Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew

September has flown by!! This month was marked by several “blog-worthy” events, including a race, two vacations and a major room makeover. If only I could find the time to actually write these posts!! For tonight, however, I have an easy entry to share because I made it last fall and have been saving the photos since then. 😆

1203 Curried Butternut Squash Stew

This fantastic one-pot stew dish features curry-roasted morsels of butternut squash, flavorful red lentils, a hearty helping of kale and crumbled Italian sausage.  Sounds like a perfect fall dish, right?!? The curry-coated butternut squash smells amazing when it’s in the oven and the lentils, kale and squash cook down to form a thick, tasty mixture that completely makes you forget that you’re eating healthy food. Well, except for the sausage… but you can also use ground turkey (shown in my photos here from last year) or opt to leave the meat out altogether if you prefer a vegetarian dish.

1216 Curried Butternut Squash Stew

Curried Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew with Kale and Sausage

Serves 4-6; Slightly adapted from HealthyFoodForLiving.com.

Ingredients
For the curried squash…
4 cups cubed Butternut Squash
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Madras Curry Powder
2 teaspoons Garam Masala

For the stew…
1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
OPTIONAL: 1 lb. Ground Italian Sausage or Ground Turkey
1 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 teaspoons Madras Curry Powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
3 cups Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth, if going the vegetarian route)
3/4-1 cup Red Lentils
Curried Squash from above
1 bunch Kale, washed, stems, removed, and roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Naan flatbread

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the cubed squash in olive oil and then add several grinds of salt and pepper plus the curry powder and garam masala. Stir well to coat the squash evenly. Spread the squash out in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through. The squash cubes are ready when they are just starting to brown on the edges. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add in the (optional) crumbled sausage or turkey and saute until cooked through. Transfer the cooked meat to a plate. Add the chopped onion to the leftover oil in the pot (drain off a bit if the meat was very fatty) and saute the onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, curry powder and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Pour in the chicken broth and stir in the lentils. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the roasted butternut squash, sausage and chopped kale to the stew and stir to combine. Cook the stew for another 10-15 minutes or until the kale has wilted down. If you have a lot of kale covering the pot will speed up this process! Season with salt and pepper to taste.

1209 Curried Butternut Squash Stew

Serve a hearty portion of curried butternut squash stew with a few slices of naan. Enjoy!

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Cassoulet with Smoked Sausage and White Beans

How do you prepare for a snow day?  Do you rush to the supermarket for bread, milk and eggs?  Or maybe turn up the heat so the house feels warm and toasty when you come in from shoveling?  In our house we try to take advantage of being snowed in by planning a big, slow-cooked meal that we normally wouldn’t have time to put together on a regular weeknight.

Flashback to Thursday, February 13th… A huge storm was dumping more than a foot of snow on our already snow-covered region, the local kids were all enjoying yet another snow day, and our office was closed.  Knowing that we’d have lots of time to cook, Matt and I decided to try a new stew recipe… something that required a little prep up front and that would be guaranteed to fill the house with the delicious aroma of slow-cooking meat and herbs as it simmered in the crockpot all afternoon.  I found the perfect candidate on MyRecipes.com… smoked sausage cassoulet!

616 Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a classic french dish that features slow-cooked white beans and meat.  White traditional versions of cassoulet call for duck confit, our snow day version of cassoulet kept things simple.  All of the ingredients were readily available at our local grocery store (on the eve of a snow storm, no less!) and, after being sauteed and slow-cooked all afternoon, they came together to make a delightfully hearty stew with smoky kielbasa, richly flavored white beans, and pork that was so tender you could cut it with a spoon.  Top that off with some freshly grated parmesan and chopped parsley and we had the ultimate culinary reward for all of the shoveling we did on Thursday… and it was a LOT of shoveling: about 14 inches of heavy, wet snow!

February 13 Snow Collage

Cassoulet with Smoked Sausage, Pork and White Beans (adapted from MyRecipes.com; serves 5)

You will need…
2-3 slices Bacon, uncooked, cut into approx. 1″ x 1/2″ pieces
12 oz. Smoked Sausage,* halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices
2 cups Chopped Onion
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 – 14.5 oz. cans Diced Tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 – 15 oz. cans Great Northern Beans, drained and divided
1 lb. Pork Tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
Fresh Parsley, for garnish

*Choose a good quality smoked sausage as this will have a major impact on the overall flavor of the dish.  The first time we made this recipe we used Johnsonville Smoked Pork Kielbasa with great results.  The second time we also added in some spicy Andouille sausage (leftover from Jambalaya) and that added even more flavor.

621 Cassoulet

Directions:
Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the chopped bacon bits, stirring occasionally, until crispy.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a bowl and set aside.  Add the smoked sausage to the bacon fat and saute until just starting to brown.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to another bowl and set aside.  Add the onion, rosemary, thyme and garlic to the pan and saute until soft, approximately 4-5 minutes.  Add the bacon, tomatoes, salt and pepper to the pan, stir well, then bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place 1 can’s worth of drained Great Northern Beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until chunky.  (I found that doing this in a 3 qt pot worked well since the bottom of the pot is flat.)  Add in the remaining can of beans along with the browned sausage and pork and stir well.

Assemble your cassoulet in layers in a crockpot.  First, spread half of the bean mixture on the bottom of the crockpot.  Then, in layers, add half the tomato mixture, the remaining bean mixtue, and the remaining tomato mixture.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 1/2 hours.  Stir the cassoulet before serving and top each individual bowl with grated Parmesan and parsley.  Enjoy!

597 Cassoulet

Do you have any go-to recipes that you love to make on snow days?
Tell me about them in the comments section!  🙂

White Bean Chili with Sausage and Chicken

It has been bitterly cold here in southeastern PA.  We haven’t seen above-freezing temperatures in a week and the 14 inches of snow that fell last Tuesday still look fresh and powdery… no melting whatsoever!  I’m not complaining, though.  I’ll take extreme winter weather with lots of snow and cold over a mediocre, unexciting winter any year!

The cold weather means that Matt and I have been making soups, stews, and chilis almost every week.  Right now we have a beef chili simmering on the stove that’s made with “real” dried beans that we had to soak overnight… first time I’ve ever done that!  Tonight’s chili still has another hour or so to cook before it will be ready so I thought I’d use that time to post about another stew that we made a few weeks ago… white bean chili with hot sausage, chicken, bacon, and five types of peppers… yum!!

White Bean Chili with Sausage, Bacon and Chicken

This white bean chili comes together really quickly… just under an hour from start to finish.  That’s much faster than tonight’s beef chili which has been simmering for nearly 7 hours! (Can you tell that I am impatiently waiting for it to be done?  I’m starving!!)  Getting back to the white bean chili, I found that the “white” cannellini beans and navy beans were a nice change from the basic kidney beans and black beans that my chilis usually include and I definitely liked the combination of bell peppers, jalapeño, green chiles, and chipotles en adobo.  Oh, and of course I thoroughly enjoyed the bacon and hot sausage… how could you not like that winning combination?  🙂

White Bean Chili with Sausage and Chicken (adapted from this recipe at Food52)

Chili Ingredients:
Olive Oil
5 slices Bacon, chopped
1 lb. Chicken Breast, cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb. Hot Italian Sausage, ground (or removed from casing)
2 Yellow Onions, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Jalapeño Pepper, minced
2 – 4 oz. cans Diced Green Chiles
2 Chipotles en Adobo, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
3 tablespoons Cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons Chili Powder
3 tablespoons Mexican Oregano
3 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 – 15 oz. can Cannellinni Beans, partially drained
1 – 15 oz. can Navy Beans, partially drained

Garnishes:
Your choice of Sour Cream, Grated Cheddar Cheese, Fresh Cilantro, Lime Wedges, Avocado, and/or Tortilla Strips

White Bean Chili In Process

Directions:
Heat a large (7-8 qt) stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and brown the chopped bacon until it is just starting to get crispy.  Add in the chicken and sausage.  Brown the meat, stirring frequently, for approx. 12 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sausage is well crumbled.

Stir in the next seven ingredients (onion thru garlic) and saute until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the spices (black pepper thru Mexican oregano), stir well, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stir, and cook for 3 more minutes.  Next, add the chicken stock 1 cup at a time, stirring and scraping the browned bits off of bottom of the pot between each cup.  Bring the chili to a boil then add the beans and stir well to combine.  Reduce the heat and simmer the chili for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve the white bean chili in large bowls and top with your choice of garnish.  We enjoyed our chili with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and cilantro and it was delicious!

White Bean Chili 4

Here are some of the other Chilis and Stews that we’ve been making lately.  Enjoy and stay warm!
•  Pozole Verde
•  Pork and Green Chile Stew
•  Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

Pork and Green Chile Stew

Hello there, blog world!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted but that’s because Matt and I have been in Las Vegas!  We were there all of last week and just got home late last night.  Being home after a long work trip is definitely nice but I do have to admit that I’m already missing Nevada’s weather.  Every afternoon the temps climbed into the mid-sixties and the sky was always perfectly clear and sunny.  Here in Pennsylvania, on the other hand, we’re about to get hit with another “Polar Vortex.”  Once that icy blast of cold air arrives tomorrow it’s going to stay below freezing for four days straight.  Brrr!

Pennsylvania’s winter weather does have its benefits, however.  Take for instance winter comfort food.  I’ll bet a hearty slow-cooked stew tastes WAY better in 20° Pennsylvania than it would in 60° Las Vegas, right? 😉  I could actually really go for a nice stew tonight for dinner.  We don’t have the ingredients on hand though so I’ll satisfy my craving by posting about this Pork and Green Chile Stew that I made last month.  Doesn’t it look yummy?

Pork and Green Chile Stew close up

I found this Slow Cooker Pork and Green Chile Stew recipe at Skinny Taste.  It was extremely easy to make – just cube and brown the pork and simmer all of the ingredients together in a crock pot for 4-5 hours – and the cooked pork was tender and moist.  Matt and I garnished our plates with cilantro, avocado and sour cream and these Mexican flavors added a really nice, bright finishing touch to the stew.  For anyone looking for a good Polar Vortex meal, I highly recommend this!

Pork and Green Chile Stew

Slow-Cooked Pork and Green Chile Stew (Recipe from Skinny Taste)

Stew Ingredients…
2 lbs. Pork Loin roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 2″ cubes
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour (or use a gluten-free flour for G-Free preparation)
1 medium Yellow Onion, diced
2 – 4 oz. cans Diced Green Chiles, drained
1-2 Jalapeño Peppers, diced with seeds and stems removed
1 – 10 oz. can Ro*Tel Tomatoes & Diced Green Chiles (not drained)
1/2 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Other Ingredients/Garnishes…
Cooked White or Brown Rice
Sour Cream (omit for Lactose-Free)
Sliced Avocado
Chopped Cilantro

Directions:
Season the cubed pork liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the cubed pork.  Cook the pork for approximately 4 minutes or until browned on all sides.  Gradually stir in the flour and allow the pork to continue browning for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Transfer the browned pork to a crock pot.  Add in the remaining stew ingredients (onion thru garlic powder) and stir gently to combine.  Cover and cook on high power for 4-5 hours or on low power for 8 hours.  When done, stir the mixture and, if needed, add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve the stew over rice and garnish with sour cream, avocado and cilantro.

Pork and Green Chile Stew

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

It’s snowing out!  We were supposed to get a mere inch of snow today but it appears that the weather guys were WAY off… there’s already over 4 inches of snow out there!!  Here’s the view outside and the radar map… the snow doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon!

December 8th Snow

Cold and snowy weather is the perfect time to enjoy a batch of warm, hearty stew.  I have this pork and green chile stew from Skinny Taste cooking in my crock pot right now and I want to share another yummy concoction that I made a few weeks ago: Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili.  The original, vegetarian version of this recipe came from Pami over at Omnomalicious.  I would have been happy with a meatless stew but Matt likes his meat so I took some liberties with the recipe and added in some ground turkey just for him. 🙂

281 Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

This chili was seriously awesome.  The butternut squash was soft and just the tiniest bit sweet, and it blended really nicely with the black beans, peppers, and onions in a tex-mex-style broth that had just the right amount of kick.  YUM!  I will definitely be making this again soon!!

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili (adapted from Omnomalicious)

You will need…
1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
1 Onion, diced
2 Red Bell Peppers, diced
1 Jalapeño Pepper, diced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, minced
1 can Diced Tomatoes
2 cans Black Beans, drained
1 cup Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon Cumin
1 tablespoon Chile Powder
1 tablespoon Mexican Oregano
1 lb. ground Turkey, browned
Salt and Pepper, to taste

272 Butternut Turkey Chili before and after

Directions:
Oh yeah, did I mention that this stew is amazingly easy to make?  Simply combine all of the ingredients in a crock pot then cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours or until the squash has reached your desired consistency.  Season to taste and serve with a slice of freshly baked cornbread!

284 Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

Smoky Beef Chili

Slow-cooked stew… the perfect winter weeknight meal! Last week after a long day at work and a cold drive home we opened our back door and were greeted by the wonderful smell of simmering Smoky Beef Chili in the crock pot. This chili was easy to make — we actually threw the ingredients together at lunchtime and let them simmer all afternoon — and the resulting dinner was delicious!

Smoky Beef Chili

This Smoky Beef Chili recipe comes from Williams Sonoma’s The New Slow Cooker, a cookbook that my mom got me for Christmas. The chili features tender chunks of beef (so tender that you can cut them with a spoon!), smoky chipotle-induced heat and a fresh corn salsa that contrasts nicely with the intense flavors of the stew. Depending on how much beef stock you opt to add, the chili is either a nice soup consistency (with more stock) or a thick stew that tastes great over rice.

Smoky Beef Chili (from The New Slow Cooker)

Ingredients for the Stew:
4 lbs. Boneless Beef Chuck, trimmed of fat and cut into 3/4″ cubes
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Large Yellow Onions, coarsely chopped
2 Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Chipotle Chile Powder
2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Dried Mexican Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Tomato Paste
2-3 cups Beef Stock, divided

Ingredients for the Corn Salsa Garnish:
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium Soy Sauce
Juice of 1 Lime
2 teaspoons Sherry (or Sherry Vinegar)
1 teaspoon minced fresh Ginger
1/8 teaspoon Sugar
2-3 drops Hot Sauce (we used Cholula)
2 cups Corn Kernels (if frozen, rinse under water to thaw)
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes, halved
4 Green Onions, thinly sliced

Directions:
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add half of the oil to a large skillet over medium-heat heat. Add half of the beef and brown evenly (approx. 5 minutes), then set the browned beef aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining meat.

If the skillet is dry, add more of the olive oil or, if the skillet has a lot of fat in it, drain most of the fat away. Bring back to medium heat and saute the onions for about 6 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the next 6 ingredients (chipotles thru tomato paste) and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the beef stock and stir well to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.

Add 1 teaspoon salt along with some ground pepper, and 1-2 cups of stock (depending on how soupy you want the chili to be) to the slow cooker and stir in the browned beef and any accumulated juices. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 5 hours.

Before serving the stew make the corn salsa. Start by whisking together the Lime Vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil thru hot sauce) in a small bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and stir in the vinaigrette. Serve the salsa on top of a steaming bowl of Smoky Beef Chili and enjoy!

Smoky Beef Chili

Pozole Rojo

Back in November Matt and I were pleasantly surprised when we made Pozole Verde, a Mexican-style pork stew with cilantro, tomatillos and jalapeños.  The Verde recipe appeared as a riff on the chili-based Pozole Rojo in our The New Best Recipe cookbook so we immediately vowed to make the Rojo as soon as we got the chance.  Well, that chance came yesterday afternoon and the resulting “red” stew with pork, hominy and ancho chilis was wonderful!

This hearty stew is warm, flavorful, and perfect for a cold winter evening.  It’s fairly healthy and you can top it with a wide variety of bright, crisp garnishes including cilantro, avocado, radishes, onion, and, Matt’s favorite, quesco fresco.  Yum!

Pozole Rojo 1

Pozole Rojo (Pork and Hominy Stew with Ancho Chilis)
Serves 8-10; from Cook’s Illustrated – The New Best Recipe

Pozole Ingredients…
1 bone-in Pork Picnic Roast or Shoulder Roast, approx. 4-5 lbs.
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
2 White Onions, coarsely chopped
5 cloves Garlic, minced
6 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 15oz. can Diced Tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried Mexican Oregano
3 dried Ancho Chilis (2 oz.), stems and seeds removed
1 1/2 cups Boiling Water
3-15 oz. cans Hominy, drained and rinsed

Garnishes…
1/4 cup Pureed Ancho Chilis (prepared with stew)
1/2 White Onion, finely chopped
1 Avocado, sliced
Cilantro, coarsely chopped
6 Radishes, thinly sliced
1 Lime, sliced into wedges
Mexican Oregano
Quesco Fresco, crumbled
8-10 Corn Tortillas, warmed and sliced into strips
Tortilla Chips

Pozole Rojo with Queso Fresco, Cilantro, and Pureed Ancho Chilis

Directions:
Trim excess fat off of the pork roast and cut along the muscle into several large pieces (approx. 8-9 pieces for a 4 lb. roast). Reserve the bones. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large (8 qt.) oven-proof dutch oven over medium heat. Add the  onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for approximately 4 minutes until the onions have softened and released moisture. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the pork and bones to the onion mixture and stir frequently for approximately 8 minutes until the outside of the meat is no longer pink. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, oregano and another 1/2 teaspoon salt and increase the heat to high. Bring the mixture to a simmer on the stove, then cover and cook in a preheated 300°F oven for 2 hours.

Pozole Rojo in the pot

Meanwhile, soak the ancho chilis in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water for 20 minutes.  (I microwaved the water in a pyrex measuring cup and soaked the chilis in the cup — no need to keep the water boiling for 20 minutes.)  Transfer the chilis and soaking liquid to a blender and puree.  Pour the blended chilis through a strainer; you should end up with about one cup of puree.

After 2 hours, remove the pork mixture from the oven and return to the stove. Remove the pork and bones and place on a plate to cool. Stir the rinsed hominy and 3/4 cup of the pureed chilis into the broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Once the pork is cool, shred the pork with your fingers (or with two forks). Pull any remaining meat off of the bones and discard the bones. Stir the shredded meat into the stew and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the meat is hot. Serve in a large bowl with a liberal helping of the garnishes on top.

Pozole Rojo with Queso Fresco, Cilantro, and Pureed Ancho Chilis