We’re back! After a long hiatus from writing recipes for this blog, it’s almost summer and we have more time again to cook and write. So, with no further ado, this week’s challenge is cooking from things left over in our house. The task: How many meals can we cook from miscellaneous things already in our kitchen without going grocery shopping? I was feeling creative last Friday and so I scoured around and made a list of 17 main dishes, 9 starch-y side dishes, and 5 vegetable side dishes, and this week we’ll be picking and choosing from the list. Today is black bean, corn and okra soup and home made corn bread from scratch. Here are the recipes:
Black bean, corn, and okra soup
1 1/2 teaspoon each: ground coriander, ground sweet or smoked paprika, ground cumin seed.
1 teaspoon (or less, if you’re not one for spice) ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon each: dried thyme, crushed bay leaves (or 1 whole bay leaf and then remember to take it out at the end)
1 cup tomato sauce
3-4 cups chicken broth/stock
2 cans black beans
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag of frozen okra, sliced
1 whole diced onion
4 cloves chopped fresh garlic (or 2 tablespoons jarred garlic)
1/2 – 1 cup orzo, large cous cous, or cooked rice (optional, mostly for bulk and texture)
1 tablespoon olive or cooking oil.
Dice onion and sauté in the bottom of a soup pot in the oil for 3-4 minutes. Mix together spices while onion is softening. Add garlic and spices and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth and beer. Bring to a boil, and then simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Add corn, okra and black beans. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add orzo, cous cous or cooked rice (optional). Simmer until orzo or cous cous is cooked, or rice is heated through. Serve with corn bread or whole grain bread for dipping.
Homemade Corn Bread
1 1/2 cup each: coarse ground corn meal (or polenta), all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 medium eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix together wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Pour into 8×8 in baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25-35 minutes. Bread is done cooking when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
It’s been awhile since I have made a post here. Part of the reason for this was that Jess and I got to go home, both to Appleton and St. Paul over Winter Break. Even though we have only been in Bloomington for four months it was great to get home, relax, and spend time with our families. We got to visit with some old friends, celebrate the holidays, and even saw a comedy show. But the best part about this two-week vacation (and pretty much my favorite part of the holidays) was the amazing food. Both Jess’ and my parents served us meal after meal of delicious food. We had lamb, roast beef, and mounds of potatoes. It was fantastic, but as an unfortunate side effect I was consuming like 4000 calories every day. Definitely a food coma every day.
That was all great, but when we returned to Bloomington we decided we needed some lighter meals before we went all Augustus Gloop. I personally wouldn’t have minded, I mean who wouldn’t love to die in a chocolate waterfall, but Jess thought we should take it easy for a bit. With this in mind we planned a couple of dinners that would help me fit back into my pants.
The first was french onion soup with a chicken Caesar salad. I know my sister loves french onion soup and she would probably have been jealous if she hadn’t spent the whole day in the sun at Disneyland. While I was at work. In the cold. I hate pretending to be an adult. Anyways, she would have been proud of the effort we put forth. We started by simmering the onions in beef broth and red cooking wine. We seasoned it with just a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme, and just let it sit all afternoon on low heat. Right before we were ready to serve we topped with some nice bread and fresh shredded mozzarella. A quick broil in the oven and we had restaurant quality french onion soup.
We also decided to do a Cobb salad. I had never had a Cobb salad, but I thought it would be fun and tasty. I also like the fact that every website I looked at had a different origin history for the Cobb salad. It’s like Stonehenge, but you can eat it. Anyways, we had hard-boiled eggs, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, blue cheese, and bacon on a bed of romaine lettuce, served with bread and humus.
It’s not that complicated, so not much to write about, but it was delicious and easy on the waistline. After this week I was able to get back in my pants. In fact, not only could I get in them, but they fit like this (I had to fit this in somewhere).
A recipe for a great comfort food. Serve with warm bread and salad.
(Modified from Cheap. Fast. Good! By Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross)
3 cans drained and rinsed great northern beans
1 can drained and rinsed red beans
1 can diced tomatoes (small, or petit diced are best)
3 or more stalks of celery
3 large carrots
2 large tablespoons minced garlic (or 4 cloves fresh)
1 cup water
olive oil, once around the pan
salt and pepper, to taste
Italian seasoning, to taste (rosemary, thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, sage)
Chop the onion, carrots and celery and put in bottom of soup pan (or dutch oven) with water, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer on medium-high until carrots are tender, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes). Add drained beans, tomatoes (in their juice), italian spices. Stir and heat on medium until hot all the way through and veggies are desired texture. Garnish with celery leaves, or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. Serve with warm bread and a salad for a complete meal.
My fresh out of the oven, homemade white bread made with just a bit of wheat flour for color.
You can really use any canned beans you have on hand, just make sure they’re fairly unseasoned (or italian seasoned, if anything – just not Mexican). You could also add to this soup Italian sausage, ham, leftover chicken, pork, whatever meat you have on hand. For a little more spice, you could add red pepper flakes at the end of cooking, or as a garnish. Either way you make it, this soup is delicious and very filling.