For the LOVE of Tomatoes and Bacon!

Those of you that know me, know that I don’t eat meat often. As a matter of fact I rarely buy it and save my indulgences on eating it to when I am out and it is being served. It is not that I don’t like it, we just don’t get along very well. So, I keep it to special occasions. Last night was one of those!

Is there anything better than a bacon and tomato sandwich when the tomatoes have just been picked and there are five types?

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And how about if you have some field greens and fresh basil to top it off with?

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And how about if the bacon comes from a local farmer that you just bought hours earlier?

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And how about if the bread is freshly baked by your hubby?

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And how about if you eat pickles with it that you just made a few days earlier from cucumbers in your garden?

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And how about if you have a pot of Cream of Tomato soup (also from the garden tomatoes) simmering on the stove to accompany it?

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Can you smell it? Can you taste it? It was perfection… plain and simple.

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A bacon and tomato sandwich is simply a rite of passage from summer to fall for me. As I transition into 100% fall status this will be repeated with those last tomatoes that are begging to be used in a splendid way!

What’s your favorite indulge from your late summer harvest?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

 

Texas Chili-Veggie Style

DSCN3760Yesterday it snowed and snowed and snowed.  Yipee!  Nothing like a blanket of white to get you in the Christmas spirit AND in the spirit of making something in the crock pot.

I love Texas Style Chili– to me that means spicy, thick, beef cubes and beans.  This time however, I left the meat out and tried something a little different.  What came out was fantastic! So take off your filters about what chili has to have in it and come along to try a twist on a pretty traditional chili recipe.

What do you need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 C chopped green and/or red pepper (I grabbed this from my freezer as I freeze chopped peppers when I pick them)
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
  • 28 oz canned tomatoes (I canned this year so grabbed these from my shelf)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 C veggie stock (see my recipe if you want to make your own)
  • 1 lb of chickpeas, cooked (more on this later)
  • 2 Tbl chili powder
  • 1 Tbl cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp sugar

Process:

Dump everything in your crock pot, mix it up a bit and set on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8.  Easy huh?  No cooking anything in a saute pan, just toss it all in the crock!

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So easy! As evidence of that I will tell you that I had 18 minutes yesterday before I had a call that I needed to get onto.  I set my timer, and I had 3 minutes remaining after I completed this AND cleaned up the dishes!  That is EASY and FAST!

A side note about the chickpeas (or garbanzos which they are also called).  A few months ago I converted from using canned beans to dry beans.  One, they are cheaper and two, I think they taste so much better!  I use chickpeas when I make hummus (recipe in the future) and I always have some chick peas left, which is what made me think of using them in the chili.  To get your chickpeas ready, I use a crock pot.  One pound of dry beans, cover with water and add 1 tsp of baking soda.  Set crock on high for 4 hours and you have perfect chick peas.  I saw Alton Brown do this and figured if it was good enough for him, then it was good enough for me! 🙂

Or you can do your chickpeas in a pressure cooker.  I have never done this, but on our Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop yesterday, Clearwater Farm shared how she does this.

So, back to chili….the spices and tomatoes and onions and peppers all worked perfectly together with the chick peas.  We topped with some shredded cheddar.  You can see I have a pup that is a willing participant of licking up any cheese shreds that may happen down to the floor.  She is on duty and waiting!

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We also added some diced green onion and jalapenos.  Serve with a side of tortillas (recipe here) and you will be in heaven.  It was the perfect cold weather meal.  We may just do that again tonight!

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What is your favorite chili recipe or ingredient?

Happy Unleashing with a new chili recipe!

FG

Soup Night: Pasta Fagioli!

Many of you are aware that I won a GREAT prize package from Storey Publishing. In it was a FABULOUS soup pot, cookbooks, beans, spices and a trivet.  It was amazing!  Look at the picture of all this stuff:

prizeLast week, we had soup night on a chilly night that was just screaming for hot soup.  I made Pasta Fagioli which was based on the Italian Bean and Pasta Soup recipe in the Soup Night Recipe Sampler book from Storey Publishing.  In my prize package, I received the hard copy of this book in full, but I already had the sampler book, so I hit it first for a recipe. I took liberty with the recipe a bit (as I often do), so here are the ingredients that I used.  You will see some slight variations if you compare the two. As with any type of soup, particularly vegetable soups, feel free to add whatever you want!

What do you need:

  • 1 pound of Fall Soup Blend Beans (these were in my prize package; you can use anotherdry bean of your choosing)
  • 10 C of Veggie Stock (here is my recipe for that; I had some in the freezer) (approx amount)
  • 1/2 C Olive Oil
  • 2 med. onions, chopped
  • 4-5 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small bunch Kale, chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 – 2 pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (save these for soups and sauces!)
  • 3/4 pound of small pasta (I used Ditalini)
  • Fresh parmigiano for serving

Here we go:

Bring beans and enough veggie stock to cover them to a boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for a couple of hours. You can save this liquid for later. BUT since I used mixed beans, there were some dark beans in there and the liquid turned almost black.  Not too appetizing for Fagioli, so I did not save it.  You make your own call here. 🙂

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Heat the oil in a heavy pot; add the onions and a bit of the salt.  Stir occasionally and cook for about 8 minutes; just until they start to turn a little brown.  Then add the carrots and celery and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the beans, parsley, rosemary, kale, salt and pepper and veggie stock to cover and the cheese rind. Simmer until beans are tender.  This could take anywhere from 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours.   Check them occasionally and add veggie stock (or water) as needed.

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In a separate pot, bring water to boil for the pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the directions. Do not cook this in the soup; keep it separate.

To serve, ladle soup in a bowl and then add a spoonful (or 2) to the top of the soup.  Crack a little black pepper on and grate a little fresh parm on the top.

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What are your favorite soups for cool temps? Let me know if you try this one or any of the ones from the Soup Night Cookbook!

Happy Unleashing your Soup Pot!

Veggie Stock

stockpotI love vegetable stock. Whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, pescetarianism or anything else that is out there, veggie stock is the best!  I love the full flavor of it.  Whenever I make ANYTHING that calls for stock or water, I use it.  You might say I am obsessed with it.  I am a veggie stock evangelist and have converted many. 🙂

That being said, I was spending ALOT of money on this precious boxed stuff.  It was getting ridiculous actually.

One night while cooking and tossing my veggie scraps away (no I am not composing yet; it’s on the wanna do list), I had the eureka that I would start making my own.  I actually don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago.  I love making stuff myself and rarely by processed food, but this eluded me until a few months ago. stock.

Simple, simple process.  Simply throw your veggie scraps in a ziplock or other container and keep it in the freezer until needed.

When I need stock or want to make it to freeze, I simply fill my pasta pot with water to cover the veggies.  I add some black peppercorns, thyme and a bay leaf and let it simmer.  The directions are so easy, there is no measuring; the seasonings are up to you and I just let it simmer until the veggies looked really “cooked to death.”. I simply drain it and then I either freeze it for use later or use it immediately in a recipe.

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Try this and let me know what you think  I guarantee your next soup will be the best ever with this as your base!