Category Archives: Soups, Stews, and Salads

Easter Egg Salad Sandwiches

 
What to do with those leftover eggs? Well, you can make deviled eggs, use them sliced in a spinach salad, make a nice potato salad or other various salads, or make egg salad. There are probably more options, but my little brain isn’t that imaginative, so I decided on a kicked up version of an egg salad sandwich.

I like tangy egg salad, so I added a little mustard and vinegar to it. Adding bacon and jalapeno just sounded good, kind of making it like a totally deconstructed jalapeno popper. Besides, what doesn’t taste better with a little bacon? The result was a nice, creamy egg salad with a bit of a tang and crunch.

Make sure and put this on a sturdy bread – I chose jalapeno cheddar and toasted it. It goes perfectly with some chips on the side and a big glass of sweet iced tea.

When I was putting the sandwich together, I noticed something strange about the shape of the bread. It looked like a bunny! So I put a little jalapeno for the eye and voila – an Easter Egg Salad Bunny! The cheddar cheese at one end even looks like its little haunches. OK, maybe it’s a stretch, but I thought it was cute.

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Easter Egg Salad

***A creamy, crunchy egg salad with a bit of a kick.  Be sure an use a dense or toasted bread to hold the sandwich together.

Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 3 boiled eggs chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small jalapeno finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapeno (optional) chopped
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon cooked and chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Stir together the ingredients, including salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes unless using immediately.

Recipe Notes

Tips and Stuff:   I liked the tang that the pickled jalapeno gave the egg salad, but that's purely optional.  If you don't have fresh jalapeno, go ahead and use just the pickled jalapeno.  If using thinner bacon, fry up three pieces.  Add the mayo until it's the consistency you like - some people like it less creamy and more chunky.

Easy Chicken Cassoulet (Cooking for Two)

 
I’ve watched Ina Garten make cassoulet several times on her show and have thought someday I would make it…when I have two days to cook dinner (it’s a little complicated). That wasn’t going to happen so I found a cassoulet with “easy” in the title and decided to go with it and change the ingredients to make it work for two.

Cassoulet is essentially a French bean stew or casserole with some sort of meat (pork, beef, chicken, etc.) in it. This one uses chicken and instead of using chicken thighs, I used some leftover rotisserie chicken (rotisserie is French, too, right?).  It also has a nice buttery breadcrumb topping on it.

When it says “easy,” it means after you get the ingredients together, chopped, grated, and measured, it’s easy. Be sure and read through the ingredients and recipe carefully before making it. The steps aren’t complicated, but the ingredients need to be layered just so. The result is a very hearty, thick dish sprinkled with just the right amount of rosemary. If you’re not fond of rosemary, try basil.

The addition of the parmesan really makes the dish. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the top is dotted with butter before baking. I enjoyed this easy version of chicken cassoulet and look forward to making Ina’s version one day to stretch my cooking wings!

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Easy Chicken Cassoulet for Two
****Hearty, filling and delicious stew/casserole. Adapted from Southern Living All Time Favorites.
Servings: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz rotisserie or leftover cooked chicken , chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper , divided
  • 4 oz slice fresh mushrooms
  • 3/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 C dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can navy beans, rinsed, drained and divided
  • 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese , divided
  • 1/2 C soft breadcrumbs or fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 6 oz chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp butter , chopped into small pieces
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Heat up olive oil in a skillet to medium and saute the chicken in it for 2 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Add mushrooms and rosemary to the skillet, stir and saute for about 2 minutes (add another tsp. or so of olive oil if needed). Stir in white wine and cook on medium-low for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and add 1/2 can navy beans.
  2. Spoon the bean mixture evenly into a glass loaf dish or 2 two-cup crocks. Top evenly with chopped chicken. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper. Top evenly with remaining navy beans and drizzle the chicken broth over the entire dish. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. Dot the top of the casserole with butter.
  3. Bake, covered loosely with aluminum foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 more minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes
Tips and Stuff:   Make sure and use freshly grated Parmesan - not the green can stuff.  I made my own bread crumbs out of a heel and 1 piece of bread because I have a neat little chopper that will do it well.  Use what you have.  Serve with cornbread or a fresh crusty roll.

Sausage Bean Soup

 
It’s getting cold outside (finally) and thoughts go to warm, comforting soup.  Bret bought some great Italian sausage last week and I’ve been looking for something to make with it.  This Sausage Bean Soup looked perfect.  I could tell it was going to be good!

I changed the original Taste of Home recipe slightly by adding a bit of chili sauce because I wanted more of a tomato base to it.  I also like my soup more soupy than chunky, so I added more liquid for that.  The result was a wonderful savory soup full of good stuff like tomatoes, butter beans, black beans and sweet Italian Sausage.

If you don’t have Italian sausage, I’m sure ground beef or ground turkey would be great too. Some of the reviewers used great northern beans instead of the butter beans, but I liked the texture the butter beans added. You could even leave the meat out and add a third kind of bean if that’s more your style. This is a nice addition to my soup recipes and I’ll be using it often!

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Sausage Bean Soup
***1/2 - slightly adapted from Taste of Home.
Ingredients
  • 3/4 lb bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 can (16 oz.) butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tbsp chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cans (or about 20 oz.) reduced-sodium beef broth
Instructions
  1. In a dutch oven or large pan, crumble and cook the sausage along with the onion and garlic over medium heat until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.  Drain excess grease.
  2. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chili sauce, basil, and beef broth, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Tips and Stuff:  I added a teaspoon of olive oil because the sausage didn't have enough fat to saute the onion and garlic.  Enjoy!

Short-Rib Ragu with Bacon and Spinach

 
Since you can find most recipes online anymore, I’ve discontinued all but one cooking magazine – Rachael Ray’s Everyday. There are tons of good (and a few strange) recipes in the magazine along with current trends and lots of tips. I’ve always had good luck with her recipes and the November issue has this Short-Rib Ragu that sounded wonderful. I made a special trip to the store to get some of the ingredients that weren’t already in the cabinet or fridge and decided to make it for dinner last night. Bret was doing some icky plumbing in the house, so I thought a nice dinner was in order to make his day a little better.

If you can find boneless short-ribs at your local store, lucky you. I went to two stores and only found short-ribs with the bone in. I got those and “de-boned” them (not fun) for the dish and also picked up spinach instead of the kale the recipe called for. Sorry, kale and I aren’t friends.

Here’s the wonderful ragu simmering in the pot before the addition of the gnocchi:

short-rib-ragu

It was as good as it looks. With the addition of the red wine, it had an earthy flavor and hearty texture. The only thing I might change next time is to use a twisted pasta, like fusilli or rotini. The gnocchi was fine, but I think the pasta would gather more of that sauce onto it.

I always line up ingredients to a recipe on the cabinet to get ready for it, but I didn’t chop the carrot, bacon, and garlic ahead of time.  I found myself scrambling while the meat was browning and ended up dumping the beef stock all over the cabinet and floor (which our dog, Vickie, appreciated). You may want to prep everything, including opening the tomatoes, measuring out the beef stock, etc., for this one. It wasn’t difficult to make, but the steps were specific.

short-rib-ragu2
If you’re looking for a cool-weather warming and filling entree, this is the one to make. In the magazine it’s touted at $2.92 per person, but I upped the ribs to 2 lb. since I had to de-bone them, and mine added up to a little more than that.

Bret had a second serving and gave it the thumbs up and I really liked it as well, so this will go into the “make again” file!

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Short-Rib Ragu with Bacon and Spinach
***1/2 Adapted from Rachael Ray's Everyday magazine. Hearty, earthy flavors, and a nice warming entree.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless short ribs , cut into 1-inch cubes and excess fat trimmed
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon , finely chopped
  • 1 small onion , finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot , peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic , finely chopped
  • 1/2 C dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1 can diced Italian tomatoes
  • 1 C packed , stemmed baby spinach
  • 12 oz fresh or frozen gnocchi (or twisted pasta)
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and brown in the oil, turning often, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  2. Add the bacon to the pot. Cook over medium and stir occasionally until browned. Stir in the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Stir in the stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the browned ribs to the mixture, covering with the sauce. Cover and cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally until the meat is fork tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Using two forks, shred the meat in the pot. Stir in the spinach until wilted and season the ragu with salt and pepper to taste; stir in a couple of pinches of red pepper if desired. Remove from the heat and keep covered while making the gnocchi or pasta according to the instructions on the package. Drain well and stir into the ragu.
  3. Divide among bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.
Recipe Notes

Tips and Stuff:  Next time besides using twisted pasta, I would add either a tablespoon of ketchup or tomato paste. It would give it a little more of a bite. I added the red pepper, as I like things a bit spicy. Not mandatory. As usual, I didn't use onion (substituted 1 tsp. onion powder), but I left it in the recipe, as I think it would be better with it. Read the recipe through before starting, and have all ingredients prepared and ready to go!

White Chicken Chili

 
It’s finally almost cold here in North Texas and time to pull out more of those soup and stew recipes.  OK, I admit it – it’s mid-January and 60 degrees outside.  Doesn’t matter because it’s still Winter and Winter means it’s time to cook soup!
White Turkey Chili 2
This easy White Chicken Chili has been in my recipe file for a long time and I like to make it for small gatherings or to take to friends.  I guess it’s called chili because it has cumin and green chiles in it, but it’s really not very spicy. (And any self-respecting Texan will tell you,”No Beans In Chili!!”)

Off the chili bean controversy and on to telling you that this is a flavorful little soup with lots of vegetables and good stuff.  You can leave the chicken out if you’d like, or use turkey instead.  You can also kick it up by adding more chiles if you want it a little spicier.  I like the recipe as is, though, with a little cornbread muffin on the side.  Here’s a close-up so you can see all the good stuff in it:
White Turkey Chili
This would be a good vegetarian soup if you not only leave the chicken out, but also use vegetable broth instead of chicken.  It’s pretty versatile and always good!

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White Turkey Chili
***1/2; Full of good stuff and a nice little comfort soup.
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C chopped onion
  • 1 celery rib , chopped
  • 1 3/4 C chicken broth
  • 2 C cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (11 oz.) white or shoepeg corn, drained
  • 2 tbsp chopped green chiles
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed dried oregano
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan or dutch oven, saute the onion and celery in the oil until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  If serving later, let it cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Tips and Stuff:  I went ahead and used half an onion in the pictured soup.  I couldn't find white or shoepeg corn this particular day, so I used a regular-sized can of yellow corn. Serve with saltines or even better, warm corn muffins.