White Bean Chicken Soup

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OMGoodness! It is COLD today so what better time to make a big pot of soup. That is exactly what I said to myself on the way to Trader Joe’s to pick up a few items for dinner. I might not have felt so chilled if I had cranked up the heat in the car but that still would not have warmed me on the inside. To make that happen I needed a nice bowl of homemade soup.

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My choice was either chicken noodle soup or a White Bean Chicken soup. I planned to have spaghetti the next day for dinner so chicken noodle soup was out and White Bean Chicken soup was in. Keep in mind I did not have a recipe for White Bean Chicken soup but not having an actual recipe has never stopped me from cooking. So, while strolling the aisles of Trader Joe’s I made up the recipe that would become “the soup”.

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Most soups are pretty easy to make. They are a one pot dish that only needs a little tender love and care and lots of seasoning. Because it was freezing outside I was in the mood for a healthy, hearty soup. I figured the white beans and chicken would make it hearty plus filling with lots of protein while the mirepoix and cabbage would make it healthy. Did I just hear someone say what the heck is mirepoix? Yes, I did. It was my hubby. He asked me this question while I was writing down the recipe when I got home. I was talking out loud to myself trying to remember how to spell mirepoix and hubby asked “What the heck is that?” When I told him it was diced carrots, onions and celery he said “Why don’t you just say that?” My response was I wanted to sound fancy like the chefs on TV. I know. It is always better to keep it simple.

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Simply put, White Bean Chicken Soup is comfort food. Whether it is freezing cold outside or you want a flavorful homemade meal in a bowl, this soup will do the trick.

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White Bean Chicken Soup

 Ingredients:

3 cans cannellini beans rinsed

1pkg sliced pepper chicken

1 container mirepoix (diced onions, celery and carrots)

6 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 cups chopped cabbage

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp Adobo

1 tsp thyme

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp lemon pepper

Shred chicken and set aside. Mash ½ cup of white beans (this will help soup to thicken) and set aside with remaining beans.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add mirepoix and seasonings to the pot and stir. Allow the vegetables to sweat for 3 – 5 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and add white beans then stir. Reduce heat to medium. Mix a spoonful of broth into the measured heavy cream. Add the mixture to the pot. Stir and let simmer 3 minutes.

Place chicken in the pot and stir. Cook for 20 minutes then add chopped cabbage. Stir to mix in the cabbage. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes until cabbage is softened and cooked through. Serve with crackers or crusty bread.

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Ham Hash

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While my hubby and kids love all types of pasta I am a fan of potatoes. I love mashed potatoes, baked potatoes and of course fried potatoes. Since I am the only one that craves potatoes I don’t make them too often. But, when I do I want to make sure everyone will eat them.

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I figured out a while ago that in order to get my hubby to eat potatoes I needed to make them for breakfast. Why breakfast instead of dinner I still have not figured that one out yet. Hey, I don’t mind as long as I can eat potatoes.

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I first flirted with making a turkey hash but put that recipe aside because I did not have turkey at the time I decided to create a breakfast potato recipe. I did however have a package of diced ham I was going to use in a ham salad recipe. Preparing Ham Hash was a nice choice mostly because I had all the ingredients on hand. A lot of recipes are created based on what is in the pantry or refrigerator when chefs put on their creativity caps. At least, that is how quite a few of my recipes are pulled together. Using a little bit of this and that based on what you have to work with is a great way to create new tasty meals. I am never afraid to try something new and fortunately my family does not mind participating as my taste testers in my crazy kitchen laboratory.

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Creating a Ham Hash recipe was not a big stretch. This is a very simple recipe that is full of flavor. One of the best things about the recipe is that it is quick to fix. The potatoes and veggies do not take long to cook especially since I used packaged shredded potatoes (I do shred my own Yukon Gold potatoes when I have time).  Plus, the ham was already cooked.  So…. Viola! Quick and Easy.

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Ham Hash

Ingredients:

3 – 4 Yukon Gold potatoes shredded or 1 pkg shredded potatoes

2 scallions sliced (both white and green parts of scallion)

1 pkg diced ham

1 small onion diced

¼ cup green peppers diced

¼ cup red peppers diced

2 tbsp bacon fat

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp parsley

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat bacon fat in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced ham and stir to coat with fat. Cook until ham is slightly browned. Remove from skillet and set aside. Add potatoes and veggies to the skillet and sprinkle with seasonings. Stir to mix veggies with potatoes. Increase heat to medium high and allow potatoes to crisp up a little for 5 – 6 minutes then add ham back to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Stir to mix in ham with the potatoes. Cook an additional 8 – 10 minutes stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked through. Serve with eggs and biscuits.

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Kale and Sweet Potato Remix (Baby Girl’s Recipe)

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The holidays are over but I still have a story to tell about our last Thanksgiving celebration. My daughter-in-law came up with the idea of having the ladies make new dishes out of our holiday leftovers. Nat made a delicious pasta dish out of leftover steamed broccoli ( Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix ) and my daughter made a tasty dish using leftover roasted sweet potatoes and fresh kale.

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Baby Girl’s Kale and Sweet Potato Remix was pretty impressive and quite simple to prepare. Leftovers are great. At least in my book. I think the seasonings blending together overnight make some dishes taste even better the next day. That was true for the sweet potatoes we used for the Kale and Sweet Potato Remix. Of course using all fresh ingredients is fine too. You don’t have to wait until you have leftovers to make this yummy dish. If you need a recipe for leftover kale or sweet potatoes this is a wonderful recipe to pull together.

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When Baby Girl thought of this recipe she decided to step it up a little by using two types of kale – red kale and curly green kale. I don’t remember ever seeing red kale in the grocery store or maybe I did see it but did not know it was kale. Anyway, the red kale was beautiful and had a sweeter and more delicate flavor than the curly green kale. The combination of the two types of kale created a nice balance between the slightly bitter and sweet flavors. Adding sweet potatoes only elevated the dish and made it blog worthy.

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Nice going kiddo! One more recipe to add to your repertoire and mine.

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Kale and Sweet Potato Remix

Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic chopped

3 lg sweet potatoes peeled and cubed

1 bunch Redbor kale clean and remove stems

1 bunch curly green kale clean and remove stems

½ jalapeno pepper seeded and diced (leave a few seeds for spice)

¾ cup white cooking wine

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cubed sweet potatoes on a greased cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with jalapeno peppers, salt and pepper then toss to coat with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 35 – 45 minutes until sweet potatoes are slightly browned and fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute to prevent garlic from burning. Pour in white cooking wine and stir for an additional 2 minutes.

Increase heat to medium high and add Redbor kale. Cook for 6 – 8 minutes until the kale is wilted. Add the remaining kale. Season with salt and black pepper then cook for 15 – 20 more minutes until tender. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and add sweet potatoes to the kale. Gently toss to mix kale and sweet potatoes. Transfer to a serving dish. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

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Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix

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During the holidays families often have to split time when their adult children are married. Our family is no different than any other family. Every year we share the kids with the in-laws. Last year my daughter-in-law came up with a great idea so that my hubby and I did not feel left out on Thanksgiving day since it was not our turn to host the family. Instead of having a big Thanksgiving celebration with all the kids and grand-kids, we had a big after Thanksgiving family leftovers celebration.

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All the ladies were charged with coming up with a dish using leftovers from Thanksgiving. Besides being able to spend time with my kids and mom I got a few new ideas to share on my blog. Nat created a tasty pasta dish from leftover steamed broccoli. This was a very simple dish but was packed with flavor from the garlic, white wine and parmesan cheese. I knew Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix would be a good recipe for my blog when my youngest grandson jumped right in and gobbled up the pasta. Who could argue with a pasta connoisseur like little Ant?

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Thanks Nat for creating a new family tradition and a way to still share the holidays with our kids and grand-kids.

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Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix

Ingredients:

1 box gemelli pasta

4 garlic cloves chopped

2 shallots diced

1 small onion diced

1 lemon

3 cups leftover steamed broccoli or 2 lg broccoli heads cut into florets

1 cup white wine

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

4 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp thyme

Prepare pasta according to package then set aside in a large bowl. Reserve ½ cup pasta water.

Place 6 cups of water along with 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Blanch broccoli then drain. Place into a cold water bath to stop the broccoli from cooking. Reserve ½ cup of the broccoli water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook 3 – 5 minutes until onions begin to soften. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute then add garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to brown stirring constantly so that garlic does not burn. Pour in white wine and cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli to the pan season with salt and black pepper. Stir to mix then remove from heat.

Pour broccoli mixture to the pasta along with broccoli and pasta water. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and gently toss together.

Optional: Red pepper flakes to add a little kick!

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Roasted Tomato Salad

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Fruits and vegetables all have a “season”.  Meaning, there are certain times of the year when fruits and vegetables are at their best and taste fantastic. Living on the east coast, I find tomatoes are at their best during the summer and early fall months. I grow a lot of different types of tomatoes in the summer and miss them when they are gone.

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Of course, just because the seasons change it does not mean you cannot get good tasting vegetables. However, you have to be careful because “out of season” vegetables like tomatoes can lack flavor and may not have a nice texture inside. Even tomatoes imported from warmer climates may not live up to east coast summer tomatoes. For that reason, I sometimes like to roast tomatoes to bring out their natural sweetness. Roasted Tomato Salad is wonderful because the roasted tomatoes add a nice kick of flavor to the salad.

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My Roasted Tomato Salad is nutritious and full of savory and slightly sweet flavors. Salads are a very personal dish because you can combine all of your favorite vegetables, fruits, nuts and meats. Or, you can keep it simple with only lettuce and roasted tomatoes.

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Roasted Tomato Salad

Ingredients:

2 bunches romaine lettuce chopped

6 -8 plum tomatoes cut into wedges

3 slices prosciutto chopped (optional)

½ red onion sliced thinly

¼ cup black olives

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

¼ cup Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1 black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Toss tomatoes with red onion slices and season with olive oil, salt, black pepper and oregano. Spray a rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray and then spread tomatoes and onions on the cookie sheet. Roast for 30 – 45 minutes until browned and/or slightly charred (based on your preference). Let cool for 10 minutes.

Toss cooled roasted tomatoes with the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Serve as a main dish or nice appetizer.

 

 

 

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Apple Bread Pudding

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I feel like bread pudding is one of those desserts you either love or hate. Okay,  maybe hate is a strong word. Dislike might be a better a description. Growing up, bread pudding was not one of those treats I liked to eat. My mom used to make it and folks raved over how delicious it was but I just could not find that taste bud that would make me say “oh yeah, that bread pudding was delicious”. No offense, Mommy. I know your bread pudding was probably wonderful.

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The bread puddings I have tried over the years (yes, I kept trying to find one that I liked) have all reminded me of wet bread. I know bread pudding is moist but it should not be wet and soppy. It usually reminded me of dunking donuts into coffee. I tried that too and did not like it. Fast forward many years later and my taste buds have changed. I am not totally in love with bread pudding but I must say it has grown on me.

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My first experience with a scrumptious bread pudding was at a local restaurant. I ordered it because I saw a beautiful plate of the dessert at the table next to us. The description on the menu made the bread pudding sound so good I thought I should give it another try. The dessert lived up to the description and looked absolutely wonderful. Now I am willing to eat and make bread pudding whenever the mood hits me.

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My version of bread pudding does not use regular bread like most bread puddings. I stepped it up and use butter croissants which makes the bread pudding both savory and a little sweet. Adding thinly sliced apples and walnuts just makes the bread pudding even more delicious. For those that don’t like apples, you can leave them out to make a more classic bread pudding or substitute peaches, pears or some other fruit you like. Any choice you make will be equally delicious.

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Apple Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

6 – 8 croissants broken into pieces

2 eggs + 2 egg yolks lightly beaten

1 cup milk

½ cup heavy cream

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup sugar

¾ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup light brown sugar

½ stick butter melted

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 granny smith apple sliced thin

In a medium non-stick frying pan add 2 tbsp butter and melt over medium. Add apple slices, water, raisins and light brown sugar. Toss to coat apples with brown sugar then simmer until apples soften. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk eggs and egg yolks with sugar until smooth. Whisk in seasonings then add milk, cream and vanilla.

Place croissant pieces in a long buttered baking dish. Pour melted butter over bread then layer with cooked apples. Toss walnuts into the bread mixture. Pour custard mix over croissants. Press bread into the custard and make sure all pieces are covered with the custard (add a little more milk if necessary). Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 2 – 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake bread pudding for 30 minutes until set and golden brown. Let cool.

 

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Mommys’ Pork Chop Sandwich

Yimg_5509_1Yes, I am over the age of 30 and I still call my mother “Mommy”. What can I say? I never made the transition from Mommy to mom and I could not see myself calling her mother. Mother seems much too formal to me but I don’t knock anyone that calls their mother – mother. Actually, a couple of my aunts called my maternal grandmother “Mother”. The rest of us called her Ma Dear. However, mother seemed to fit coming from my aunties.

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Okay, I digressed. Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich jumped into my head the other day when I was trying to come up with something for dinner other than chicken or beef. We had already had both during the week along with fish so I had to make a decision on which one would get a second turn for the week. Truth be told I love pork chops. The problem was that my hubby is not big on pork unless it’s bacon. So tentatively, I decided to make pork chop sandwiches like my mom did back in the day.  I wasn’t sure he would go for it. To my surprise, when hubby asked what were we having for dinner and I said Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich he only said what time do we eat. Now, I am not sure if he was just really hungry or was in the mood for pork. Either way, I was happy.

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Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich is fairly straightforward. Two slices of bread. Mustard. Hot sauce and on occasion a little mayo. This basic combination of flavors tastes wonderful – at least to me.

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As for my hubby, he jazzed up his pork chop sandwich by adding lettuce, tomato and the cole slaw I made to go with the sandwiches. After thinking about my hubby’s creation, I realized the sandwich he made was similar to another sandwich I make which has chicken instead of pork chops. Great minds think alike.

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Enjoy!

Mommy’s Pork Chop Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 – 3 pork chops

2 – 3 cibatta rolls sliced

1 medium tomato sliced (optional)

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup flour

½ cup shredded lettuce (optional)

½ cup cole slaw (optional)

1 tsp mustard

salt

seasoned salt

black pepper

hot sauce

Adobo seasoning

smoked paprika

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat.

Place flour in a shallow dish and season with a little Adobo seasoning, seasoned salt and pepper.

Season pork chops with salt, pepper and Adobe seasoning. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Dredge seasoned pork chops in flour. Shake off excess flour. Gently place chops in hot oil. Fry until golden brown and cooked all the way through. Approximately 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Spread mustard on one side of each sliced roll. Place one pork chop on each roll. Shake hot sauce over pork chop (you decide the level of spiciness). Top pork chop with the other slice of bread.

Optional: Add sliced tomato, lettuce and cole slaw.

Eat Up!

 

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Tomato Soup

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My Tomato Soup is not like your popular brand of canned tomato soup. It is much better. At least that is what my hubby thinks. After eating two bowls of my Tomato Soup he proclaimed it was the best soup I had made to date and he enjoys all of my homemade soups.

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Using a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes makes this soup tasty and gives it texture. I like smooth soups but I also enjoy soups with a little texture which lets you know what kind of soup you are eating.

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A good test of whether or not a soup is blog worthy for me is if I want to dip a sandwich into it. At the very least, a good test is if I want to take that last piece of bread and run it around the bowl to get every last bit of soup. By those standards this soup was fantastic! Not only did I dip my sandwich into it, I licked my fingers to get the few drops that landed there after dipping. Yum! Yum!

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Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

6 large vine ripened or plum tomatoes peeled

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1 14 oz can spicy red tomatoes

2 scallions sliced

½ red onion sliced

½ white onion sliced

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

½ cup ½ and ½

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp seasoned salt

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp lemon pepper

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried dill weed

pinch of sugar.

Boil about 4 cups of water. Place fresh tomatoes in a large pot and pour boiling water over tomatoes for easy peeling.  Rough chop the tomatoes.

Place peeled tomatoes and all other ingredients except the Parmesan cheese, heavy cream and ½ and ½ into a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until it is smooth but still has some texture. You can also place the tomato mixture into a blender to smooth out the veggies then place back into the pot.

Stir in heavy cream and ½ and ½. Place pot back on the heat and reduce heat to medium low. Add parmesan cheese to the pot and stir for 1 – 2 minutes until the cheese melts and is incorporated into the soup. Simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with a nice crusty piece of bread to sop up all the tomato soup goodness!

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Hot Pepper Relish

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I have said in my blog posts on many occasions that my family loves spicy foods. Actually, that is an understatement at least for my hubby and kids. I like some spice but not as hot as they do.

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Every year I grow a variety of peppers and each year they seem to be more plentiful. This year was no different and as the farmers say “We had a bumper crop” of peppers. The sunlight on our porch is just right for my pots of peppers and cherry tomatoes. Whenever I try to grow veggies in the backyard, the veggies shrivel up and died no matter how much tender love and care I give them. I guess there are too many trees casting shade so not enough sunlight reaches the plants. This year I bought several types of hot peppers along with bell peppers for my hubby because he likes to cut them up on his eggs and uses them in salsa.

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Because we had so many peppers I had to come up with a new recipe since I did not want all of those peppers to go to waste. I already had enough pepper sauce courtesy of my mom but I did not have a something spicy to use as a topping for chicken, beef, vegetables and hubby’s eggs. The only thing I could come up with was a Hot Pepper Relish. At least that is what I call it. Hubby wanted me to call the recipe Ed’s Pepper Hots but that just did not roll off of my tongue. Relish is a better description and to make sure I was not totally off base I checked out the local grocery store to see if they had pepper relishes. They did.

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This recipe is not for the faint of heart. The peppers I used were so hot I could still smell the pepper juice on my fingers after washing them in really hot water several times. Yes, I would suggest wearing gloves when you cut up the peppers and no, I did not. Big mistake and I will not make it again. The next time I make Hot Pepper Relish I will add a few milder peppers to balance out the heat so that I can enjoy it too. For now, hubby is thoroughly enjoying the Hot Pepper Relish and is adding it to everything.

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Hot Pepper Relish

Ingredients:

8 – 12 fresh hot peppers seeded and diced small (hot cow horn, jalapeno, hot banana)

6 cherry tomatoes quartered

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp red onion diced small

1 tsp cilantro

½ tsp dill weed

sprinkle of salt and pepper

juice from ½ a lime

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Spoon into an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to marinate. Serve with your favorite chips or use as a condiment with your favorite foods.

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Lentil Stew

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Don’t ask me why but I have had lentils on my mind for the past week. I think it was because I wanted to make some red lentil soup and discovered I didn’t have any lentils. Since I usually find them at Trader Joe’s I had to wait until my weekend ritual of running errands to be on that side of town. Once I got to the store and spotted the red lentils I also spotted green lentils which made me think of a Lentil Stew. Again, I don’t know why.

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Sometimes my imagination kicks in and I just come up with ideas for combinations of food. For the Lentil Stew I thought of carrots, potatoes and tomatoes as the right combination of vegetables to add to the lentils to make a stew. Yes, a stew not a soup. To me, stews are a little heartier than a soup even more than those soups that are thick and packed with vegetables. Stews have a slightly different consistency than soups and are surrounded by a kind of gravy. In the case of Lentil Stew it makes its own gravy.

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Lentil Stew is the type of dish I would make during the winter or on chilly fall days. Granted, the day I first made this stew it was not really chilly but there was a nice gentle breeze. Now that I have tested out the recipe, I know what I will be preparing it quite often when the gentle breezes turn into strong cold winds.

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Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

1 pkg green lentils (soak overnight in cold water then drain)

½ cup red lentils (optional)

½ cup shredded carrots (slightly chop)

2 cans roasted diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

2 small potatoes diced

2 scallions diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp minced garlic

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp basil

¼ tsp ground ginger

Add lentils and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer while preparing vegetables.

In a large frying pan add olive oil and potatoes over medium high heat. Season potatoes with a little salt and pepper. Saute potatoes until slightly browned. Reduce heat to medium then add onions, carrots, tomatoes and remaining seasonings to the potatoes. Stir and allow veggies to soften. Add veggies and chicken broth to lentils and stir. Allow stew to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until lentils are tender. Taste to determine if you need more salt. Add additional broth if stew is too thick.

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