Cooking With Love

New Year Slow Cooker Black Eyed Peas

Hey and Happy New Year!  I hope everyone’s year has gotten off to a great start. As for myself, I have been busy organizing our home and trying to get better at meal planning.   Both are a few of my top goals this year along with living simply. I am finding that meal planning simplifies life and really helps me during the work week. So, what better way to start off this new year than a simple yet delicious pot of black eyed peas.  I have made many versions, but find this one is by far the best.  Black eyed peas to me are great on their own with cornbread or as a side with any supper. Simply divine.

 

Black Eyed Peas

1 16 ounce package dried black eyed peas (soaked overnight in water)
1 ham bone (I used a frozen left over ham bone that had some ham still left on it.  You could use a ham hock as well.)
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 garlic clove sliced
1/4 tsp ground thyme
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 cups water
1/2 tsp sea salt ( I start with  1/4 tsp and add more only if needed to taste)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Drain and rinse the black eyed peas after soaking overnight. In a slow cooker add all ingredients and stir.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Simple as that! :)

Enjoy! :)

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!

Getting ready to get the blog going again after taking some time off.  Stay tuned! :)

Turkey Bolognese Sauce – It’s a New Year – Live Happily!

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I can’t believe we are almost to the end of January!  I have not made any resolutions, but I have several goals I would like to achieve, such as working on the blog more, becoming a better writer, photographer, and recipe developer, but most importantly staying healthy and happy.

I read a quote recently that touched me from a favorite blog of mine.  It reads “Life is to be lived and felt – richly and abundantly.  We are all so blessed – stop worrying and live happily” – from Everyday Occassions with Jenny Steffens Hobick.  As I write this and reflect on this quote, I am thinking of simple ways to do this, letting go of imperfections and living in the moment to start.  Slowing down and relaxing more is ideal.

Winter signifies a time to slow down, get more rest and eat cozy comforting meals.  Often times, shorter daylight hours means less time to make satisfying dinners that are comforting.  I have a perfect recipe that will warm your soul, and make you happy.  Slow Cooker Turkey Bolognese. It’s so simple to put together and feeds a crowd. The night before, I brown the meat, dump all other ingredients in the cooker insert, store the insert in the fridge, then plop it in the cooker in the morning, and come home from work to a house that smells like heaven…. happy sigh.

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Turkey Bolognese Sauce

2 lbs ground turkey 93/7 lean
1 large onion chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
3 14.5 oz cans of no salt added tomato sauce
2 6 oz cans of tomato paste (I use italian style for one of them)
3 14.5 oz cans of no salt added diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 Tbs dried basil
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs olive oil

In a large pan, add the olive oil and brown the turkey until cooked through.  Add the onion and garlic and cook about 1 minute.  Transfer meat (draining any liquid) into a 5 quart slow cooker.  Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well to incorporate.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Season to taste with additional sea salt and pepper if you prefer. Serve over pasta.

Note: Leftovers freeze very well.  I usually freeze in plastic containers or freezer ziptop bags.  Allow the sauce to cool a bit before freezing.

Enjoy! :)

My New Favorite Toy!

So I have not posted in the last several weeks.  Not because I have not wanted to, but between the holiday’s, birthday’s and work, and more holiday’s, birthday’s and work, I have been a busy bee!

I recently purchased for my birthday, a Ninja blender.  Can I tell you how much I love this little jewel!!  I have been whipping up the best smoothies on earth and everything else under the sun.  I figured with the holiday’s and my birthday, and chocolate cake…. I better start getting in the healthy mode before New Years pops in.
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This Ninja blender was a steal at my local Walmart store.  I paid $89 for it and it was worth every penny.  It has three blades… three!! It honestly works just as good as those pricey ones too.  My latest concoction has peanut butter in it and it’s oh so smooth and good.  If you have been debating on getting a new blender, try the Ninja, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Peanut Butter, Banana & Kale Smoothie

1 frozen ripe banana
2 Tbs creamy organic natural peanut butter (I prefer Smucker’s brand)
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt (I prefer Chobani brand)
1 gala apple, rough chopped
1 cup kale
1 cup fresh spinach
1 Tbs golden flax meal (optional – prefer Bob’s Mill)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I prefer Silk brand)
1 cup ice

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend long enough until everything is smooth.  Add more almond milk if needed to thin out. Fell free to add a little honey if you like your smoothie sweeter.

Enjoy!  :)

Spicy Turkey Chili

So, it’s officially fall in Georgia, highs in the 60’s and 70’s and lows in the 30’s and 40’s. The  temperatures fluctuate alot  here.  On Saturday,  it was 76 degrees, but that didn’t stop us from making a big bonfire with friends that night and curling up with our favorite fleece blankets while watching the Georgia game, Go Dawgs!  Nothing beats this time of year. I just love it.

I spent most of today meal planning, lingering around and shopping at our local Fresh Market for groceries for the week to come.  Sunday is all about comfort, so I decided to cook chili tonight as chilly nights call for comforting pots of soups, stews, and chili of course.  This is one of my favorite chili recipes.  Nothing fancy, just simple and oh so good.  Feel free to substitute your favorite ground beef if turkey is not your forte.  If you don’t like spicy foods,  use the mild Rotel tomatoes, but I have to say the Mexican Rotel’s make the chili.

Spicy Turkey Chili

1 pound ground turkey, 93/7 lean
1 medium yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs chopped cilantro
2 Tbs chili powder (I prefer McCormick)
1 Tbs ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground onion powder
1 16 oz can low sodium tomato sauce
1 16 oz can chili beans ( I prefer Bush’s, medium sauce)
1 15 oz can low sodium dark or light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 10 oz cans Mexican Lime Cilantro tomatoes, (I prefer Rotel)
1/2 cup beer or water (I used beer)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs olive oil

note: no salt is needed, as the chili beans and tomatoes supply enough. If you desire, add to taste after cooking.

In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and brown turkey until cooked.  Add onions and cook until soft.  Reduce heat to low and add garlic and cook about 1 minute.  Increase heat to medium-low, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and onion powder to incorporate.  Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, cilantro and beer.  Stir everything together.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.  How simple is that!

PS: Top with your favorite goodies such as jalapenos, cheese, avocados, and sour cream!

Enjoy!

My Favorite Indulgence

I love magazines, loooooveeee them! My ideal day is getting a mailbox full of them.  I literally anticipate my new issues coming at the end of each month.

I have been subscribing to various magazines for years.  I should honestly own stock in them.  These are just a few of my favorites that came this week.  Many times people ask me what I do with all the magazines after I read them.  Well, some I hold on to and others I clip out recipes or whatever and make inspiration binders.  Some I just pass along to family and friends. I know magazines can be very expensive, so I want to share a website with you where you can get subscriptions to these and other magazines anywhere from $2.99 and up for a year subscription.  I got most of mine for under $10.00 each.  The website is Tanga, www.tanga.com look under 2012 most popular magazines.

Happy Reading! :)

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Sunday is a day for lazy lingering, as well as preparing for the work week ahead. I did not want the weekend to pass me by without baking something comforting to start off my week. I guess I figure, if we have to work, we can at least have a sweet treat!

I have probably made a bazillion chocolate chip cookies in my lifetime.  You would think you could never go wrong, or mess up a chocolate chip cookie recipe, but not so.  I have either made them too sweet, not sweet enough, too hard or too soft, you name it, I’ve done it! I must say, these are the most divine chocolate chip cookies I have ever made.  Honestly, you will be amazed.  They are perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  Make sure you have plenty of milk on hand.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Makes 4 dozen cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 360 degree F.  Line a baking sheet pan with a silicone liner or parchment paper.

In a stand mixer (hand mixer is fine), add the butter, and sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Scrape down the sides. Beat in eggs and vanilla, and mix for about 2 minutes.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix with a whisk. Adjust the speed to low on the mixer and add the flour mixture. Continue mixing until all the flour in incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and pecans and mix until combined.

Using a medium-sized (or 2 tablespoons) ice cream scoop, drop onto the sheet pan allowing 2 inches apart, and bake for 14 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Remove from baking sheet after a few minutes and place on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy! :)

Savory Chicken Pot Pie

I don’t know many people who would turn down a chicken pot pie.  Something wonderful happens when you bite into something flaky and buttery all at once. There is just something so warm and comforting about it.

This chicken pot pie speaks curl up on the sofa, with a big cozy blanket and your favorite television show!

If you prefer, use a rotisserie chicken to speed things up.  I have even used cream of chicken, celery or mushroom instead of making the sauce homemade. Either is perfectly fine.

Savory Chicken Pot Pie

3 large split chicken breasts (about 3 pounds), bone in, skin on
1 package pie crust (I prefer Immaculate Pie Crust) or homemade
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced (or 1 cup baby carrots 1/4 inch diced)
4 ounces fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs olive oil

Mix together:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp poultry seasoning
Pinch of dried sage
3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the chicken:
3 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and rub all over chicken.  In a small bowl, mix together the garlic salt, sea salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle on the chicken and place in the oven to roast 40 minutes.  Increase oven to temperature to 375 degrees F the last 10 minutes.  Set aside to slightly cool off.

In the meantime, In a large stock pot (about 4 quarts) over medium-low heat, add the butter and olive oil.  When melted, add all the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions. Cover the pot for about 12 minutes, stirring in between.  You want the potatoes to be slightly cooked, but not fork tender.

Add the flour mixture, stir and cook 1 minute (add more oil or butter if needed, you want a nice blonde roux) .  Add the chicken broth and continue stirring well to incorporate.  The sauce will start to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and add the milk and half and half. Continue stirring until the sauce starts to thicken again.  Remove from heat.

Remove the skin from the chicken and discard.  Pull the chicken off the bones and shred into large pieces.  Add the chicken to the sauce and stir.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  I don’t like mine salty, so I only added a little more black pepper if needed.  Sometimes, I will add a little more poultry seasoning too.  Just depend on what you like.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.   Lightly grease a round baking dish with olive oil. Place one pie crust in the bottom of the dish, molding it in gently. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork.  Pour in the sauce mixture.  If you have too much, which I usually do, save it for another time, or what I do is eat it over rice the next day or so.

Place the second crust over the top of the pie and tuck in around the edges.  Cut a few slits in the top of the crust to vent.  Make an egg wash with one egg and a little water to brush over top.  This is optional, but makes a nice shiny brown crust.

Bake about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy! :)

Chinese Five Spice Chicken

I have a confession, I have never used chinese five spice powder before.  I know, I can’t believe it either.  To be honest, I did not think I liked it.  How could that be?  It has cinnamon, cloves, ginger, anise, and star anise in it.  I like them all, with the exception of the anise, and star anise, which I had never tried before.

Everytime I am at the grocery store shopping for spices, I always see it, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I should go ahead and just buy it.  But what would I make with it?

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of asian recipes that call for chinese five spice powder in my asian cookbooks.  So, when I was at the store the other day,  I thought what the heck, I’m just going to get it and give it a try.

I never knew chicken roasted in the oven could taste so good.  The chinese five spice is a combo of sweet, warm, sour, spicy and pungent flavors all in one.  The aroma, will fill your kitchen with happiness!

Chinese Five Spice Chicken

5 chicken leg quarters, bone in, skin on (about 3 pounds)

Marinade:
2 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs dijon mustard
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp chinese five spice powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Rinse chicken under cold water.  Add to a gallon sized zip-top bag. Whisk marinade in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add marinade to the bag and mush around to coat.  Marinate in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes up to one day. Make sure to take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before roasting to take the chill off.

Place chicken on a rimmed sheet pan and roast for 40 minutes, until the skin is brown and juices are running clear.

Serve with a side of Jasmine rice and roasted asparagus

Easy Roasted Asparagus:
Increase oven temp to 425 degrees. Trim asparagus stems, rinse and pat dry.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 3 Tbs of olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Mix around to coat well. Roast for 10-12 minutes depending on how hot your oven gets.

Enjoy! :)

Honey Crisp Apple and Kale Green Smoothie

I have to admit, I have been on a serious green smoothie kick lately.  My body is actually beginning to crave these things! I go through phases with making them, and right now Honey Crisp apples are in season, so I am all over them!

I can’t think of a better way to get in your greens than to whip up a batch of green smoothies.  Let me tell you, they are soooo good for you and delicious!  (I’m sucking one down as I type this)  I know, you may be thinking, “green and delicious?”, but yes, they really, really are! For beginners, Kale is rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin k, and iron.  Spinach is packed with iron and all the good B vitamins your body needs.  Greens are loaded with fiber. They are also alkaline, which your body likes, and greens are cancer fighters too! Now, who doesn’t want that. I could honestly go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.  Here is a great resource and recipe book on the benefits of green smoothies, The Green Smoothie Bible.

Here’s what you will need:

Honey Crisp Apple and Kale Smoothie

1 Honey Crisp apple, chopped (organic if you can find it)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I prefer Silk brand)
2 cups organic kale, stems removed
1 cup organic spinach
1 small banana
1 cup frozen strawberries ( I buy a big bag at Sam’s Club, see below)
1/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt (I prefer Chobani brand)
1 Tbs chia seed (optional)
1 500mg vitamin C capsule  (optional) open and pour in, I prefer Ester-C)
1 cup ice

I don’t use any additional sweetener, but feel free to add some Stevia or honey to your liking.

In a blender add the almond milk and greens and blend until smooth. If you have a high-powered blender, you can just add everything at once.  Add the apple and the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.

This recipe is very versatile, so play around with fruits and greens and add what you like.

Strawberries in bulk, it’s a good thing! :)

Enjoy! :)

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