Saturday, December 31, 2011

Crockpot Recipe: Ham and Multi Bean Soup with Spinach

After Christmas, I had the ham bone with meat on it and wanted to use it to make a Crock Pot from scratch recipe. Something good and hearty, so I made the Ham and Multi Bean Soup with Spinach.

Multi Bean since I purchased the bag of 15 different variety beans from Safeway. Large and small, this bag has lots of hearty beans. I do not use the packet of "ham flavor", it has MSG and my ham has "ham flavor".

Note: I bought the bag and didn't notice the 24 hour soak, so I soaked them for 4 hours and slow cooked for 12. They absorbed the water quickly, so They came out perfect, so I can't imagine that they really needed 24 hours.

1 bag of Multi Bean Soup
3 bulbs of garlic diced
1/2 Medium Yellow Onion
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 ham bone with meat
2 quarts of water or more to cover
3 cups spinach, diced
italian seasoning, cayenne
Salt pepper

Put everything into the crockpot, making sure that you cover everything with a least an inch of water. Then cover and set low for at least 10 hours. I did this overnight.

In the morning, the soup broke down and boiled slowly. About 30 minutes before I was ready to turn it off, I put in the spinach and submersed them in the soup. Once it was done I added salt and pepper, it was so simple that it absorbed the flavors of the meat, veggies and beans.

Now that's a soup!

Gallo Pinto con Chorizo stuffed peppers

So another using the "filling" from the Black Bean and Brown Rice with Chorizo mixture that I made earlier. I like using different peppers. Since the chorizo was going to potentially be spicy, I wanted to balance it with a sweet yellow or orange bell peppers.

4 bell peppers, yellow and orange
Black Bean and Brown Rice with Chorizo mixture
2 Roma tomatoes, diced with Tapatio or salsa
Shredded 4 blend mexican cheese

So cut the tops off of the peppers and stuff them with the Black Bean and Brown Rice with Chorizo mixture. Leaving a little room on top. Top with diced tomatoes or salsa, then mexican cheese. Bake about 20 minutes at 350 degrees in an oven save container.

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Black Bean and Brown Rice with Chorizo Enchiladas

So with the "filling" I just made below, I decided to make"to easy" enchiladas.

12-15 tortillas
Black Bean and Brown Rice with Chorizo mixture
I can of enchilada sauce
1 cup of shreaded monterey jack or mexican cheese

I fried the tortillas in a little oil, each one just warming up and not cooking completely. Oil a medium pyrex or metal pan. Pour some enchilada sauce in the bottom of the container.

Roll the Black Bean and Brown Rice with Chorizo mixture into the tortillas, and wedge each one next to each other. This part is very easy, pour the enchilada sauce over the whole group and sprinkle cheese on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the cheese. I accidentally left mine and it burnt it a bit. I didn't really mind, it was nice and crispy on top and delicious inside.

Black Beans, Brown Rice and Chorizo

Also known to me as "Gallo Pinto con Chorizo"

So to start with the rest of my recipes, I made this "filling" that I used to stuff peppers and make enchiladas. This is something that I just came up with based on things I made before. A few months back, I made this the vegetarian version with Soyrizo. I wanted to try it with Chorizo after I realized that the amount I was using was not a lot of calories or fat.

2 tbsp of diced garlic
1/2 of a diced medium onion
2 tbsp of olive oil or butter
1 large can of black beans, mostly drained
4 cups of cooked brown rice
1 small package of chorizo

Saute your garlic, onion in oil or butter. After a couple minutes add your black beans, cook a couple minutes then add chorizo. Let everything simmer for about 5 minutes and add in the brown rice. Fry the rice and beans with the chorizo for about 20 minutes or until semi crispy.

Then cool and ready for the next part.

Low Calorie Cabbage Soup

After the holidays, I wanted to make a soup that was super low calorie and cabbage soup is by far the best diet soup I know. Each bowl is low calorie and is really filling. The cabbage, lemon, garlic and cayenne are all great diet foods and help with weight loss.

I did the math on this one, here is the break down per serving:
Calories: 56.5g
Carbohydrates: 6.88g
Total Fat: 3.07g
Protein: 1.7g
Dietary Fiber: 1.72g
Vitamin A: 4312.39 IU
Folate: 30.54 mcg
Vitamin C: 19.5 mg
Calcium: 64.62 mg
Potassium: 344.25 mg
Sodium: 205.32 mg

It really tastes great for being so low calorie. Not to mention it's also the cheapest soup you can probably make. So think of it as a win-win. I eat the soup every day for a week, save a lot in making my own lunch and feel good about it.

My recipe:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tbsp of garlic
1/2 medium yellow onion
3 medium carrots, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
Dash of Italian seasonings, pepper, cayenne and ground cumin
1 small green cabbage, diced
2 quarts of water or until covered

Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil, add carrots and let cook until the flavor steams up through them. Add Italian Seasonings, pepper, cayenne and ground cumin. Then add cabbage and stir up into the spices and veggies. Add 1/2 the water and "saute" the cabbage, making sure it soaks up some of the flavor, then add the rest of the water and vinegar and let boil for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer, so you can tell when the cabbage is fully done.

Now I didn't add salt, so you can add that. Also add tapatio or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. All up to you. :) Makes like 12 servings, which is way too much - but enough to start a diet.

Steak, Shrimp and Artichokes

Mmmm, I know these are not hard - but this is how I made this truly yummy dinner. Some things I make ahead of time, but try to balance the timing of each dish so that everything is ready at the same time.

Pepper Steak
2 New York Strip Steaks
lightly dusted with salt, cracked pepper, coriander, dill and cayenne

Pre-marinade the dry rub, whatever your time frame 20 minutes to 2 hours or more.
Dust both sides and lay flat. Let the steaks absorb the flavor of the pepper on the outside.

Then I grill the steak to medium on an outdoor grill, George Forman or flat grill; or a frying pan on medium or whatever you have. I don't add any oil, the cut of the steak will determine how long I cook my steaks.

2 Artichokes, whole
Water (of course)

Use a pot with steam basket and add enough water to steam your artichokes for 20 minutes, about an inch of water, depending on your size and basket. Steam for 20 minutes, then cut in half.

Artichoke Dip
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Mustard
dash of Tapatio
Lemon Squeeze, maybe 1/4 t0 1/2 lemon
Cracked Pepper and Salt.

Mix and serve. Goes good with the artichoke, shrimp and well the steak too.

12-15 Medium to Jumbo Shrimp, peeled
Lemon Squeeze, maybe 1/4 t0 1/2 lemon
Light dusted with Cracked Pepper, Cayenne and Salt.

Mix ingredients in a bowl while heating up a pan, grill or whatever you are using. Oil the pan and saute until the shrimp are done. About 10-12 minutes.

Sauteed Spinach
2-3 cups of baby spinach or spinach cut into 1" pieces
1/4 medium onion
2 pats of butter or 2 tblsp of olive oil

Heat oil in a frying pan and add onions, cook until translucent. Then add your spinach and cook down. Typically takes about 5-7 minutes total.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Stir Fry Bok Choy

Simply Stir Fried Bok Choy, perfect addition to an already tasty dinner.

2-3 Cloves of Garlic, diced
1/4 Medium Onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 Baby Bok Choy, diced
2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce

I used Habanero Pepper Flakes, but you can use red chili flakes. I like it spicy, but you may want to omit this all together if you don't.

Stir fry the garlic and onion in oil, add the soy sauce to get a nice base. Add Chilli pepper if desired, then add Bok Choy. Takes like 5-10 minutes tops.

Homemade Chips and Guacamole

I had some avocados that needed to be used, so I wanted to make an easy guacamole that was simple. I didn't have any chips, so I just made some myself. It's really easy!

The "too easy" Guacamole
3 large avocados, diced
1/2 lemon or lime, squeezed
salt, cayenne and pepper

Everything mushed in a bowl, don't forget to leave the seed in the container. It keeps the guacamole fresher, longer.

The Chips
10-12 Tortillas, any kind you like
Olive oil
Salt (as desired)

Cut the tortillas in six pieces, usually I cut them in half - then 3 triangles. I used corn tortillas, but I can assume that you can get creative. I will try flour and maybe chipotle. ;)

I heat up a pan with a little oil in it. I usually keep the oil in the pan to one side, so I can fry the chips in oil and then move them over to the other side in the pan to let them fry while I start on more. (See pictures below)

Let them cook until they look like fried tortilla chips. Golden with some puffs. I take them from frying to a pyrex with napkins to soak some oil. You may not want to. When they are hot and oily, you can salt them.

mmmm, homemade chips and guacamole.

Fresh Pea Soup

I've made Pea Soup so many different ways but this was unique because these were fresh peas. I bought a package of fresh organic peas from the market for use in another dish but I forgot. I like to use up what I have so I made this on the fly.

It was REALLY different than cooking regular dried peas. Took twice as long. Try to have some patience, it's worth it.

*Also, I use a lot of vegetable stock in my soups and that's because I am allergic to MSG. If I don't have time to make my own or buy organic broths, I use vegetable bouillon in water. I also thin out the flavor, since it's about the ingrediants in it and not the broth.

1 medium onion diced
1/2 stick of butter, diced
3 cups of fresh peas
5 cups of water
1 cup of vegetable bouillon*, but chicken or meat stock is good too.
Salt, Pepper and Cayenne as needed for flavor

Sautee onion in butter until tender. Add peas then water, broth, spices and let simmer - like for an hour. You can tell when the peas are tender and mashable. I like to break them up while they are cooking to thicken up my soup. Since I removed a lot of water, I ended adding it back in the end. Patience is a lesson with this soup.

It was totally worth it and wish I had made more. Serves about 6 Bowls.

Chicken Tenders and Sauce

You can say I was on a roll, but as soon as I was done frying up those bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, I had a fan full of spicy bacon grease - what did I do? I made chicken tenders. May look messy, but they are so good.

2 large chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
Italian Spices, Cayenne, Salt and Pepper
1 cup of bread crumbs and 1/2 cup flour

1.) In a small cup, mix milk and egg.
2.) In a dish mix, milk bread crumbs, flour and spices
3.) Dip chicken in egg batter then crumb mix
4.) Place in hot skillet over medium high and cook until crispy and golden.

The Sauce, basically my fridge door "secret sauce"

Little Mayo
Little Mustard
Little Ketchup
Little Tapatio
Pepper, Salt and Cayenne - as needed.

Stand in front of the fridge as you mix these together. Add some pickle relish if you dare.

Bacon wrapped Jalapeño poppers

So I was patiently waiting for my soup to boil, when I thought - I have cheese, jalapenos and bacon! I took small slices of Cotija (harder, salty Mexian cheese) and stuffed them inside jalapenos (make sure you de-seed them first), then wrapped them in bacon.

They were so amazing, but I learned that you should use thin bacon and consider pining it on with a toothpick, some unraveled in the process of frying.

Lentil Soup with Applewood Bacon

I am fan of Bacon Soups. That's where I take bacon and use it to flavor the vegetables. I love baby lentils and never tried Umbrian Lentils. I purchased some at a local market (Canyon Market, Glen Park Neighborhood, San Francisco) and some Neiman Ranch Applewood Bacon.

It's by far one of my favorites! It's also gotten better after a day. I made about 16 cups of soup - so at about $1 per bowl, it's pretty inexpensive for being fancy.


2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/2 package or 7 oz. of Applewood Smoked
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Bay leaf
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth or veggie broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs (Italian Spices work too)
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add bacon, then onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs or Italian Seasoning. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, or drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baked Lobster

How fancy are we? I'm a girl who loves crab and the HHK loves lobster. I decided to make a couple lobsters to show off how easy it was to have something really really good and save some money.

I purchased lobsters from the butcher. Yeah, it was a first to cook live lobster as opposed to lobster tail which you can find easily in stores. I had the lobsters cut down the middle. I think next time I will opt for cutting in half and then slicing the tail. Never the less, they were good

I combined the following ingredients into a pyrex glass container and preheat the oven for 350, standard Bekah Baking time.

2 Lobsters, approximately 1.50 pounds each
3 Lemons, squeezed and stuffed into the cavity and such
1 Onion, diced
1 Clove of Garlic
1/2 a bottle of white wine (or water)
Italian Seasons, Pepper, Cayenne and Salt

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for at least 30 minutes or until done. Take some of the sauce from the pan and combine with butter, microwave until melted and dip your lobster in that. So delicious.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bourbon Cider Cocktail

One of my new favorites. I came up with this one, when someone suggested an idea for a new drink. I took a couple ideas from recent cocktails and put them together. Naturally I had to test it out for myself.

1 1/2 oz. Bourbon (I used Bulliet)
Ice Cubes.
1 cup of pressed apple cider
Lemon squeeze from one wedge
Star of Anise (opt)
Slice of Fresh Ginger (opt)

Add ice cubes to glass, then add bourbon. Let the bourbon chill for a minute. Add Cider, lemon, Star of Anise and Sliver of Fresh Ginger. The last few items add a lot of flavor to the drink, but in a pinch won't ruin the cocktail.

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Easy Chicken Noodle soup is perfect to make for leftovers. I've been eating this soup all week and it's great with hot sauce. Tapatio is my favorite.

2 teaspoons butter
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
4 (14 ounce) cans chicken or vegetable broth
4 ounces egg noodles or large macaroni (as I used)
2 cups cooked chicken

Melt butter in large pot. Sauté the celery, carrot and onion for 2 minutes. Add thyme, Italian seasoning, chicken/veggie broth. Bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook on low for 20 minutes. Add in cooked chicken breast last, let cool a little while stirring and sprinkle with parsley.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crockpot Recipe: Beef and Vegetable Stew

Really easy beef stew, just add all ingredients and let the crock pot do all the work! Makes a huge crock pot of stew, so adjust as necessary.

2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-2 bay leaves
4 potatoes, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
3 large carrots, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups vegetable or beef broth
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1 large onions, chopped

Place veggies in crock pot, cover with broth. In a bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper, cayenne and Italian and pour over meat. Stir to coat meat with flour, add meat to crock pot and fold into mix of veggies. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well.

Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Stir stew thoroughly before serving.


Healthy Beef Tacos

Well this is just an assembly of some of my favorite recipes that I make.

The Rice
1/4 cup Onion
1 tbsp garlic
2 tsp oil
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 jalapenos or bell peppers or both, de-seeded and diced
1/4 can of tomato sauce
3 cups of cooked brown rice

Fry onion and garlic in a large pan, cook up a couple minutes and add tomatoes, jalapeno and bell pepper. Let cook up a bit and add in tomato sauce, once those are good, add in the brown rice and mix thoroughly. Cook for about 15 minutes, until it's a little crispy and a little moist (not soupy). Add in cheese and allow to melt through. Remove rice from pan.

The Beans
1 can of refried beans
1/4 stick or butter
Cotija Cheese grated on top
Pinch of: Ground Cumin, Cayenne, Salt and Pepper

Oh I just refry my beans in a little butter to loosen them up. Cook them through and add spices. Easy Peasy.

* Marinate flat steak in a little ground cumin, cayenne, garlic salt and pepper. Grill until done.
* Place de-seeded and cut fresh jalapenos in a pan or non-stick grill to cook them. Place aside.
* Slice chunks of Cotija Cheese (Queso para friar) in a greased pan or non-stickk grill and let cook. They will fry up and cook slowly. Remove before they melt completely.

Pico De Gallo

The Basic:
* 2 cups of diced tomatoes
* 1/2 white onion or 3 Green Onions, diced
* 2 limes, juiced
* 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Extras:
* 2 Teaspoons diced Garlic
* Cayenne Pepper
* Fresh Jalapenos
* Lemon Juice
* Tapatio Hot Sauce

Directions: Simply enough - Dice all items in small pieces. A food processor can be used for the cilantro, jalapeno and garlic. Mix all ingredients. Best if chilled and refrigerated for a few hours before eating so that the items mix well.

Friday, December 9, 2011

White Fish Marinara with Brown Rice

This main course was something I came up with since I had white fish and tomatoes. I wanted to make a healthy dish that was tasty too. It worked out perfectly.

Here are the steps.

Breaded and Fried Fish

4-6 pieces of White Fish (Tilapa, Flounder, etc.)
1-2 cups of Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1/8 cup of whole milk or so
Italian Herbs, pepper, cayenne and salt
oil or butter for pan.

Mix the egg, milk and herbs in a bowl. Dip the fish into the batter and then into the bread crumbs. Flip them so they are well covered. Heat up a pan with oil or butter, add breaded fish. Cook completely until one side is almost completely done, then flip. Remove when done and cover.

Marinara Sauce
1 tbsp of olive oil or butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2-3 cups of fresh tomatoes (I used Roma), canned is okay too
1 small can tomato puree
Italian Season, Salt and Pepper to taste

Added: Fresh Cut Basil, another good addition is a red wine or red pepper flakes

Heat the olive oil/butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and let cook down a bit. Add in tomato puree and let simmer down. You can add in basil, wine or peppers if you like.

Plate Assembly

Add Brown Rice to plate, place fish on top of rice and then marinara on top of the fish. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.