Fennel Stew

Fennel is a fun veggie that is under-appreciated. It is delicious and warming. Fennel is also great for nursing moms! I made this in the crock pot, but the stove top is great too.

1 bulb fennel with stem and fronds, chopped
1 lb red potatoes, large dice
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
3+ cloves garlic, minced
2 TB savory
2 TB tarragon
1.5 liters stock
1/3 C olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a crock pot on low and let cook for 4+ hours or simmer one hour on stove top.

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EASY Black Bean Soup

Cuban Black Bean soup is really perfect. Here is a recipe that gives you all the flavor right out of your pantry and is easy for students and moms who don’t have time to cook. This is a great dish made from stuff you most likely have on hand right now. It can be made in the slow cooker or stove top. And it’s frugal!

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1 lb dried black beans, soaked (for a quick version used canned, see note)
1 red onion diced
3+ cloves of garlic
2 TB butter or vegan butter substitute
1 TB oregano
1 TB cumin
1 TB paprika
1-2 cubes herb bouillon (or tomato, chicken, or other flavor you have on hand)
8 oz salsa
water

In an large stock pot, saute onions, garlic, and butter with dry spices until onions sweat and soften. Add beans, broth cubes, and salsa. Yes, use that half jar of salsa in your fridge because you ran out of chips. Now add water just below covering the beans. You should have about 15 beans not submerged. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour or until beans are soft.

Crock pot method: Saute onions, garlic, butter, and dry spices on over medium heat. Transfer to your crock when they sweat and soften. Add remaining ingredients. Cover with water by 1/2 inch. Set crock to low for 6-8 hours.

* Cooks tip * Sauteing dry seasonings in fat with the veggies will help pull out the flavor. This can give you a “slow simmered” taste even in quickly prepared foods.

Quick version: Substitute 6 cups drained and rinsed black beans for dried beans. Add water to 1/2 inch below the beans. Simmer for 20 minutes covered then serve.

Toppings include cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, avocado chunks, salsa, olives, or crushed tortilla chips!

Potato Leek Soup

This is a creamy soup that is as easy as it is filling. The Yukon Gold potatoes have a smooth buttery flavor that make this soup a winner. It makes a delicious crock pot meal as well. This soup can easily be made vegan with the use of a quality butter substitute.

Soup with red pepper sauce and gluten-free cheese

Soup with red pepper sauce and gluten-free cheese

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and diced. I leave the skins on. Peeling is fine too.
2 Leeks, washed well! and sliced thin
8 Cups stock (use vegetable stock for vegetarian or vegan versions)
2 tsp thyme
3 TB butter

Place leeks, butter, and thyme in 8 qt stock pot and allow to brown while you dice potatoes. Stir occasionally. Allow leeks to cook down for about 7-10 minutes or how ever long it takes you to dice all the potatoes. Deglaze the stock pot with stock.

If you are going to make this in a crock pot, transfer to crock and add potatoes. Cover and let cook on low for at least 6 hours.

On the stove top, stir in potatoes. Cover and let simmer about 30 minutes on medium low, until potatoes are cooked through and begin to fall apart.

Before serving, mash soup with potato masher or whip with immersion blender. I mash lightly, leaving plenty of hearty chunks behind.

Serve with cheese or sour cream, red pepper aioli, pesto, or croutons.

Crock Pot Beef Provencial

Here is a SUPER SIMPLE SUPPER for my sister, a med student with no time! I sent this recipe to her undergrad uni’s cafeteria, and they loved it. Here’s a crock-pot version for people with no time to cook, med students and moms alike.

Start with a fresh cut of beef that’s ideal for your crock pot: chuck, brisket, round, and rump roasts are most common. A large family sized (6 qt) crock pot can usually hold a 2 lb roast. Look for good marbling and not a lot of thick fat. When you remove a good roast from the package it should feel “good” to squeeze, not too hard or to squishy. A squishy roast will fall apart quickly. A hard roast will end up dry. Rinse the roast under cool water.  Shake off water and place in crock. Drizzle a little EVOO and rub in to coat. Sprinkle over some salt and pepper and rub in.

Now toss in:

1/2 lb red potatoes, washed well and halved

1/2 lb baby carrots (so you don’t have to clean or peel them)

2 leeks washed very very well to remove sand. Cut leeks in half long ways and rinse thoroughly. Cut in 2 inch chunks.

2, 12 oz cans diced tomatoes. The Muir Glen garlic fire roasted tomatoes are very flavorful.

1/4 Cup red wine or red wine vinegar

1/4 Cup herbs de Provence

2 Cups low-sodium or home made beef stock as needed

I make sure there are some tomato and other veggie bits UNDER the roast to make sure it cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the crock. Pour the beef stock in last. The roast should just peek out the top of the liquid by an inch or two. Depending on the shape and size of all the food and crock pot, some may need a little more or a little less.

This will cook on medium in about 6 hours. If you’ll be out of the house for more than 7 hours, cook on low.

If you wish to thicken the cooking liquid into a hearty gravy, remove the roast and veggies. In a small bowl add 3 TB corn starch to 1/4 Cup cold water. Whisk to dissolve starch. Whisk starch mixture into hot crock of cooking liquid. Mixture will thicken up rapidly.

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