Red and Black Soup

  • 3/4 lb sweet italian sausage, crumbled
  • one chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped OR two heaping teaspoons of jar garlic
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup orzo, cooked al dente

Cook onion and garlic, add sausage, cook til done.

Add the rest except the orzo (which you can cook concurrently) and simmer half an hour or so.

Drain the orzo (if you just made it) and add, cook five more minutes.

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Jo Nell’s Crock Pot Pork

I was horrified at the thought of PACKAGED SPICE PACKETS, I don’t know why, but this is amazingly good.

  • A hunk of pork, roast or thick chops or cutlets.
  • I package McCormick’s slow cooker Fiesta Chicken mix
  • About 2 tbsps of Lawry’s Taco Seasoning (or it’s too bland)
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can of black beans

Pour it all (except the beans) into the crock pot and cook for 4-5 hours. Add the beans and cook for another hour to an hour and a half. You can put in a little tomato paste at the end to thicken it up.

Clafoutis

I got this from a children’s cookbook, and it’s both easy and delicious.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Fruit

In a large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla until well mixed.

Slowly add the flour and whisk until mixed.

Put fruit in a pie dish or baking dish, pour batter over it, and bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes til it’s puffed up and golden. Serve IMMEDIATELY.

You can literally use any kind of fruit you want- strawberries, raspberries, peaches, apples. You can use canned fruit. You can probably use frozen fruit that’s been thawed, although I’ve never tried that. This is easy and delicious, a very impressive dessert with not much fuss to it.

Acorn Squash

I got this from a magazine…it’s extremely easy and amazingly delicious.

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Dried thyme leaves (fresh is good, I just never have it)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and black pepper

Cut the end off the squash, and cut it in half top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds, and slice each half into 1/4 inch slices; the more uniform the slices are, the better they cook.

Lay them on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, then with parmesan cheese. Roast at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or so. Amazing.

Tamale Pie

Oh, we love this Chez Otter. It’s very flexible, and it makes great leftovers.

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1-2 cloves chopped garlic OR a heaping half teaspoon of jar chopped garlic
  • 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 11 oz can corn (I like the kind without added sugar) drained
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Cornbread mix, whatever you like, and the ingredients to mix it

Cook the onion and garlic in olive oil.
Add the hamburger, brown it and break it up.
Add tomatoes and sauce
Add spices and stir it up.
Add all the veggies.

Let it cook for twenty minutes or so.
While it cooks, get out a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Turn the oven to whatever temperature the cornbread package says.
Mix up the cornbread mix according to the package directions.

When the meat mixture has cooked for the twenty minutes, put it in the casserole dish. Spoon the cornbread on top, and spread it out as much as possible. Put it in the oven, leave it til the cornbread browns. If the cornbread is not brown on top, it’ll be gooey underneath, so watch it to be sure it gets brown but doesn’t burn. I usually check every minute or two for the last five minutes.

This is one of those wonderful recipes that you can change depending on what you like, or what you have in the fridge. Any kind of vegetables are good, you can add cheese to the top at the last, you can use turkey or chicken, change the spices, whatever. Have fun.

Chicken and Rice

This is one of our favorites, I make it at least once a month.

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, with bones and skin*
  • A cup or so of cheap chardonnay**
  • A 14 oz can of chicken broth
  • 2 packages of Zatarain’s New Orleans Rice mix- any two. We like mixing Red Beans and Rice with Jambalaya, or Black Beans and Rice with Yellow Rice. If you’re only doing 4 thighs, just use one package of rice mix, but the same amount of wine and broth. They make low-sodium rice mixes as well, these are delicious too, and (of course) less salty.

Put the chicken in a stewpot or dutch oven, pour wine and broth over it, and cook until the skins are easy to pull off with a fork. On the stovetop with medium heat, this will take about 45 minutes to an hour. Don’t cook too long, you don’t want the chicken falling off the bones yet.

(You can also put the chicken, wine and broth in a crock pot and cook low for 4-5 hours, or 6-7 if chicken is frozen.)

Lift the chicken out into a bowl. Pour all the delicious liquid into a big measuring cup, see how much there is and put it back in a stewpot. Add enough water to be about 1/4 cup less than the total water listed on the instructions of both rice packets together (so if one package needs 2 1/2 cups water and the other needs 3 (total 5 1/2), and you have 4 1/2 cups of liquid, add enough water to equal 5 1/4 cups liquid, or 3/4 cup.)

Open both packages of rice and pour in, stir. Turn heat to medium high.

Use a fork to remove the skins from the chicken thighs and throw the skins away. They have done their good work. Put the chicken thighs in the rice and liquid, bring to boil, turn heat low so it simmers when covered. Cover.

Let it cook for 45 minutes, stir about every 15 minutes.

Take it off the heat and uncover, let it sit for ten minutes or so.

*Yes, you can use boneless skinless thighs, or breasts, but trust me, it tastes WAY better this way.

**If you don’t want to open a whole bottle of wine for one cup, you can get a 4 pack of cheap wine for about 6 bucks (where I live) and it’s pretty bad except as cooking wine, which it is excellent for. Use one of the four bottles for this.