Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili

March 9, 2014 19:17 by Suzy

JD has been "gettin healthy" in 2014 and so far the results are amazing...he's lost 20 pounds and his cholesterol dropped from over 200 to 134! We're basically going with a plant based, whole-foods diet. This recipe was a great find, and with our modifications, it's been a favorite for both of us.

The flavor in this chili is amazing...smoky and rich and with just the right amount of heat and bite. You won't even miss the meat!

Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili
adapted from

2 large onions, chopped
2 large bell peppers (red and yellow), chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
4-6 cups vegetable stock (preferably salt free)
2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
a few dashes of Cholula sauce
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and dry-saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add diced bell peppers and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute.

Add beans, 4 cups broth, spices, and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add more broth if chili seems too thick/dry for your tastes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 1 hour.

Taste and add salt, pepper, and more Cholula or chili powder if necessary. Add corn and quinoa, stir and cover.

Simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Bread & Butter Pickles

July 30, 2012 21:52 by Suzy

More pickles!

I was very happy with how these pickles turned out.  Not too sweet and with just the right amount of spice.

Bread & Butter Pickles
adapted from Food in Jars

6 cups sliced pickling cucumbers
2 cups sliced onion
2 cups sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup kosher or pickling salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine sliced cucumbers, onion, red bell pepper, and salt in a large bowl; mix well.  Cover and put in the fridge for at least 4 and up to 12 hours.  Rinse and drain veggies.

Set up canner with rack and place 4 pint jars on rack.  Fill canner with water and bring to a boil.  Put lids in small saucepan of water and bring to a low simmer.

Put vinegar and sugar in large saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Add spices, increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add the drained veggies and boil for 5 minutes.

Carefully remove the hot jars from the canner, drain, and set on towel-lined countertop.  Fill hot jars with the veggies, using tongs.  Ladle brine into jars, leaving 1/2" headspace.  Stir with plastic or wooden chopstick to remove any air bubbles.

Wipe jar rims with damp paper towel, place the lids on each jar and apply rings (not too tight).

Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove jars and let cool on towel-lined countertop.  Let pickles cure for 48 hours before eating.


Spicy Dill Pickles

July 16, 2012 19:03 by Suzy

Dill Pckles

Here's my latest adventure in preserving...pickles!  These turned out so good...crunchy and flavorful and spicy.  And so easy!

Dill Pickles
adapted from Food in Jars

2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons pickling salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
4 teaspoons dill seed, divided
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, divided
2-3 pounds pickling cucumbers

Prepare canner and jars:  wash 4 pint jars in hot soapy water.  Put rack in bottom of canner, place jars in canner, and fill canner with water.  Bring to a boil.  Place lids in small saucepan, fill with hot water, and keep at low simmer.

Prepare brine:  combine vinegar, 2 cups water and pickling salt in pot; bring to a boil.

Carefully remove jars from boiling water and place on dishtowel-lined countertop.  Place 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon dill seed, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns in each jar.  Trim off blossom end from each cucumber and cut into spears, or leave whole if they will fit in your jars.  Pack cucumbers into jars.

Carefully pour hot brine over the cucumbers in each jar.  Leave 1/2" headspace.  Use plastic or wooden chopstick to dislodge any air bubbles.  If necessary, add more brine.  Apply lids and screw on rings.  Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes.  Remove from canner and cool; check seals.  Allow pickles to cure at least 1 week before eating.

Baked Potato Casserole

September 25, 2011 16:29 by Suzy

Baked Potato Casserole

Everything you want and love in a baked potato, but pre-mixed and with a crunchy top.  Mmmmm...carbs...

Baked Potato Casserole (Potatoes Romanoff)
adapted from Tasty Kitchen

3 large russet potatoes
1/2 pound bacon, diced
3/4 cup minced shallots
2 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub potatoes well and wrap in foil.  Bake for about an hour.  Remove foil and let potatoes cool to room termperature.  You can bake these ahead, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until you are ready to make the casserole.

Cook bacon in skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grate cooled potatoes, including skins.  Combine grated potatoes, bacon, shallots, 1 1/2 cups grated cheese, and salt and pepper in large bowl.  Gently fold in the sour cream.

Spoon potato mixture into a  1 1/2 quart baking dish/au gratin dish.  Be careful not to press the potatoes into the pan.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

February 20, 2011 17:20 by Suzy

We made this risotto in last week's cooking class, and my kitchen partners and I were amazed with our success.  Every once in a while, you make a dish that tastes so incredible, so delicious, that you can't help but feel like a real chef.  Or at least that you should be getting paid for making it.  This is one of those dishes.

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms

1 cup diced butternut squash
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
olive oil
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
chopped parsley for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in saute pan.  Add squash and a sprinkle of kosher salt.  Saute until the squash is tender and lightly browned.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Repeat with the mushrooms.

Bring chicken stock to a boil in saucepan, reduce heat and let simmer, covered.

In another saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium to medium-high heat.  Add onions and sweat until softened, 3-4 minutes.  Do not let onions brown.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add rice and stir until rice is evenly coated with butter.  Saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until rice becomes translucent at the edges, 3-4 minutes.

Add white wine, stir, and cook until evaporated.

Begin adding chicken stock, a ladle at a time, allowing rice to absorb stock before adding next ladleful.  Stir frequently and keep the risotto at a simmer...not a fast boil.

After about 15 minutes, add squash and mushrooms to risotto, stir to combine, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Taste risotto and check for doneness.  The grains should be tender but with a little bite and the risotto itself should be creamy but not soupy.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and Parmesan cheese and stir.  Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

Pour into serving dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

Be prepared for rave reviews, bribes for the recipe, and marriage proposals.

Home Fries

December 30, 2010 12:09 by Suzy

Woo-hoo!  I can cross off something from my Kitchen Bucket List!

I have never been able to make good home fries...until now.  Man, this subscription to Cook's Illustrated has been paying off in spades.  Worth every penny.

JD and his mom were loving these on Christmas morning.  The only complaint was that they disappeared so quickly.  Crispy, tender, sweet from the onions, and not at all greasy or mushy.  Perfection!

Diner-Style Home Fries
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" dice
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter

In large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove onions from pan and set aside.

While onion is cooking, put diced potatoes in a saucepan and add water to cover by 1/2".  Add 1 teaspoon salt and place over high heat.  Remove from heat and drain once water begins to boil.

Heat butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and shake to spread them out in a single layer.  Cook, without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.  Carefully turn potatoes and spread them out in a single layer again.  Continue in this manner until potatoes are golden brown on all sides and are tender.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.

Return the onions to the pan and add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss over heat for a few minutes, then serve.  Get ready to open your own greasy-spoon diner.

12 Days of Goodies...Day 4: Braised Green Beans with Bacon

December 16, 2010 22:11 by Suzy

You always need something green on your holiday dinner menu...even if it is drenched with bacon, it still counts!

Braised Green Beans with Bacon
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until browned.  Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent.

Add the green beans to the pot.  Toss well with the bacon and onions.

Add chicken broth, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.  Cover pot and cook for 6 minutes. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper, replace lid and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.  Remove from heat and serve.


12 Days of Goodies...Day 3: Caramelized Cipollini Onions

December 15, 2010 23:42 by Suzy

A few years ago, JD and I took a cooking class with some friends where we learned to make a full Italian dinner.  The class was at the home of Maria Canora, a wonderful chef and an awesome teacher.  These onions were on the menu and they were a big hit.  This method makes them so sweet and tender, with a yummy syrupy glaze from the vinegar.

Caramelized Cipollini Onions with Balsamic Glaze
adapted from Maria Canora

3 pounds cipollini onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Carefully peel the onions, leaving them whole and the root intact.  Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium high heat.

Add onions to the pan in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes.  Add enough chicken broth to come up to a little less than halfway up the onions.

Cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, then turn the onions over.  Repeat with more broth as needed until the onions are tender and browned on both sides.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the balsamic vinegar (keep your face clear of the pan when you do this!) and cook until it forms a glaze.  Serve.


Chunky Minestrone Soup

November 7, 2010 16:44 by Suzy

Fall is officially here in the mid-Atlantic...perfect weather for making a big pot of soup.  Yummy and warm, filled with vegetables, this soup will likely be my lunch for the rest of the week.  Delicious, cheap and good for you...what more could you want?  Damn, I feel like someone's mom.

One common issue with pasta in soup is that it doesn't keep well; the pasta absorbes all of the broth and turns to mush.  This recipe has a great solution:  cook the pasta separately and combine with the soup just before serving.  Just cook as much pasta as you need for that meal and you're set!

Isn't it pretty?

Chunky Minestrone Soup
adapted from Delicious Dishings and The Pioneer Woman

2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
32 oz low-sodium chicken broth
1 28 ounce can tomatoes (or quart jar of homemade canned tomatoes)
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
ditalini pasta
1/2 pound fresh green beans
Parmesan cheese

Slice the zucchini and yellow squash into chunks; toss with olive oil on baking sheets.  Roast at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned.  Set aside.

In large pot, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme, oregano and basil and saute for a minute or so.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, cannellini beans, red wine vinegar to the pot; bring to a boil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer 10 minutes.

Boil ditalini pasta 10 minutes or until al dente.  Drain and toss with olive oil to keep from sticking.  Set aside.

Cut green beans into 2" pieces.  Add to soup and simmer 10 minutes.  Add roasted vegetables to soup and simmer 10 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Spoon a portion of ditalini pasta into each bowl and top with soup.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese shavings and serve.

How to Can Fresh Tomatoes

August 18, 2010 11:49 by Suzy

Before you pass over this blog post, thinking "Ha! I could never can tomatoes, or anything else! It's too complicated! Besides, store-bought canned tomatoes are the same, right?" allow me to say this to you:


So now that we've got that out of the way, let's get to it...

Home-Canned Tomatoes
adapted from the UGA's Home Food Preservation website

First of all, you will need some quart jars and lids. Most grocery and discount stores have them. Be sure you get both the LIDS (the flat circle part) and the RINGS. You don't need to sterilize the jars; just wash them well (the dishwasher works great) and keep them clean and dry until you use them. I usually leave them in the dishwasher until I'm ready.

You will also need canning tools like these...jar lifter, magnet lid lifter (not required but very helpful) and a plastic pusher/measurer thingy (also not required but nice to have).

Next, get your tomatoes. If you don't have home-grown tomatoes, go to your local farmer's market and get some.

Wash them well.

Get a big pot of water boiling. Blanch tomatoes for 30-60 seconds, remove and cool. Working over a bowl (so you catch the juices), peel and core the tomatoes. I usually cut the big ones in half or quarters.

Now get your canning pot about half-full of water and boiling. The pot needs to be tall enough so the jars can be covered with at least 1" of water. It also needs to have a lid. On another burner, bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, and put in your lids and rings.

Now put 1 teaspoon salt (optional) and 2 tablespoons bottled (not fresh) lemon juice into each jar. If you have fresh thyme, you can also put a sprig or two in there if you want.

Fill the jars with tomatoes, using the plastic pusher thingy to pack them in and get some juice. Leave 1/2" headspace in the top of each jar; use the plastic measuring thingy for this as well.

Wipe clean the rims of each jar. Use the magnet lid lifter to put a lid on each jar, and screw a ring on each. Don't screw the rings on too tightly.

Using the jar lifter, carefully place the jars into the canning pot. Add more boiling water as needed so the water level is 1" above the jars. Cover pot and boil for 85 minutes (check the UGA website above to confirm the cooking time for your elevation).

After 85 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the jars in the pot for 5 minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a towel to cool 12-24 hours. Don't worry if the tomatoes seem to have separated from the liquid. Once the jars are cool, check the seals (if the lids pop up when you push them, it didn't seal). Keep any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use them first. Remove rings, date the jars and store in a cool dry place away from light.

Now, whenever you make chili, spaghetti sauce, or anything that needs tomatoes, you have a little bit of summer in your pantry!