Green Bean and Pasta Salad

I haven’t made this, but my sister Julie, her hubby, and their two-year old loved it. That is good enough for me! She got this recipe from realsimple.com.

Julie’s notes: I changed a few things. I make the vinaigrette in the big bowl I’m going to serve in. I use: the juice 1 lemon,  3 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon dijon, 1 tsp honey, salt, pepper. I don’t let the pasta and green beans cool – I put them right into the dressing. Then I add the red beans and the parsley and mix it all up. I don’t add the parmigiana cheese until I’m ready to serve – so you can just use it as a garnish in case of allergies. It doesn’t need the cheese to be delicious. And the two beans plus pasta are very filling – Dan didn’t need anything to go with it.

 

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Braised White Beans

We first had these in a Greek restaurant called “Zoe’s Kitchen.” My sister figured out a way to duplicate the amazing white beans they make. These are finger-lickin good. You need a few hours to let them simmer.

Ingredients:

4 cans white beans (great northern) drained but not rinsed

4 cloves garlic

1 onion

fresh rosemary, 1-2 sprig

1/4 c. olive oil plus 2 T

salt and pepper

chicken broth, about 1 cup

Instructions:

I used my ceramic Dutch oven pot so I could saute, boil, and bake in the same pot. If you don’t have an oven-proof pan, you will need several different pots. Begin by drizzling the pan with the 2 T of olive oil. Saute the onion with 1/2 t salt until soft, 5 minutes. Add the pressed garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 min. Then add the unrinsed beans, chicken stock, rosemary and 1/4 c olive oil. Cook on high until bubbly. Then turn the heat way down and simmer with the lid on for a nice long time. Keep your eye on it – you may need to add more chicken broth if starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. After an hour or so, use a potato masher (or spoon) to mash some of the beans, maybe half. Season with salt and pepper. Stir, and place in a 300 degree oven for another hour or so. Enjoy with corn chips, pitas, over brown rice, or out of the bowl!

top ten things to do with that Crock Pot

Here is this week’s Tuesday Top Ten. {Yup, it’s Thursday}. 

Is there really anything more wonderful that walking in the house, starving, and smelling something amazing simmering in crock pot? There probably is, but you get the point. Here are some ideas to use that perfect fall appliance 🙂 

  1. Crock-pot Mexican Chicken, served over rice on tortillas. Highly recommend!
  2. Old Timey Beef Stew – Paula Deen’s recipe, in the crock pot.
  3. Pasta Fagioli via crock pot – serve with italian salad and rolls, if you wish.
  4. Becky Lee’s Pulled Beef Barbeque – my blog’s winning recipe!!! Delish!
  5. Slow Cooker Pot Roast
  6. Crock-pot Rotisserie Chicken – I recently made this and it is soooo good. Melts in your mouth!
  7. Roasted White Beans – this is a knock-off dish from a local restaurant called Zoe’s. You might think, beans, that’s it? Waste of a dish? But nooooo, trust me. These beans are so good. You will eat them on tortillas, aside chicken, as a dip for corn chips, out of the bowl, and, probably, for dessert later. They are great. Just follow the recipe except with a crock-pot. Make sure you use enough olive oil. *Recipe coming soon* (or ask my sister Julie:) 
  8. Turkey Breast – Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cook until tender. Serve with mashed potatoes and frozen green beans.
  9. Black Bean Chili – the classic crock pot dish, with a twist.
  10. Sweet and Sour Party Meatballs – {omit eggs and substitute rice milk, and you have the perfect – allergy free – party dish!}

CONTEST WINNING RECIPE!!!

I owe my cousin Rebecca Wetzel the credit for many good things in life. She introduced me to the world’s best dog, the dachshund. She knows how to make nachos, and the best toppings for pizza. When I wondered what the difference between conservatives and liberals was, she was the first person I asked. (And her tenth-grade explanation was probably better than any I would articulate now.) She pioneered the path to Grove City College, where I found my closest friends, met my husband, and – in about every way – grew up. She is a hero of mine for many reasons, and her culinary art is just cheese on the fries. (Get it? Icing on the cake?)

Rebecca submitted two of her all-star recipes for my blog’s recipe contest. This Pulled Beef Barbeque recipe is terrific. I think the first time I had it was in Rebecca’s apartment where it had been simmering for a few hours. If I remember correctly, I ate it for about three meals that day. Here are Rebecca’s notes.

This came from Taste of Home about 18 yes ago or so. It is designed to be eaten on rolls as a sandwich, but if allergies prevent that, it would be good straight of the plate, too. This can be made ahead of time. It reheats very well, especially in a crock pot.

4 lbs chuck roast (it can be in more than one piece)
3 Tbs cooking oil
2 large onions, minced
1 cup ketchup
1 cup beef broth
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs worchestire sauce
2 Tbs yellow mustard
2 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper

Add the oil to a deep skillet and brown the beef on all sides. Remove the beef and place into a roasting pan. Add all other ingredients to the skillet. Bring to a oil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Pour this liquid over the beef. Cover and roast at 325 for 2 hours. Flip beef over. Cover and roast for another 2 hours. It should be tender enough to easily pull apart with a fork Remove the meat from the roaster and shred. Put the shredded beef back into the liquid and mix together.

I highly recommend this recipe. Goes great for Saturday football days! Thanks for passing along, Rebecca!

New Feature: Tuesday Top Ten

Welcome to a new feature! I love making lists 🙂 Check in on Tuesdays for top ten somethings! In the interest of full disclosure, it may not always be Tuesday, there may not be ten, and, heck, it might be more like “good things” instead of “the TOP.” But whatever. 🙂

So without any further adu, today’s list is….Top Ten Fall Soups. I love soup this time of year. My only problem is somehow it ends up being 80 degrees on the day my soup is boiling on the stove. But we still enjoy it.:)

Top Ten Fall Soups

  1. Caribbean Sweet Potato Chili – This soup has two strikes. Weird flavor combos (sweet potatoes ? caribbean? soup?) But also, it is by Sandra Lee, who definitely has a knack for matchy matchy kitchens, but I am not in love with all her recipes. But trust me here, folks…YUMMY.
  2. my mom’s Chicken and Dumplings (recipe coming)
  3. Black Bean Soup 
  4. Pasta Fagioli – Olive Garden anyone? Now if I could only have the breadsticks…
  5. Tortilla Soup – Okay this is more of a summer recipe. But heck, avocadoes are still on sale. This is a great recipe.
  6. Ham and Bean Soup – don’t hate. It’s awesome.
  7. French Onion Soup (love this recipe…uses Balsamic Vinegar instead of wine!)
  8. Roasted Vegetable Minestrone – I have not actually made this version of minestrone! Sorry…but it actually looks better than the one I made, so I will be trying it soon.
  9. White Bean and Chicken Chili – I get cravings for this once a month. Odd. Yet, not? 🙂
  10. Old Timey Beef Stew (it’s what a man wants.)

What’s your favorite soup?

Yummy Fall Recipe: Rachel Ray’s Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Pork Chop with Cider Gravy, Sauteed Apples and Onions

This allergy-friendly recipe was DELICIOUS. Unfortunately, pork chops are my nemesis. All I will say is to make sure you cook them for MORE than this recipe says and make sure they are done :). I will leave it at that. But truly, this was such a wonderful recipe and perfect for fall.  Way to go, Rachel. Oh, and I’ll also add this. It’s probably better for a night you will have an extra hand with kids, if you have kids. It is a little time-intesive just at the very end. But very worth it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Salt
  • 4 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, yellow or red, thinly sliced
  • 2 Gala or Golden Delicious apples, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons butter (dairy-free)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 rounded tablespoons orange marmalade

 

Directions

In a medium pot add sweet potatoes and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until fork tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

 Season chops with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes on the first side until deeply golden, turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes more with a loose foil tent over the pan. Remove cooked chops to a plate and cover to keep warm. Add another turn of the pan of olive oil, add the onions and apples. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and cook until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Douse with juice of a lemon and remove onions and apples to a bowl; keep warm.

 Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet, melt then whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in cider and 1 cup of stock. Season the gravy with salt and pepper. Thicken 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

 Drain cooked sweet potatoes and return pan to stove. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and combine with marmalade and 1 cup stock. Add potatoes and mash, season with salt and pepper.

 Serve chop covered with apples and onions, gravy poured down, and sweet potatoes aside.

Rosemary White Bean Soup

This week I made this recipe from Ina Garten. My little guy loved it, and so did my landlords (also known as my parents). I served it with La Brea organic wheat bread and a delicious salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette(see below for recipe). Note: I used canned beans. I used four cans of them, and only 4 cups of chicken stock. Also, SOO much easier with an immersion blender. I am almost tempted to ask for one for my birthday.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried white cannellini beans
  • 4 cups sliced yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large branch fresh rosemary (6 to 7 inches)
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl, cover the beans with water by at least 1-inch and leave them in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Drain.

 

In a large stockpot over low to medium heat, saute the onions with the olive oil until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes. Add the drained white beans, rosemary, chicken stock, and bay leaf. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until the beans are very soft. Remove the rosemary branch and the bay leaf. Pass the soup through the coarsest blade of a food mill, or place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Return the soup to the pot to reheat and add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Mix equal parts good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup (the real, expensive kind :). Add salt and pepper to taste. Yum!

 

Easy Friday Night Family Meal = Chicken Parmesan, Hold the Parmesan

I hate cooking on Friday night. Back when we were married with no kids (and life was easy but we didn’t realize it), we were always exhausted on Friday and argued for about an hour over where we should go eat dinner. Of course, now I realize we COULD go out and eat whenever and wherever…life was good! Now, it’s not feasible to go out because of Todd’s schedule (and grouchy kids) so we eat in. I have come up with a few easy, yet “special” meals for our family to eat. Here is one…Chicken Parmesan, Hold the Parmesan.

Ingredients:

Spaghetti Noodles (rice pasta if you wish)

Jarred Spaghetti Sauce – (Warning: avoid Ragu Chunky Garden Sauce…has cheese in it!!! Learned that the hard way!)

Frozen Chicken nuggets or patties (Tyson and Coleman’s Organic are dairy-free, Ian’s Gluten-Free is another option)

Mozzerella for your husband 🙂

Instructions:

You can probably put this one together in your head 🙂 Cook pasta, heat sauce, cook tenders in oven. Layer: noodles, sauce, tenders. Enjoy an easy meal! I acted like it was a fancy restaurant meal and served coke with it. Sam thought it was a special occasion!

Homemade Cream of Mushroom – Allergy Friendly

Listen, I’m not saying I’m not a little disgusted by the plopped out cold Campbell’s cream of mushroom. Would I ever eat it alone? NEVER. however, it unfortunately pops in a few rather yummy-sounding (to casserole-loving me anyway) recipes. And then comes the dilemma. Because, of course, cream of mushroom has three strikes in our household. One, it has MSG. Gross. me. out. Two, it has enough sodium for two days. If I were going to eat that much salt,  HELLO, I’d have a big mac. And three, of course, it has milk. So I usually just find a new recipe. But the other day I was craving pork chops, and I was craving SMOTHERED pork chops. With cream of mushroom soup. So I invented a homemade, dairy-free one! Thought it might be useful for anyone else who either doesn’t like the commercial cream-of-mushroom or needs it allergy-friendly. It was great!

{See below for mushroom-topped pork chop recipe.}

Ingredients:

  • a carton of fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • one onion, sliced thinly (or diced, if you prefer)
  • rice milk 1-2 cups
  • 1 T flour or cornstarch, whichever you’d prefer
  • olive oil
  • dried thyme, oregano, and garlic
  • 2 T dairy-free butter
  • 1/2 c. organic chicken broth
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • thoroughly wash mushrooms
  • drizzle olive oil in pan and heat until shimmering
  • saute mushrooms and onions with salt and pepper. They should be cooked until very soft.
  • Add 1/2 t dried thyme, oregano, and garlic.
  • Add butter to middle of pan. When melted, mix in flour. Use wisk to mix it in.
  • Add chicken broth and rice milk. Cook for 8 minutes or so until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe suggestion: I browned my pork chops for five minutes on each side in olive oil, covered in foil, prepared my mushroom sauce and poured on top. We all enjoyed it!

 

Allergy-friendly quick and easy meal your husband can make when you haven’t gone shopping

Now that I’ve gotten your attention with that mouth-watering title, I need to give a disclaimer. I would heartily recommend ANY of those delicious recipes on the right to anyone who wants a good meal. This recipe is not really one of those types. I am listing this meal here for moms of kids with allergies like Sam, to make on “one of those days.” Today, Saturday,  was “one of those days.”  We had a busy day and arrived home at 5:30, all of us grouchy and starving. No groceries, no meal plan, no ideas. It is always a challenge with kids like Sam who are protein-challenged. The staples aren’t an option. Mac and cheese? Nope. PB and J? Nope. Grilled cheese? Oven pizza? No and no. So I was pleasantly surprised when I made this with Sam in mind – and liked it! Actually, check that, my HUSBAND made it. So you know it’s simple! 🙂 It is nothing special but perhaps another family grouchy and with bare cupboards could try it and like it!

Ingredients:

Fun shaped box of pasta (Sam likes shells)

Especially yummy jarred spaghetti sauce (as it will be the star of your un-gourmet meal…I used Bertolli’s 🙂

Olive oil

Jar of great northern beans

salt and pepper

 

Instructions:

Cook pasta, heat sauce, wash and drain beans. Combine pasta and sauce with a handful of beans per bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You’ve got your protein (beans), fat (olive oil), and carbs (pasta!) And, yes, it was actually tasty!!