This brings me back to shortly after college, when my best friend from high school and I were still living in our hometown, and we were rather at loose ends with ourselves (I eventually wised up and moved back East) – and we would often drown our sorrows at *Big Chain Restaurant* that always offered unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at weekday lunch (yeah, you know who I’m talking about).

There’s actually tons of recipes for this soup – it is a DAMN good soup, and actually quite easy to make – but I didn’t want to actually babysit a pot of soup, so I had to figure out a slow cooker version.  Everything is approximate, since I actually left the house while the soup was cooking away – but this is a little bit of nostalgia in a bowl.  And also saving me tons of money and time, because there’s actually not one of those restaurants near me, and I’m not really willing to drive for like half an hour (with no traffic) just to get this soup.

The Goods:

1 lb hot italian sausage (or mild if you prefer, but Hi, have you MET me?)

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

good olive oil, a couple glugs

garlic. lots.  I’d say at least 4 Tablespoons minced, but I just glop it out of my big jar of pre-minced garlic.

2 quarts chicken broth/chicken stock

1 bag cut kale (you might want to actually cut it down further, the pieces are freakin’ huge which makes it a little hard to eat.  Also, this is likely WAY TO MUCH KALE for the normal person, but I happen to really love kale.)

2 large-ish russet potatoes

1 pint heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

oh, and you’ll need a big slow cooker.  Mine is like… 6 quarts…? and it was FULL TO THE TOP.  Like, I had to smush down the raw kale to get the lid on.

The Method:

Get your slow cooker going on low. start heating your chicken broth.

In a large frying pan, heat your olive oil, and sautee your garlic and onions until slightly soft.

Peel the sausage out of its casings and cook in the pan with garlic and onions, breaking it up as it cooks.

While your sausage is cooking, quarter the potatoes lengthwise and then slice them into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.  Or whatever looks and feels good to you in the “bite-sized” family.  Add your potatoes to the pot too.  Might as well add the kale now too.  It will obnoxiously fill up your pot.

Once the sausage is all crumbled up and no longer pink, throw that whole mess on top of the kale.  If you’re lucky, it will be hot enough to wilt your kale down a little bit.  I wasn’t quite so lucky.

As gently as you can move things around/stir them up/smush everything down into the broth as best as you can.  Clap the lid on.  Yes, you will have A VERY FULL SLOW COOKER.  It’ll be okay.

Cook on low for… uh… 4 to 6 hours?  Extra cooking will not hurt the potatoes or kale, so really, cook it until it’s dead.  The kale will loose most of its floofy volume.  You will still have like two gallons of soup.  It will be lovely. I believe I gave the soup about 6 hours of cook time, and then held it on warm for another hour or two after I stirred the last of the ingredients in. (see next sentence)

Stir everything together once it’s all cooked down, add your heavy cream, and then add salt and pepper to taste.  I use reduced sodium broth, so I always end up adding more salt than I thought I would need.

Serve with breadsticks or garlic bread or dinner rolls or ciabatta or whatever!

 

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Do you ever go look in the back of your fridge, and have this moment of “whoa, I still have that?  I’ve got to use that up like, TODAY.”

That happened to me the other night, after I finally gave up on my lofty goal of making green smoothies every day for my health. (I need a better blender before that’s really a viable option.)

So I looked in the fridge, and I had just… GOBS AND GOBS of beautiful, lovely spinach and kale, just begging to be cooked. And I thought to myself “well, I can’t just let it go to waste!”  So I went to the store for a few sundries, and got to work.

The Goods: (and this is like, a REALLY ROUGH estimate of what I actually had, okay?  So just… play. Seriously, it’ll be all right.)

– somewhere around 16 oz, combined of baby spinach and baby kale

– 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

– minced garlic, as much as you want. (for me, this was at least a quarter of a cup)

– patak’s curry paste, about 1/2 jar (and don’t ask me how long that had been in my fridge, please)

– pickled sliced jalapenos (like for nachos), about 1/2 cup

– diced tomatoes in juice (possibly the kind with chilies and onions, knowing me), 1 15-oz can

– coconut milk (I actually prefer the whole fat stuff, so don’t skimp, okay?  the rest of the dish is lean enough.)

– chicken.  I grabbed some chicken and garlic sausage, but I think it’d be even better with plain chicken thighs. boneless and skinless, and diced.

The method:

  • Heat a HUGE skillet (or wok, that’s my favorite vessel for pot o’ random stuff) on medium, add a couple glugs of oil.
  • Add onion and garlic, sautee until translucent
  • Add chicken, cook through.
  • Add spinach and jalapenos, sautee until spinach is wilted.  Cook another minute or two to burn off some of the liquid the spinach will give off.
  • Stir in curry paste and tomatoes.  Simmer for about ten minutes.
  • Stir in coconut milk.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.  Now would also be a great time to add in some garam masala, crushed red pepper, curry powder, coriander, or whatever else tickles your fancy.  Or fresh cilantro, that’d be pretty awesome.

Serve over polenta or rice.

Best leftovers ever.

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Winter Storm Comfort Food: Jambalaya!

by Vickie on January 26, 2015

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

As Winter Storm Juno begins burying us out here, I found myself at work earlier today, waiting for the announcement that we would be closed tomorrow, and really just craving the heck out of a nice pile of spicy jambalaya.  Thing is – jambalaya is amazingly easy to make!  It’s very much an everyone-in-the-pool kind of dish.  So yay!

The goods:

1 lb kielbasa, cut into bite sized pieces (Okay, you should traditionally use andouille.  But I don’t *like* andouille. So there.)

1 lb chicken (I like thighs, myself), cut into bite sized pieces

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

2 medium green peppers, seeded and diced

4 ribs celery, diced

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes in juice

3ish cups brown rice

((28ish oz beef stock, or water and beef buillion, or however you get there))

5ish bird chilis, minced, or 2 good-sized jalapenos, minced

chili powder, paprika, cayenne powder

garlic, minced, about 1/4 cup

2 ish tablespoon bacon grease or oil

The method:

In a big ol’ pot, heat your fat. add veggies and garlic, saute until soft.

Add meat.  Cook until chicken meat is all white on the outside.  Add seasonings – a good several shakes of each.

Add tomatoes, stock, and rice. Stir well.

Cover and simmer about half hour to 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed or rice is tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Dish out and chow down!

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Banana Muffins!

December 23, 2014

So I gotta say, I love banana bread.  Not only is it a fantastic way to use up overripe bananas, it’s also so tasty.  Especially nice and warm, with a schmear of cream cheese. Good stuff, man. I also love muffins, and though they require a bit more work pre-baking, the benefit is that you […]

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

December 21, 2014

This is something I’ve loved for a very long time but been too lazy to actually try to make until… well, now.  But honestly – it’s so embarrassingly simple, I almost feel bad posting a recipe.  Anyway, here goes. The goods: 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese or neufchatel (which is low-fat cream cheese) 1 […]

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Lemony Kale and White Beans

June 8, 2014

I like this recipe because it’s almost as simple as it sounds – and the lemon adds a nice bit of zing to what would otherwise be a bit on the bitter/bland side.  Also – man, do I love kale.  Seriously. The goods: 1 large yellow onion 1 bunch kale 1 15-0z can white beans […]

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Turkey and Kale Soup

May 4, 2014

  This is actually a really simple recipe – as most broth-based soups tend to be, it’s just aromatics, broth, and flavoring.  Which works fine by me, actually, given that I’m often feeling pretty lazy after work, but in need of sustenance and comfort.  When I first learned this recipe, it included rice, but I […]

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Chicken Paella

April 16, 2014

I’ve been wanting to learn paella for some time now – and for some reason always managed to talk myself out of it.  “Oh, it takes too long, it’s too difficult, etc etc” Which really?  Load of bunk.  If you can figure out risotto and/or rice pilaf – you can do paella.  This version is […]

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Arancini – Way less difficult than learning how to pronounce it.

February 16, 2014

Fancy word, easy dish – it’s just crispy risotto balls, you guys, no need to panic! So here’s what you do:  Make your favorite risotto recipe.  Mushroom risotto?  Awesome.  Spring risotto with peas and arugula?  Beautiful.  Butternut squash risotto with caramelized onions?  Fantastic!  (Though, uh, make sure your butternut is cut into little bitty chunks, […]

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Balsamic Roast Chicken

February 16, 2014

Okay, so this marinade also works amazingly well on pork chops, and I suspect it’d be fantastic on any poultry as well, but this incarnation uses it on chicken thighs, because that’s what I had in my fridge. This is how easy the marinade is: it’s just olive oil and balsamic vinegar. That’s it. Don’t […]

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