Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

January 30, 2013

Beef and Pork Roasted Tomato Chili

Fill Up On this Super Bowl of Chili

Folks sure have been talking up the Super Bowl this year and with the Harbaugh teams going against each other, well, the media frenzy is just crazy. Take Media Day for example; the hype for fans to sit in the Super Dome and watch, which they paid $25 to do, show the obsession of fans who may or may not be in attendance to the actual game. To just hang around and watch 3000 plus reporters do their thing to me is plain crazy. Those in the stands could not talk to, solicit autographs from the players, or come in any contact whatsoever. What they could do is sit there for 4 hours and watch, spend their money at the concession stands, which by the way, sells alcohol and which also probably helped past the time. It just goes to show the popularity of the Super Bowl and the NFL and as one Forbes article put it, ‘if the NFL was selling sand in the desert, fans would buy it.’

More popular than the desire to sit and watch Media Day is sitting and watching the actual game. And to me, more popular than that, is eating on game day. This is a chili recipe I came up with a while back, one based on the old southern way of making chili and one we think is a darn right winning bowl of goodness. The richness of the tomato-laden sauce mingles well with the spiciness of chili flavors and blends into a developed meaty base that has a slight fire-roasted savory savor.


Beef and Pork Roasted Tomato Chili
6-10 servings

2 pounds pork roast, 1/2-inch cubed
salt, pepper and garlic powder
3/4 cup flour
cooking oil
2 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
8 oz mini sweet peppers, sliced (or chopped red bell pepper)
2 large onions, chopped
6 garlic toes, minced
2 cups extra rich chicken stock
2 -10 oz cans petite cut tomatoes and chiles (Hatch brand)
1 -28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 -11.5 oz can tomato juice
1 -29 oz can seasoned pinto beans, with sauce
1 -15 oz can corn kernels, drained
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
4 to 6 tablespoons good chili powder (like Mexene brand)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
grated cheddar cheese

Add the flour to a medium wide bowl and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Toss the pork cubes in the flour coating well.

In a large stockpot over medium high heat, add about 3 tablespoons cooking oil and when hot, add about half of the pork. Brown on all sides and remove to a paper towel lined plate. Brown the remaining pork and put aside.

Add the ground beef and cook until brown. Add the bell pepper, sweet pepper, onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft. Add the chicken stock, Hatch tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato juice, pinto beans, corn, lime juice, oregano, chili powder and cumin. Stir to incorporate and allow chili to come to a light simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.

In a small bowl, make the salsa by combining the onions with the tomatoes. Give it a light splash with salt, pepper and lime juice if desired.

To serve, top each bowl with grated cheese and good spoonful of salsa. Serve with cornbread, saltines or your choice of bread and sour cream is optional too.

January 27, 2013

Vegetable Soup with Beef Shank Stock

Recipes for Super Rich Beef Stock and Beef Shank Vegetable Soup

Southern Kitchen Classics: Beef Stock

Making a good soup is like making a good gumbo, ya gotta start with a developed foundation. As labor intense as the making a dark roux is, the result forms the flavor dominance and depth required in the gumbos we enjoy. Starting with a well developed beef stock is essence in creating a good beef based soup; one that draws from the flavors of roasted vegetables, beef bones and the rich marrow inside. To this stock, we add the seasonings and the vegetables which gives our bodies and soul the reward of taking the time to make a soup 'from scratch'.

Making a good, rich beef stock is not hard, it does however take several hours to develop the richness desired. Roasting in the oven adds exceptional flavor and color to stocks. In making a beef stock, I like to roast some form of acidic tomato (ketchup) on the bones which not only boost flavor but also draws minerals from the bone. With this stock I like to make gravies, soups and sauces. Each batch makes enough for a large pot of soup or ample quantities that I freeze or refrigerate in smaller containers for future use.

Below is the recipe I use to make beef stock. Today I used beef shanks 'cause I wanted to use the meat in the Vegetable Soup recipe that follows. Enjoy!

Rich Beef Stock
made with roasted vegetables and beef bones
makes about 6 quarts
6 to 8 pounds beef bones, oxtails, shins, short ribs or beef shanks (the meat is a plus)
hot, rich beef stock
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 onions, quartered
2 ribs of celery, halved
2 carrots, cut into 4x1/2-inch strips
1/2 green bell pepper, quartered
6 garlic toes, halved
2 cups dry red wine
4 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 1/2 quarts cold water

beef shanks
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

For beef bones, oxtails, shins: Place in a roasting pan, lightly sprinkle with salt and cook for 45 minutes. Turn bones over and cook 20 minutes.

For short ribs, beef shanks: Place in a roasting pan, lightly sprinkle with salt and cook for 25 minutes. Turn bones over and cook 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, pour off any liquid reserving the bottom broth. Discard the top grease.

Reduce oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the ketchup with the black pepper and brush onto the bones, ribs or shanks. Scatter on top the onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic. Return to oven and cook for 30 minutes. Add the red wine, the reserved broth and cook another 30 minutes.

Place all in a large stockpot and add the bay leaves, thyme and water. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low (barely simmering) cooking for 4 to 6 hours. Continually skim off the scum that forms on the surface.

Strain liquid in a colander using layers of cheesecloth or linen if you prefer a clear stock (consomme). Discard the solids. Store the stock in sealed containers after it cools completely (or proceed to make soup).

Now, with making the stock aside, we get to move to the real reason of this post - a most flavorful pot of soup that is good for you and allows you to appreciate the time you took to develop the depth of a rich, full bodied stock.

Vegetable Soup with Beef Shank Stock
made with fresh or frozen vegetables (with a little pantry help) that taste garden picked
serves 6 to 10
Beefy Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, cubed
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 quarts Rich Beef Stock -recipe from above
1 pound fresh green beans,trimmed in 1-inch sections (1 -14 oz frozen)
1 pound fresh, dry shelled small lima beans (1 -16 oz petite frozen)
kernels from 5 to 6 ears of fresh corn (1 -16 oz frozen)
1/2 pound fresh okra, chopped (3/4 cup frozen)
1 large white potato, peeled and cubed
1 -14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 15-.5 oz cannellini beans, drained
2 sprigs fresh thyme (1 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the carrots, celery and onions. Saute until onion is clear. Add the beef stock, increase heat and bring to a simmer. Add salt if needed. Add all ingredients and allow soup to come back to a low simmer. Reduce heat and cook 30 to 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Serve hot with choice of bread.

Note: To make a Beefy Vegetable Soup, cut a 1 1/2 to 2 pound roast in bite size pieces, season and sear in hot oil. Add to the soup when adding the beef stock.

January 23, 2013

My Potato, Cheese and Onion Casserole

 A creamy, cheesy potato recipe

The word casserole has been in French usage since at least 1583, meaning, "to cook in a casserole" (the dish/pot used for cooking it). In or before 1706 the word came unto English and used as a verb figuratively, to mean blending of some kind (typically having rice pounded and pressed similar to the pastry used for pies and used to encase fillings). Since at least 1930, a more open meaning appeared referring to the food prepared in the utensil itself.

In short: casserole - verb, noun ~ 1) to bake or cook food (in a casserole); 2) a baking dish of glass, pottery, etc., sometimes with a cover; 3) any food, usually a mixture, cooked in such a dish.

"Casserole....The word has a complicated history, starting with a classical Greek term for a cup (kuathos), progressing to a Latin word (cattia), which could mean both ladle and pan, then becoming an Old French word (casse...), which then became casserole...Historically, casserole cookery has been especially popular in rural homes, where a fire is in any case burning all day and every day...Although casserole is a western term, the use of cooking pots which would be called casseroles in Europe or Americas is almost universal in Asia."
---The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford]

Now folks, it really don't matter where the word comes or how you use it. The most important thing is that we use it to make something good, something outstandingly tasty and something that at the end of the meal, when the casserole dish comes back empty, ya know you casseroled the best casserole your family could enjoy.

This is my take on a potato onion pie. Enjoy!

Potato Casserole Yum Yum
6 servings

1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
1/4 cup fully cooked real bacon pieces (Hormel Black Label)
6 garlic toes, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Colby Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 1/2-quart casserole with oil or cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the bacon, garlic and jalapeno; put aside. In a medium bowl, combine the three cheeses; put aside.

Scatter 1/3 of the onions in the bottom of the casserole. Arrange half of the potatoes on top of the onions overlapping the slices. Lightly season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the bacon mixture and top with 1/2 of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers with remaining onions, potatoes and bacon mixture. Pour the cream evenly over the top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Remove foil and continue baking for 30 minutes or until cheese turns golden. Remove and tent with the foil for about 5 minutes before serving.

January 20, 2013

Saucy BBQ Oven Spareribs

Rib smacking good.

There are times, even in our climate, when we cannot get outside and grill or barbecue as we know and enjoy how to do. So we have to do like many; prepare our foods inside, in the oven and tell ourselves its okay and that it tastes just as good. To get the same outdoor taste that is fire roasted onto a slab of ribs, to do that inside is a feat in itself. Well folks, I think I found one that produces a savory outdoor flavor with very interesting sapidity.

The photo above shows the ribs coming from the oven before slicing and giving a final coating of sauce. That photo didn't happen. I was too eager I suppose to get at these ribs!

Here's an old recipe I scribbled down years ago and I finally decided to give it a try. It is to me, in my way of preparing BBQ sauces, an unusual one, with somewhat unorthodox ingredients.


Saucy BBQ Oven Spareribs
serves 4 or 5

1 1/3 cups ketchup
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons gin
1 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (like Trappey's or Tabasco)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 garlic toes, pressed
2 slabs (2 to 3 pounds total) pork spareribs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and set the BBQ sauce aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the black pepper, red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup soy sauce together. Brush both sides of each rib with this black pepper mixture. Place ribs meaty side down on a rack above a large baking pan or use a roasting pan with rack. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the ribs over and baste with any of the remaining black pepper mixture.

Mop 1/3 of the BBQ sauce on the ribs, both sides, and bake for 20 minutes. Mop again with another 1/3 sauce and bake another 20 minutes or until sauce is baked on. Remove ribs and rack from pan and wipe any grease from the pan. Cut ribs into each section and place in the pan, meaty side up. Mop with remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake another 20 minutes. Remove and allow to rest before serving.

Notes: I used St. Louis cut style pork ribs.  Lining the pan with foil makes for easy cleanup.  Reline the pan for the final baking period.

January 17, 2013

Creamy Cabbage and Cheese Casserole

When a recipe turn heads, let's hope it's in the right direction.

There are some things, meaning foodstuff and its preparation, that somehow should not relate to one another. Take cabbage baked in a creamy casserole. Somehow, to me, the two don't fit. Well, how about adding cheese. Cabbage and cheese, now that is really way out of what I imagine good is all about. Okay, throw in a can of condensed soup and make it au gratin. I've said it before about my behavior, 'dat boy done lost his mind.'

Turns out, this combination makes one heck of a casserole. I found this recipe, or the basis of it, in an old SL magazine. Of course, I changed it to 'what I imagine good is all about.' Now, when choosing a head of fresh cabbage, pick one that is solid, heavy in weight in relation to its size. The outer leaves should be crisp, bright and fresh looking with no bruising.


Creamy Cabbage and Cheese Casserole
so buttery and complex tasting, yet so simple

6 to 8 servings

1 medium head of green cabbage
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 -10.5 oz can condensed cream of celery soup (Campbell's)
1 -5 oz jar processed sharp cheese spread (Kraft Old English)
white pepper to taste
1/3 cup Panko

Remove stem and core cabbage. Break leaves from the head, cut away the ribs and submerge leaves under cold water for about 10 minutes. Drain well and cut into half-inch strips.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium stockpot, heat over high heat about 2 quarts of salted water and at boil, place cabbage leaves into the pot. Cover, return to boil and cook 5 minutes. Turn off heat and allow cabbage to set for about 5 minutes. Drain well.

In a saute pan over medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and when melted add the onion and bell pepper. Saute until both are wilted (cover to speed) and stir in the soup undiluted along with the cheese spread. Reduce heat to low and allow mixture to meld, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir until combined.

Place half of the cabbage leaves in a greased 2-quart casserole. Spoon half of the cheese mixture on top and sprinkle very lightly with the white pepper. Repeat layers. Sprinkle the Panko on top of the cheese mixture. Dot with the butter. Bake for about 30 minute or until bubbly and au gratin is browned.

January 14, 2013

Southern Red Beans, Sausage and Rice

A  regional favorite.

Red beans are a classic in the south, a part of who we are and way of eating to everyone born and raised along the southern delta states. From Mobile, along the gulf coast of Mississippi and throughout Louisiana, aroma of red beans wafts from homes and restaurants alike, typically on Mondays. Why, there are as many ways of making red beans and rice as there are cooking shrimp I suppose. Probably more than that. We add everything from smoked sausage or Andouille, ham hocks, smoked turkey legs, chunks of ham, pork chops, pieces of salt pork, thick slices of bacon, even my favorite, pickled pork.

The red bean recipe I am cooking today is not the typical pot of red beans, not the real deal recipe I posted several years ago. You see, I know there are many ways to cook red beans and that recipe uses pickled pork and it is one that resembles the truer taste of New Orleans' kitchens. Then there is the sausage and bean medley I posted two years ago and also the slow cooker version posted back in 2010.

Now just so you know, the beans I like to use are not red kidney beans. Southern red beans are  small  oval pea-like legumes, a beautiful red much like the kidney and the same red bean I suppose grown in Latin American countries. Enjoy!

Southern Red Beans, Sausage and Rice
I say, "there ain't nothing better than sitting down to a bowl of red beans." Life just doesn't get much better.
about 8 servings

1 pound dry small red beans (if not available, use kidney beans)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic toes, minced
6 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
1 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
1 teaspoon salt-free Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 pounds spicy link sausage, sliced
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups long grain white rice
1 tablespoon butter

Prep beans the day before: Rinse with water and cover with enough water to come at least 3-inches above the beans. Allow to soak overnight. Or use my slow cooker method, in starting your beans which is what I did.

In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Saute the trinity (celery, onion, pepper) until onion is wilted. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute. Add the beans, the chicken stock and the next 9 listing of ingredients. At first boil, reduce to low heat and cook (at a slight simmer) covered for 2 hours stirring every 30 minutes.

Stir sausage into the beans, cover and continue cooking for another hour stirring twice.

Cook the rice in a large saucepan: Bring the water to a boil and whisk in the salt and rice. Add the butter. Cover with lid and at simmer, reduce heat to low and allow rice to cook for 18 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice set for 5 minutes. Fluff rice with a large (turning) fork. You can also cook the rice to perfection using the Creole method.

Serve the red beans and sausage in a bowl over the rice and with a generous amount of hot, crusty French bread. We like to top it off with red pepper sauce along with sliced green onions.

January 13, 2013

Chicken Soup for Sick Folks

Good for what ails ya

As mentioned before, the last thing a person with the sniffles will feel like doing is standing in the kitchen and making a pot of soup. Folks, if you have a cold, flu like symptoms, sinus problems or any reasoning for a good-for-you, hearty bowl of chicken soup, get someone else in the kitchen now and tell them to make this for you. Tell them I said so. It will make you feel better and they will thank me for it. I promise.

As a child, whenever we had a tummy ache, Momma would make us a bowl of milk toast. Not for sure if it was good for us but the warm milk, tad of butter and soggy bread did make us feel better. Power of persuasion I suppose. When we got the sniffles, she would make us chicken soup in some form or another and that did help us feel better too. That I know was and still is good for all of us.

The thing about this soup is that it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and we all know rich, hot chicken broth just can't be beat in clearing up the head and soothing the throat. For those like myself that suffer with sinus problems, I throw in a jalapeño to really get the head open plus it too is good for you, but you really don't know its there. I make this from time to time, for family and friends and I try to keep a container in the freezer for that day when I do not feel like standing in the kitchen. Hope none of you ever get sick with a cold but if you do, I hope you try it or get someone to make it for you. Enjoy and get to feeling better!

Chicken Soup for Sick Folks
really does make one feel better, good to boost the immune system

chicken broth with veggies
3 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
3 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
3 leeks - cleaned, see below, green & white part separated
2 stalks of celery, cut in half
1 inch piece fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, peeled -divided
2 cups peeled, sliced carrots -divided
1 sprig fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
8 cups chicken stock
8 cups water
vegetables for the soup
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 jalapeno chili, seeded & minced
3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes, diced
1 head bok choy, washed - green & white part separated

In a large stockpot, place chicken, the dark green leaves from the leeks, celery, ginger, 2 garlic cloves, 1 cup sliced carrots, oregano and the white part of the bok choy. Add the chicken stock and water and place on high heat. When boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 1-hour.

Remove chicken to cool and strain broth through a colander into a large bowl discarding the solids. Strain any fat from the broth and wipe out the pot.

Mince the remaining garlic and thinly slice the leeks. Add the oil to the stockpot along with the garlic and jalapeño. Sauté over medium heat for a couple of minutes and add the leeks. Sauté for 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and add the broth, potatoes and remaining carrots. Bring to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bones and tear into bite size pieces. Chop the boy choy into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chicken to the pot along with the tomatoes and bok choy. Add salt and pepper to taste, simmer until nice and hot and bok choy is tender.

To clean leeks: Trim off the root and about 1/4-inch of the white part. Trim off about an inch or any tattered/wilted part of the upper dark green portion of the leek. Wash under running water well as leeks are normally gritty with soil. Cut the dark green leaves about 1 to 1/2 inch from where the light green base starts. This light green and white is the part most will use in recipes and the dark green leaves are used to flavor broths. Depending on the use in cooking, slice in sections or lengthwise and rinse again under running water separating the leaves.

January 11, 2013

Seasoned Fresh Green Beans

Cooking green beans with a great taste.

Thank goodness our Gulf Coast is just a short distance from the growing area of central and southern Florida where conditions are ideal for year-round harvesting of crops. Take the green beans in today's recipe for instance. Grown all year in Florida, finding fresh vegetables off the vine is great for us living fairly close. Heck, I imagine the crops are shipped all over in no time flat.

High in vitamin A, green beans are great deliverers of riboflavin and thiamine. Always look for the freshest, longest pods that are easily snapped between the fingers giving a crisp, snap sound. Try to avoid packaged beans that you can't feel and especially pods that bulge from the pods as these indicate tough, older produce. When you see a ridge forming on the bean, it probably got harvested too late. Store you green beans for a short time in the refrigerator, ideally between 45 and 50 degrees F. Leave the beans whole as this will prevent loss of nutrients.

Now, today's recipe is really nothing new, I mean, it is just one of many ways we cook fresh green beans around these parts. Like most foods we like to prepare, even vegetables get extra treatment guaranteeing exceptional taste. Enjoy!

Seasoned Fresh Green Beans
about 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans
8 oz smoky link sausage or Cajun sausage, diced
1 large onion, sliced vertically
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic toes, minced
1/3 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 red bell pepper, julienne

Remove the ends from the green beans and cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch random lengths. Place in a bowl of cold water and let hydrate for about 30 minutes. Drain and put aside.

Cook the sausage in a large saucepan or skillet over medium high heat until lightly browned. Remove sausage and put aside. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of renderings from pan and discard. Sauté the onion, celery and garlic until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, sausage and the beans. Bring to a simmer; taste and add salt, pepper as needed. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in red peppers and cook another 10 minutes.

January 8, 2013

Mexican Chicken Soup

Now, this is a pot of pleasure.

The cooler days and nights of late have been good times to enjoy bowls of hot soups, like the one today, a well flavored, vitamin rich , thick in chicken and savory in taste soup that is as they say, 'good to the last drop.'

The recipe is similar to one I remember making many years ago. I toyed with it in my head during a somewhat cold, damp day and as soon as I got home, I got busy assembling it together, adding this and that until it melded into a taste as pleasurable as I remembered and expected. Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Soup
rich in flavor and good for you too
about 8-10 servings

2 packs boneless chicken thighs, fat removed (12 thighs)
2 quarts (8 cups) water
3 celery stalks, cut in half
1/2 sweet onion
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
1 teaspoon Badia complete seasoning or salt seasoning blend
2 carrots, sliced or diced
1 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup chili powder
1 -15.5 oz black beans, drained
1 -15 oz cannellini beans, drained
2 small zucchini, cut into cubes
1 -14.5 oz petite cut tomatoes, with juice
1 cup asst sweet peppers, chopped

In a large stock pot, bring the water, celery and onion to a gentle boil over medium high heat. Add the chicken thighs, the bouillon powder and the seasoning blend. Cover and at first simmer, turn heat to low. All chicken to cook for about 30 minutes.

Remove chicken to a bowl, let cool enough to tear or cut into bite size pieces. Meanwhile, strain the stock and discard the solids. Return stock to the stockpot and add carrots, chopped onion, bell and sweet peppers, cumin, chili powder and the two beans. Allow soup to come to a low simmer and turn heat to low. Cook about 15 minutes.

Add the zucchini, tomatoes. sweet peppers and chicken. Cover and allow to come back to a low simmer. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Simmer another 10-15 minutes or until beans and vegetables are tender.

Serve with hot cornbread muffins, pepper-jack cornbread or bread of choice.

We added strips of crunchy tortillas to our bowls along with chopped green onions.

January 3, 2013

Chorizo Smothered Pork Chops with Latin Rice

Thank goodness for flavor.

Turn ordinary pork chops into a Spanish style sensational dish bursting with flavor and serve it with a savory rice side dish; all completed in the same pan. But wait folks, there's more. As if this flavor combination was not enough, I topped it off with a mouth-watering gravy of Chorizo mingling with grilled-like onions and peppers.

If you are like me, you might have a few peppers still hanging around in your garden. I supplemented what I had with these small sweet peppers from the grocer.

This is a fairly simple meal to make, I mean, it only takes a few steps of prep and a few moments at the stove before the chops and rice come simmering together. The making of the gravy takes just a few minutes and can be held on warm until time for plating. If you do, be sure to add a little water as it might get too thick.

I served this with a simple side of sauteed green beans with roasted red peppers. A good bowl of fresh salad greens would be great too.


Chorizo Smothered Pork Chops with Latin Rice
add a little cumin and use smoked chili powder to bring out Mexican flavors
serves 6 to8

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups seeded and chopped asst mini sweet peppers (or red, yellow and orange bells)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long grain rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 to 10 thin sliced boneless pork chops (from the loin)
Salt and pepper (or Badia Sazón Completa)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 -16 oz stewed canned (or chopped fresh tomatoes with liquid to make 4 cups)

Chorizo Gravy
1 -10.5 oz condensed beef broth
2 chorizo links (about 3.75 oz), casings removed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Combine in a medium bowl the green bell peppers, mini sweet peppers and onions. Set aside.

Lightly season the small boneless chops with salt and pepper or the seasoning blend. In a large skillet, heat over medium heat the oil and when hot saute on both sides  the meat until seared and lightly brown. Remove chops.

Add the rice heat for 3 to 5 minutes stirring often or until rice turns brown. Be carefull not to burn the fond on the bottom. Add half of the peppers and onion mixture to the skillet and saute until onions are wilted.

Stir in the chili powder. Add tomatoes and place pork chops over the rice. Bring to a simmer and reduce to lowest setting.

 Cover with lid and simmer for 1 hour.

For the gravy - In a medium saucepan or saute pan, add a little oil (about 1 teaspoon), the sausage and cook chopping the sausage with a spatula until the sausage browns. Remove the grease from the pan. I pull the sausage to one side and sop it up with a paper towel. Stir in the butter and when melted, add the remaining vegetables. Saute until the vegetables are brown around the edges; then stir in the flour. Cook about a minute. Add the beef broth and cook stirring until gravy thickens.

Serve the pork chops over the rice and top with the gravy. Yum-yum..