feel free to use any pasta you like, I prefer the big shells as they seem to ‘catch’ the chick peas just so…

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Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in your favorite stock pot, add the garlic and cook for one minute before adding the onions and the vegetables. Turn heat to medium and cook until softened and some pieces on the bottom begin to brown. Add the rosemary and the salt, then add the water or broth, and bring to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, blend the tomatoes until smooth. Then add to the stock pot.
  3. Once the soup is boiling, add the frozen beans (or the drained and rinsed beans from the can), return to boiling the reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the flavors have blended nicely.
  4. In a glass or bowl, mix the flour into the cream. Set aside.
  5. Turn the temperature up and add the pasta. Cook  8 minutes until al dente or according to package instructions. Two minutes before pasta time is up, add the cream, stir and finish cooking.
  6. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve with shavings of Parmigiano and some additional rosemary on top.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Mushroom Gruyère Tart

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This past weekend I was on a mission to not go out and buy more, but use up all the odds and ends that can accumulate in your kitchen and fridge over the week. In my case that involved some mushrooms that were begging to be eaten and the large chunk of cheese that I bought and had not made much of a dent into looked like a contender as well. Add an open container of cottage cheese and you’re talking! And pie crust is always easy and cheap to make, you can even make a large portion ahead and freeze it for later.

And in the tradition of a true leftover dish, this can be made without the mushrooms, add some leftover steamed¬†broccoli for example, Cheddar or other semi hard cheese can be substituted for the Gruy√®re. Play with it, it’s really easy to make something yummy if it is served in a pie crust. The result heats up well for lunch in a toaster oven or even as a light dinner with a side salad of spinach and pomegranate seeds. Ever¬†since I discovered how easy it is to get to the seeds,¬†I have been in love with the juicy little red things, when the weather gets colder, I know they will show back up in the stores soon ūüôā

Also I am super sorry for still not posting the Sweet Potato Spatzle I promised a little while ago. Turns out I was so exited making them, that I never wrote the recipe down ūüôĀ So I will have to recreate them before I can share it with all of you. Not like I mind eating them again so soon, lol.image

Ingredients

  • 1 single pie crust I (preferably whole wheat and homemade)
  • 8 oz brown button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz Gruy√®re ¬†cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (min 4% fat*)
  • 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt

*using lower fat contend can make the result dry

Directions

  1. Heat  a little oil in a skillet, cook the onions until they start to become translucent, then add the mushrooms and salt. Cook until both the mushrooms and onions are soft, then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oven to 380¬ļF. Roll out pie crust and fill a pie or tart pan with the dough.
  3. ¬†When the mushrooms are cooled down enough, add the eggs, grated cheese and cottage cheese (make sure you let the mixture cool down so the eggs don’t ‘cook’ when added) Stir well and fill into prepared crust. Smooth out the top.
  4. Bake in  the middle of the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until slightly browned and set in the center.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Grilled Pizza

With it being unseasonably warm again this past weekend, (as a disclaimer, I haven’t actually checked the average temperature this time a year, but somehow got used to the more frosty temperatures) I wanted to take advantage of my grill at least one more time. And, if you haven’t tried it before, pizza from the grill is the best! So following is a short tutorial on how to get the perfect Pizza off of the grill; and go ahead, have all the toppings you want!

This makes 2 pizzas, and serves four average sized appetites, however I have one time eaten a whole pizza in one sitting, not just a half, after a weekend out hiking and such. So I’d say depending on your level of activity.

    Ingredients, puffy pizza before flipping over, and toppings on ready to close the lid and let the magic happen!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups pizza sauce (store bought)
  • 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese
  • Flour, to roll dough out on
  • Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting
  • Assorted toppings of choice, some suggestions:
  • Olives
  • Sliced ham
  • Red peppers
  • hot pepper flakes or sliced hot peppers
  • Salami, sliced
  • additional cheese (like Fontina, or blue cheese)
  • Capers! (I love capers ūüôā )
  • Oregano and basil
  • Anchovies
  • Pineapple

Directions

  1. Heat your grill to high/hot. 
  2. In the meantime, prepare all the ingredients so you have them ready and they can quickly  be put on the pizza. Set aside
  3. Divide the pizza dough into two balls, place one on a generously floured surface and roll out until very thin (less than a 1/8″), don’t worry if it gets odd shaped. Set aside on a sheet or pizza peel dusted with semolina or corn meal. Resist the urge to fold dough in half, it can get sticky quickly, I tried it, I know…
  4. When the grill has reached at least 400 F (You can get a thermometer for your home grill, but I have successfully made this over open fire while camping, it just needs to be hot), rub the grates using your grill thongs and a balled up paper towel with a little oil on it.
  5. Now you’re ready to start the pizza: Slide the rolled out dough, one piece at a time from the peel onto the grill grates, then close the lid and grill until slightly browned on the bottom. (They may become big and puffy as the water evaporates inside the dough due to the high heat. Don’t worry about that, just poke them with your spatula before you flip them over.)
  6. Flip the pizza, and quickly spread the sauce onto the dough, from the center out until about 1/2″ from the edge. Spread with Mozzarella, then top with any of your favorite toppings. ( You want to do this quickly to not lose too much of the built up heat inside the grill) Close the lid and finish cooking the second side until bottom is browned and crisp and the cheese is hot, bubbly and melted all the way. On a gas grill it might be necessary to turn the heat down a bit at this time.
  7. Slide off the grill onto pizza peel, and serve.

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© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade