Italian White Bean Soup

Winter suddenly decided to make an appearance in the South this week!  After a warmer than normal season it was quite a shock waking up to lows in the 20’s-30’s with the highs barely making it over 40!

{I know y’all up north laugh at our cold weather whining…}

When the temps drop I love nothing more than a bowl of warm and comforting soup, even if it is mid-March and everything is in bloom!

This week I whipped up a pot of Italian White Bean Soup for the family.  This scrumptious soup was so easy to prepare and is healthy as well!

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I used organic and low-sodium white beans, chicken broth, carrots, onion and spinach to create this soup.  I chose low-sodium ingredients to counter the salt found in prosciutto. It made for a totally filling supper without adding side dishes as well as a little extra for the hubby’s lunch the next day.

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What I liked best about this soup was that it was a convenient one pot (don’t you just hate a sinkful of pots & pans on a busy night?) dish.  Start with diced prosciutto in a little olive oil, then add the veggies to sauté, adding the beans and chicken broth to simmer a few minutes before throwing in freshly chopped spinach.

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Are you hungry yet?

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Click for the printable version of Italian White Bean Soup ….

and Buon Appetito!

What’s your favorite winter comfort food?

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A Traditional French Gumbo

What a fabulous whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend was!

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Between Wednesday and Saturday we made time to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family (especially enjoying the time we had with all four of our kiddos & the son-in-love) and the in-laws  in Tennessee, then finally attending my mother’s family 40th annual family reunion just south of Birmingham.  It was so much fun, but I have to be honest with you I am totally over rich, heavy foods, casseroles and desserts, and I am most definitely over turkey!

Looking for something different yet tasty, I looked back over my notes from a cooking class I took part in at the New Orleans School of Cooking a couple of weeks ago and decided a pot of chicken and sausage gumbo was just what we needed to break the monotony of the holiday.

This version of gumbo I learned to make in class is the traditional French, before the Italians and Haitians added their touches to southern Louisiana cuisine, so it does not have tomatoes or okra.  I won’t give you the full cooking lesson, but you use an old-fashioned dark roux for the base which is the traditional French way!

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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup lard or 1/2 cup bacon grease (strained)

1/2 cup flour

1 pound chicken, cut up and deboned

1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced

2 cups onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 TBSP Garlic, minced

6 cups chicken stock

1 cup green onion, slivered

Tony Chachere’s to taste (I prefer the unsalted version)

ASSEMBLING THE GUMBO:

Season (salt & pepper) and brown the chicken in 1/4 cup of the lard or bacon grease over medium high heat in a large pot.  Add sausage to pot and sauté with the chicken.

In a skillet make a roux using equal parts of lard or bacon grease (must be strained &  without particles) and flour to desired color. Heat the grease to medium-high prior to adding the flour to aid in an easier breakdown.  Whisk continually and strive for a dark roux.

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You want your roux to look like dark chocolate … this was buttery color still

You must pay attention to this step because a scorched roux smells horrendous and you’ll have to begin again.  Reduce heat and add your onions, celery, and bell pepper (also known as the Trinity of French cooking) to the roux.  Add the garlic to the mixture and stir continuously.  After vegetables reach desired tenderness, add to pot with the chicken and sausage, continuing to stir frequently with a strong wooden spoon.  Gradually stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer to cook for an hour or more.  Season the gumbo with the Tony Chachere’s to your taste.

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About 10 minutes prior to serving, add green onions.  Serve gumbo over rice or French bread if you choose.

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We LOVED this gumbo and it’s even better heated up a second day after the flavors have had more time to mesh.

What is something you like to serve to break up the rich foods served over the holidays?

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Game Day Fruit Salsa

It’s football season which means our Saturdays are filled with the sounds of game day as Audley and Bradley {and yes, me too} flip channels and cheer loudly for all of our favorite teams.

I don’t know about you and I have no idea why, but something about watching football makes me want to snack! With all the lifestyle changes we have made around her over the last several years, I am picky about the kinds of snacks that I keep in the house. You might think this would be a challenge.  But, really it isn’t.

 One fairly healthy treat that has been a favorite of ours is a sweet and spicy fruit salsa served up with cinnamon sugar pita chips.  It fits the rules of Jones family snacking… Sweet with a kick, crunchy, fairly healthy, fresh and totally easy!

Check it out.  It might become a game day favorite for you as well!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup diced pineapple

1 cup diced watermelon

1/2 cup peeled cucumber, chopped

1/2 cup diced mango

1/2 cup diced papaya

1/2 cup red bell pepper

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely chopped

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 small red onion, diced

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ASSEMBLE:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stir gently to mix together and rest for 30 minutes, to allow flavors to mesh.

This serves 4-6 people, so I usually double my recipe.

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Serve with anything that crunches, although we love Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita chips with our salsa, you can use plain tortilla chips as well.

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If you have any left over I highly recommend using it for a topping on a chicken taco salad. It is so delicious, and much healthier than sour cream or dressing!

Just in case you’re actually heading out to the big game, or just watching your own athlete play, this fruit salsa is great to make ahead and is easily portable.

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What are your favorite game day snacks?  Inquiring minds want to know!

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“Cuppa” Peach Cobbler

Audley and I are blessed to host a Life Group (small group Bible study) in our home each Sunday evening.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of the evening is sharing Sunday supper together before we begin.  We generally pick a theme and everyone brings something to accompany the main dish.  It’s a great way to spend time with our Christian family before the chaos of the week begins.

This week after Audley sent the email out for our potluck, I realized that we had left dessert off the list.  As you know, you can’t have a true Sunday supper without ending with a yummy dessert!  It’s just not the southern way of doing things!

Looking through my cabinets I discovered the ingredients for a simple “Cuppa” Cobbler that would be sure to satisfy the need for dessert.

It’s not elaborate, nor is it beautiful, but in case you aren’t sure what a “cuppa” cobbler is, let me share the easiest dessert ever!

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 stick of butter

1 quart fresh peaches (or any other fruit you would like to use)

ASSEMBLING YOUR CUPPA COBBLER

**Preheat your oven to 375°.  In an enamel plated cast iron pan (11 3/4 Lodge enamelware) melt your stick of butter.  You can also use a 9×11 cake pan.  While the butter is melting, mix together the “cuppa” flour, sugar and milk to form a batter.  Remove the pan from the oven when the butter is completely melted.  Pour the batter over the melted butter, then add your fruit to the top.

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South Carolina peaches are so delicious!!

**Return the pan to the oven and bake 30-45 minutes (ovens vary as you know) until the crust has risen over most of the fruit and is cooked through.

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Carmelized fruit is beautiful.

Serve with homemade whipped cream or scrumptious vanilla ice cream.

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I’m partial to homemade whipped cream.

Once again I do want emphasize, this is not beautiful dessert.  It’s not meant to be.  “Cuppa” Peach Cobbler is supposed to be easy and delicious.

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And I assure you, it is!

This recipe has been around literally for generations.  I have even seen a version of this (made using fruit cocktail instead of fresh fruit) from a 1950s magazine.

Seriously.

My grandmother and my mother both used this recipe throughout my life.  Now I use it in a pinch, and have taught my girls this simple dessert perfect for any time.

If you are counting, that’s four generations of women in my family that have used the “Cuppa” Cobbler.

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Keep this handy, as I promise you will find plenty of use for the “cuppa” cobbler and maybe you can pass it along to the next generation as well!

Happy Monday Y’all!

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