Monday, February 17, 2014

Mixed Bean and Sausage Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian Sausage sliced into 1-inch pieces. I removed the casing first.
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 lb Gourmet Bean Blend
12 cups chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot set over high heat. Add the onion and sausage and until the sausage is browned. Add the garlic and peppers for 2 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, red chili flakes, bay leaves, pepper, Gourmet Bean Blend and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off the foam that rises to the top. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours until beans are tender and soup has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Makes about 4 quarts. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

To shorten cooking time, pre-soak the beans: place beans in a pot and cover with several inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour. Drain beans and proceed with recipe.

Recipe from Epicurean Specialty Gourmet Bean site

Notes: This recipe was taken directly from the website of the company that makes these beans.  I got the bean mix at Costco, but any bean mix would work.  This particular mix had beans, peas and lentils in it.

I did not add the green peppers because the husband doesn't like them, but I think they would be delicious in this soup. I also think it would be tasty without the meat, but you will need to kick up the flavor with some other spicy addition.  I used hot Italian sausage, which added tons of flavor. As for measuring one pound of beans, I used 3 cups uncooked and this worked out. I adjusted the liquid to my preference.  This is an easy, one-pot meal with lots of flavor.  My favorite kind of recipe! 

Crock Pot Pork Roast

1 - 2 lb boneless pork roast (sirloin tip roast or pork tenderloin)
1 - cup Worcestershire sauce
1 - cup brown sugar
2 - teaspoons olive oil
McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning

Directions: Rub Montreal seasoning all over the roast making sure to cover all sides. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and get the pan really hot. Add the roast and sear on all sides, browning on all sides.   Add Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar to the crock pot and mix. Add the pork roast. Cover and cook on high for one hour then turn to low and cook a additional 4-5 hours. Pork roast is fully cooked when it starts to come apart. Serve alone or on wheat rolls.

Recipe from:  The Happy Housewife blog

Comments: I added 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper and 2 tsp. crushed garlic to the liquid mixture. I liked the added heat in the gravy. The original recipe just dumps the sugar and Worcestershire sauce on top of the roast and swears it works. After the pork was cooked, I took out the juice and reduced it by half on the stove top, but this isn't really necessary. My family loved this recipe!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Super Summer Kale Salad

3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped

1/2 (16 ounce) package of frozen shelled edamame thawed
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
1 cup shredded carrot
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1/2 cup shelled, roasted sunflower seeds

Instructions:  Whisk sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl until sugar is dissolved, set aside.

Toss kale, edamame, red onion, carrot, blueberries, dried cranberries, cashew pieces, and sunflower seeds together in a bowl.  Pour half of the dressing over the mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.  Serve remaining dressing on side.

Recipe from

Comments:  I had this salad tonight at my book club and simply can't say enough good things about it.  It was perfect! Beth, our host, said this salad, even dressed, will stay crisp for a week. Not only is it delicious, it is the prettiest salad I have ever seen.  I can't wait to make this!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pizza Soup

1 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 cups of water
1 15 oz. can of pizza sauce
1 cup chopped pepperoni
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, I often use a large can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked Italian sausage
1 tsp Italian seasoning ( I tend to add more, but this also depends on your taste)
crushed red pepper to taste ( optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella cheese

In large saucepan, saute the mushrooms and onions in the oil until tender.  Add water, pizza sauce, pepperoni, tomatoes, sausage and seasoning.

Bring to boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Garnish with mozzarella cheese.

Comments:  This recipe came from a friend, Denise,  who made soup all of the time in Alpharetta, GA.  I have had this recipe for years and didn't make it until recently - not sure what I was waiting on because it is delicious!

I double the recipe in order to have leftovers.  My family loves it with a loaf of whole grain bread from the grocery.

Note:  Take the casing off of the hot-dog shaped Italian sausages and fry it up like you would hamburger.

Corn Pudding

2 eggs
3 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP flour
1/2 can of evaporated milk ( milk or half and half also work)
2 TBSP butter, melted
1 can of creamed corn

Bake at 325 for 1 hour, or until set.

Comments:  This corn pudding is a family staple at holiday meals, but I occasionally  make it with  ham or pork roast just to put something different on the table.

I often add a half cup of frozen corn to the mixture to give it some umph.  But, this is not necessary.  I have also cooked it at 350 or 375, depending on what is already in the oven.