Pasta e Fagioli

{i <3 soups}

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Fall has officially started, on the calendar and weather-wise.  I love hot hot days (preferably by a pool or beach), but I also love the beginning of fall.  To me, it seems like a cozy time of the year.  Jeans & a sweatershirt, soups, candles, and colorful leaves.  Clearly I already embraced the fall flavors when I made my Apple Cinnamon Bread and I plan to continue experimenting with them more and more.

Last weekend, we took our annual trip to the apple orchard which has become one of my favorite annual traditions.  We got to pick all types of apples, it was a great weekend to go!  My thinking cap for apple recipes is still on and I hope to post some new recipes on them soon.

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Since I started my blog, soups have appeared several times.  I believe in one post I talked about how I disliked them growing up.  There are endless recipes for all different kinds of soups, I can’t imagine how one can dislike them.  Typically, my soups are brothy or creamy so I decided to try a different base with a tomato sauce.  In addition, I never have tried to make an Italian soup before.  I wanted to create something meatless for Monday and this can be made meatless, but I really liked the heartiness and spiciness of the sausage.  Feel free to leave it out, but double your beans if you do (2-15oz cans).

I think my food hiatus has come to end and my food love is back again… for now… if you read my last post, you are aware that my food and cooking enthusiasm comes and goes.  So stay tuned for more recipes and not so doughie tidbits.  Oh and hey!  Great news!  My blog’s 1st birthday is next TUESDAY – you will really want to read then because I have a little giveaway going on!

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pasta e fagioli
Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 15 minutes   |||   Servings: 4  |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients
4 oz (3 links) hot turkey sausage
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 cup water
2 cups organic, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup organic tomato sauce
1 cup uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
1/2 cup Romano cheese, shredded + more for garnish
1 can (15oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Directions
1.  Cooked pasta according to directions on box, cooking al dente.  Set aside.
2.  In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Cut the casing off of the sausage and add to the pain.  Use a wooden spoon to break apart the sausage.
3.  Add the garlic and oregano once the sausage is nearly cooked and saute about 2 minutes.
4.  Add the chicken broth, water, and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil.
5.  Stir in the beans, cheese, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, pasta, salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes.
6.  Serve with additional cheese and fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

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Summer Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

{the summer soup}

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I used to hate soups.  I never was a big fan of them growing up.  Chicken noodle soup was served when you were sick, but soup was never a frequent visitor to the dinner table.  I did LOVE beef stew.  However, stew is not soup is not chowder.  In my old age, I have grown to love soups, stews, chowders, bisques, gazpachos etc etc.  They definitely appear on my dinner menu often, but in the fall & winter more.

However, I don’t discriminate soup in the summer so I add some delicious summer flavors to keep it light.  You’ve probably noticed a decent amount of posts including corn lately.  Well, it is summertime and I really cannot get enough of it.  [I will be posting a Mexican Corn Salad shortly where I use the corn straight up off the cob.]  This recipe uses the corn’s kernels and “pulp” to add creaminess to the broth.

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So what exactly is the difference between a stew, chowder, and soup?  I did some research to answer this question for you…..

  • SOUP:  Liquid is very thin.  Can be cream based or broth based.  It is majority liquid with some, if any, added pieces
  • CHOWDER:  Broth is thickened using an agent such as flour and has more “stuff” in it than liquid.
  • STEW:  Mainly solid pieces of veggies & meat cooked in a small amount of liquid (beer) cooked slow resulting in a gravy base.

Based off of these Sara-determined definitions, this is a soup because I didn’t use any flour as a thickening agent.  I am still going to call it a chowder because I like the word chowder and there is more “stuff” than liquid.

This is the ultimate summer soup.  It has many bold flavors, is light, creamy, salty, sweet, and in my chowder, spicy.  If you aren’t a shrimp fan, substitute crab or lobster – yum!  This dinner sounds a bit fancy, but it is yet another “Dinner in 20″ meal.  It requires one pot too which makes for easy clean up :)

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summer corn & shrimp chowder with bacon
Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 20 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
3 slices of thick bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk [I used fat-free]
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
Optional:  cilantro, cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.  Cut the corn kernels off the cobs over a bowl.  Squeeze any excess “juice” from the cores.
2.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium and add the bacon.  Cook until crispy.  Remove about 2 Tbsp from the pot & set aside.  If there is a lot of grease, discard all but about 2 tsp.
3.  Add the onion and celery & saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic & thyme and saute an additional minute.
5.  Add the corn and any pulp acquired during cutting and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the shrimp.  Cook for 2 minutes.
7.  Stir in the milk.
8.  Season with salt and pepper and cayenne.
9.  Serve with cheddar cheese, cilantro and remaining bacon pieces.

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Enjoy!

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Stovetop Turkey Chili

{still trying to keep warm}

Turkey Chili

I cannot wait for this cold weather to be gone.  Like I can’t deal anymore, people.  I have high hopes that the bitter single digit temps are over though.  The other day it was 44 degrees out and it felt like a heat wave.  All I want to do is open every single window as wide as possible and air out all the stuffy winter dust.  I also would love a clean garage.  All the snow and sludge that has melted from my car has left our garage a small mud pit.

Dear Mother Nature, change your attitude and bring me spring!

So the warm chilis, stews, and comfort food will continue until it’s time to bring out the charcoal grill.  Sundays are a day for relaxing, some cleaning and prepping for the week, and warm dinners by the TV.  Since we don’t have Chase on Sundays, Bryan and I usually have a low key dinner.  Ideally, a crock pot or one-dish meal for easy clean up.

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Chili is one of Bryan’s favorite meals and although I have yet to perfect his favorite – think coney dog chili – I have prepared several that get his approval.  Being on health train means using ground turkey instead of beef. I thought I was being slick and would trick him, but he knew it was turkey (which he doesn’t typically prefer).  However, he seemed to really like this version because he had multiple helpings.

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The chili can be made in the slow cooker, but I opted for my trusty Dutch Oven and let the flavors simmer for about 5 hours on low.  I prepared the chili in the afternoon and then we ate when we were hungry later in the evening.  This is by far the easiest chili around.  If you know how to use a can opener and chop a few vegetables then you can make this hearty, warming meal.

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Make a double batch and freeze it for a later date too.  It freezes nicely & will be an easy meal when you aren’t in the mood to cook.

I hope you are finding ways to stay warm!  If you live in the south, I envy you.  Please mail me a box of sunshine stat!

stovetop turkey chili

Recipe By:  Sara
Hands on Time:  15 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  30 minutes – 5 hours   ///   Servings 4-6

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions {optional}

Directions:
1.  In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2.  Add the turkey and use a wooden spoon to break apart.  Cook about 5 minutes and move to side of the pot.
3.  Add the onion and saute next to the turkey about 3 minutes.
4.  Add the green pepper and garlic.  Cook about 2 more minutes.
5.  Add the chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Stir all together.
6.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, and water.  Stir and bring to a boil.
7.  Once boiling, reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook covered for a minimum of 30 minutes.
8.  Serve topped with cheese, sour cream, a dash of hot sauce, and green onions.

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Taco Chicken Chili

{crockpot goodness}

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My trusty crockpot strikes again!  Seriously, love the crockpot… maybe I should marry it [my sister & I used to say this all the time when we were little].  This is probably one of the easiest crockpot recipes around.  They are all pretty easy actually, but this one tastes amazing too.  If you know how to use a can opener then this is your recipe.

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Is anyone else completely sick of this cold weather?  I tolerated the Polar Vortex and the blizzard, but now it is time for spring.  The thing I don’t mind is brewing up some delicious vats of chili or soups to ward off the chill, however.  Sunday was yet another frigid, stay under a blanket inside all day kinda day.  So I threw my chili ingredients together in the morning and Bryan & I enjoyed a bowl of it for dinner.

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This dish is also great to make for a large group of people.  It is super easy and is really filling.  Serve it with some homemade cornbread or chips & salsa.  The Superbowl is right around the corner & this is sure to please rowdy football fans.  I hope you enjoy it & stay warm out there, people!

Taco Chicken Chili
slightly adapted from Skinnytaste

Hands-on Time:  5 minutes   ///   Cook Time: 8 hours   ///   Servings:  6-8

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney beans
1 can (15 oz) black beans
1 can diced tomatoes with chilis
1 can diced tomatoes **can use two with chilis if you want more spice**
1 packet taco seasoning
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup water
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Sour cream, Cheddar cheese, crackers [for toppings]

Directions
1.  Turn crock pot onto the 8 hour level.  Add onion, beans, tomatoes, beans, water and seasonings together & stir.
2.  Place the chicken breasts over the mixture.  Cover with lid.
3.  An hour before serving remove the chicken and use two forks to shred the chicken.  Place it back into the chili and stir.
4.  Add the corn and cilantro.
5.  Serve piping hot with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of shredded cheese.

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xoxosara

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French Onion Soup

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This weekend we got a decent amount of snow to kick off the Christmas spirit even further.  That being said, it was a good evening to enjoy a bowl of steamy soup.  With Chase under the weather and the snowy wonderland outside, it seemed fitting and Bryan suggested he make his French onion soup.

Bryan was not the most knowledgeable in the kitchen prior to meeting me.  I will toot my own horn on this one… I definitely got Bryan to learn to cook and really enjoy it.  Throughout our relationship, I have taught him a few things, but he also threw himself into my passion.  He makes some pretty impressive meals and I am lucky to have a boyfriend who knows how to cook :)

Typically, Bryan’s go-to genre is sauces/marinades and grilling.  However, his LOVE for French Onion Soup led to him creating his own recipe for his favorite soup.  I love a good bowl of soup and this one is no exception.  The caramelization of the onions and the flavorful beef broth pair perfectly.  The best part?  Of course it is the melting, bubbling cheese overtop his homemade seasoned croutons.  The bowl of soup made a perfect meal for the blustery cold winter evening.  I stand by his soup & highly recommend adding it to your menu this week.  Happy Souping!

{Click here for the recipe}

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Guinness Beef Stew

{Guinness + Beef}

Beef stew.  My guess is most people think comfort food when they hear beef stew.  Not me.  I think of the first book I ever read on my own titled Beef Stew.  Sure, I read Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat and the Hat and all the classics.  However, I clearly remember grabbing that book when I was little and reading each word on my own.  What an interesting title… I really wonder what the author was thinking when the book idea came to mind.  Maybe she was eating beef stew?  Had a few too many drinks?  No idea.  All I know is that I loved this book and probably still do if I read it today.

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I make beef stew about once a year and I’m not sure why I don’t make it more often.  It is so easy and the smell when you come home from work – yum.  The crock pot is one of the greatest inventions in the cooking world.  I love being able to put something together in the morning and come home from work to dinner.  This is definitely one piece of equipment in my kitchen that gets its use.  

I knew it was time to break out my classic beef stew recipe with the cold weather well underway.  However, I decided to add a twist to my original recipe.  I wanted something with a deeper flavor and unique.  My original recipe uses red wine as the base of the sauce.  For this recipe, I decided to use a bold and hearty beer – Guinness.  My secret piece of this recipe – 1 oz. of bittersweet chocolate.  It gives the recipe that little something that causes people to think “Hmm what is in here?”  

I prepared the beef stew this morning and was happy to come home to smell my masterpiece.  I cooked it on low for 10 hours and the beef became so tender soaking in the liquid all day.  Preparation for the stew was so easy and it was a two thumbs up meal at my dinner table.  I definitely will make this version of my beef stew again.  It was very delicious and the flavors were so unique.  I hope you enjoy.

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{Click here for the recipe}

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Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup

{the hearty soup}

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before in past posts, but I have a large obsession with kale.  I always try to sneak it into all my dishes.  Bryan isn’t the biggest fan, Chase actually tolerates it, every other day.  I am pretty fascinated by the health benefits of incorporating kale into my diet.  I want my boys to reap the benefits too so I try my best to use it in place of leafy greens when possible.  Chase wasn’t around for this soup, but I think he would have eaten the kale and enjoyed it too.  However, Mr. Kale was not the star of this soup, but a component.  It basically was a chicken noodle soup with a twist – sausage instead of chicken, potatoes instead of noodles, kale instead of celery.  Okay, I guess that doesn’t seem to make much sense being just a “twist”.  Let’s just call it a delicious, filling, and healthy soup.

I was in the mood for soup, what else is new, but knew I wanted to use some items with depth.  Sausage has a tendency to weird me out slightly, but the complex flavors inside settle my uneasiness about the food.  I especially enjoy spicy sausage and lately Bryan and I can’t seem to get enough of the spicy chicken sausage.  For this recipe, I opted for the pork variety as I was unsure if a chicken sausage would dry out in a soup.  I plan to experiment with a jalapeno chicken sausage soon.

tip:  if using pork sausage, be sure to pat dry to remove excess grease or else it will settle on the top.  you can see a few grease drops in my pictures due to the lack of proper de-greasing.

I originally planned to make a spicy sausage and potato chowder, but was really inspired by the recipe posted on The Candid Appetite.  Jonathan’s beautiful pictures and quirky writing made me admire in awe and laugh.  Check out his site for some great recipes and amazing photography skills.

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{click here for the recipe}

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