Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Found Winter "Stew"

Sunday brought unexpected snow and sub zero temperatures, so leaving the house to go do my regular grocery trip wasn't gonna happen.  When dinner time rolled around I scrounged the fridge for ingredients I could throw together.  I found...

2 chicken sausages
half of a red pepper (already chopped... bonus!)
some red onion (also already chopped... hooray!!)
1/3 bag of baby spinach.

With the snow and temperatures falling, I couldn't think of anything else to do with those chicken sausages but make but comfort food.  Beautiful magazine photos of sausage and white bean stew in rustic bowls popped into my head.  This dish seemed intuitive to me though I've never made it before!  Luckily a quick search of the pantry yielded one can of white beans!  I was in luck.

Next I thought about what I could create to bring a creamy element to the dish without the use of actual cream or cheese (to keep things on the lighter side). I experimented with making a little sauce or gravy (it worked!!).
Here's what I did...

For the sauce:

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1-2 Cups chicken broth

in a medium sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat and slowly whisk in the flour.  it will mix into a crumbly mixture.    
next, slowly add about 1 cup of the broth, whisking continuously until flour lumps dissolve. reduce heat to med-low and whisk/stir.  (when my sauce was thick enough to coat a wooden spoon I called it done.)  scrape sauce from pan, put into measuring cup or bowl and set aside.

For the rest:

2 chicken sausages, sliced into small discs
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 bag baby spinach, chopped to small pieces
1 can white beans drained and rinsed
olive oil, salt, and pepper

in a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil.  add onions and peppers to the pan on med-high heat.  cook until onions are soft.  add sausage.  cook for about 5 minutes, then add beans and stir.  next, add the previously made sauce and begin to stir it all together.  add more broth if you think the liquid is too thick. lastly add the spinach until it begins to wilt.  season all with salt and pepper. serves 2.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Another Quinoa Bowl Idea

Happy New Year!!

This week I finally feel like I'm getting back on track after the weird schedules of Christmas and New Years plus winter blizzard/snow day craziness!  Was it just me or did it seem like there were more Christmas cookies around than usual? It was wonderful to be able to spend time with family and friends, but I'm also grateful to be getting back to a normal schedule, though I'm still on semester break from school.  On Sunday I planned, shopped and have been cooking again!!

I haven't been using a lot of recipes lately.  Either out of just convenience or instinct, I'm not sure which it is yet, I've been doing more ingredient combining rather than following others written recipes.  A couple recipes I know quite well by now as they've been popping up at the table many times this season (for instance: butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts, and black bean soup).

Here's a dish I made last night.... a tasty quinoa bowl that comes together quickly.  I like to use quinoa in a dish where I might use rice and vice versa.  Lately I have been just throwing things together that sound good.

On Winter evenings  I find myself just wanting to eat something steaming hot that comes in a big bowl and can be eaten with a fork or spoon rather than the sandwiches, salads and grilled items that are so good in the warmer months.

What ingredients would you put in a quinoa or rice bowl?  

1 c quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 C vegetable broth or water

1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 C frozen corn
a handfull or two of raw spinach
1/4 lb. pork sausage
1 C black beans, drained and rinsed

salt, pepper, olive oil

condiments:  hot sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream (salsa might also be good!)

Set the water/broth on the stove on high heat, then rinse the quinoa.
Add quinoa and heat to boiling.  Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low.

Prep other ingredients.

Heat olive oil in large skillet and add onions, salt and pepper.  Cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add sausage breaking it up into small pieces.  When sausage begins to brown, Add corn and beans.  Stir and cook on medium heat.  Add spinach last right before plating.  Cook until lightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper and add hot sauce if desired.

Check on the quinoa.  It should be done and the water should almost be gone.  Keep covered and if it's done turn off the heat, if not quite done, keep it on low for a few minutes more.

Mix quinoa and other ingredients in a large bowl.

Serve with toppings such as cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, or salsa... perhaps avocado!