Slow Cooker Wednesday – Granny Butternut Soup

Have you ever been running around in the morning trying to get out the door and in your car on your way to work you realize you forgot to start the slow cooker?  Not with this recipe!  This soup cooks for EIGHTEEN hours!  You can put it on the night before and pretty much forget about it (except for a temperature change in the morning).  It turned out crazy good but very spicy so watch the cayenne if you’re sensitive.

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 large red onions, sliced

6 cups of butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes

4 celery stalks, sliced

2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

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Turn the slow cooker on high while you get your ingredients ready.  On the stove top, use a large saucepan and melt the coconut oil.  Place the onions, squash, and celery into the pan and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 10-15 minutes.  Transfer veggies to the slow cooker.  Add the chopped apples, chicken broth, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.  Cook on high for 7 to 8 hours and low for 10 hours.

Turn your slow cooker to the warm setting.  Using a blender, puree the soup in batches until it is all the desired consistence (or if you have a stick blender you can use that in the actual slow cooker).  Taste and add seasonings as desired.

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This is definitely different than other butternut soup I’ve made.  It’s very good though and super filling!  Happy cooking!

 

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A New Take On Fish – Steamed Bass with Fennel, Parsley, and Capers

I usually serve my fish with some sort of vegetable on the side but this time I put the fish over it!  This recipe is from the Hungry for Change cookbook.  It’s uber healthy and while it’s a little bland, a little added salt perked it right up!

IMG_16541/4 medium while onion, sliced

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 5-oz portions of sea bass

1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cooked brown rice

IMG_1656Put the onion, fennel, and lemon juice in a medium sauce pot and cover with one inch of water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat slightly and simmer for 5 minutes.  Place the 2 portions of fish into the pot.  Season with salt and sprinkle with parsley and capers.  Cover and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, or until the fish is almost flaky.

Divide the brown rice between two bowls and place the vegetables over the rice.  Top each serving with the fish.

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Voila! This is so easy to make and so healthy! Happy cooking!

 

 

Putting leftovers to good use – Spaghetti with crab and chili oil

After the gumbo, I had a half a pound of crab to make use of.  Some said make crab au gratin but I cant eat dairy.  Other suggestions included stuffed mushrooms or fish fillets, both of which I didn’t already have and a trip to the grocery store was not in my near future.  So I settled on pasta!  I haven’t made any type of pasta in ages because I cut most wheat out of my diet over a year ago.  But I found some whole wheat spaghetti noodles in my pantry along with chili oil and a pepper left over from the fish cakes I made and I set to work.  Thank you to my friend Shelly for the lemons from the tree in her yard!

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8 oz dried whole wheat spaghetti

1 tbsp chili oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 red chili, finely chopped

2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped

8 oz white crab meat

juice of 1 lemon

2-3 tbsp olive oil

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Place the spaghetti into a pan of boiling, salted water.  Cook until tender

Heat the chili oil in a small pan, add the garlic, chili, parsley and crab meat and cook gently for a couple of
minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil.  Drain the pasta and stir through the chili crab sauce.  Serve immediately.

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So easy and so yummy!  Happy cooking!

The Main Event – Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs

This is the final post in my Valentine’s Day series.  I’ve only ever roasted a whole chicken one other time.  Mainly because I don’t have a good carving knife but also because a whole chicken is a lot of meat for one person! But with Rob to help consume I figured why not do it? It’s a special occasion right?  So here we go!

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1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, plus two whole lemons

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Fresh herbs for garnish (4 rosemary springs, 4 sage sprigs, 8 thyme sprigs)

IMG_1634Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Remove the giblets from the chicken, wash it inside and out with cold water, then let it drain, cavity down, in a colander for 2 minutes.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Place it breast side down in a medium roasting pan fitted with a rack and pour the lemon juice all over the chicken, both inside and out.  Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper inside and out.

Prick 2 whole lemons three times each in three different places with a fork and place them deep inside the cavity.  Really stick the fork in.  I didn’t push it in far enough and there were barely any drippings for the sauce.  Chicken cavity sizes may vary, so  if one lemon is partly sticking out, that’s okay.

Put the chicken in the oven lower the temperature to 350 degrees, and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven.  Using tongs or two wooden spoons, turn the chicken breast side up.  Insert a meat thermometer in the thigh, and return the chicken to the oven and roast for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the meat thermometer reads 180 degrees and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a fork.  Continue roasting if necessary.  Keep in mind that cooking times in different ovens vary, roasting a chicken at 350 degrees take about 18-20 minutes per pound, plus an additional 15 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.  Pour the juices from the roasting pan on top of the sliced chicken.  Garnish with fresh herbs.

IMG_1640I’ll be honest, this chicken was really good but I think it could have been better.  I don’t think I cooked it long enough.  While it was really tender and tasty, there was no juice from the lemons inside to pour over the chicken.  I’m planning on trying this again to see if I can get it to come out right.  I really love lemon sauce so I was disappointed that there wasn’t any.  The little bit of drippings that I did get were really good so I know it would be a stellar dish!  Ladies, be careful who you serve this dish to.  It should be someone you love!  If you want to know why, send me a message on the Facebook page and I’ll tell you!  Let me know how yours turns out.  Happy cooking!

Basic Side Dish- Baked New Potatoes

This is post two in the Valentine’s Day dinner meal series.  Rob loves potatoes, so I made some for him!  These are super easy and will go with pretty much any type of protein.

1 pound medium red potatoes

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Leaves from 2 fresh rosemary sprigs

IMG_1641Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a large sauce pan, cover potatoes with two inches of cold water and bring to a boil.  Cook over high heat until almost tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and cut in half (careful, they’re hot!).  Spread potato halves on a large roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, a few grinds of pepper, and rosemary, and toss well to coat.

Roast for 25 minutes, until golden and completely tender.  Serve!

IMG_1642You could serve these with some sort of topping but I just kept them plain and they were still yummy.  Stay tuned for the main entree tomorrow!  Happy cooking!

 

 

The Perfect Party Salad – Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Arugula Salad

My next couple of posts will feature dishes that I served for Rob and my Valentine’s Day dinner.  We stayed in and cooked since restaurants on Valentine’s day are just ridiculous.  This salad would work great for any party or summer BBQ.

2 pints red or yellow cherry tomatoes

Olive oil for drizzling

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Leaves from 6 thyme sprigs

1 bag (10 oz) washed arugula

3 Belgian endives, thickly sliced

DRESSING

1/2 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup olive oil

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Spread the tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and thyme; toss gently to coat.

Roast the tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until almost bursting.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the shallot, mustard, and lemon juice, and add a little salt and pepper.  Whisk in the olive oil in a steady slow stream.

In a salad bowl, combine the arugula, endives and roasted tomatoes.  Add the dressing and toss gently.  If you’re a cheese person (neither Rob nor I can eat it) add 6 oz of Gorgonzola or another blue cheese at this step.

IMG_1639I will admit that I didn’t prep for this dinner the way I should have and I had to cook the tomatoes for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  It still turned out good but I’m curious what it would be like if I had done it the way it was supposed to be done!  I’ll probably try this salad again with spinach to see how it goes.  Happy cooking!

 

Belated Mardi Gras Meal – Seafood Gumbo

I promised you all Slow Cooker Thursdays and then promptly got so busy I couldn’t find time to cook! So I give you slow cooker Tuesday! I didn’t have time to do my normal Sunday dinner this week so I filled in with this gumbo.  It’s very easy to make and turned out so good!

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2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced

2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped

14 oz can of organic diced tomatoes, undrained

2 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp

1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen crab meat

10 oz sliced okra

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Turn your slow cooker on high while you get your ingredients ready.

In a large frying pan, heat up the coconut oil.  Saute the garlic, onions, celery, and bell peppers until tender.  Transfer the cooked vegetables into the slow cooker.  Pour the diced tomatoes and chicken broth in the slow cooker.  Add the Cajun seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, and bay leaves.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and turn the temperature to low.  Cook on low for four hours.

Add the shrimp, crab meat, and okra to the cooker and cook for 1 more hour.  Serve.

IMG_1647Rob told me this was one of the best gumbos he had ever had, and he eats a lot of gumbo.  That made my night since he’s usually pretty honest about whether or not he likes something!  I hope yours turns out!  Happy cooking!