Category Archives: Soups

Kids In The Kitchen: Seafood Gumbo

Brandan immediately decided he wanted to make squid for his turn in the kitchen. Squid? Okay, but I have little experience with squid. I suggested calamari, but he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so we simply started to google “squid recipes”. I came across a gumbo recipe, and before I even read through it, he really wanted to make gumbo with squid. The decision was made. Only then did I thoroughly read through the recipe, and decided it was not a good recipe to follow. And then I started wondering whether squid was ever used in gumbo in the first place – I can’t think of a single Cajun or Creole dish that uses squid. I would have to improvise to make this work.

I have not made many gumbos in my life. There is one gumbo that is routinely made in our household – Emeril Lagasse’s Turkey Gumbo Ya-Ya. It’s awesome. And it’s not something I usually make – this is my husband’s signature dish, made only around the holidays. But I figured, if Emeril has come through for us in this dish, and others, such as my Shrimp Etouffee, why not here? I found a Seafood Gumbo recipe, and started from there, changing it up to accomodate a gluten-free diet, to include squid, and to simplify it somewhat, so that a 13-year-old boy could tackle it. (Gumbo is a long process!)

It was a success – even Brittany, who upon seeing the squid uttered “Eww, gross!”, loved her gumbo. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend squid in a gumbo, as it doesn’t really add much to the dish (the flavor of squid is subtle, and was somewhat lost in the heat of the gumbo broth), it certainly didn’t detract from it either.  Adding it at the last minute rendered the squid tender, not rubbery – a fear I had when composing this dish. Brandan, of course, had two bowlfuls. We might consider keeping a version of this dish on the menu, sans the squid and expensive crab. I imagine a cheaper, but no less delicious, version could include some smoked sausage or andouille, plus double the shrimp. Regardless of the proteins included, this was a filling and warming dish.

Now, I promise you, the next post will not be a soup. I am beginning to feel like this blog should be re-named “Tasty Soups At Home.” Perhaps a bit of variety is needed, no?

 

Seafood Gumbo, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/2 c canola oil

¼ c sorghum flour

¼ c sweet rice flour

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 c white wine

4 cups vegetable broth

1 8-oz bottle clam juice

1 bay leaf

¼ t dried thyme

½ -1 T salt

½ t cayenne pepper

2 t Worcestershire sauce

1 lb frozen shrimp

1 cup fresh crabmeat

1 lb squid, sliced thinly

¼ c fresh chopped parsley

¼ c chopped green onion tops

White rice, for serving

Place a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow to heat for about 5 minutes, and add in the flours. Stir for 20-25 minutes until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper and stir to blend. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring, then add the garlic. Cool the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the wine, vegetable stock, and clam juice. Add the bay leaf, thyme, salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If a good deal of oil or scum rises to the surface, skim it off.

Season the shrimp, crab, and squid with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the crab and squid to the pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Taste the gumbo and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Garnish with parsley and green onions and serve with rice.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Ham and Red Bean Soup

Growing up, I wasn’t fond of ham. I wasn’t a picky eater, but ham seemed so salty to me (So did bacon. Honestly, I wasn’t much of a pork eater back then). Now I understand that one ham is not necessarily like the other, and some can be quite delicious – not too salty, just a tad sweet, and full of that wonderful porkiness. This year, for Christmas dinner, I chose a spiral-sliced ham. It made Christmas dinner much easier to prepare, so I could focus on other dishes and relax. On purpose, I chose a ham that was twice as large as we needed to feed our small group, just so there would be plenty of leftovers. Leftovers for my parents and my brother to take home, leftovers for my husband to happily snack on (okay, I snacked a bit too!), and leftovers for soup. Because if there is a ham bone, there must be soup.

I opted to make this soup entirely out of what I had left over in my fridge and pantry. I had small African red beans, (Really, that’s what they’re called. I bought them at an African grocery, asked the lady at the counter if they were called something other than “African Red Beans” – as this was what was on the package. They looked like Adzuki beans, which I realize are not African - but she said “They’re red beans.” I’m going with it.) so I opted to use them instead of a more traditional Navy bean or split pea. With the addition of some leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and herbs, we were in business. After softening the vegetables in some olive oil and allowing the soup to simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, the house filled with the aroma of savory, beany, hammy soup.

I felt that this was one of the best bean soups to grace my kitchen. The ham gave the broth a big meaty boost, and the beans were creamy and released a silky texture to the soup. It was deliciously rustic, perfect for this long stretch of cold days we’ve had lately. And like any good bean soup, it reheated beautifully for my lunch the next day. Am I venturing into the “too many soups” category yet? I hope not. I plan to crank out a few more before the winter is over.

This soup is hearty enough to serve as a main course. I paired it with gluten-free crackers, but you could always opt for gluten-free biscuits, or a nice winter salad.

 

Ham and Red Bean Soup

3 medium leeks, green tops and ends cut off and discarded, washed well and sliced thinly (reserve one green top)

3-4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 t coriander seeds

1/2 t black peppercorns

1 t cumin seeds

1 T olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T tomato paste

1 lb small red beans, soaked overnight and rinsed

Bone leftover from ham (or you can substitute smoked ham hocks)

Water (approximately 10 cups)

3 c diced cooked ham

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Take the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and wrap the reserved green leek top around. Tie with butcher’s twine to secure. Place the coriander seeds, peppercorns, and cumin seeds in the middle of a coffee filter or small piece of cheesecloth, and tie into a bundle using butcher’s twine. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add tomato paste and saute for another minute. Add the beans, ham bone, the herb bundle and the spice bundle, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, partially covering. Allow to simmer for 1 hour.

Add the diced ham and chipotle chile powder and stir in. Allow to simmer until beans are soft and are just beginning to break open, another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste. Remove ham bone and pull any remaining ham from the bone and return to pot. Remove herb bundle and spice bundle, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

White Bean, Kale, and Tomato Stew

Apparently I cannot get enough soups and stews this season. But what’s wrong with that? They’re filling, comforting, and many times, can be healthy. Take this stew, for example. It’s vegetarian. (Vegan, even, if you omit the Parmesan.) It’s gluten-free. It’s packed with fiber and nutrition. But that’s not even the best part. It’s cheap to make, and it’s fast and easy! If your December has been as busy as mine has, this will be a blessing! I made this the other night for dinner, which left me with plenty of time to wrap presents. It was delicious and so guilt-free that I even had seconds.

I’m a bit ahead of schedule for New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve already decided on one resolution – to incorporate more vegetarian and vegan meals into our diet. The reasons are plentiful – swapping more plant-based foods for the meats means our grocery bill will be lighter. Meals can be healthier. And our carbon footprint will be smaller. While I am not aspiring to become a vegetarian full-time, I do acknowledge and appreciate the benefits that healthy vegetarian meals can provide. (Healthy being the key word here – while french fries, ice cream, and candy can be vegetarian, I am not opting to pick up a steady diet of such things.) This will be a bit of a change of mindset for me. I am accustomed to making a grocery list and planning meals according to what proteins (aka meat) is on sale that week, or what meat I have in our freezer. I will have to make a concerted effort to plan for at least one meatless dinner every week. I’m excited about it. I hope to share with you some meatless, gluten-free meal options very soon!

For now, I hope you’ll enjoy this quick stew.

White Bean, Kale, and Tomato Stew, adapted from Serious Eats

1 ½ lbs kale, larger stems removed, and leaves chopped (can substitute swiss chard or other leafy greens)

¼ c olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ t crushed red pepper

1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes

1 15-oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper

Grated Parmesan (omit for vegan)

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water. Bring to a boil and then toss in the kale leaves. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes or until leaves are tender (not mushy). Drain leaves in a colander.

Wipe out any excess water from the pot. Place back on burner and turn to medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, and red pepper, and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the beans and broth, and bring to a boil again. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

Reduce heat to a simmer and add the kale. Cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with Parmesan.

Serves 2-3.

Lentil and Sausage Stew

 This time of year, decadence reigns. Buttery, cheesy, rich – these are flavors welcomed in December. Chocolate-dipped, whipped cream-topped, caramel-filled? It’s the holidays; why not? And of course, only the prettiest and most elegant will do – perfectly shaped cookies and pretty cakes adorn most food blogs right now. Not that I’m pointing fingers; after all, I posted the most decadent hot chocolate ever just a few days ago, and I have plans to start baking cookies very soon – after I can stop drooling over others’ holiday recipes and narrow down my own “to do” baking list!

But there are many days in December that aren’t holidays. Many of the days in December we are rushing about and stressed, struggling to balance the preparation for celebrations in addition to our daily duties. Those days call for easy meals that still warm the soul and nourish our bodies. Those meals don’t have to be decadent (in fact, it’s best for our health if they aren’t!), and they don’t have to be fancy. Sometimes, simple and rustic is best. A lentil and sausage stew can be perfect for such a day.

I haven’t found many lentil recipes that I’ve truly been in love with. Yes, they’re healthy, full of fiber, a good source of protein; but most of the times, I’ve been on the fence about lentils. Apparently, I just haven’t looked hard enough. This stew changed my mind about lentils – the flavor is so big and bold in this stew that I couldn’t help but enjoy a rather large bowl. The jalapeno sausage brought just a hint of heat to the broth, but the vegetables and parsley truly brightened the flavors, and the smoked paprika added an additional depth. This was a stew I could make again and again. Which reminds me, I still have some left over. Lunch tomorrow? I think so!

Lentil and Sausage Stew, adapted from Good Life Eats

1 T vegetable oil

12 oz jalapeno smoked sausage, diced

½ large yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ t fresh thyme, chopped

2 T sherry

3 c chicken or vegetable broth

2 c water

2 c dried lentils

1 t salt

½ t black pepper

1 t cumin

½ t smoked paprika

1 bay leaf

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

1 c spinach leaves, packed

¼ c fresh parsley, chopped

In a large pot, add oil and bring to medium heat. Add smoked sausage and brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until tender, 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté another minute. Add sherry and scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Then add broth, water, lentils, and seasonings and bring to a boil. Add sausage and carrots and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes, or until lentils and vegetables are tender. Stir in spinach and parsley and serve.

Tomatillo Turkey Chili

tomatillo turkey chiliThis Thanksgiving, don’t throw away those turkey leftovers!

Remember the meat from those turkey wings and drumsticks I used the other day to make gluten-free turkey gravy? All that meat didn’t go to waste – it was used to make a delicious, warming turkey chili!

I actually purchase a larger turkey than necessary for Thanksgiving each year. I love the leftovers. They make great filling for enchiladas, sandwiches, or even taste good eaten cold, straight from the fridge, late at night. Not that I would know or anything. But now, the leftovers star in a spicy, flavorful chili. Or you could add crushed tortilla chips and call it tortilla soup. Whatever you call it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you try it!

Of course, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make a chili like this. You can use any leftover chicken or turkey, or you can even purchase a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and use it, if that’s your thing. It’ll all taste delicious in this soup. Heck, you could even go meatless, and use vegetable stock and add some cubed sweet potatoes or squash, and make a delicious vegetarian soup. It all sounds yummy to me.

If you can’t find tomatillos, you can substitute a 16-20 oz jar of bottled salsa verde/tomatillo salsa. Tomatillos are plentiful around here in Texas – but the cheapest ones are usually at the Latin groceries.

Tomatillo Turkey Chili, adapted from Simply Recipes

1 ½ lbs tomatillos, husks removed and cut in half

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut in half

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped

5-6 c cooked turkey or chicken, shredded

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 c chicken broth

½ c gluten-free beer (such as Bard’s Tale) – optional, but it adds a wonderful flavor

2 c diced tomatoes or tomato puree

1 t ground cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 t dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c chopped cilantro

Place the tomatillos and jalapenos cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Scatter onions and garlic around tomatillos and jalapenos. Place under broiler for 5-7 minutes or until skins on tomatillos blacken. Remove, and when cool, pour tomatillos, jalapenos, onion and garlic, including any juices, into a food processor. Pulse until well blended.

Heat a large stockpot to medium heat and add tomatillo mixture and chipotle pepper. Stur around for a minute or two, and add turkey, beans, broth, beer, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Immediately before serving, taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings as necessary, and stir in most of the cilantro, reserving a bit to use as garnish.

Optional: Top with sour cream and cheese.

Serves 5-6.

Celeriac Soup with Curry Popcorn

celeriac soup w curry popcornI think I need an intervention. This food thing? This continual desire to create, prepare, and taste as many delicious things to eat as humanly possible? It’s gotten out of hand. Not only do I read everything I can about food and cooking (hello, subscriptions to Saveur, Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Cook’s Illustrated, plus my ever-growing supply of cookbooks?), coerce my husband into watching shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef (he won’t watch No Reservations or Bizarre Foods with me), continually sign myself up for near-impossible tasks (let’s see how many different meats I can barbeque in 24 hours!), and talk to family, friends, and you, non-stop, about this food or that recipe. Nope, that’s not enough. Now, this food thing has entered my dreams. No, I don’t mean daydreams, I mean wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, OMG-this-is-a-genius-recipe-I-must-make-it dreams.

I woke up one night, dreaming that I was feeding my husband and myself celeriac (celery root) soup, garnished with popcorn. I think it must have been a strange combination of various recipes I’d read lately, jumbling themselves around in my head, that caused me to dream of this. I immediately woke up thinking that I. Must. Make. This. Funny, since I’d never eaten celeriac in my life. But somehow, I just knew. This was the epiphany; this was the recipe.

So a week or so ago (remember I told you how I’m behind on posting my recipes?) I set out to make this soup. I did grab inspiration from Rasa Malaysia (one of my favorite blogs) and her curry popcorn recipe, thinking that the blend of the curry and celeriac would be an intriguing flavor. And even with this idea being one that’s truly “out there” for me – it worked.

Not only did it work, but the combination of a creamy, celery-scented soup, and a punchy, bold, crispy popcorn? Addictive! I would stir some popcorn into my soup, top with more, making sure each bite was a balanced soup+popcorn mix. I had a huge bowl that night. (my husband, despite my dream of serving it to him, wasn’t a celeriac fan, it turns out. He didn’t mind the flavor of the popcorn, though!)  And lest you think this was a brief love affair that would quickly fizzle, I found myself loving this combo again for lunch the next day, and was sad when it was gone.

This soup makes for a lovely vegetarian dish – and is relatively easy to prepare. (It can even be made vegan if you opt to substitute olive oil for the butter, and hemp milk for the cream.) And of course, with the weather turning colder, a comforting soup may be desperately needed!

So, do I need an intervention? Am I the only one that wakes up from dreams about recipes? Please tell me I’m not alone on this one!

curry popcorn

Celeriac Soup

4 T butter

2 lbs celeriac (celery root – about 2 softball-sized roots), peeled and chopped

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 c vegetable stock

4 oz heavy cream

salt and pepper

In a heavy, deep pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celeriac, potato, garlic, leek, and onion. Cook until vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until celeriac is tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. (if no immersion blender, allow to cool for a few minutes and puree in a blender, in batches, if necessary) Return to heat, and bring to a simmer again. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and whisk in the cream. Top with popcorn just before serving, or alternatively, allow diners to top soup themselves.

Serves 4.

 

Curry Popcorn, from Rasa Malaysia

1 t cumin seeds

3 T butter

1 t curry powder (I used a gold Madras curry powder)

2 T canola oil

1/3 c popping corn

Kosher salt

In a small skillet, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove and crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the curry powder and stir with a heat-proof rubber spatula (I used a wooden spoon – be careful, as it might turn yellow permanently!). Bring to a simmer, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and popcorn. Swirl to evenly coat the popcorn. Cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Once the popping begins, hold the cover in place and shake the pan by moving it back and forth across the burner. When the popping subsides, remove the pan from heat and let rest with the lid still on for a few seconds.

Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Drizzle the curry butter over, while tossing the popcorn to evenly distribute. Sprinkle on the toasted cumin and salt to taste. Serve alone, or as a topping for celeriac soup. (I also imagine it would be wonderful with a gluten-free beer!)

One more thing - I have been showered with awards lately! I can’t keep up! In the past week, I have received 4 Kreativ Blogger awards from 4 terrific bloggers – The Chickenless Chick, Experimental Culinary Pursuits, Vegetable Matter, and Tasty Trix all graced me with this award.

kreativ_blogger

If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out these blogs, please do!

I’m supposed to share 7 interesting things you don’t know about me. (I’m wondering at what point, once I’ve done this a few times, have I satisfied this for all awards? Not that I’m not grateful, I am, it’s just becoming harder to come up with things!) Anyway, here goes!

1. I was in choir when I was in middle and high school. Show choir, even. (Yup, choreography, costumes, and a pasted smile on my face while I’m singing – all of that fun stuff!) There was a time in my life where I honestly thought that I could somehow sing for a living. Looking back, I’m glad I don’t. I love music, but I don’t think I’d like being in the limelight all the time.

2. I like going grocery shopping. I’m sure I’m not the only foodie out there that shares this characteristic. I actually enjoy it – especially if it’s at a grocery where there’s cool and interesting stuff to be found, such as the ethnic groceries, farmer’s markets, or gourmet/specialty shops.

3. When I was a child, I loved to read. I couldn’t read enough. One of my favorite sets of books to read were these Time/Life science books - there was a book about the human body, a book about astronomy, a book about light (about about 20 others). They were really cool. What’s wonderful to me is that my parents gave this set of books to me a few years ago, and now I can share them with our kids.

4. Unfortunately, for the most part, our kids would rather play the Wii than read these books. (They do come in handy for assistance with homework sometimes, though!)

5. I love watching Mythbusters. I think that they have some of the coolest jobs in the world. I mean, honestly, how many people get paid to blow stuff up in the name of science?

6. I am generally not a picky eater, but I cannot stand chocolate-glazed donuts or eclairs. (This precedes my going gluten-free, but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to eat gluten-free versions either!) I imagine that not many people share this dislike. But seriously, I cannot force myself to take a bite of one of these donuts. No matter how amazing you tell me it is.

7. I love the rain. Mind you, lately it has been testing my patience (we’ve had about 10 inches in the past month), as the floods cause so many issues, but if I’m sitting inside, or on the porch, I love to watch it rain. I even love the big thunderstorms.

Now I’m to share this award with seven bloggers!

1. Cindy at Jacob’s Reward, because her blog is always a joy to read and she makes me laugh.

2. Terry at Blue Kitchen, because everything posted is drool-worthy.

3. Ellen at I Am Gluten Free, because her baked goods are awesome, I’ve made her gluten-free cinnamon rolls. Yum.

4. Erin at $5 Dinners, because who doesn’t love budget-friendly cooking that also tastes good?

5. Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl, who cooks not only gluten-free, but also soy and dairy-free, and often vegan, but still makes it look amazing!

6. Kelly at Evil Shenanigans, because she’s a fellow Dallas-ite that always posts the most evil, sinful, decadent recipes!

7. Katrina from Gluten Free Gidget, because her blog is a delight to read – she is up-front and it’s like you’re right there with her.

Thanks to everyone again, I’m honored!

Gluten-Free Beef Stew

beef stew

A few weeks back, when I was picking up eggs from Jacob’s Reward Farm, Cindy told me about a new event she was holding at the farm, called “Spinning Yarns: Cowboy Stories and Song.” This was to be a wonderful outdoor “picnic” of sorts, where there was to be cowboy-style music, stories, and of course, the attendees were more than welcome to bring along their spinning wheels and knitting needles, and gather for some laid-back fun. But everyone needed to eat, so she graciously asked if I would help her in that area. On the menu? A hearty beef stew – perfect for the theme of the event.

My first “catering” job! I was excited, of course. While I’ve prepared Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for 25-30 (our family is large!), I have never catered. I wanted to be sure everything was perfect, so I made sure I scheduled plenty of time for preparation, and even did a test run on a smaller portion of the dish earlier in the week. It was wonderful that so many of the guests brought side dishes; this allowed me to focus on one dish – beef stew. It was a wonderful setting for my maiden voyage into catering.

jacobs reward event 031

Yesterday was the big day. (Read more about it at the Jacob’s Reward Farm blog here) I had prepped most of the meat and vegetables the night before, but awoke at 5am (much to the dismay of my husband!) to get started. I didn’t want to be late! And thankfully, aside from a slight issue with the pot I’d recently purchased, (I bought a propane burner, along with a stainless pot set – and the pot cracked as soon as I placed heat on it. Thankfully I had my large aluminum tamale pot, which did the job perfectly.) everything went as planned. Until I left, that is. I set up at the farm, and only then remembered that I’d left my parsley on the kitchen counter. Good thing I only live 10 minutes away – I could run home and grab it. No harm done.

As for the event, it was wonderful. We couldn’t have had better weather. Practically the entire month of October has been rainy, but for the past few days, it has started to dry out. Yesterday was sunny and in the upper 60s – absolutely gorgeous. The musicians played wonderful cowboy-style fiddle, guitar, and banjo, and the storytellers spun yarns about famous icons of the cowboy days in Texas. It was a grand time. While I’m not a spinner/weaver, and I don’t know how to knit, I admired everyone’s work as they spun yarns and knitted scarves and socks.

My stew went over well, and was the perfect dish for such an event. I hope you enjoy it too.

Gluten-Free Beef Stew, adapted from Simply Recipes

½ lb beef stew meat

½ lb oxtail

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ yellow onion, chopped

½ large carrot, chopped

½ celery rib, chopped

3 c beef stock

½ c gluten-free beer (I used Bard’s Tale)

½ c red wine

1 T tomato paste

½ T sugar

1 T fresh thyme leaves

½ T Worcestershire

1 bay leaf

2 T butter

1 ½ lbs Yukon gold potatoes, diced ½ inch

1 c carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces

2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces

1 turnip, diced into ½ inch pieces

Salt and pepper

1 T fresh parsley

 

Generously salt and pepper the stew meat and the oxtail. Heat a large, heavy pot to medium-high heat and brown the meat, turning with tongs to ensure all sides are browned. Remove and set aside. Add garlic, onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add back meat, and add beef stock, beer, wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire, and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and cover, allowing to simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat to medium heat and add butter. Add carrots, parsnips, and turnip to pot. Saute until golden, about 20 minutes. Set aside until beef stew has simmered for 1 ½ 2 hours.

Once the meat is starting to fall away from the bones on the oxtail, remove from pot, and allow to cool for a few minutes. Remove meat from bones and add meat back into stew. Add the vegetables and potatoes, and allow to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender throughout.

Salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley.

Serves 4.

Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup and Gluten-Free Chive Biscuits

pumpkin soupA few weeks back, I picked up this lovely pumpkin from Good Earth Organic Farm’s booth at the farmer’s market. I was told it was called a Cinderella Pumpkin. It was a lovely gourd, and it graced my kitchen for a while, bringing autumn charm into the house. However, it was time to do something more with my pumpkin. Since it was not a pie pumpkin, I thought a pumpkin soup would be lovely, especially if it were graced with coconut milk (one of my favorite ingredients).

pumpkin

I started to browse around for ideas on how to elevate my pumpkin and coconut milk soup, and came across Heidi’s simple recipe at 101 Cookbooks. I took cues from her recipe, and made this soup my own, adding a few spices and loosely measuring. What resulted was a lovely creamy, warming, flavorful soup – filling enough to be a main course (we did just that!), and wonderful when it’s dreary and/or cold outside. What’s even better? While this is not a super-fast recipe (although you could make it so, with canned pumpkin), it’s really easy, there is not a lot of time actively cooking, and it’s really hard to mess up. It also reheats beautifully for lunch the next day.

chive biscuits

And last week, I spotted a wonderful biscuit recipe over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free. I thought these biscuits would be a wonderful accompaniment to soup, so I threw together a batch. I changed up the recipe some, only because I wanted to use what gluten-free flours I had on hand, and I wanted to use only chives in the biscuits. But wow – just, wow! Amy sure does know her way around a biscuit! These were simply the best biscuits that ever have graced my kitchen, gluten-free or otherwise. I ate well more than my fair share of them. They will definitely be making another appearance soon!

And lastly, before I share the recipes, I am excited to share with you that I have received 2 Blog Awards, given to me by two wonderful fellow food bloggers! Simply Life awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award, and Diana at Spain in Iowa gave me a Tasty Award! What can I say about these two wonderful bloggers? Thank you both so much! If you haven’t checked out these two blogs, take a moment and do so! Simply Life has a wonderful collection of tasty recipes, ranging from the fancy smoked salmon and pear on baquettes, to a lot of wondeful, family-friendly comfort food such as sweet potato risotto. Spain in Iowa has a wonderful collection of Spanish and Latin recipes, such as this pimientos asados recipe, to recipes using local ingredients, such as methods for preserving peaches. (She’s been preserving a lot of this summer’s bounty, check it out!) Thank you both for sharing these awards with me.

 

lovelyblog

Tasty-2For the One Lovely Blog Award, I am supposed to tell you all seven things you don’t already know about me, and pass this award along to ten other bloggers. So, here goes:

1. I have two dogs, Rocky and Jack. They are both Chihuahua mixes, and look like they could be brothers. However, they aren’t – Rocky is mixed with Manchester terrier (we think) and we adopted him in 2003. Jack is mixed with who-knows-what (we’ve considered a Corgi), and we adopted him in 2007. We adopted both of them at Operation Kindness, North Texas’ oldest and largest no-kill animal shelter. If you are local, and considering adopting a dog or cat, check them out. They’re located in Carrollton. (Not to get on a soapbox, but I’m a big proponent of adopting rescue animals. I personally choose to rescue an animal that might otherwise be euthanized, and give them a second chance at life, and do my part to keep the over-population of unwanted pets down. That’s all, I won’t get into this topic here!) Rocky and Jack are wonderful friends, and are always happy when I’m in the kitchen, waiting for a treat! They’re especially fond of carrots.

Rocky (on the left), and Jack

Rocky (on the left), and Jack

2. I play indoor soccer. I’m by no means an accomplished player (I started playing at the age of 22), but it’s great fun, and I am always learning. I love my teammates – everyone encourages one another, and it’s a great way to relax and stay in shape.

3. I cannot stand chocolate-covered donuts. (this precedes going gluten-free) I am generally not a picky eater by any means, but the thought of eating a chocolate-covered donut, or an eclair, makes me gag.

4. On the weekdays, I wake up at 5am. This allows me to get a little workout in before I get ready for the day, and arrive to work by 7am. (Unfortunately, keeping this schedule makes it difficult for me to sleep in on the weekends past about 7-8am, even if I’m out way too late the night before with the soccer team!)

5. I’m not much for “chick flick” movies. I would rather pass most of them by than waste money to see them. But give me a sports movie - where the main character (or characters) is the underdog or otherwise has to overcome some big hurdle, and in the end, that character wins the game (but of course, learns a lot about himself along the way) – I’m so there. (Think Hoosiers, Rudy, Chariots of Fire, Remember the Titans, even Miracle on Ice.)

6. I have little patience for most of the shows on the Food Network. It seems that over the years, they’ve changed their tune, and most of their shows are just not my style. Of course, it’s somewhat hypocritical for me to say that many aren’t about the food or cooking…because I watch Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef, and sometimes, those shows are not about the food either! (I do like Alton Brown though.)

7. I like Velveeta. I know, I know, it’s practically not even real food. It’s artificially dyed and flavored. It’s horrible for you. I can only imagine that it likely does something awful to your insides, like if you eat too much, when you die, it will still be there, thousands of years later…but it seems that especially in Texas, you just can’t make queso without it. Velveeta+Rotel=YUM! Good thing I only eat it like once or twice a year.

And, to share this award, I’ll pass it along to ten bloggers that I truly admire and appreciate!

1. Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free – she is always SO willing to give me feedback on my posts, is available to answer questions, and besides, she has WONDERFUL recipes on her blog!

2. Amanda at Amanda’s Cookin’ – she really goes above and beyond to enhance the blogger community. She’s created a Yahoo Group for food bloggers, which has been an endless source of valuable information! She posts so many gorgeous baked goods and desserts as well!

3. The folks at Food o’ del Mundo – Wonderful dishes, and always so inspiring! Not to mention, recently they went out of their way to help me out on posting to Foodbuzz, so I could be sure I get optimum results. What a friend!

4. Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang – Awesome, inexpensive, gluten-free, healthy living meals! She continually comes up with great, simple ideas to feed a family, even with dietary restrictions.

5. Katie at Eat This. – Katie and I both went gluten-free (for similar reasons) at about the same time, so together we’ve come to understand what lovely and amazing gluten-free food options are available to us. She is definitely a wonderful resource for alternative grains, and sings the praises of millet, teff, and quinoa! She always has healthy and delicious recipes available on her blog.

6. Paula at Bell’alimento – What a lovely blog! She has delicious recipes, and she’s always available and willing to help someone out, even if it means “Stumbling” their blog that day!

7. Cindy at Jacob’s Reward – Cindy is an awesome blogger, even though it’s not a “food” blog. She diligently blogs nearly every day about the goings on at the Jacob’s Reward farm, is always friendly and available to help, and she’s more dedicated to her CSA and that farm than anyone I’ve ever seen! That, and her chickens give our family the BEST eggs…I’ve learned so much from her!

8. Jenn at Bread + Butter – Jenn’s recipes ALWAYS look drool-worthy. A few days ago, she posted about grilled cheese, which makes me nostalgic! She’s also a huge supporter of Tasty Eats At Home.

9. Marilyn at Just Making Noise – Marilyn’s recipes look so good, and they’re always healthy, with natural ingredients. She supports local produce and farmers as much as she can, which is pretty awesome, in my book!

10. Natalie at Natalie’s Killer Cuisine – Natalie makes decadent dishes, most of which cause me to gain weight just thinking about them! But seriously, her recipes are delicious, and she shows tremendous talent.

Thank you again to Simply Life and Spain in Iowa, I’m honored!

And now, to the recipes!

hawaiian and soup and biscuits 041

Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup, adapted from 101 Cookbooks:

1 large pumpkin, 8-10 lbs, cut in half and seeds removed (or you could use two large cans of pumpkin, or a butternut squash or two)

salt and pepper

2 T butter, melted

1 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t grated fresh ginger

1/2 t ground coriander

2 t Thai red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen, which is gluten-free, and available at a lot of standard grocery stores)

1 14-oz can coconut milk

2 c vegetable broth

minced chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly season pumpkin halves with salt and pepper, and brush with butter. (can use olive oil if you prefer) Place skin-side down on a baking sheet, and allow to roast until tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove and allow to cool.

In a large stock pot, bring olive oil to medium heat and add garlic, ginger, curry paste, and coriander. Allow to cook for a minute or two, stirring, just until it becomes fragrant. Add pumpkin and coconut milk and stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, remove from heat, and puree. (I used a hand blender, but if you don’t have one, you can blend in batches with your blender or food processor.) Place back on heat and stir in broth, a little at a time, until the soup is at the desired consistency. Taste, and add salt and pepper as necessary. Keep at a simmer for 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Garnish with minced chives. Serves 5-6.

Gluten-Free Chive Biscuits, adapted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free

2 c gluten-free flour blend (your favorite, or view the blend I adapted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free below)

1 T baking powder

1 t kosher salt

1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

1 c 2 % milk

1/4 c chopped fresh chives

1 egg mixed with 1 T water, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 4oo degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Sift together flour blend and baking powder. Stir in salt to mix. Add cold butter, and either using a stand mixer on low, or even using a spoon or your hands, mix until the butter is the size of peas. Add milk and beat until just mixed together. Add chives and mix until just combined.

Drop dough in large spoonfuls onto parchment paper. Brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, if desired. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until browned and puffy. Makes 8 biscuits.

Gluten-free Flour Blend

1 c brown rice flour

1 c sorghum flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c arrowroot starch/flour

1 t xanthan gum

Mix together well and store in an airtight container.

Vegetarian Bean and Pumpkin Chili, plus a Gluten-Free Cheddar Serrano Biscuit

veggie chili

Dear Summer: It’s not that I don’t love what you bring…bountiful produce, long days, and barbeque parties by the pool. I love these things, I really do. It’s just time to move on. As you always do around here (in Texas), you overstay your welcome, and you don’t allow Autumn enough time to play. So please, let’s just part ways for the year. No hard feelings? I’ll welcome you with open arms next June, I promise!

It’s 95 degrees today here in North Texas. Hot and humid. There is a cold front in sight, they say, bringing cooler temperatures for the weekend. In my mind, it can’t get here fast enough. Apparently, my appetite agrees. My husband and I have been craving cool-weather dishes, as evidenced by my last few posts. (Shepherd’s pie just doesn’t cross most people’s minds when it’s hot outside.) When I was planning meals this past weekend, I decided upon a vegetarian chili – cool weather or not. Even if it won’t act like fall outside, I can still pretend, right?

This chili will likely reappear at our home in some version several times in the coming months. It was a snap to make, with minimal prep the night before, and a long, unattended simmer in the slow cooker. (Not to mention it was super-budget friendly!) Once it was nearing dinnertime, I had so little to prepare, I decided that an attempt at a gluten-free biscuit was needed.

Last week, I came across a gorgeous gluten-free biscuit recipe from Shelley at This Primal Life. (Shelley has a wonderful blog filled with healthy, gluten-free, grain-free recipes.) Gluten-free biscuits? Yes, it can be done. These babies were tender, with a delicious, cheesy flavor, and a very mild bite from the peppers. Oh, man. They were a dream. And for those of you that are watching your carb intake, these are right up your alley, as they’re made with almond flour. These are about as healthy a biscuit as they come, but you’d swear they were sinful. And they paired with the chili perfectly.

So if it’s still hot where you are, then feel free to pocket this recipe for a few weeks, until the air is crisp and those chili cravings set in. Or do like we did, and pretend.

For the chili:

1 1/2 lbs mixed variety of dried beans (I used yellow eye, African red beans, and flageolet – but I would think a mix of black, kidney, and pinto beans would work well)

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree

2 serrano chiles, minced

3 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced

4 c vegetable stock

1-2 c water

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 T cumin

1/2 cinnamon stick

2 t ground coriander

2-3 t salt (taste)

1 1/2 T chili powder

Several dashes of Tabasco

Garnishes:

Shredded cheese (omit or use dairy-free cheese if dairy-free/vegan)

Cilantro

Sour cream

Rinse the beans, and soak overnight. Rinse again and place beans in slow cooker. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 8 hours or until beans are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve topped with desired garnishes. Serves 8.

cheddar jalapeno biscuit rounds

For the biscuit rounds, adapted from This Primal Life:

3 c almond flour

1 t baking soda

big pinch of salt

6 oz of cheddar cheese, grated

2 fresh serrano chiles, minced

3 eggs

1/4 c sour cream

1/2 c water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Mix in grated cheese and serranos. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, sour cream, and water. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until they just come together. Drop batter in large spoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly browned on top. Makes 12 rounds.

Hungry for more? This recipe and other Slightly Indulgent recipes are available on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, as part of the weekly Slightly Indulgent Mondays, and also is linked to Miz Helen’s Chili Cookoff!

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

Food 1750For the past few months, time seems to have flown by at an incredible rate. It seems as though I barely have enough time to complete the “must-finish” tasks each day. Work, family, lawn work, the garden, dishes, the shed that still remains half-painted…and let’s not forget feeding the family with reasonably healthy meals, all the while minding the budget. And of course, I must devote my time to the blog. It holds me accountable. It forces me to improve myself, in the kitchen, with the camera, and in my writing. I have to admit, I am addicted. I think this is a good thing.

But I do strive to keep a balance. Okay, so I sometimes slip. (full disclosure: ate Taco Smell Bell last week for dinner one night, and visited the snack machine at the office on more than one occasion, in order to complete meals for myself. As if M&Ms and Rice Krispies Treats count as part of a meal.) But I do keep trying. This week, I was determined to create healthy dinners that took minimal time in the kitchen, freeing me up to tend to other duties.

One of my no-brainer sources for inspiration in this area? Cooking Light magazine. Did you know that you can now find a huge number of Cooking Light recipes online? MyRecipes.com offers recipes from Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, Coastal Living, and more. Even though I subscribe to Cooking Light magazine, this website allows me to be lazy and just search for what I want, instead of flipping through the growing piles of magazines at my house searching for “dinner inspiration.” This soup was one recipe I came across, and thought it would be a perfect solution for dinner. (Yes, I realize that it is yet another chipotle recipe. I just can’t stay away!) The meal came together in no time, and was inexpensive. (Especially since chicken breasts were on sale at Sprouts for $1.88/lb, score!)

I did make a few slight modifications. I added a bit of onion for flavor, and I increased the cumin, because I love the earthy depth it adds. I also used regular tortilla chips, as I had them on hand. It was a great weeknight dinner, full of smoky flavor and just the right amount of heat. Of course, we tend to like things pretty spicy in our house, so if you’re a bit nervous about adding all of the chipotle chile powder, I suggest starting with half, and add more at the end if you feel the soup needs more kick.

The next time I make this, I think I would prefer the chicken to be shredded, rather than cubed. You could even use a rotisserie chicken (or leftover chicken) instead of sauteing the breasts, if you prefer. We also served it with a bit of shredded cheese and sour cream in addition to the cilantro and limes. Overall, this was a delicious and easy dish – and it left me with plenty of time to catch American Idol. (Because yes, American Idol is a priority as well!)

1 T canola oil

¼ c onion, chopped

1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 ½ t minced garlic

1 t chipotle chile powder

2 t ground cumin

1 c water

¼ t salt

1 14 ounce low-sodium chicken broth (if you need it to be gluten-free, check the label!)

1 14.5 ounce can whole or stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 c crushed tortilla chips

¼ c chopped fresh cilantro

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and chicken breasts, sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic, sauté another minute. Add chile powder and cumin, stir well. Add water, salt, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Top with tortilla chips and cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4.