Wondering what to do with that beautiful, blooming (overflowing?) basil? Pesto is one of my favorite ways to preserve fresh basil. It uses a TON of fresh basil at once, and pesto can be used in a myriad of ways.
Wondering what to do with that beautiful, blooming (overflowing?) basil? Pesto is one of my favorite ways to preserve fresh basil. It uses a TON of fresh basil at once, and pesto can be used in a myriad of ways.
I’m a spicy gal and although I wasn’t born in Louisiana, creole cuisine of New Orleans speaks to me on a spiritual level.
Gumbo is one of my favorite, warming meals because it’s spicy, hearty, and still packs a veggie punch. Also, this is one of those meals that you can cook (a bunch of) one night, and when you’re eating its leftovers a few nights later the flavor is even deeper – it only gets better with time! However, my favorite part of this meal is definitely that it only takes one (big) pot. Because I still hate doing dishes ^_^.
Start by heating a large Dutch oven over medium low heat, and add the sliced smoked sausage. I used andouille, which is a creole spicy sausage. If you’re not into the spice, any smoked sausage will do. Since it’s already cooked, you just want to sauté it enough to get some color and crispness on the outside.
Take the sausage out, add some coconut oil if needed, and begin sautéing the cubed chicken. It doesn’t have to cook all the way through since it will simmer in the gumbo later. Just make sure it has some good color on it, and season with salt and pepper or a touch of Cajun seasoning.
Take the chicken out, then start on the shrimp. I bought easy-peel shrimp from my fish counter at Sprouts, which are already deveined. You can keep the tails, or whole shell, on if you wish. I find it easier to remove the whole shell, tail included, prior to cooking. Add more coconut oil to the pan, if needed before adding the shrimp. Again, season with salt and pepper and sauté away. Cook them about 1 minute on each side, just to get good color. They won’t be fully cooked yet, but once you add them back to the gumbo they’ll finish cooking without becoming overcooked.
Remove the shrimp. Next comes the vegetables! Don’t worry about the brown bits on the bottom of your Dutch oven – that’s flavor, and the stock we add later will pick it all up.
Chop some mirepoix – celery (leafy green parts included!), onion, green bell pepper, and garlic.
Add a touch more coconut oil, turn the heat down just a touch and add the vegetables. Sauté until onions just start to caramelize, about 5-7 minutes.
And, I’ll go ahead and tell you, I’m a bad Southerner – I greatly dislike okra. Unless it’s pureed, in a cookie, or otherwise hidden beyond recognition I cannot stomach it. HOWEVER. You are welcome to add okra to this lovely gumbo if it is your thing. If you do add it, go ahead and do so at this step.
De-glaze the pan with one 15-oz can of fire roasted tomatoes. I like the smoky flavor of fire roasted tomatoes, but you’re welcome to use any kind you prefer. Mine also were seasoned with garlic and onion. Add in the chicken (or vegetable/seafood) stock, a bay leaf, sausage, chicken, Worcestershire sauce, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Place the lid on your pot and let it simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
Once it’s finished simmering, turn off the heat, add the shrimp back to the pot, cover again and let stand for about 5-7 minutes. This will allow the shrimp to continue cooking through slowly.
Serve the gumbo as is or over a big pile of cauliflower rice. For my cauliflower rice, I pulsed half a large head of cauliflower in a food processor until it was in small pearls. Then I served it raw underneath the hot gumbo – easy peasy! I liked it raw because it didn’t become mushy from cooking and retained a nice textural contrast like rice.
As is, the gumbo is a great S. However, if you want to have the rice and make it an E – that’s completely achievable. You can either choose a smoked turkey/chicken sausage with less fat, or leave it out completely and make this a chicken and shrimp gumbo – your call. Just make sure any time you’re adding coconut oil that you do so with a spray to keep the fat in check.
Either way you make it, this gumbo is a spicy, hearty, and delicious shake-up to your weekly routine. The leftovers just get better with time – this is a meal you can make on Monday and still enjoy on Friday.
There is nothing more comforting in these cold Winter months than a big bowl of soup. And who doesn’t love a good loaded “potato” fake-out?
The base of this soup is cauliflower. What I love about cauliflower is that it’s basically a blank canvas – it’s very versatile and you can make the flavor whatever your heart desires. I added some extra flavor by putting some onions, celery, and garlic into the broth with the cauliflower.
All of those soften together in a large Dutch oven. Rapidly simmer all the vegetables together in chicken (or vegetable) broth for about 12-14 minutes, or until everything is super soft.
While that’s happening, peel and dice a small bunch of radishes. [I know, peeling radishes is totally a pain in the rear. Trust me, if you don’t want those things turning pink, just peel.] Boil them in some salted water for about 8-10 minutes until fork tender. Drain when finished
If you want to use some cooked bacon as a topper, you can use some leftover from the morning or you can cook some fresh in a separate pan.
Puree the vegetables and broth together until smooth, and place it back into the warm pot. Add the nutritional yeast, cream, and seasoning.
Turn off the heat, add some fresh chives and the cooked diced radishes, then serve.
As far as toppings go, use whatever you like for a loaded baked potato – sour cream, chives, cheese, bacon, etc. I used smoked gruyère cheese, bacon, and chives. Gruyère is a rich, soft cheese you typically see atop French onion soup. I had some left over I was also using for biscuits that night, so feel free to use whatever you like – blue cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack.
This soup was DELICIOUS. Comforting, creamy, and satisfying. The bacon and smoked cheese added a little salty bite, while chives brought some freshness to the soup. My kids gobbled it down, and my cauliflower-skeptic husband scarfed down not one but TWO bowls of it. HA.
I’ll call that a win!
Who’s ready for another one-pot wonder?!
If I haven’t said it enough already, I really love my cast iron Dutch oven. It’s perfect for my chili, stews, everything. This lady in red has been making dinner a lot easier lately.
If you haven’t had Coq Au Vin before, it’s a French country chicken stew. Most often, I see it with mushrooms and onions. However, you can add a wider array of vegetables if you like – celery, shallots, carrots, or parsnips would also be good here.
All those beautiful veggies and chicken pieces get cooked down in some dry red wine. I used Côtes du Rhône because the Barefoot Contessa tells me that’s a good red wine, and I’m not about argue. ^_^
I started by rendering the fat from a few slices of chopped bacon.
Once the bacon starts to crisp, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set to the side.
Season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper on both sides. I used chicken thighs and breasts.
Crisp the chicken on both sides, in one layer of your pan. Brown the pieces in multiple batches if needed, then remove to a plate. The chicken does not need to be fully cooked yet, as it will cook through later.
Add the mushrooms, carrots, red onion, and garlic to the pan with an extra pat of butter (or coconut oil) if the pan is looking dry. Saute about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to have a little color. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the xanthan gum.
De-glaze the pan with the red wine, picking up any bits from the bottom with a wooden spoon.
Add the pearl onions, chicken pieces, bacon, and whole thyme sprigs. Top off with a little chicken stock if it looks like you still need more liquid. Cover, bring to boil, and reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove the lid after 20 minutes, and continue simmering another 10-15 minutes until some of the liquid reduces.
Shred the chicken roughly, if you like (it will be falling apart anyway). Turn off the heat, and add a handful of fresh chopped parsley. Don’t forget to remove the woody thyme stems – the leaves come off in the stew.
YUM. Tender, delicious chicken in a rich red wine sauce with hearty vegetables. How can you go wrong?
I served this stew as-is for me. For my young creatures, I poured it over some cooked brown rice.
Tis the season for chili.
Chili is one of my favorite meals to make during the cold months, because it all happens in one dish. I am all about using as few dishes as possible when cooking.
Generally, when you think “chili” you think beef. But I tell ya, there’s a warm place in my heart for some hearty chicken chili. It’s every bit as flavorful as beef, minus a lot of the fat.
I started by roasting the tomatillos and jalapeño.
I put those on parchment paper. Paper burns. Even though my broiler isn’t gas, it will still burn.
Yeah, don’t be like me. Put them on foil or just straight on the pan. Anything but parchment. [I have no clue what I was thinking.]
Anywho! Back to the task at hand. When roasting foods under the broiler, it will happen fairly quickly. You want the skin to be blistered and charred on all sides. Once that happens, remove them from the broiler, place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and let steam until cool enough to handle.
After steaming, the skin of the pepper and tomatillos will pull away from the flesh, making it easier to peel.
Pay attention here, because this is really mind-blowing. I am about to share with you my super easy, and awesome, method for seeding jalapeños with minimal handling.
Cut the stem off the pepper, then cut in half lengthwise. Take a grapefruit spoon, placing the serrated end in the smaller end of the pepper.
Press down firmly, then drag the spoon down the length of the pepper taking the ribs and seeds in the spoon. See how easy that was? And with barely any handling.
Spray a large Dutch oven lightly with coconut oil. Sauté the onions, bell pepper, and garlic for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened.
Add the green chiles, chopped jalapeño, tomatillos (don’t worry about chopping. Once roasted they get soft and squishy, no sense in chopping.), lime zest, ground coriander, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, 4 cups of the chicken broth, and add the chicken pieces down in the liquid.
Cover and bring to a rapid simmer for 12-14 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the broth, shred, then add back into the pot.
Puree one cup of the white beans with about 1 cup of the chicken broth until smooth.
Turn the heat down to low, add the bean puree to the pot along with the rest of the whole white beans, cilantro, and lime juice. Add more chicken broth as needed, and adjust for salt and pepper.
Delicious, hearty, and warming – just what a big pot of chili should be.
Tis the season for soup! I’m a soup lover. You can pack so much flavor into one bowl of soup, while also keeping the dishes to a minimum – double win.
I have a confession to make: I love veggies. My mother still tells stories of me as a kid asking for carrots and celery for breakfast. My husband and I even went down the path to veganism for a while (there’s a rabbit hole, for you).
My kids adore tofu. Maybe because it was a staple for them during their transition from nursing to table food. Maybe because I let them eat it right off the cutting board. Who knows! And something about soup makes them really happy too (I think it’s the slurping). Anyway, this soup was great for the whole family! ^_^
Really, you can play around with whatever vegetables YOU like for this soup. I tried to keep with an Asian theme by using baby bok choy, oyster mushrooms, carrots, green onions, and sprouted tofu.
Yep. Sprouted tofu is a thing, and it really exists! It’s one of my favorite items from Trader Joe’s, and that’s really the only place I’ve ever seen sprouted tofu. But don’t fret! I found this sprouted tofu on Amazon, and it has the same nutritional info as the one at TJ’s. Note that this is for a *case* of it – so you’ll need some saving/freezing space.
The broth base I used also came from Trader Joe’s (miso ginger broth), but again don’t fret. You can still make a tasty miso-ginger base all on your own.
The absolute best part, is that this soup comes together in a flash! The longest part was maybe sauteing the vegetables, which takes 5 minutes. Talk about an easy complement to any meal.
This soup has very little fat and carbs, making it a Fuel Pull on the THM plan, which means it can go alongside any meal. Enjoy 1 cup of it with a sandwich for an E, or with some steak stir fry for an S.
Chicken cacciatore is one of my husband’s favorite meals, and it occurred to me recently that I almost never make this dish. Besides this time, I think I’ve made it one other time in the 10 years we’ve been together. Madness! I know.
If you haven’t had chicken cacciatore before, it’s basically a rustic Italian chicken stew with vegetables and tomatoes. This stew came together in about an hour. The chicken was perfectly tender, the sauce was rich and flavorful, and the veggies were wonderfully stewed.
I just picked up a new dutch oven yesterday, and I have no idea how I survived without one. Seriously! This big, heavy pot holds your meal, cooks it perfectly, and the clean up couldn’t be easier. With it being enameled cast iron, I know the temperature will hold and stay fairly constant throughout the cooking process.
Let’s start with the chicken. I used 1 pound each of chicken breasts and thighs for this meal. I know, thighs are typically a no-no for an E meal. However, the 1 pound of thighs only contains about 16g of fat and this recipe feeds about 8 people (maybe more), so you’re well within the limits of fat for an E.
For vegetables, I used onions, garlic, red bell peppers, diced tomatoes, and capers. If capers are unfamiliar to you, they are delicious little olive-like, briny pearls. They have a taste and texture similar to olives, but they don’t have any fat.
I seasoned the stew using dried oregano, white wine (something dry, like this pinot grigio), chicken stock, fresh parsley, and basil. The stewed tomatoes I used were also seasoned with basil, garlic, and oregano, for a deep, herbal base.
At the end, I tossed in the capers and a handful of fresh parsley, then served with a few leaves of fresh basil.
You have a couple of E-friendly choices for serving up this stew: over brown rice, plan-approved pasta, or cooked quinoa. Or you can skip all those and serve it as is, with some crusty sourdough for dipping ^_~. I chose to serve it over rice, which my kids love, and it helps stretch the meal a little further. My husband enjoyed it as a stew without the rice, and BOY did he love it. He ate some the first night I made it, and then the following afternoon for lunch. He made sure to tell me each time he ate it that this recipe was a definite keeper. [SCORE!]
The beauty about cooking with dutch ovens is you can take this straight from the oven/burner right over to the table for serving. Tada!
Get. In. My. Belly.
Serve this up as a quick weeknight meal with leftovers for lunch, or as an impressive, crowd-pleasing holiday dinner.
Question: How do you get your family to willingly eat quinoa, spinach, and tons of other veggies? Answer: You feed them soup.
Generally, my kids are good eaters. They’ll try most anything I put in front of them. But sometimes, SOMETIMES my 4-year-old is the vegetable police. Even when I dice it up really fine, she still will sit at the table and pick out any trace of the offending veg.
However, there’s something about soup that makes kids ignore all the greenery. Maybe it’s that the colors look really pretty. Maybe it’s that soup is fun for them. Maybe it’s that it just tastes THAT good. All of the above, perhaps?
I originally envisioned this as more of a Tuscan vegetable soup, but I think it transitioned more into a late Summer-early Fall tasty vegetable collaboration.
Also, I know many THMers have trouble getting enough protein and feeling full in their E meals, so this soup pulls heavy duty. It’s packed with lean chicken, beans, and quinoa for protein and has loads of vegetables.
Believe me, you will not be disappointed with this recipe! The taste is light and fresh, yet very hearty. You can feed a few (with TONS of freezer leftovers!) or an army with this recipe, and everyone will leave satisfied.
Butternut squash soup is one of my Fall favorites. Aside from the roasting of the squash, the soup comes together very quickly. It’s warming, filling, and slightly sweet from the squash-apple combination. Perfect for a chilly night!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (THM FP)
Preheat oven to 350.
I cut the stem off my squash, halved and seeded it. You can go the whole nine yards and peel and dice it, if you wish. If you have the bag of frozen cubes, you’re good to go.
Spritz the squash with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper, then toss to coat. Roast for about 1 hour, or until fork tender. Let the squash cool until you’re able to handle it.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add 2 Tsp butter and saute the apples and onions. When they start to soften and get some color, season with salt, pepper, ginger, and sage, then pour in the vegetable broth, cover and boil for about 8-10 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low. Add the squash, pumpkin, and apple broth mixture to a large blender and blend in batches until everything is incorporated. Put the soup back in your large pot, whisk in the yogurt and adjust for seasoning, then keep it on the heat until everything is heated through.
This soup is a FP, which means it can go with S or E meals. This soup has about 9g of carbs per serving, so make sure you’re careful with other carbs should you have this with an S companion. If you want to go into E mode, have it alongside a turkey sandwich on sourdough, some grilled chicken or other lean protein.
This recipe makes a TON of soup. So, if you’re feeding a crowd it’s great. If not, you can still package up the leftovers and freeze it as an easy dinner for later.
Do you make soup a main dish, or do you like to enjoy it as a prelude to your main?
I’m going to be real honest, and say I initially stumbled upon scrap broth when we literally could not afford to buy broth.
2012 seems like a lifetime ago, and not that long ago at the same time. Times were tough all over the country. My husband and I were expecting our first child, and were barely living paycheck-to-paycheck. We had to penny pinch where we could, and food can be expensive.
Enter: scrap broth.
I guarantee this is the easiest and least expensive broth you’ll ever make. What makes me so confident in that statement is that 1) it doesn’t cost a single penny and 2) there’s no tricky marrow or bones needed.
The method here is simple: collect scraps from your everyday vegetables (bell peppers, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, leek tops, tomatoes and/or their skins, potato skins, and herbs), freeze them until you fill one or two gallon bags, and make them into broth.
You don’t have to limit yourself on the vegetable part, because the more variety you have the richer your broth flavor will be. Plus, it’s all the parts you normally wouldn’t use such as the peels, skins, stumps, or whathaveyou. The only vegetables you should leave out are the gassy veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and greens. Everything else is fair game! I’ve also been known to use leftover skins from roasted garlic or the toasted, smoky skin from a roasted bell pepper.
You could even get fancy and add different flavors to your broth. For an Asian flare, add some ginger, garlic, and scallions. For a Mexican twist (excellent for tortilla soup!) add jalapeno ribs, cilantro leftovers, and tomatoes.
With all the fresh produce Summer provides, I love to collect all summer long and make my broth at the end of the season (right before soup season). Usually, I’ll have more than enough broth to get me through Winter.
TIP* Really, really…do NOT worry yourself too much with cleaning the scraps. There is so much flavor in the skins, and honestly the “grit” of the vegetables. Plus, you’re going to strain out the seeds, grit, and whatever else at the end anyway. Don’t trouble yourself with it. When you get scraps, just toss them into your bag without a second thought.
Vegetable Scrap Broth (THM FP)
Place your still frozen scraps into a large stock pot. Fill to the top with water, 1-2 Tsp of black peppercorns if using, cover, and bring to a boil.
When it comes to a boil, reduce down to a simmer with the lid on for at least an hour and up to 3 hours. The longer you’re able to let it go, the more flavor will develop. When you’re done simmering, leave it to stand for at least an hour.
Strain out the larger pieces of vegetables using a spider or large slotted spoon. Stir in 1/4 c GF soy sauce or liquid aminos. You can skip this, and keep it salt free, if you like. I like being able to control the level of salt in my recipes, so sometimes I leave it salt free and that’s completely up to you.
Take your quart containers, place a fine strainer over top, and begin spooning (I use a 1 cup measure or coffee cup) the broth through the strainer, into the container.
Place lids on, finish cooling to room temperature, and freeze.
Repeat the process for however many bags of scraps you have. My 4 bags yielded me about 10 quarts of stock, with one being spilled by my toddler. ^_^
It’s great to use in soups, stews, chili, sauces, ANYTHING.