Sweet and Spicy Chorizo Chili

26 01 2015

Tonight’s dinner paired zesty chorizo with sweeter veggies like carrots and corn, along with ginger beer, creating a unique chili recipe that offers a sweet beginning with a spicy finish. I’m betting this will be equally delicious, if not better tomorrow after it’s had time to sit!

Sweet and Spicy Chorizo Chili

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb bulk chorizo
  • 1 bottle (12 oz) ginger beer (I used a low-calorie option)
  • 1 pint chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded Mexican cheese blend

Rinse the beans well, then add to a large bowl with 3 cups of water. Let the beans soak for 6-8 hours, or overnight. Drain the beans, rinse and add to a medium saucepan with 3 cups of water and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally. Strain the beans and discard the bay leaf, and set the beans aside until later.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften. Season lightly with salt. Then add the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook for another minute, stirring to toast the spices. Deglaze the pan with a little of the ginger beer, one good turn of the pan, and cook for a minute or two. Reserve the rest of the beer for later. Next, add the chorizo and brown, breaking up with a wooden spoon into small pieces. Once the chorizo is cooked through, add the tomatoes, cooked beans, the rest of the beer and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and cover. Cook chili for 1 to 1 and a half hours, stirring occasionally. During the last 20 minutes, add the corn and remove the lid. Let the chili stand for 5 minutes or so off the heat before serving.

Garnish with lime wedges, sour cream and cheese. If you like it spicier, just serve with some hot sauce as well.

Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

21 05 2014

This rustic Tuscan bean side dish is deliciously creamy and loaded with both flavor and nutrition! It whips up pretty quickly too. Get some chicken or steak on the grill while you prepare this, and before you know it you’ll have a lovely weeknight meal ready to enjoy.

Creamy Tuscan Beans With Mushrooms and Kale

The following serves 4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Pinch kosher salt to taste
  • 1 (8 oz) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of low-sodium, reduced-fat beef stock
  • Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 2-3 oz fontina cheese, cubed (you want to use fontina because it melts really well)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat a few Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring, a minute or so. Add rosemary, red pepper flakes and just a pinch of salt. Next add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, stock, olives and cheese. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cheese will melt nicely into the stock, creating a nice creamy dish.

Meanwhile in a large saute pan, heat some oil and saute kale until wilted and cooked, 5-10 minutes. You can make as much as you like, I filled the pan (remember it shrinks when it cooks). Transfer sautéed kale to the beans and finish cooking together the final 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dish out beans, top with parsley and enjoy alongside a protein of your choice. I served with grilled chicken breasts.

Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

28 01 2014

This hearty soup is a staple in Italian households around the globe, mine included. You’ll find many versions, but the traditional recipes keep it super simple with escarole, beans, garlic, water and chili pepper. My version stays close to tradition, but I add a little proscuitto to flavor the oil, along with mashing some of the beans to thicken the soup. You can leave the proscuitto out for a meatless meal if you’d like. Grab a spoon, a glass of vino and get ready to be transported to an Italian bistro. Mangia!

Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

The following serves 2-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Couple slices of thinly shaved prosciutto, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 chili peppers, minced or red pepper flakes (My grocery store doesn’t always have chili peppers, but they sell minced chili peppers in a tube – which is actually easier! Use 2 Tbsp if you go for the tube option.)
  • 2 heads of escarole, thinly sliced
  • 3 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • Lemon oil
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a few Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat Add prosciutto and cook until crispy. Reduce heat to low (allow the temp of the pot to decrease first so the following doesn’t burn) and add garlic and chili pepper, cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Season with salt to taste.

Next add the escarole and increase the heat back to medium. Saute and stir occasionally until completely wilted and the escarole has had time to absorb the flavored oil, 5 minutes. Season with a little salt to taste.

Add 1/4 of the beans and mash well with a potato masher. Add the rest of the beans (whole) and the broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Divide among bowls, top with a drizzle of lemon oil (or regular oil if you don’t have a flavored lemon oil) and lots of parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini for cleaning the bowl and a glass of vino! 🙂

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

6 01 2014

With the bitter cold temperatures upon us, it’s no surprise that I was in the mood for a comforting bowl of homemade Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans). I was planning on whipping up my usual Pasta e Fagioli, but stumbled on a sausage, bean and spinach stew recipe from Rachel Ray that sounded delicious and thought…why not mesh them together! So that’s exactly what I did. This hearty Italian dish is sure to warm your soul on a cold, winter night!

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

Pasta e Fagioli with Italian Sausage and Spinach

The following makes 6-8 servings (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat, with inspiration from Rachel Ray):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage (I used a pork/chicken sausage), casings removed, rolled into 1/2-inch meatballs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups small whole wheat pasta, such as macaroni or ditalini
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Make the sausage meatballs and put them on a baking sheet in the freezer to quickly set (a great trick I picked up from my mama!).

Meanwhile in another large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sweat the onion and celery for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for another minute. Season with salt to taste. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth, beans and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil.

Once the pot of water is boiling, add the sausage meatballs. When they float to the top they’re done, using a spider utensil, remove them to a strainer. Quickly rinse with water and add to the soup.

When the soup has come to a boil, add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions. When there is 5 minutes left in cooking the pasta, add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Turn off heat and remove the bay leaf and cheese rind. Add the juice and zest of half a lemon and taste, season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve grated parmesan cheese with Pasta e Fagioli,, a salad and of course, a glass of vino!

Eggplant Rollatini With Spinach and Cannellini Bean Filling

13 11 2013

I had all the ingredients I needed to make a great eggplant rollatini, except the ricotta. I had no intentions of running to the store just for ricotta, so I improvised and made an even healthier filling for my eggplant rollatini! I processed canellini beans until smooth (along with spinach) to achieve a similar consistency to ricotta, which also acts somewhat as a glue for the filling. I love getting creative and thinking outside the standard tried-and-true recipes…and this twist is a keeper!


Eggplant Rollatini With Spinach and Cannellini Bean Filling

The following serves 2 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4 in thick
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bag of fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, 2 cloves whole and 2 cloves finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Low-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400.

Slice eggplant to 1/4 in thick planks; lay flat on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping half way through. You want the eggplant to be soft enough to easily roll…cooking time may vary, so check on it often. Cool the eggplant until you can handle easily.

Meanwhile, saute spinach in a little olive oil in a large skillet until wilted and season with salt to taste. Transfer to a food processor (along with any liquid or excess oil from the pan) and add drained beans, 2 whole cloves garlic, lemon zest and juice. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a Tbsp or two of grated parmesan and set aside.

Next, add a little more olive oil in the skillet you used to saute the spinach, add chopped onion and cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes until soft. Add chopped garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes, cook for another minute. Add crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper to taste then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in a little chopped basil off heat.

Spray a casserole with non-stick spray and put a little of the tomato sauce on the bottom (enough to coat the bottom). When the roasted eggplant planks are cool enough to handle, build the rolls. Spoon some the spinach and bean stuffing onto one end of each plank of eggplant and roll up. Arrange the rolls on top of the tomato sauce (seam-side down), top with more sauce and mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake 15 minutes, remove cover and bake another 10 minutes until cheese is golden and bubbly. Top with grated parmesan and serve with a salad.

Bean Tortilla Casserole

24 02 2013

This hearty Tex-Mex dish is meatless and make ahead – perfect for a Friday dinner, especially if you observe Lent.

Bean Tortilla Casserole

Bean Tortilla Casserole

The following serves 4-5 (compliments of Everyday Food):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cans (15.5 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 10 tortillas
  • 6 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream for garnish if you want
  • Avocado, cubed

Preheat oven to 450.

In a medium pot, heat oil and garlic over medium and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add beans and 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer until beans are very tender, about 5 minutes. Mash slightly and season with salt.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree diced tomatoes with cilantro.

Lay 4 tortillas in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with one-third of the tomatoes, half the bean mixture and one-third of the cheese. Repeat, using 3 tortillas. Top with remaining 3 tortillas, remaining tomatoes and cheese.

Cover with foil and bake covered, until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove foil, reduce oven to 350 and bake until heated through and cheese is browned, 20 minutes.

Serve with cubed avocado and garnish with sour cream if desired.

If you’re making ahead, just build the casserole, cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.

This Girl’s Extras: To make this casserole a bit lighter, I used whole wheat tortillas rather than corn (although because the tortillas were larger I didn’t need as many as the recipe called for), a reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend and fat-free sour cream. I also added the extra avocado topping for some extra fiber.

Tuscan Chicken, Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Skillet

30 01 2013

I love Tuscan food….it can be so simplistic, but comforting and complex at the same time. Tonight’s dinner hit all these notes and left me wanting more – good thing for leftovers! 🙂

Tuscan Chicken, Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Skillet

Tuscan Chicken, Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Skillet

The following serves 2 with leftovers (compliments of This Girl):

  • 3-4 pieces of turkey bacon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Kosher salt
  • Half a red onion, chopped
  • Couple cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 package mushrooms, sliced
  • Dry white wine
  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Couple pinches of dried Rosemary
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower, thawed
  • Handful fresh parsley, chopped

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 3 or 4 pieces of turkey bacon and cook until crisp. Leave bacon on a paper-towel lined plate until ready to serve. Crumble the bacon right before serving.

Meanwhile, add a little olive oil to the same skillet and add cubed chicken. Season chicken with salt and cook until it starts to brown. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the skillet and add the onion, cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Next add the sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to brown, turning often. Season with Rosemary and a little salt.

Degalze the skillet with a little white wine, being sure to scrap up any brown bits from the bottom. Add the chicken back to the skillet, mix together and cook until the wine has reduced to half.

Next add the beans, cauliflower and chicken stock (a couple turns of the pan). Cook for about 5 minutes or so, turning often. Add a little more chicken broth if it starts to look dry. Taste and season with a little more salt if needed. Top with parsley and crumbled bacon just before serving.

Tuscan Ham and Bean Soup

11 04 2012

I love leftovers and coming up with new ways to re-purpose them! Easter was a few days ago and we had a good amount of ham leftover, along with the ham bone. I’ve used the leftovers in a few ways, including my last post (Fettuccine Primavera with Goat Cheese Sauce and Leftover Easter Ham) as well as making homemade ham stock and using leftover cubed ham for tonight’s elegant Tuscan bean soup.

Serve with crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine and not only will you have a winning homemade supper that you can be proud of, you’ll feel resourceful having used up every possible bit of that leftover Easter ham!

Tuscan Ham and Bean Soup

The following serves 6-8 (compliments of Emeril Lagasse, with a few of This Girl’s tweaks such as using ham stock and leftover Easter ham):

  • 1 can cannellini or northern white beans, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
  • 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed (15 oz)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 head kale, steams removed and chopped
  • 8 cups ham stock (use chicken or vegetable stock if you don’t have a ham bone)
  • Leftover Easter ham, cubed
  • Couple pinches each dried rosemary, thyme and oregano (or if using fresh: 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 sprigs thyme, 1 sprig oregano)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated parmesan and a rind if you have one

To make stock with leftover ham bone: Clean the bone of the ham meat as much as you can and store meat in the fridge until later. Place the ham bone in a large soup pot and cover with water. Add half an onion, handful of baby carrots and a couple of celery stalks with leaves. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 2 hours (turn down to a simmer once boiling). Strain the broth and keep warm back in the pot if using that day, or cool down and store in the fridge if you’re using it another day. When the bone is cool enough to handle, pick off any usable meat and set aside if using right away, or store in the fridge if using later. I made the stock the day before to save myself time. If you don’t have a ham bone, use chicken or vegetable stock instead and skip this step altogether.

In another large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper, to taste. Add the diced tomatoes, both beans, and 8 cups of ham stock (or chicken or vegetable stock). If you’re using ham stock, make sure to pour through a strainer as you add to the pan to catch any fat. Next add the herbs and cheese rind. Cook for 20 minutes, then add the chopped kale and chopped ham. Continue cooking until the beans are completely tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf and cheese rind. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup in large bowls with grated parmesan and crusty bread.

Pasta Fazool or Fagioli

8 03 2012

I’m singing along to Dean Martin’s ‘That’s Amore’  as I write this….”When the stars make you drool, joos-ta like pasta fazool, that’s amore”!

Pasta Fazool or Pasta Fagioli, meaning “pasta and beans”, is a classic and traditional Italian soup or soup-like dish (consistency can vary depending on the region). This rendition is a mix of a Rachel Ray recipe, my BF Mom, Dolores’ recipe and a few of This Girl’s tweaks. Pour yourself a glass of vino to enjoy with this comfy meal and mangia!

Pasta Fazool or Fagioli

The following serves 2 (and maybe leftovers depending on your portion sizes):

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig rosemary and 1 small sprig thyme, left intact (or use a few pinches of dried herbs if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, but I like it a little spicy)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 small celery rib, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans or northern white beans (I like to drain and rinse the beans)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • About 1 cup ditalini
  • 1 rind parmigiano reggiano or parmesan (optional)
  • Grated parmigiano reggiano
  • Crusty garlic bread, for cleaning the bowls

Heat a deep pot over medium high heat and add oil and add herb stems, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, chopped vegetables, and garlic. Season vegetables with salt and pepper.

After the veggies have a few minutes to sweat, add beans, tomato sauce, water, and stock to pot and raise heat to high. Bring soup to a rapid boil and add pasta and cheese rind if you have one. Reduce heat to medium and cook soup, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes or until pasta is cooked to al dente.Cooking the pasta right in the soup will help it thicken.

Rosemary and thyme leaves will separate from stems as soup cooks (if you used the fresh herbs). Remove herb stems, bay leaf and cheese rind from soup. Let soup rest and begin to cool for a few minutes, it will also continue to thicken. Ladle soup into bowls and top with lots of grated cheese. Because I used dried herbs, I also garnished with a little chopped parsley to finish with a fresh element.

Enjoy with a glass of vino and some toasted up crusty garlic bread for cleaning the bowls!