In December Piper won an Instagram contest to become an official reviewer for the new Extreme Warmer jacket from Hurtta, a Finnish company that produces functional, high-quality dog clothing and equipment. Piper is one of those dogs that loves being outside no matter how cold, windy, or snowy the weather might be, so this jacket was especially intriguing to me since it would provide significantly better coverage and warmth than the horse blanket-style coats that Piper already owns. Continue reading
This one pot pasta dish with sausage, kale and white beans is hearty, warming and satisfying… perfect for a cold winter night! Of course, winter is drawing to an end (or it better be, at least!) so I figure I should hurry up and get this recipe up on the blog while we’re all still in the mood to see some comfort food.
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of cooking an entire pasta dish in one pot but it wasn’t until a few months ago that Matt and I actually tried this technique for ourselves. It turns out that there’s nothing particularly hard about making a one pot meal… you simply layer in each ingredient as you go. First you brown the meat, then throw in the onions and beans, toss in a little garlic, add broth, water and uncooked pasta, then add in your kale in two batches… the first to cook down into the dish and the remainder to add a little bite and pop of color. Easy! Thanks to the cooked-down white beans, the resulting dish has a creamy, thick, almost stew-like consistency that is very different from a normal “two pot” recipe where the pasta is cooked separately in boiling water.
Matt and I have been making variations of this pasta almost every week this winter. Sometimes we use spinach instead of kale or we throw in steamed broccoli along with the greens. Feel free to change up the meat (hot sausage adds a nice kick) and the pasta… we’ve had delicious results with gemelli, fusilli lunghi, rigatoni and penne.
One Pot Pasta with Sausage, Kale and White Beans (serves 4; recipe adapted from Cool Spring CSA)
You will need…
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb. ground Sweet Italian Sausage, ground (remove casings if using normal sausage)
1 Yellow Onion, chopped
2 – 15 oz. cans Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper
3 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Water
1 lb. Pasta (we used Gemelli this time)
1 bunch Kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
In a large (6+ qt.) dutch oven brown the crumbled sausage with 1-2T olive oil over medium-high heat. When the sausage is cooked through, add the onion and beans and saute, stirring occassionally, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper and stir for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
Pour in the chicken broth, water, pasta and half of the chopped kale and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cover with a tightly fitted lid. Allow the mixture to cook undisturbed for 6 minutes, then layer in the remaining kale on top of the pasta without stirring. Recover and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the lid, stir, and taste test a piece of pasta. (My favorite part!)
Allow the dish to continue to simmer uncovered for another few minutes until the pasta is cooked to your desired consistency. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese, drizzle in a tablespoon or so of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!
As I type this my little Piper pup is on the couch next to me, exhausted from today’s hiking adventures. She is sleeping on her back with her hind legs splayed open (she’s not the most ladylike puppy I’ve ever met!) and her breathing sounds like something between a snort and a snore. She’s been sleeping this way for at least an hour – a long time for a nap in Piper’s world! – so I’m taking advantage of this afternoon lull to do a quick photo post!
Last Tuesday we got about an inch of snow in eastern Pennsylvania and I snapped some photos of Piper playing in the back yard on my lunch break. Piper seemed totally undeterred by the sub-freezing temperatures and had a blast romping around in the snow, chasing sticks and snatching up the occasional mouthful of snow… she loves this weather!!
We’ve had Piper for 11 weeks now. Only 11 weeks!!! It seems like she’s been a part of our family for MUCH longer than that! Matt and I are having a blast with her and I can’t wait to see what the next 11 weeks bring!! 😄
Happy Thanksgiving eve! It snowed in eastern Pennsylvania today. The snow might have been less than ideal for people traveling along the I-95 corridor for the holiday, but Matt and I were off from work and had a blast playing with Piper in her first snowstorm.
Piper took the snow in stride. She spent the first several minutes trying to eat the mysterious white stuff, then joined Matt for a slippery game of fetch. I snapped some photos as they played.
After our playtime in the snow we went inside for hot cocoa (for us) and nap time (for Pipe). So far she’s been great about settling down for quiet snuggle time on the couch while we watch tv (or edit snow day photos). I’ll have to take a photo of her actually sleeping someday (my mom still doesn’t believe that Piper EVER sits still!) but for now I’ll leave you with this gem. I love this wacky puppy!
This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is reflection:
I captured this photo of a Canadian Goose and his reflection on February 5th during the damaging ice storm that caused hundreds of thousands of power outages in our area. I was wandering around my mom’s icy backyard on snowshoes with my Nikon D90 when I spotted this goose standing at the edge of the pond. Hershey the chocolate lab saw the goose too and took off across the yard towards it. Luckily I had my camera up and ready and was able to snap a few shots as the goose flapped its wings and flew across the ice!
On December 1st Matt and I bought a charming little decorative sign that cheerfully proclaimed “LET IT SNOW!” We hung the sign in our kitchen and since then our town has received over 3 1/2 feet of snow, resulting in 5 snow days and 2 late openings and early closings at work. Coincidence? I think not.
Last Wednesday’s ice storm was the season’s most disruptive storm by far (as of today, at least!). After a snow storm on Monday weighed down our trees with 7-8″ of heavy, wet snow, a wintry mix arrived late Tuesday night and coated everything in a thick layer of ice. We lost power in the middle of the night (along with 620,000 other PECO customers!) and the only sounds we could hear when we woke up were the violent cracks of tree branches snapping under the weight of snow and ice. Look at our sad, sad pine trees…
In addition to the extensive pine tree damage we also lost half a tree in our front yard as well as several large branches. My mom’s yard fared even worse… Matt and I had to remove a tree from her driveway (before / after) in order to get to her house and upon our arrival we discovered her once-beautiful weeping willow tree had uprooted under the weight of the ice and was keeled over on its side in the snow.
It wasn’t all bad, though. My mom and stepfather have a generator so our whole family ended up at their house for the day. We spent our ice storm day chatting, drinking coffee, and completing a huge 1000 piece puzzle before enjoying a yummy dinner together. On Wednesday night Matt and I received word from our neighbors that our power was back on (woohoo!!!) so after our day of fun we were able to go home and gratefully enjoy heat, running water, and internet. 🙂
Here are some photos that I took on Wednesday during the ice storm. Brr…
Matt and I contemplated taking down our Let It Snow sign today but decided to leave it up a little longer. We’ll see if it’s still hanging in the kitchen after the storm that’s forecasted to hit us on Thursday… 8-12″ of snow!!! What a winter!
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!!
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)
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
Your choice of Sour Cream, Grated Cheddar Cheese, Fresh Cilantro, Lime Wedges, Avocado, and/or Tortilla Strips
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!
It snowed again today!! The snow started falling at 7:30AM and didn’t stop until another 3-4 inches were heaped atop the snow that we got on Sunday. Yay snow! Matt took a “snow day” (aka spent some quality time with his early Christmas present, an Xbox One) and I went into work for a few hours and enjoyed a productive morning in the nearly empty office. Once the roads were plowed I came home to play with Bailey in the snow. Did I mentioned that I LOVE snow??!!
Bailey loves the snow, too. Here are some photos from this afternoon… see the one where I totally whacked her in the head with a giant snowball? Oops!!
After playing with Bailey I shoveled the whole driveway… talk about a work out! Now I just have to find the strength to get up off of this comfy couch and go run my daily mile(s) for the Runner’s World Holiday Streak. Today will be day 163 of my streak, woohoo!
Did you have a snow day today? How did you spend your day?
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!
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
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!
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 (Pork and Hominy Stew with Ancho Chilis)
Serves 8-10; from Cook’s Illustrated – The New Best Recipe
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
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
Quesco Fresco, crumbled
8-10 Corn Tortillas, warmed and sliced into strips
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.
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.