Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Happy 2016!  I hope everyone had a fun and indulgent holiday season.  I know I did.  Lots of food and family time.  Now I'm back to gym and staying busy, working on healthy recipes for this month.  You can look forward to lots of veggies, lean proteins and nutritious snacks. 

But for now, here's an easy soup you can throw into the slow cooker and enjoy on a cold night.  It's so yummy and easy to make!  I think it took me about 10 minutes to get all this prepped and into the slow cooker.  Then it's hands off for four hours and then dinner is served.  The only problem being that I have to deal with smelling something delicious all day that is not yet ready for eating.  

Serves 6.

Green Split Pea Soup in a Slow Cooker

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed, checked for debris

4 oz ham, diced

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/2 teaspoon cumin

6 cups chicken or veggie stock 

s + p

chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Combine all ingredients, except fresh parsley, in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours until peas are super tender with some even falling apart.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. 

Marmite Almonds

I just had Marmite for the first time last week and I am obsessed.  Why haven't I been eating this stuff my entire life?!  It's so perfect of toast but I also want it on pretty much everything.  I have plans to try it on pasta, popcorn, grilled cheese sandies.  

If you have not tried it, Marmite is a concentrated yeast paste.  Stay with me here - it's a salty little umami bomb.  Savory with a concentrated flavor of cook vegetables and yeasty goodness.  If you're the type of person who puts yeast flakes on their popcorn then you'll love this.  If you don't you can send your unwanted jars over to me because I CANNOT GET ENOUGH of it.  

Makes 1 pound.

Marmite Roasted Almonds

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoon marmite

1 pound raw almonds

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  In a pan, over low heat, warm marmite and water, stirring to combine.  Add almonds, stir until evenly coated. Spread almonds out on prepared baking tray. Place in oven and roast 10 minutes or until dry and golden.  Do not let them burn!  Remove from oven and cool completely before storing in airtight container. 

Coconut Coffee Sugar Body Scrub

Need a quickie handmade gift?  I bet you have everything in your panty to make this one.  It's an all natural DIY gift and it smells like a little cup of latte heaven.  It improves anyone's shower or bath time.  Who doesn't want to scrub up with a caffeine filled, moisturizing, something all winter long?

Makes about 1 cup.

Coconut Coffee Sugar Scrub

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup raw cane sugar (turbinado)

2 tablespoons coffee grounds

Warm coconut oil to its liquid state.  Stir in vanilla.  Stir in sugar and coffee.  Transfer to clean, lidded container.  (I prefer plastic for anything near the bath because I'm clumsy but it's up to you.)  

 

Popovers

Omg, do I love a popover.  As simple as they are - basically a mix of flour, milk and eggs - they are a delight for dinner guests. Similar to yorkshire puddings but these don't require pan drippings - just a popover pan.  I'm going to be serving these with a big meat roast for Christmas Eve dinner.  I'll need something to scrape my plate with, won't I? 

They can be made with a muffin pan but won't puff up nearly as much.  A few things about making popovers:  Don't over beat the batter, let the batter rest, use a popover pan, preheat the pan and turn down the heat part way through baking.   These things all lead to sky high popovers.  While your popovers won't be ruined by skipping any of these steps, they will be much taller and lighter if you stick to the directions.   

That said, finely grated cheeses can be added for extra flavor and the herbs can be switched up as you like.  I think chive and parmesan would be so great.  

Makes 6.

Popovers

1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 egg, beaten

5 oz milk

3 teaspoons grape seed oil, divided

Sift flour into a bowl, whisk with thyme leaves, nutmeg and salt.  Fold in egg and milk.  Set aside to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  

Add 1/2 teaspoon grape seed oil to each cup of popover pan.  Place in oven.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When preheating is over, remove pan from oven.  Fill each cup equally with batter and bake 20 minutes then lower heat to 350 and bake 10 minutes more. Remove popovers from pan and serve.  

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

My grandma is full of good ideas, especially when it comes to food.  At our thanksgiving dinner she mentioned that there just aren't enough cookie recipes posted on the blog.  She's right - so much soup but almost never cookies.  This is mostly because I post what I eat at home and I just can't have entire batches of just made sweets waiting for me to eat every last one of them but sometimes, I need a treat!  Maybe it's the festive holiday spirit in the air?  

So, Grandma, if you're reading this, this cookie recipe is here at your brilliant suggestion.  

Lemon Poppy seed Shortbread Cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Combine butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Cream butter and sugar on medium low speed until pale and light, about 4 minutes. Add flour, salt, vanilla, lemon zest and poppy seeds.  Mix just until dough holds together when squeezed.  Scrape sides of bowl, as needed.  Form into a 1" thick disc, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 2 hours.  

Roll dough out onto lightly floured surface, to 1/4" thickness.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes.  Place on un-greased cookie sheets.  Re-roll scrapes and cut until all of dough is used. Decorative stamps or dots maybe applied as you like.  (I like a few simple pokes with the tip of a chopstick across the cookie top.)  Place in fridge to chill 10 minutes and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake about 30 minutes, until almost golden brown at edges.  Cool of rack. 

Tomato + White Bean Soup

I've been making and eating A LOT of soup.  I love soup.  This one extra wintery with the rosemary, white beans and fennel.  Yum.  Try it with farro.  

serves 6.

Tomato + White Bean Soup

4oz chopped pancetta

1 yellow onion, finely diced

1 bulb fennel, finely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 14oz tin crushed tomatoes

1 quart vegetable stock

1 cup water

s + p

1 14 oz tin white beans, drained, rinsed

3 cups chopped kale

In a large pot over medium low heat, cook pancetta, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and pancetta is crispy, about 10 minutes.  Drain fat.  Raise heat to medium.  Add onion to pot with pancetta.  Cook, stirring frequently until onion is glossy and soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in fennel, carrots, rosemary and thyme.  Cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, stock and water.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Stir in beans and kale.  Adjust seasoning. 

Steak Sandwich

This is a great quick dinner.  Takes about 30 minutes to whip up.  I picked up the steak already shaved from Trader Joe's but you can ask your butcher to give you a 50:50 mix of rib and round. Serves 4.

Steak Sandwiches

dash grape seed oil

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, very thinly sliced

s + p

1 lb shaved steak

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary 

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

sliced or grated cheese

mustard of choice

4 buns

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Warm oil and melt butter.  Add onions and peppers.  Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and a bit caramelized.  Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Turn heat up to medium high.  Add steak to pan, season with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Give it a good sear before stirring or flipping.  Once cooked to your liking, stir in onions, peppers and Worcestershire sauce.  Assemble 4 sandwiches.  Wrap in foil and warm in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.      

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowl

Another slow cooker recipe!  I really like the idea of coming home from work to a pot of this stewy chicken ready to be stuffed into taco shells, wrapped in tortillas or served over cilantro brown rice and topped with grated cheese, chopped lettuce, sour cream and sliced avocado.  

Serves 4-6.

Slow Cooker Chicken for Tacos, burritos...

dash olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno chile, seeded, minced

1 14oz tin diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup chicken stock

1 14oz tin black beans, rinsed, drained

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

s + p

lime juice, to taste

In a bowl, stir together onion, garlic, chile, tomatoes, cumin, chile powders, sugar, oregano and stock, season with salt and pepper.  Add drizzle a bit of olive oil in bottom of slow cooker.  Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker. Pour seasoned tomato mixture over chicken.  Cook Low for 6-7 hours.  Chicken will be very tender and shred easily with a fork.  Stir in beans and corn, the stirring will break up chicken into bite sized pieces.  Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.  Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lime juice. 

My Online Store is Open for Business!

In addition to what I do here, I also make functional ceramic pieces.  The line is called Hera. Everything is made by me in a studio in New York.  Ceramic items are food, microwave and dishwasher safe. It's something I've been doing for years and decided to sell some of the pottery online.   I don't mind telling you it's been a whole new, time consuming thing opening up an online shop but I'm pleased to tell you that Heraceramics.com is open!  Take a look.  

Check back because soon I'll be adding textile items and some of the lovely mugs Cameron has been making.  

Click on the photo to see more of that particular item.  

Cam's Sour Soup

I have happy associations with this soup.  Cam made it for the first time, almost to the date, 3 years ago.  I left work early, not feeling well, trudged through freezing cold winter weather and came home to a warm apartment filled with the smell of this perfect soup.  

It's an unusual soup, unlike the ones we usually make.  It's perky with sour notes of lime and lemon grass, spicy with chiles and ginger, and full of comforting root vegetables.  

Serves 4.

Sour Soup

about 1.5 lbs of daikon, peeled, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 lemon grass stalks, 3" pieces, crushed

3" fresh ginger, peeled - half cut into coins, half minced

4 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

dash sesame oil

dash olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red fresno chile, seeded, minced

3 carrots, peeled, diced 

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1 celery root, peeled, diced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 quart chicken stock

zest + juice of 1 lime

8 oz mushrooms, halved, sliced

1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded, chopped

s + p

chopped fresh cilantro leaves

In a small pot, bring daikon, bay, lemon grass, ginger coins, water, soy and sesame oil to a boil. Lower to a simmer.  Cover and simmer until daikon is tender, about 50 minutes.  Remove leaves, lemon grass and ginger coins.  Set aside.

(While the daikon stock is simmering - prep the remaining vegetables.)

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add minced ginger, garlic, chile, carrots, leek, celery root and thyme.  Saute until glossy and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, lime zest, daikon and daikon stock.  Bring to a boil, add mushrooms, simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.  Stir in collard greens, cook 2 minutes more.  Season with lime juice, salt and pepper.  Garnish with cilantro.   

 

 

Quinoa + Cauliflower Kosheri

Here's a weird one for you.  I had never used the middle eastern herb and spice blend za'atar before and was surprised by it's herbal earthiness.  It's the main flavor in this dish which I'm loosely calling a Quinoa Kosheri.  Kosheri is an vegetarian Egyptian dish made of grains and lentils.  

Roasted cauliflower is tossed with cooked quinoa, lentils, brown onions and a long chile pepper for a spicy healthy vegetarian, gluten free dinner.  

Serves 4.

Quinoa + Cauliflower Kosheri

1 tablespoon olive oil

s + p

zest of half a lemon

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces

1/3 cup red quinoa  (any color is ok)

1/2 cup green lentils

1 yellow onion, halved, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon za'atar

1 long hot chile pepper, thinly sliced

lemon juice, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest.  Arrange on baking tray.  Roast 20 minutes, toss and roast 15 minutes more or until cauliflower is tender. 

Combine quinoa with 2/3 cup water.  Boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until water has evaporated and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. 

Combine lentils in a pot of water. Boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until lentils are tender but not falling apart.  Strain.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add onions, cook until nicely browned.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning and promote even cooking.  Stir in garlic. Cook about 1 minutes, stirring.  Stir in za'atar, chile pepper, cooked cauliflower, cooked quinoa and cooked lentils.  Cook until hot throughout.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.  Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Ginger Lemon Tisane

This warm drink is mild and soothing.  It's perfect when I want something warm to sip on that's not coffee or tea.  Plenty of health benefits, too.  The ginger is helpful to a upset stomach or if you've eaten too much (hello Thanksgiving!)  Lemon peel is cleansing to the system, aiding in enzyme functions and raw honey is a powerful antibacterial, antioxidant that is also soothing to those with a cold.  Most importantly - it tastes good. 

Serves 1.

Ginger Lemon Tisane

 6 oz boiling water

1/2 teaspoon raw local honey

2 slices fresh, peeled ginger

1 cinnamon stick

piece of lemon zest, about 3 inches

Pour boiling water into a mug with honey, ginger, cinnamon and lemon zest.  Let sit until cool enough to drink.  

Beef + Barley Stew

Let's embrace the cold weather and make this stew.  

Beef + Barley Stew

2 pounds lean stew meat, cut into small bite sized pieces

high heat oil, such as canola or grape seed

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups water

2 quarts beef stock

1 cup pearled barley

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 1/2 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 1/2 cup diced cremini mushrooms

s + p

Season meat with salt and pepper.  In a large pot, set over high heat, brown meat in oil.  Work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.  Set browned meat aside.  

Brown onion in pot, stirring frequently to avoid burning.  Add garlic and tomato paste, cook, stirring until browned.  Stir in meat and accumulated juices, water, stock, barley, bay, thyme and rosemary.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer 1 1/2 hours until meat and barley are tender.  Skim off any fat or foam that occurs during simmering.  

Add carrots, celery and mushrooms.  Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove bay leaf.  Serve hot. 

Regular Cornbread

Nothing crazy here.  Just your usual cornbread.  It's not sweet and has a mild corn flavor.  It's perfect for chili.  Stir in kernels from one ear of corn if you like.  

If you don't have buttermilk: use 1 1/2 cup milk but substitute 2 tablespoons for the milk with white vinegar.  Set aside for 5 minutes before using.  It will become tangy and thick. 

Makes one 8" x 8" pan of bread.

Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

pinch cinnamon

6 tablespoons melted butter

1 egg

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Oil an 8" x 8" pan.  Set aside.  

Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Fold in melted butter, egg and buttermilk (corn kernels, if using) until flour is hydrated. Batter will be lumpy, it's ok, just don't over mix.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes.  

Slow Cooker Almost Cochinita Pibil (a.ka. Pork Tacos)

I'm saying it: I just don't eat enough pork.  It almost always comes in taco form and this recipe does not disappoint.  The pork is citrusy, flavorful, a little spicy and prefect for tacos, enchiladas or bowls over rice.  It's my slow cooker version of the popular Mexican dish, Cochinita Pibil.  It's traditionally pork marinated in achiote paste and citrus, slowly roasted in banana leaves.  This one is a little more simple and doesn't require anything more than a slow cooker. 

Achiote is a spice made from ground annatto seeds.  It's what gives orange american cheddar cheese it's color if you were wondering.  It's flavor is quite mild, paprika may be used as a substitute.

Serve as tacos on corn tortillas with minced onions and cilantro leaves. And hot sauce.  I like to whip up a pickled onion by marinating a thinly sliced red onion in red wine vinegar and salt about 30 minutes.  

Serves 4-6.

Slow Cooker Cochinita Pibil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon achiote powder

2 1/2 pork loin roast, fat trimmed, 2" pieces

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup diced white onion

1 chopped jalapeno, stemmed, chopped

1 bay leaf

about 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

juice of 1 lime

Mix salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chile powder, garlic powder, onion powder and ground achiote in a large bowl.  Toss pork pieces in spice blend until evenly coated.  Set aside. 

Place garlic cloves, onion, jalapeno, bay leaf and seasoned pork in bowl of slow cooker.  Pour in enough orange juice to come up 2/3's way up the pork.  Add lime juice. (more oj or even water can be added.)  Cook on High until pork is fork tender, about 4 hours.  Shred meat, cover and cook about 20 minutes more.  Serve hot.    

Our Kale

It's Cam's kale, really.  He really knows what he's doing with his leafy greens.  I figured since just about everything on here I suggest to be eaten with kale that I should post a nice way to make it.

Enjoy with everything: soup, stews, beans, rice or on it's own. 

Serves 2-4.

Cam's Kale

1 bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves chopped

1/4 cup water

1 teapoon olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

pinch red chile flakes

salt, to taste

lemon juice, to taste

Steam kale leaves in water in covered pan until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain water.  Return kale/pan to the stove over medium heat.  Push kale to one side of pan.  On empty side, cook garlic and chile flakes in olive oil about 1 minute.  (Don't brown garlic, just get that raw edge off.)  Stir together with kale.  Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. 

 

Slow Cooker White Bean, Andouille + Collard Greens Soup

I'm only minimally sorry for bombarding you all with all these slow cooker recipes this month but I've been using this little machine weekly.  I have the 4 quart crockpot which is great size for Cam and me.  I promise I'll start mixing it up after the slow cooked pork recipe I'm sharing next week.  

This is almost a stew, slightly thickened by the starchiness of the beans.  Make sure not to let it cook too far, otherwise the beans will breakdown entirely and you'll have a weird, delicious blended bean soup situation. Cook until the beans are tender but don't let them fall apart.  

Slow Cooker White Ben, Sausage + Collard Greens Soup

12 oz white beans, soaked overnight and drained

12 oz andouille sausage, sliced

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 carrot, peeled, diced

1 bay leaf

about 3" piece of parmesan cheese rind wrapped in cheese cloth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

4 cups chicken stock

3 cups water

1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded, leaves chopped

splash red wine vinegar

s + p

Add beans, sausage, onion, garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaf, cheese rind, thyme, basil, oregano, stock and water to the slow cooker pot.  Stir, cover and let cook on High about 4 hours or 7 hours on Low, until beans are tender.  Stir in collard greens.  Season with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.  Serve hot. 

Sweet + Spicy Candied Pecans

I might never eat a plain pecan again.  Seriously, these are that good.  They were for a salad but never made it.  Consider doubling (or tripling!) the recipe.  

Makes 1 cup. 

Sweet + Spicy Candied Pecans

1 cup pecan halves

1 tablespoon neutral oil (canola, grape seed...)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a bowl, toss pecans in oil.  Add sugar, salt and chile powder, toss to coat evening.  Transfer to a parchment or silpat lined baking tray.  Roast 20 minutes - careful not to let nuts burn.

Easy Oatmeal

My quest for an easy and delicious breakfast continues.  I really like oatmeal but require many toppings and really don't like rummaging about my kitchen cupboards for said toppings. Yesterday, I was still buzzing mid afternoon from my mid morning coffee and itching for something to do in the kitchen.  It was too early to make dinner so I decided to work on breakfast.  

I like this oatmeal because I can take it to work or the studio in the morning, fill it with hot, boiling water, put the lid on and within a few minutes have breakfast.  And oatmeal fills me up for hours, which makes for a less hangry me later on in the day. 

Easy Oatmeal

1/3 cup quick oats

1/4 teaspoon chia seeds (or flax, hemp hearts...)

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon chopped pecans 

2 teaspoons dried cranberries

dash cinnamon

pinch salt

2/3 cups boiling water

Place oats, seeds, sugar, nuts, cranberries, cinnamon and salt in jar.  Add boiling water, let sit for 2 minutes.  Or add room temperature water and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

I got a SLOW COOKER!  I'm pretty excited about this one.  Mostly because my favorite meals are stewy, one pot affairs; best eaten over rice.  I think this puts us in slow cooker territory.  This thing's not going into the cupboard but staying on the counter all season.  I'm really looking forward to prepping meals in the am hours and coming home to a hot dinner. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1" pieces

8 oz potatoes, 1" pieces

8 oz carrots, peeled, 1" pieces

2 tablespoons minced ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow onion, finely diced

1 14 oz tin diced tomatoes

1 cup light coconut milk

1 cup water

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 teaspoon garam marsala

1 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon fennel powder

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek

s + p

1 cup chopped green beans

Stir everything, except the green beans, together in the bowl of a slow cooker.  Make sure it's all evenly mixed.  Cover and set to high.  Cook about 4 hours undisturbed: chicken will be cooked through and potatoes tender. Stir in green beans, recover and cook 30 more minutes.  Serve with rice, if desired.