Southwestern Split Pea Soup

spicy-split-pea-soup

I haven’t blogged in so long. Life has been really busy. I’m not getting into the kitchen much. Plus, it’s been so hot this summer, I don’t even want to cook to avoid heating up the house. To make things worse, the hard drive on my computer died and I lost so many pictures, including food pics for future posts. I thought I had backed up my computer this past spring, but that appears to not be the case. I lost a year and a half worth of pictures and documents. Stop what you are doing and back up your hard drive right now. I’ve been spending my extra time trying to compile my pictures from various sources and organize them. I’m not sure if I will ever finish this daunting task.

It is finally starting to cool down here in South Carolina. It was only in the low 80’s today. My hubby is out of town and my youngest son didn’t have a soccer game today so I got to spend some time cooking. I baked some brownies and then started working on this soup.

Southwestern Split Pea Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles (Rotel)
7 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup green split peas
1 large Russet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 zucchini, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and jalapeno. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, Rotel (including the juices), dried split peas, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add the potato, corn, and zucchini. Cook until the split peas and potato are tender, about another 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.


Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

This soup is incredibly good!  Plus, it’s fast to make. Perfect for a weeknight dinner. If you are in a rush, you can just skip baking the tortilla strips and just crumble some purchased tortilla chips over the top.

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

corn tortillas, about 12
cooking spray

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chipped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes (with juices)
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

avocado, diced
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Stack the fresh corn tortillas and cut in half. Re-stack and then cut into then strips. Arrange the corn tortilla strips on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake in the oven until golden (about 8 – 10 minutes), stirring occasionally to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a soup pot, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and jalapeno and continue to cook for another minute or two. Stir in the ground cumin. Next, add the petite diced tomatoes and juices, broth, cayenne, Mexican oregano, and tomato paste. Stir well and bring to a boil. Once the soup has come to a boil, add the peeled and deveined shrimp and cook until the shrimp is done, about 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup into a bowl. Top with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and a handful of the baked tortilla strips. Serve with a wedge of lime to squeeze over the soup before eating.


Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

One of the blueberry bushes in my yard is heavy with blueberries right now. Being a fan of savory fruit sauces, I used some of the fresh berries to make this dish for dinner tonight. It was really, really good. Served alongside some roasted fingerling potatoes, this was a meal worthy of a special occasion.

Fresh Blueberries sm

This recipe makes enough sauce for four generous servings. If you are cooking 2 chicken breasts, only use half of the sauce and save the remainder for another time. I think it would be excellent on salmon.

Chicken with Balsamic Blueberry Sauce

2 – 4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion (or favorite sweet onion)
1 cup fresh blueberries (frozen should be a fine too)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey (you may want to add an additional tablespoon of honey if your blueberries are not very sweet – taste the sauce and adjust as necessary)
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides. Place the seared breasts in a baking dish and place in the oven.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet the chicken was seared in (no need to clean it out). When the butter is melted, add the finely chopped onion. Cook, stirring, until softened and starting to caramelize. Add the blueberries and cook for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep warm.

Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken breasts and return them to the oven until cooked through, about 10 more minutes.

Serves 2 – 4.


Cream of Cabbage and Potato Soup

Cream of Cabbage and Potato Soup

Cabbage. So much cabbage. I have gotten 4 or 5 heads of green cabbage in my CSA boxes this season. I’ve been struggling to come of with new ways of using it. I have fallen back on old favorites like stir fries, Fried Cabbage, vegetable soups, Southeast Asian Cabbage Salad, Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup, and Coleslaw. I also made Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (which I will blog later). And, I made this soup.

I was really happy with how the soup turned out. It was delicious! It reminded me of my Cream of Cauliflower and Potato Soup. That is a good thing.

I sprinkled a little shredded cheddar cheese over my first bowl of soup. It’s a wonderful compliment to the flavors of the cabbage and potatoes. The soup is also wonderful without cheese.

Cream of Cabbage and Potato Soup with Cheese

Cream of Cabbage and Potato Soup

3 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 large potatoes (or 6 smallish), peeled and diced
7 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 cup half & half or cream
salt and pepper, to taste

cheese (cheddar, Swiss, Edam, etc…), shredded (optional)

In a soup pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cabbage and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the diced carrot, diced potatoes, and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the half & half and season with salt and pepper. Serve. Sprinkle with shredded cheese of your choice, if you desire.


Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

It’s hard to believe I never used a crockpot until a few years ago. I was totally missing out. There are some things that are just so much easier to cook in the crockpot, meat being the first thing that comes to mind. It’s my go-to method when I need shredded chicken, beef, or pork.

I have been experimenting with different ways of preparing pork roast in the crockpot. This one turned out well. The pineapple juice made the meat even more tender and the sweetness complimented the flavor of the pork (I think pork need a little sweeness).

I pulled the pork and made sandwiches with it on Rosemary Focaccia and topped with Pickled Collards for crunch and acid and a drizzle of BBQ sauce. So good. It would have been better if I hadn’t totally mucked up the focaccia (I ran out of flour and subbed whole spelt flour….turned out very dense), but even good cooks mess up sometimes. It’s OK. Learn and move on.

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork on Rosemary Foccacia with Pickled Collards

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork

1 4 – 5 pound Boston butt pork roast
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple with juices
Favorite dry rub (or use recipe below), about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat

Rub the pork roast with the dry rub. Layer the sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Place the seasoned pork roast on top of the onions. Dump the pineapple and juices over the pork roast. Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5 hours. The meat should be very, very tender.

Remove the cooked pork from the crockpot, leaving much of the pineapple and onion. Remove any fat. Shred the pork with two forks.

Crockpot Pineapple Pulled Pork Spice Rub

Dry Rub

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients. This makes a perfect amount for a 4 – 5 pound roast.


Summer Squash and Corn Casserole

Summer Squash and Corn Casserole 2

Squash Casserole is a Southern staple. This is the best one I have ever made. Ever. I went all out with the addition of mayonnaise, sour cream, and lots of cheese, foregoing previous attempts at trying to make squash casserole healthier. It tasted so good. It really needs those ingredients to make it rich and creamy. The extra calories are worth it!

I love the addition of corn. It’s sweetness compliments the squash so well. I used pattypan squash from my CSA share for this particular casserole. You could use yellow squash and/or zucchini instead (or in combination).

Summer Squash and Corn Casserole

Summer Squash and Corn Casserole

6 – 8 summer squash (yellow or pattypan), sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup breadcrumbs + 1/4 cup for topping
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cook the sliced squash in salted boiling water until tender, but not mushy, about 5 – 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander. I press the squash down with a spoon to remove as much moisture as possible.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and starting to brown. Add the minced garlic and cook a few more minutes. Turn off heat.

In a large bowl combine the drained squash, browned onions and garlic, corn, mayonnaise, sour cream, breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs over the top.

Bake in the 350 oven for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


Stewed Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

Stewed Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

This dish just screams, “summer!!” And it’s perfect for those summer months when you are overrun with squash.

You can make this with zucchini instead of yellow squash or with a combination of both. You can also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, but you may need to add a little bit of water to the skillet with them.

Stewed Squash and Tomatoes

Stewed Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium yellow squash, cut into bite-size chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is just tender (but not mushy), about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook one minute longer. Next, add the diced tomatoes and their juices. Lower the heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has cooked out and the squash has reached the desired tenderness, approximately 5 minutes. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.