Recipes with a kick

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Instant Pot Barbacoa Tacos

Instant Pot Barbacoa Tacos

The Instant Pot has won my heart and stomach. After a successful round of carnitas tacos a few weeks ago, I thought I should give it a try with barbacoa tacos. I had to find something less than the 8.5 pound pork butt I used […]

Indian Fried Potato Curry (Dum Aloo)

Indian Fried Potato Curry (Dum Aloo)

What do you do with two pounds of potatoes that have been sitting in your veggie basket for weeks??? Turn them into fried potato curry! I am always on the lookout for Indian curries I can do with veggies that will taste great and fill […]

Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup

Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup

The instant pot has quickly become the main cooking instrument in our kitchen. It really does wonders with beans and I always forget to soak them beforehand, but it’s not an issue with the Instant Pot. It also allows me to do things like watch an entire episode of the series, Travelers, while it is pressure cooking the beans to perfection. I had no idea Ginny was planning on getting one of these for Christmas. She has a way of coming up with great surprises at just the right time.

I did some food recovery with a local nonprofit here in Fayetteville and scored some delicious summer sausage, which you can see in the soup. Whole Foods has been very gracious to donate its past sale food to us and it is feeding so many people at local homeless shelters and food banks.

navy bean soup on plate in bowl

Of course there is also the added benefit that I get to take home lots of tasty organic foods like maple kefir, summer sausage, fresh mangoes and much more. I am pretty sure that I could live on recovered food if I tried.

This recipe is super easy and only requires a few minutes of prep before putting into the Instant Pot. If you are doing it with a crock pot, just cook the beans until they are soft and serve. Be sure to grab some of these colorful carrots if you see them. Ginny found them on sale at ALDI. They are delicious!

carrots closeup

 

NAVY BEAN SOUP IN POT

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb dried navy beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 ham hock
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb smoked sausage, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 1 lb multicolored carrots, sliced into short pieces

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place onion and garlic in Instant Pot. Sort beans and place them in Instant Pot with water, ham hock, salt, pepper and cumin. Pressure cook for 50 minutes. Release pressure.
  2. Steam carrots in a bit of water for 5 minutes. Add carrots and sausage into Instant Pot and serve with your favorite cornbread recipe!

navy bean soup on plate

Instant Pot Carnitas

Instant Pot Carnitas

Ok folks, this is the real deal. Slow cooked pork carnitas in savory Mexican spices. I thought we were going to cook enough pork for tacos for Ginny and I and then I noticed the smallest pork butt weighed in at 8.5 pounds. It became […]

Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread cookies

Ginny was on a pretend cooking show this past weekend. The contestants were her, Kitty and our friend, Jackie. I was the guy in the audience making “ooh” and “ahh” comments. I did not imagine making gingerbread cookies would be so involved. We did, however, […]

Gingerbread house and more

Gingerbread house and more

This has been one of the better Christmas holidays in recent years. Both my brother and sister were in town, which is rare these days. Kara (upper left in picture) lived in the St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, for six years as a boat captain until Hurricane Irma swept mass destruction across the island, knocking out all power and cutting food supplies down to mere canned goods and occasional produce. She is now a refugee in Arkansas rebuilding her life and dreaming big dreams. Jeff (striped shirt) is a meteorologist in South Carolina and lives there with his wife, Shanna (green shirt), who is a doctor of internal medicine.

My parents recently moved to northwest Arkansas and have really enjoyed all the opportunities it provides in dining, social outings and outdoor fun. It is a great place to live!

The theme for Christmas this year was SUGAR! I was unaware of this until Ginny started a storm of epic baking proportions on Christmas Eve’s Eve and we ended up with two loaves of delicious pumpkin bread, gingerbread cookies with dazzling decorations and a mini gingerbread village.

gingerbread house done

She made the village from a kit she found at Walgreens for 50% off….on a whim, of course. It took several hours to decorate the houses and she first had to melt down an entire package of peppermints to make the base.

melted peppermints

Then she added the houses and began to decorate.

gingerbread house side

gingerbread house top

I helped by making sure the entire bottle of Cabernet we had purchased did not go to waste. At one point, I asked Ginny if she could take a quick funny video break and she responded with a curt, “No.” Her hands were covered with homemade icing. I went back to my wine.

Meanwhile, I decided to make some ham and beans. As soon as I got the ham into the Instant Pot, Kitty came into the kitchen making loud noises of cat protest because I had not already given her a portion of the pork. Below you will see her sitting impatiently at her seat at the kitchen table, waiting for either a piece of ham or breakfast sausage. These, along with cat food, make up the bulk of her diet. Don’t judge me.

kitty at table

Kitty was initially optimistic about meat portions, but she became irate as she watched me put all the ham hocks into the Instant Pot. kitty at table waiting

Kitty does actually have a real name, but we call her Kitty and she abides. Here real name is Mia Hudson-Taylor. We prefer to call her Kitty Rogers. This came about after we realized that she, like Kenny Rogers, never won the Dairy Challenge. If you have not seen this video (Dairy Challenge with Kenny Rogers), YouTube it at your own risk. I hope your holiday season is warm, delicious and filled with humor!

 

 

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice

If someone told me that I could only eat one food for the rest of my days, this is the recipe I would choose. Red beans and rice is such a simple combination, but so satisfying. I developed a love for rice and beans during […]

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

After a week of eating leftover corn casserole, turkey, dressing and sweet potatoes, we needed something different. Ginny had frozen a rotisserie chicken a few weeks ago and got inspired to make this wonderful chicken pot pie. We still have a bit of sweet potatoes […]

Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Cajun Shrimp and Grits

Thanksgiving has come and gone, leaving copious amounts of leftover pies and several extra pounds on my waist. I always feel the need to eat something light and simple after indulging in the rich feast that is Thanksgiving meal. Our house was filled with family and friends, including our newest addition, Felicity. Felicity is our niece. She is six months old and got to try sweet potatoes for the first time. Ginny put a spoon of sweet potatoes in her mouth, Felicity held it in for a minute and then made a terrible noise and spat it out. Apparently she’s not ready for the adult version of sweet potatoes yet.

Back to the shrimp and grits. This is a simple dish, but so full of flavor and there are many ways you can season and cook the sauce on the shrimp. This recipe is similar to the steps you would take to make gumbo or etouffee, just a bit easier because you don’t have to simmer the sauce for long and it has fewer ingredients. You can add cheese to the grits when they are still in the pot or top them after serving. Cheddar goes really well.

shrimp and grits on plate

It is important to buy shrimp that are fresh to avoid too much of that fishy smell on them. Walmart has good frozen shrimp, but I have to say I am jealous for those of you that live on the coast and have access to the ocean’s freshest. One of the things I miss the most about living near the ocean is the bounty of fresh fish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the roux:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp. flour

For the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. chicken bouillon
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 lbs peeled shrimp
  • salt to taste
  • Cheddar cheese for topping

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring the water, half and half and salt to boil in a medium pot. Add grits and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  2. For the roux, heat butter in a pan over medium low heat. Slowly add flour to melted butter and stir constantly for about 10 minutes or until roux is golden brown. Remove from heat.
  3. In another large pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and onion over medium high heat. Cook onion for 15 minutes until brown and reduced. Add bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add Cajun seasoning, roux, bouillon, water, Worcestershire sauce and lemon and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until done. Serve shrimp and sauce over grits and sprinkle on cheese. Enjoy!

 

shrimp in pan close up

shrimp and grits close up

 

 

Mexican Tamale Pie

Mexican Tamale Pie

I realized today that my favorite cornbread recipe does not belong to my aunt Mary Lee, it is actually straight out of the Southern Accent cookbook! I have found several gems inside this cookbook since I noticed it on one of Ginny’s many bookshelves. What […]

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of my most vivid food memories is sitting down at my mom’s table to a warm bowl of chicken tortilla soup as a kid. She usually made this in the fall or winter and it was accompanied by lots of tasty add-ons like cilantro, […]

Creamy Tomato Ravioli Soup

Creamy Tomato Ravioli Soup

The last few days have put a chill in my bones, but that didn’t stop us from doing some nature exploring over the weekend. We went to Lost Valley near the Buffalo River…one of the most beautiful spots in Arkansas. It sits on the upper reaches of the picturesque Buffalo National River, which also happens to be one of my favorite places in the world.

On our way through the magical Boxley Valley, we spotted a herd of elk grazing in a field. There were four large bucks together. I have never seen so many male elk in one spot. It was amazing! I got pretty close to the one shown below and he stuck his tongue out at me. I must have interrupted his meal.

elk in boxley valley

Back in the human culinary world, we are still on a soup kick. However, we needed something with a tomato base to add a little variety to our diet. I also added kale for a little greenery and vitamins. If you have any leftover kale you can always chop it up and throw it on a baking sheet with a bit of seasoning for kale chips.

kale closeup

This recipe is pretty simple. I took a little extra time to cook down the onions, but it doesn’t take long to simmer everything to get the flavors to blend nicely. Blending the soup base (onions, garlic, tomatoes and broth) gives it a smooth texture so if you prefer it a bit chunkier, just leave out the blending.

creamy tomato ravioli soup on table

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-28 oz. can stewed tomatoes, chopped small
  • 2-15 oz. cans chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 12 oz. cooked cheese ravioli (or your favorite stuffed pasta)
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 10-12 minutes until soft and brown. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
  2. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, oregano, half and half and sausage and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add ravioli and kale and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Garnish with basil, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

creamy tomato ravioli soup

 

 

 

Spicy shrimp and corn chowder

Spicy shrimp and corn chowder

26 degrees. That’s what the thermometer will register tomorrow tonight. I will be hiding under two layers of covers with a belly full of spicy shrimp and corn chowder. I love curry spice so much I decided to put it in this chowder along with […]

Chipotle-spiced chili with beans

Chipotle-spiced chili with beans

Fall is in full blast in NWA and my cravings for warm, savory dishes are ramping up. Whenever I do a dish with beef, I want it to be memorable so this one has some twists on a traditional chili recipe. The result was very […]

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Gumbo is one of my Cajun favorites. I can remember going over to my uncle’s house in winter when I was young to eat a steaming bowl of duck gumbo. Adding all those Cajun spices and veggies gave a mild richness to the gumbo. I haven’t been duck hunting since I was a teenager, but those flavors are still fresh in my mind. Gumbo is a great way to warm up on a cool Autumn evening.

chicken and andouille sausage gumbo

It’s campfire season so we have been taking advantage of the large campfire ring I built with stones I found laying around our house. Last night’s fire involved roasting marshmallows to dark brown and watching hilarious SNL videos of Kate McKinnon on YouTube. This was the perfect treat after a bowl of gumbo. A few weeks ago, Ginny discovered an even better campfire treat…roasted Krispy Kreme donuts with a marshmallow in the middle. You can imagine how good these were.

This recipe is a pretty standard gumbo concoction with a few of my own secret ingredients, which shall no longer remain secret. The most important one is Worcestershire sauce. It gives a rich body to the gumbo and adds just a bit of sweet to it. Making the roux is an important part of gumbo. It took me several times to figure out that you have to cook the roux for a while to get the rich brown color that adds thickness and flavor to the dish. This will take 15-20 minutes. Gumbo is not a quick dish so plan to have a couple hours to cook this gem. It is worth the wait and even better as leftovers! We ate this batch for three days and never got tired of it.

roux

Let the gumbo simmer for at least 45 minutes for the flavors to balance. You can add cooked rice to the pot or add it when serving.

gumbo in pot

INGREDIENTS

For the roux:

  • 2/3 stick of butter
  • 2/3 cup flour

For the gumbo:

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. Gumbo file powder
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, sliced in chunks
  • 1 lb. Andouille sausage
  • 12 oz. okra, chopped
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pan, melt the 2/3 cup of butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir continuously for about 15 minutes or until roux is golden brown. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large pot, melt the 2 tbsp. of butter and add onion. Cook for about ten minutes then add garlic and celery. Cook for ten minutes and add bell pepper and serranos. Cook for another five minutes and add the roux, tomatoes, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, file powder, chicken stock, chicken breast and sausage. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add okra and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add salt to taste and serve over white rice.

Note: Some recipes will use oil with flour for the roux. I strongly advise against this sort of deviant behavior! You have to use butter and flour to make a good roux. That is all.

 

 

Blackened salmon with strawberry salsa

Blackened salmon with strawberry salsa

Just the sound of strawberry salsa was enough to make me want to make this! There are so many different ways to do things with fruit salsas. Stay tuned for more of these soon… The local Sam’s Club has salmon flown in everyday and it […]

Beef stew with fresh vegetables

Beef stew with fresh vegetables

Fall is officially here and memories of food from my childhood have been in the front of my brain. One of the earliest things I remember eating as a child was my mom’s homemade stew. The ingredient list is simple, but the flavor is 100 […]

Okra and squash in curried yogurt sauce

Okra and squash in curried yogurt sauce

So nobody told me owning a house would be so much work! We recently found our shower is leaking into the subfloor and the hot water heaters are not getting the water very hot. Fingers crossed that our homeowner warranty will cover some of the repairs if they are costly.

I scored a giant bag of fresh, home grown okra yesterday from a coworker. The wheels of food in my mind immediately began to turn…fried okra? Nah, too heavy. Stew…? Not spicy enough. Curried okra….bingo! Indian food is the holy grail to me. You can work on a dish for hours and have a mediocre result or it can take your taste buds to a whole new level. This okra dish did the latter for me.

okra

I remember the first time I cooked Indian food in college. I threw in a bunch of oil, chicken and spices into something that resembled a cheap wok. The food saturated our small apartment with strange smells as it bubbled up in the kitchen cauldron. The final product looked like a chunky version of the fake puke they used to sell at some gag gift stores. I have come a long way since then.

One of the greatest things about Indian food is taking fresh vegetables and transforming them into a healthy and filling meal with the right ingredients. I use a lot of whole seeds in this recipe (fenugreek, cumin and mustard) and I would recommend doing so to maximize flavor. I often caramelize onions when making the sauce for an Indian curry. For this dish, I cooked them down until they were almost transparent with garlic and ginger and then blended them into a paste.

onion and ginger in pan

squash and okra in pan

Ingredients

For the onion-garlic-ginger paste:

  • 3tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 inch ginger root, grated
  • 1/4 cup water (or as needed to thin out paste)

For the okra:

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh okra, chopped (small okras are the most tender)
  • 1/2 pound yellow squash

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 3-4 small dried red peppers (adjust according to your heat preference)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2/3 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/3 tsp garam masala
  • 1.5 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • cilantro for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes until they become slightly translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool. Place in a food processor, add a bit of water and puree. Set aside.
  2. Heat next batch of oil in pan and add okra and squash. Cook for about 7-8 minutes or until the okra is dark green and both veggies have some dark brown crust. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Heat final oil in pan over medium heat and add fenugreek, cumin and mustard seeds. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mustard seeds start to pop. Careful, they might jump out of the pan! Add peppers and cook for another minute. Add onion paste and remaining spices and fry for a few minutes. Add yogurt and stir well. Add okra and squash and simmer on medium low for a few minutes. Add small amounts of water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Serve over white rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.

okra and squash curry with rice

 

 

 

Shrimp Tacos with roasted peppers and onions

Shrimp Tacos with roasted peppers and onions

A few weeks ago, we spent the weekend in Hot Springs and dined at a restaurant named Vina Morita downtown. Their chef was trained in Mexico City and makes some of the best creamy rice and tacos I have ever tasted. I ordered the Gobernador […]

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

If I was going to introduce a friend to Indian food, this is the recipe I would use. I recently had the pleasure of eating at Curry Point Indian restaurant in Bentonville and it was incredible! I walked into the restaurant with a group of […]

Fish tacos with creamy avocado sauce

Fish tacos with creamy avocado sauce

There are few things I enjoy more in the culinary world than fish tacos. I often use the fish taco as the indicator of greatness for a restaurant. Fresh fish can be a challenge in a landlocked state because it has to live up to its name…it has to be fresh.

fish taco with purple cabbage

I have lots of friends that tell me they don’t like fish. I ask them why and the answer is inevitably, “because of the fishy taste, duh.” I then respond by informing them that the fishy taste is what fish tastes like when it is not fresh enough. You have to keep the fish fresh and eat it as soon as possible to get a milder tasting meal. I learned this when I was in Hawai`i years ago and tasted some poke made with fresh tuna. It literally melted in my mouth and had no fishy taste. I was blown away!

The other trick with fish, especially a delicate white fish like flounder, is that it cooks very quickly. It usually only takes a minute or two to sear a thin fish fillet in butter over medium high heat. You will know it is done when you can flake it with a fork.

cilantro avocado and sour cream sauce

If you have a good source of fresh fish, fish tacos can be fairly cheap and easy to make. All you really need is fish, tortillas and your favorite sauce. For this recipe, I put together a creamy sauce with avocado, sour cream and cilantro. It was a hit with Ginny and my parents!

two fish tacos with avocado sauce

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder(if you like it warm)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt

For the slaw:

  • 1/2 purple cabbage sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of one lime

For the fish:

  • 1-2 pounds flounder fillet (or other mild white fish)
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter and extra butter for tortillas
  • 8-10 corn tortillas

Directions

  1. Place all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy and smooth. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. Toss all slaw ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Place fish fillets on a plate. Mix all spices together in a small bowl and shake them liberally on both sides of the fish, patting when done.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp. of butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Sauté the fish for 1-2 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork. Place fish on a plate.
  5. Heat small of amount of butter in pan over medium high heat. Cook tortillas for about one minute on each side. Repeat for all tortillas.
  6. On a tortilla, place a few small pieces of fish, then a handful of cabbage and drizzle sauce over the top. Enjoy!

Note: most recipes don’t tell you to heat the tortillas in a little bit of butter in the pan, but it really brings out the flavor in them so don’t skip this part!

Enchiladas Verdes with Chicken

Enchiladas Verdes with Chicken

Tomatillos are the underappreciated cousin of the tomato. They usually make their appearance hidden away in a green salsa or enchilada sauce at your favorite Mexican restaurant. It’s easy to walk past them in the grocery store without realizing what they are.  They look like […]

Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce

We spent the weekend at a friend’s lakehouse on Beaver Lake and indulged in all the things…barbeque, beer, cliff jumping, just your regular weekend adulting. Fortunately, no one was impaled but the moon did shine brightly at midday. Things have finally begun to settle down […]

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms

Curried Pumpkin Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms

What do you do when copious amounts of pumpkins sprout from your compost? Make them into soup, of course. At the old rent house, I had been putting all my kitchen scraps and grass clippings into a cardboard box I fashionably referred to as my “compost station” and had not been on top of turning it as much as I should have. This is a bit embarrassing considering that I teach people about composting.

It’s easy to forget to maintain your compost pile when it is hidden on the side of the house. To my surprise, I noticed some large leaves sprouting out of it early this summer. We went out and surveyed it and decided that we had squash and tomatoes growing. We enthusiastically put cages around the tomato plants and sat back to watch our summer harvest ripen. Within a few weeks, the first fruits had begun to spring forth, and we were doing our best to try to figure out what kind of squash it was about to produce. The plant was covered in tiny ridged fruits, and so we thought pat a pan maybe? Even though we hadn’t used any of that in the last year?

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the leaves had tripled in size and were showcasing tiny yellow pumpkins here, there and everywhere. Within one month of the first leaf appearance, we had almost 50 pumpkins covering the side of our house! That’s right. Our decorative miniature pumpkins from the fall had had babies.

roasted pumpkin with spices

Ginny is a pumpkin fanatic so I knew I had to do something delicious with these little jewels. She always ends up cooking something with the leftover decorative pumpkins. After Thanksgiving, we had curried lentil stuffed pumpkins. For Christmas brunch, she made a big sausage and bread stuffed pumpkin…which was incredibly delicious.

Anyway, stuffed pumpkins are great, but I wanted something with a little more kick than this traditional fall fare. I think most people think of pumpkin and quickly jump to the spices that you would incorporate into a pumpkin pie. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove are delicious, but really, that’s only the beginning of what pumpkin can do. Anything that you can do with carrot or butternut squash, you can do with pumpkin. So pumpkin soup it was! Curry powder, onion, ginger and garlic and coconut milk add a whole new dimension of flavor to your pumpkins. Trust me, you’ll be a convert. And next time someone mentions pumpkin spice whatever, you’ll think, “Hmm, curry and onion in coffee?? Odd, but who am I to judge.”

pumpkins and mushrooms

I know you’re not supposed to play with your food, but I did, and it turned out pretty well.

I made this pumpkin soup from scratch…peeling the pumpkins, removing the seeds and chopping them into little chunks. It’s all part of my masochistic plan to become a pumpkin expert. However, if you would prefer to save some time on the preparation, you can always use a can or two of pumpkin puree instead of fresh pumpkins.

peeling pumpkins

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. fresh pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable bouillon
  • 1-15 ounce can coconut milk, reserving a little for garnish
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • cilantro for garnish

pumpkin soup

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fresh chopped pumpkin on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven and cook for 30-40 minutes or until soft throughout when you insert a fork.
  2. Heat coconut oil on medium in a large pot and add onion. Cook onion for 10-12 minutes or until glassy and brown. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add baked pumpkin and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add curry powder, turmeric, bouillon and coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  3. Heat butter in a pan over medium high heat and add mushrooms. Cook mushrooms, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until they are slightly crispy on the outside.
  4. Spoon soup in a bowl and garnish with a bit of coconut milk, a few mushrooms and a bit of cilantro. Enjoy!

 

curried pumpkin soup

 

 

Southern Style Pinto Beans in Crock Pot

Southern Style Pinto Beans in Crock Pot

Nothing says southern comfort for me like a steaming bowl of slowed cooked brown beans with a couple slices of home grown tomatoes. Cooking beans can be a long process if you do the overnight soak method, and honestly, I would rather spend my time […]

Catfish Ponchartrain with Wild Rice

Catfish Ponchartrain with Wild Rice

The weather in Fayetteville has finally reached early summer perfection at 80 degrees and sunshine. AND we are about to close on our first home!  Between those two things, we are vibrating back and forth between invigorated and terrified. The feeling of draining your bank […]

Spiced apple oatmeal

Spiced apple oatmeal

I would highly recommend having neighbors who have apple trees. We came back yesterday to a whole bucket of apples courtesy of our neighbors Cheryl and Bob. It got me dreaming about pies and crisps and early morning oatmeal creations…which took me straight back to remembering that I had never posted my favorite spicy morning recipe. I make this regularly, but I admit the regularity sort of faded a bit with the summer months. The crisp in the air for the last few days, however, has brought my daydreams back around to campfire foods, warm spices, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and, of course, apples! So I dug back through my photos so that I could share this belated post from the spring. But first, check out this beautiful bucket of goodness:

It’s possible that this bucket of apples may have been the subject of a full on photo shoot…

They were just so friendly and inviting and filled with the goodness of impeding autumn.

So, back to my oatmeal. The apples you see pictured below were your run of the mill Sam’s Club fujis. Which is good I suppose, because I’m sure most of you aren’t able to just pick up and relocated to ensure that you have apple-bearing neighbors. The grocery store ones will eat just fine too.

This recipe is good for when you are craving a hot meal, but you don’t want to spend very long in the kitchen. (I’m looking at you Wednesday…) When I have to teach a 7:15 lesson, and my commute is an hour long, breakfast just needs to be a little heartier because there is simply too much space between that first meal and lunch. An entire chopped apple, coupled with a serving of oatmeal cooked with milk instead of water carries me through the morning with its combination of a ton of fiber and just enough protein.

I use all the spices I would use in a pie or a crisp, and it smells like heaven.

Tastes pretty good too 😉 Even though this is just a quick microwave recipe, the spices get a chance to become fragrant and the apple cooks down soft and sweet. It really is a luxurious breakfast experience with very little time investment. I hear people say how boring oatmeal is all the time. Well, so is flour and so are potatoes, but waffles and hashbrowns certainly don’t have that reputation, do they?? When you bring together complementary ingredients, when you aren’t afraid to add a little spice, you give the simplest ingredients the chance to blossom.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Fuji (or other crisp) apple
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup milk (depending on how liquidy you like it. Pictured is 1/2 cup)
  • 1-2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of clove

Directions:

  1. Chop your apple into bite sized pieces.  I usually use the whole thing, but if the apple is enormous, I’ll just go ahead and reserve a few pieces to chomp on while I’m waiting for everything to cook.
  2. Combine oats and spices and sugar in your largest cereal or soup bowl. Stir to incorporate spices evenly.
  3. Add milk and stir once more.
  4. Pile chopped apples on top.
  5. Microwave for 3 minutes. If you haven’t used a decently big bowl, you will want to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t bubble over and leave you with a mess to clean!

Adjust the spices and the sweetness level to your liking. Maybe even add in some allspice if you’re feeling frisky! But whatever you do, oatmeal fans, do NOT skip this recipe.