Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hearty Vegetable Bean Soup

I have a new obsession with turnips and other root vegetables. I love turnips. They're almost like a potato but with a little spice. I also love my new crock pot I got from my parents for Christmas.

So, I created this delicious recipe so I could use both!

You will need: 1 smoked ham hock, 1 medium onion, 2 turnips, 4 or 5 stalks of celery, 1/2 bunch of kale, 3 large cloves of garlic, 1/2 head of cauliflower, 2 large carrots (or a few handfuls of baby carrots), 6 cups of chicken stock, 2 Tbsp parsley, 2 bay leaves, 2 cans of white kidney beans, and 1 cup of white wine.

This grody looking thing is a ham hock. I know a lot of people have probably never used one, but if you live in the South, you can find them right next to the pork chops in almost any grocery store. This is something your grandmother probably used to cook with, and for good reason. This guy adds a lot of flavor.

Do not fear the ham hock.

You'll want to remove the skin from the hock so make a shallow cut down through the skin.

Now using your knife to help you, peel the skin off of the ham hock. It should separate pretty easily.

Tada! No skin.

Now place the ham hock in a large crock pot.

Now get your turnips. These purple beauties are truly delicious. They are similar to potatoes, but they hold their shape better during this long cooking process.

Peel your turnips with a vegetable peeler..

And dice them into bite sized pieces.

Throw them in with the ham hock.

Next dice up your carrots.

And throw those in too.

Next chop up the 5 stalks of celery, including the leaves! They add a lot of flavor.

And put those in too.

Now dice up one onion and stick it in the crock pot too (I forgot to take a picture of that. I was getting too excited about turnips).

Now we are going to chop up the cauliflower into florets. The best way I have found to do this is to first cut into the leaves around the edges on one side...

Until you have exposed the big stem thing.

Big stem thing is a technical cauliflower term.

Now just chop off the big stem thing.

Now that all of the cauliflower is exposed, you can cut off florets!

Next chop the florets into bite sized pieces.

Until you have a giant pile of cauliflower. Save the rest of this for another recipe or pile it on top of a salad! (I did both!)

Place half of the head of cauliflower into the crock pot.

Also, I am very sorry that I put all of the white vegetables next to each other.

Now get the skins off of your garlic cloves by smashing them with all of your pent up frustrations.

I like to pretend the garlic cloves are my difficult math classes... Anyways, it should be really easy now to get all of the skins off.

See? And I didn't lie to you... I really thought there were only 3 cloves here but when I busted one of them open, two smaller cloves popped out.

Now chop up the garlic.

Weird tip: sprinkle some salt onto the garlic to help keep the garlic from sticking to the knife so badly.

Chopped garlic and a mostly clean knife!

Throw the garlic into the crock pot.

Season with salt...

And pepper.

Add in 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley (or 1 Tbsp of dried)

And two bay leaves.

Now pour in the chicken stock.

It should be enough to just cover the vegetables.

Now cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.

Once the time is up, take out the bones from the ham hock and break up the meat a little with 2 forks.

You could take out the meat as well if you wanted, but I am a carnivore and I never want to remove the meat from anything.

Now pour in two cans of drained and rinsed beans.

1 cup of wine...

And tear half the bunch of kale off the stems and rip into bite-sized pieces.

Allow this to cook for another 30 minutes, covered on high.

The kale is nice and tender now, but the beans haven't had time to break apart. Perfect!

Serve with a chunk of crusty bread and some fresh grated parmesan on top.

This soup is great to come home to after a busy day of school, work, or just hanging out.

Hearty Vegetable Bean Soup
Serves: 8

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 turnips, chopped
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 ham hock, skin removed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 2 cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, stems removed and broken into bite-sized pieces
  • grated parmesan, to garnish
  1. Combine first 11 ingredients in a large crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
  2. After this initial cooking time, add in the wine, beans, and kale. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes on high.
  3. Serve with warm, crusty bread and grated parmesan on top!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lemon Chicken

This is one of my favorites. I used to ask my mom to make it for me on my birthday and she never failed to fulfill a food request. Especially a birthday one.

Now I live on my own and I have to make it for myself. So you can too!

This dish is really easy and a crowd pleaser.

You will need: 1 lb or chicken breasts or tenders pounded until thin (this is the best way to release your frustrations), 2 lemons, 2 Tbsp capers, 1 cup chicken stock, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 cup flour, 1/2 to a cup of white wine, and 1 Tbsp olive oil (not pictured)

Melt 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.

While the oil is heating up, add the flour to a shallow dish.

And season with salt and pepper. If you wanted, you could use lemon pepper here or any extra seasoning you want, but I prefer just salt and pepper. Combine flour and seasoning with a fork.

Now dredge both sides of your flattened chicken in the flour.

And place it in the frying pan. See the bubbles around the chicken? That's what you want. Otherwise, you get soggy chicken. Ew.

Keep adding chicken to your pan until full. You won't be able to fit all of it in there at once. You'll have to do at least two batches, depending on the size of your pan.

If your pan starts to look a little dry, add more butter.

When in doubt, add more butter. This is a general life philosophy for me.

When you get about a quarter inch border of white around your chicken, it's time to flip them. This shouldn't take more than 5 minutes since we pounded the chicken so thinly.

Now cook on the other side until golden. Have a paper towel lined plate ready to go when they're finished.

Also, I should apologize for how messy my stove is, but I can't. Messy cooking is good cooking. However, I promise that I wipe down my stove after a mess like this. I really do.

Remove the cooked chicken to the plate...

And start your next batch!

Now get those out of then pan and onto the plate and let's start our sauce!

Now pour in the wine! I love any sauce made with wine. It's just plain tasty. Scrape all the bits of chicken and flour off of the bottom of the pan. Also known as deglazing the pan.

Keep scraping and the sauce will bubble up and thicken from the four that fell off of the chicken.

After the wine has reduced by about half, add in one cup of chicken stock. Keep the chicken stock near you so you can add more if the sauce gets too thick.

Now use the heel of your hand to roll the lemons on your counter. This makes the lemon easier to juice later.

If you don't have the upper body strength of a 2 year old, you can probably just use one hand to do this. I do not fall into that category so I use two.

Now slice the lemons in half. Ignore the turnips on my cutting board. More on those later.

Next squeeze all the juice out of both lemons into the sauce. If you are offended by seeds, you might want to squeeze them through a strainer first. Or just use your other hand as a strainer.

Now let that simmer for a few minutes.

Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

And add in two tablespoons of capers, drained. If you're a caper fanatic like me, add in more! I love those suckers.

Caper fun fact: A caper is a flower bud. In case you wanted to know.

Now tell your health conscious roommates to look away and add in another tablespoon of butter. This makes the sauce really silky and delightful.

Place two pieces of chicken on a plate and spoon a good amount of sauce over it. Mmm...

In case you're wondering what that other mess next to the chicken is, I've had a serious curiosity for root vegetables lately. This recipe is Turnip Gratin by The Pioneer Woman. I love the Pioneer Woman. So much. Turns out, I also love turnip gratin. If you're gonna try a vegetable, try it layered with cream and cheese. You can't go wrong!

Enjoy this recipe guys!

P.s. GIANT shout out to my roommate Amy for taking the pictures for this post!

Lemon Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins, pounded thin
  • 2 Tbsp butter, plus more for a dry pan
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat 1 Tbsp butter and olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken and fry in the pan in batches, adding butter if the pan gets too dry.
  2. Remove chicken to a paper towel lined plate. Pour wine into the pan and scrape the chicken bits off of the bottom. Allow to reduce by half and then pour in the chicken stock. While the sauce is simmering, half and juice both lemons.
  3. Add the lemon juice, capers, and salt and pepper, to taste, to the sauce and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
  4. Serve chicken with the sauce poured all over the top.