WINTER WONDERLAND

winterwonderland

We've had a few Winter Wonderland menus in the last couple of years, and this one did not disappoint!  I absolutely love the idea of trying to come up with foods that not only deliver flavor that resounds comfort for chilly winter nights, but that reflect same in appearance as well.  After all, we eat with our eyes first, right?  Well, to be completely honest, I eat with my eyes first for about ten seconds.  THEN I eat with muh mouth!!  This particular night, we had some friends and partners of Life As She Does It, talking give-aways for the blog.  So I had no choice but to get them food-drunk so they would feel more "giving"! for You, Dear Readers, to have wonderful give-aways.  We dined on a most-gorgeous cheese tray and artichoke-spinach crostini,  a hearty salad of cranberries, candied nuts, and Gorgonzola cheese, slow-cooked clam chowder with fresh clams, Cornish game hens with decadent potatoes and zucchini-squash ratatouille, and a GORGEOUS white cake (pronounced whhhhhhhhat-cake, emphasis on the ha-part of the h).  

The recipe below is for the clam chowder, with all it's snow-white glory and ocean-goodness. It was not only creamy and wonderland-wonderful (sorry, I HAD to go there), it is LOW-CARB.  It was BEYOND...... Or, as The Daughts says: "I. Can't. EVEN."  Wanna make someone special in your life food-drunk and made to feel warm and fuzzy for chilly nights?  DO THIS.

WINTER CLAM CHOWDER

6 strips bacon, cooked and chopped fine

1 onion, chopped fine

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

2 large turnips, peeled and chopped into chunks

3 sprigs rosemary, chopped fine

2 bunches thyme, tied with butcher's twine

4 cans diced or chopped clams

2 jars clam juice

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 can cannellini or navy beans, blended

2 bay leaves

2 tbs butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tsp sea salt

2 tbs white pepper

1 tbs garlic powder

Throw all ingredients into a crock-pot and let cook on low all day.  Remove thyme twigs and bay leaves.  Serve.  THAT'S IT!!

NOTES: Remember that slow cooking can mute flavors, so be certain to add more of your spices to taste at the end and stir.  I simmered fresh clams in white wine and butter in a pan on the stove, and then added them to everyone's bowls just before serving. We simply ladled the soup over them for a more authentic look and flavor.  It was authentically AWESOME!!

 

 

Stew In It

  This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

Yes, People.  Autumn is upon us.  Much like you - it's my most favorite time of year  So even though it is still a bit warm outside, I couldn't wait to get my beef and vegetable stew into my Menu Planner.  Super-duper easy, and SUPREME as far as flavor!  I served it to The Hubster with some leftover garlic flatbread I had from the meal the night before.  Come on in, Autumn!  You are welcome here.

BEEF & VEGETABLE STEW

1 pkg beef stew meat

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

1 turnip, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks

4 carrots, washed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 medium onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 pkg frozen green beans

2 cups favorite broth (beef works best here)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 can tomato paste

sea salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

2 tbs garlic powder

2 tbs cumin

2 tbs coriander

2 tbs Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

fresh parsley, chopped coarse, for garnish

Now watch this: throw everything (minus the parsley garnish) into your crockpot.  Set on lowest setting and just let it cook.  Remove bay leaves and sprinkle with parsley.  Eat it up.  THAT'S IT!!

NOTES:  You may want to re-season a little prior to serving, as crockpots can tend to mute the seasoning level.  I use organic ingredients whenever I can, including the balsamic vinegar, and I would add that in this particular case, organic beef or beef without hormones or additives will definitely help in flavor here.  You want the liquid to reduce, but add a little more broth if you like it soupier.  You can throw some chunks of potato in, if you like, but I leave it out for low-carb, and it is just as hearty and filling.

Chunky Monkey & Stroganoff

  This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

The Hubster and I had a very rare 'spare' night; meaning we had a weekend night all to ourselves.  So we got a dollar-rent-a-movie, and I, without wanting to go grocery shopping (that would take up our free night!), I made an easy dinner with whatever I had in the house.  So with a box of organic pasta, some sour cream and a package of ground turkey I made some stroganoff in the crockpot while we went all-out leisurely.  Since there was absolutely no lettuce in the house (HIGHLY unusual) I made a salad with what veggies I did have.  Turned out to be a chunky salad(ish) with my own monkey dressing (I called it that because I use a little coconut water to make it, which makes me think of a monkey in a tree......plus it rhymes with chunky!)  Needless to say, everything (including the rare-spare evening) was delicious!  Life.  is good.

CHUNKY MONKEY SALAD

2 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks

2 celery stalks, cut into bite-sized chunks

10 grape tomatoes, sliced in half

 8 radish, quartered or halved

1/2 onion, chopped coarsely

Load all ingredients into a bowl and cover with monkey dressing!  That's IT!

NOTES: I used some yellow heirloom grape tomatoes that were aching to be-used-or-go-bad.  They were a perfect complement to the crunchier veggies.

CHUNKY MONKEY DRESSING

1 cup mayo

1/4 cup coconut milk (more if you want it thinner)

1 sprig thyme

sea salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Put all ingredients in a jar or a container with a lid.  Shake, shake shake!  Pour over your salad!

NOTES: FANTASTIC for summer!

CROCKPOT STROGANOFF

  This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

1 pkg ground turkey

extra virgin olive oil

1 can (or organic box) cream of mushroom soup

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 tbs Italian seasoning

sea salt 

pepper

Sprinkle enough evoo to cover bottom of crockpot.  Put all ingredients in crockpot and stir.  Put on high heat, about four hours.  If you are home, stir from time-to-time, if not, be sure to break it all up and stir prior to serving.  Serve over pasta.  Garnish with parsley, if desired.

NOTES:  I don't use the cream of mushroom soup in a can because I really do think it affects the flavor.  I use organic boxed cream of mushroom soup, which you can find in the natural section of your regular grocery store.  You can replace the ground turkey with beef, if you want, but omit evoo if you do.  I used a box of organic rotini, but since I'm low-carb and the kids are no longer living at home, I only used a little for Adrian.  So be on the lookout for the leftovers to resurface!

Poor Man's Stew

  This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This is called what it is called literally because it's just plain ole rice and beans with a tiny twist.  You really can make of this what you want, adding or taking away an ingredient here and there and have it nine ways to Sunday!  (and back)

POOR MAN'S STEW

1 bag dry pinto beans

2 pkgs turkey summer sausage or keilbasa, chopped into chunks

ro-tel

sea salt

pepper

garlic powder

cumin

onion powder

Penzey's Forward (or some other rich, but summery spice)

4 bay leaves

This is easy.  Watch this. Throw all ingredients (spices to taste) (see notes) into the crock pot, fill to the top of the pot with water, and set on low.  Go on about your business.  When it is done cooking, add a few more spices (see notes).  Serve over rice.

NOTES: Remember the Pizza Panini from the other night?  I only used about a tablespoonful of ro-tel and put the rest in a baggie to save.  Well, that's the leftovers in the Poor Man's Stew!  Crock pots tend to mute your seasoning so it is always a good idea to season again before you serve.  Just be careful!  You can ALWAYS add, but can never take away, and you don't want this to be too salty. (She said, from experience)

poormanrice

POOR MAN'S RICE

2 1/2 cups rice

5 1/2 cups juice from the Poor Man's Stew once it is cooked

So get this: throw both ingredients into a pot, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer until desired consistency.  Fo' realz.  It's THAT EASY.  (see notes)

NOTES: I used a box of organic Yoga light brown rice for this.  But the juice makes for a rich (Poor Man's Stew, get it??  RICH!!) rice!

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