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Low Country Boil {Northern Stovetop Version}

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I got this recipe from my friend, Suzie, who ironically lives up North, so I don’t know how authentic this is to the “low country” but it’s really good!  I actually ate this whole recipe by myself over the course of several days while pregnant because Den hates shrimp. Usually I avoid shrimp dishes because I don’t like to prepare myself a separate dish, but this is so worth the minimal effort.  So flavorful! The second best part is, this is an indoor version you can make on your stovetop any time of year.

Low Country Boil

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4 cups red potatoes, quartered
4 ears corn on the cob, cut in half
1 (14-16 oz) package polish sausage or kielbasa, cut into bite-size pieces
2 lbs. of uncooked large shrimp

For the stock:

12 cups water
1 package Zatarain’s crab boil
1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
1 lemon, quartered
1 large onion, quartered
9 whole cloves of garlic (or to taste)
3 tablespoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tablespoons table salt)

Add all stock ingredients to a large stock pot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add potatoes and corn and boil for 15 minutes. Add kielbasa or polish sausage and cook for 5 more minutes. Turn down heat to medium and add the uncooked shrimp. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until shrimp turns orange, and drain into a serving dish. Serve with butter and old bay seasoning mixed together and/or cocktail sauce. Enjoy and have plenty of napkins ready!

Veronica’s note: you can use frozen “mini” corn on the cob, and add along with the shrimp at the end.

Sweet Salsa Slow Cooker Meatballs

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Independence Day!  It was the best 4th of July of my whole life, and hands-down the best day Joshua’s ever had period. I want to share some photos but will be doing that tomorrow.

Today I have a simple crockpot meal that is great any time of year, because in summer, it doesn’t heat the kitchen, and in winter, it’s just nice to have something hot and ready at the end of a cold day.  I got this recipe from my friend, Holly, who actually had posted it in response to a mutual friend’s request for crockpot recipes on Facebook. I nabbed it and made it soon after because I’d just made my own apricot jam.  These were very satisfying and tasty.  Hope you enjoy, and stay cool!

Sweet Salsa Slow Cooker Meatballs

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1 (26 oz) bag frozen meatballs
3 bell peppers in different colors, sliced (optional)
1 (24 oz) jar salsa
1 (18 oz) jar apricot preserves

Place the meatballs in the bottom of your slow cooker and layer the bell peppers over, if you’re using them.  Whisk the salsa and apricot preserves together in a bowl, and pour over the top.  Cover and cook on low until heated through, 6-8 hours. Holly suggests serving over rice or with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Recipe source: adapted from Holly W.

Sausage Minestrone


I’ve been making the most amazing soups this winter.  My secret? I finally gave up following recipes! I never thought I could cook without a recipe, as I’ve never been what I think of as a “natural cook” – someone who can just keep adding things to a dish or pot until it tastes amazing. But I decided to give it a shot, and have surprised myself with the results.

Sadly, a lot of the delicious things I’ve made, I didn’t measure anything and didn’t take notes, so I can’t share recipes or even make them exactly the same way again.  But this one turned out so good that I immediately wrote down exactly how I made it so I could duplicate and share it.  I’ve made it twice in the past month – we love it so much! It’s also quite nutritious and low in fat, which is a big bonus in my book, as many of my favorite meals are huge calorie bombs. Not this one. Enjoy the flavor, guilt-free. :)

Sausage Minestrone

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1 (8 oz) package baby portabella (“bella”) mushrooms, sliced
1 (20 oz) package Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
8 chicken bouillon cubes*
8 cups water
1 (15-16 oz) can white cannellini beans
1 (15-16 oz) can dark red kidney beans
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano, undrained
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large zucchini, cut in half & sliced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups kale, hard stems removed and chopped into small pieces

Cook the mushrooms in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until they are cooked down and soft and a darker color. Scrape into a stock pot. In the same skillet, brown the turkey sausage, breaking it up as it cooks to make crumbles. Once cooked, add to the pot. Add the remaining ingredients except for the kale, and bring to a boil over high head. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, 15-30 minutes.  Add kale and cook another five minutes.

*Veronica’s notes: you want the smaller size bouillon cubes, the ones that need only one cup water each for broth. If using the bigger ones that need two cups, use only 4 cubes. You can use 8 cups chicken broth instead, omitting the water from the recipe, and add salt to taste.  The second time I made this, I added in 3 stalks of celery and a pound of fresh green beans. Feel free to add what you like, and just add more seasoning to taste, if necessary.

Curried Red Lentil Soup


Yes, this really is a soup recipe, despite the thick chili-like images accompanying my post. This is what happens on day two to the soup, which I couldn’t photograph when it was still soup-like, because I made it at night and when I take photos of soup at night, I end up with freaky purple beans…

This chili-looking soup is so delicious, and easy enough that you can make it with an infant vying for your attention. Which is what I did last June. And I photographed it on the concrete rather than the grass (I’m all about simple backgrounds), because I knew I was going to blog it during the winter, and didn’t want the green grass to alert you guys that I’ve turned into a hot soup in summer person.  But now I’ve gone and told you anyway. Secrets can be so hard to keep. ;)

I used to detest hot soup in the summer, but it seems my pregnancy changed that permanently for me. I also continue to enjoy mustard more than ketchup, which is way cray. I never understood mustard people, and now I’m one of them. No one warned me that having a baby might make me join the mustard people for good. I still don’t know how I feel about this.

Anyway, this is a really good soup. And easy. And you should make it.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

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1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans (3 ½ cups) chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 (14.5 oz) can roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
½ cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Microwave the lentils and 2 cups of broth about 8 minutes, until liquid is mostly absorbed.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally and adding salt and pepper as it cooks. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder, and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the microwaved lentil mixture to the pot along with the rest of the broth and the tomatoes. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and re-season as needed.

Serve the individual portions with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

Some more Indian-ish faves…

Bean Curry – really so good! I don’t know why I never remember to make my black eyed peas this way on New Years day, it’s one of the most delish ways to enjoy them.

Dal Makhani with Baked Saffron Rice – another goodie I nabbed from Jenna’s blog.

Lighter Chicken Tikka Masala – can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this one. One of my all-time favorites!

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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It’s been a while since I made this cake, but it was so incredibly good that I still remember the feel and taste of it in my mouth. You know a recipe is good when the end result leaves that kind of impression. Soft, warm, gooey, sweet, rich, nutty, crunchy, creamy, pillowy – basically, everything good. A whole lotta yum.  There is frosting mixed into the cake. And then it’s topped with even more goodness. Need I say more?

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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Cake:
1 (15 oz) box Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 (16 oz) tub Coconut Pecan Frosting
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with oil and set aside.

Combine all cake ingredients except the pecans and beat together until well combined, a minute or two, then stir in the pecans.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Rest on a cooling rack while you make the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the sweetened condensed milk.  Continue to stir until heated through, then stir in the pecans.  Pour over the whole cake, or individual slices.

Recipe source: The Country Cook

More cake mix favorites:

Chocolate Italian Love Cake – perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Easy Italian Cream Cake – chock full of pecans, coconut, and maraschino cherries, topped with cream cheese frosting. To die for.

Cookies ‘n Cream Cake/Cupcakes. I didn’t like Oreos until this cake.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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My friend, Lynn, shared this recipe with me in the early fall when my grass was still green, and as you can see from the green in my photos, I made it immediately.  I’m so glad I’m finally getting around to sharing it before winter squash and hot comfort meals are forgotten in favor of salads and meals that can be cooked without turning the oven on.  This is definitely one to try before winter gives way to spring.

Lynn said she makes it every fall, and sometimes adds Italian sausage and caramelized onions to hers. Well, those additions didn’t sound optional to me and I’m so glad I found the time to add them.  This is a rather involved recipe but definitely worth the time. Utter deliciousness! Slightly sweet & creamy squash, gooey cheese, with layers of flavor from the onions and sausage…a big winner with our whole family.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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3-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/2- to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 lb. Italian sausage
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the cubed squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet, cover, and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the squash to a mixing bowl or food processor and mash. Season the squash purée to taste with more salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions slowly turn brown and caramelized, adding additional oil if necessary, about 30-40 minutes. Stir into the squash.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet over medium heat, breaking it up and crumbling it with a spatula until cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 13×9 glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom of pan with one layer of lasagna noodles. Spread half of the squash purée over the noodle, then half of the sausage. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the cheese. Repeat layering once more, finishing with a layer of noodles covered only by white sauce.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna and continue baking until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Recipe source: Mother Earth News with adaptation by Lynn S.

More squashy favorites…

Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Pie – yes, you can have your breakfast casserole without all the carbs! A creation of my own that I’m pretty proud of. Seriously yum.

Garlic Chicken & Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo – I don’t like pasta alfredo, but this…is heaven.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew…seriously one of my top favorite things I’ve eaten in the history of ever.

Spiced Butterscotch & Black Walnut Banana Bread


This month I was assigned to Manu’s Menu for the Secret Recipe Club. Manuela is an Italian married to an Indian, living in Australia with her family, so her blog is a smorgasbord of delicious international recipes, with the majority being delicious, authentic Italian food. She has recipes for many things on my 40 by 40 list, like Lamingtons, croissants, biscotti/Cantucci, & risotto. And what did I do? I’m so predictable. I went for the banana bread because as you know, I have an obsession and I seem to always have overripe bananas on hand. I may have not checked anything off my bucket list of recipes to make, but we’re enjoying some really delicious banana bread in the mean time, so that makes up for it. :)

I took Manu’s recipe for the bread and kicked it up a notch, just on a whim that started because of the butterscotch chips sitting on my desk when I was reading her recipe. We really loved the combination of oozing butterscotch, black walnuts, and subtle spices in a loaf rich in banana flavor.  I went ahead and used the butter called for but next time will try oil as I just really prefer the soft & silky texture that oil gives to quick breads. If only oil had all the delicious flavor as butter!

This was a wonderful loaf and I thank you, Manuela for helping me create it. Buon appetito!

Spiced Butterscotch & Black Walnut Banana Bread

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2 cups (8 ½ oz / 245 g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (5 ½ oz / 150 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cloves
2 eggs
½ cup (4 oz / 113 g) butter, melted
3 large (or 4 small) overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (2 ½ oz / 60 g) toasted black walnuts, chopped
½ cup (3 ½ oz / 94 g) butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, butter, bananas, and vanilla. Stir together until just moistened, then add the walnuts and butterscotch chips. Stir together until just combined and spread into prepared loaf pan. Bake for about an hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap.

Recipe source: adapted from Manu’s Menu

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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Chicken & Dumpling Casserole | veronicascornucopia.com

Although the first day of spring has come and gone, it’s been chilly and blustery here in Kansas, so I thought I’d share this warm and delicious casserole for everyone that’s still eagerly awaiting spring before it’s hot and sweltering and nobody wants to bake a casserole. This is pure comfort food and perfect to warm the soul on a chilly day.  It’s very quick and simple to make, which is good if you have a baby that has decided that if you aren’t holding him or playing with him or taking him on a stroller ride, he isn’t happy, because you won’t have to listen to him scream for very long  before dinner is in the oven. ;)

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

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3 – 4 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (use rotisserie chicken if desired)
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz) can cream of chicken soup

Preheat oven to 400F. Place butter in 9″ X 13″ baking dish and place in oven while it’s preheating. Once butter is melted, you can remove the pan to continue with the recipe, or let it cook a little to brown it and add an extra dimension of flavor. Be sure to watch it if you decide to let it brown because it can go from nutty to burnt pretty quickly.

Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle prepared chicken over the top of the butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, flour, baking powder and salt. Pour over the chicken, but do not stir. In same bowl, after scraping out as much flour mixture as possible, whisk together chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Pour that over top of casserole; do not stir.

Bake uncovered for 35 – 45 minutes. When done, the top will be beautifully browned and bubbly around the edges.

Yield: about 6 servings

Veronica’s notes: I boiled a whole chicken for this recipe. It was about 5 lbs and I covered it with water in a stock pot and added a teaspoon of salt, boiling for an hour or two. I forgot to set the timer so I really don’t know how long I boiled it because I was so busy with the baby- lol. If you make it this way, it’s very economical, and you automatically make your own broth to use in the recipe.

Recipe source: The Better Baker

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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If you haven’t seen recipes for lasagna soup all over the web for the last couple years, then you don’t follow as many blogs as I do-lol!  It is everywhere.  It’s taking over the blogging world.  If it wasn’t so delicious, it might scare me a little, but now that I’ve made it I totally get it.

Everyone has their own variation and I just took the one from Suzie’s blog and made it a little healthier.  I have to tell you that Biz is actually the reason I finally made this soup because I think she’s made it (and raved about it) 55.7 times since Suzie posted it and I just couldn’t resist any longer.

So glad I gave in–this soup is completely frabrilis!  I mean hello, lasagna in soup form?  Frabrilosity! 

P.S. A lot of things went wrong with my pictures and I do not care to explain the unattractive, cold plops of cheese and how thick this is because you would scoff at me and I’m not in the mood for your scoffing beyond the scoffing you’re doing at my cheese plops.  :D  Just follow my directions and you will have frabrilis soup that looks as delicious as it tastes.

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (19.5 oz) package lean sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 oz. broken up whole wheat lasagna noodles or other pasta of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheesy goodness:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet along with the onions and cook, breaking up into bite-size pieces, for 5-10 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Add garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Don’t over cook or let soup simmer too long, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the broth.*

While pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy goodness by combining the cottage cheese or ricotta and Parmesan together in a small bowl. To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy goodness in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

*Note: If you are anticipating leftovers, it’s best to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bowl along with the soup, then store them separately, drizzled with olive oil so they don’t stick together.  They will become mushy if stored in the broth.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Two Dogs in the Kitchen.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

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I have Biz to thank for this amazeballs recipe.  I like a lot of different chili’s (this is the eighth chili recipe on my blog!), but this is definitely a contender for my favorite.  I love the heat level–we like spicy and for us this was perfect.  Spicy but not so spicy that you can’t taste the wonderful flavor.  Your lips may burn a bit, but you can still feel your mouth after eating a bowl, which is a plus in my book.

Since the veggies are pureed and totally not visible, there’s less risk of complaints from picky eaters.  I felt super manly while eating it, with all the meat and beans and spiciness, and apparent lack of vegetables.  But then I couldn’t pee standing up, so that was the end of my manliness.

Also, just an FYI, your chili will not be this thick right after cooking it.  This was the day after I made it, and before I heated up the bowl.  Not many things look good cold, but apparently chili is one exception to the rule. I think it’s so purdy.  (I believe I just lost my man card again.)

Buffalo Chicken Chili

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2 large carrots, peeled & cut into 1-2″ pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 1-2″ pieces
1 large red pepper, cored & cut into 1-2″ pieces
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken
5 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) chili beans in sauce (do not drain)
salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnish: blue cheese crumbles or Spicy Ranch Crackers

Place carrots, celery, red pepper, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Process until pureed and set aside.  In a soup pot, heat oil and add ground chicken and cook about 10 minutes on medium heat until no longer pink.  Add vegetable purée to chicken mixture and cook about 5 minutes until veggies start to soften.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.  Serve with blue cheese crumbles or Spicy Ranch Crackers, if desired.

Nutrition Per Cup (without garnish): 239 calories, 3.4 fat, 29 carbs, 7.5 fiber and 23.5 protein.

Recipe source: My Bizzy Kitchen

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I won’t be posting Wednesday, so I’m going to take this opportunity to remind you to enter my cookies giveaway by Wednesday at midnight. Good luck!

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