Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage

I am a fan of food with some kick, some spice, some heat. This one packs a punch and is so simple. It can easily be thrown together on a weeknight since I call for canned beans. If you're one of those bean purists and want to soak yours overnight and save some coins, have at it. Me? The last time I did the whole "soak overnight" thing, I forgot about them, left the house for the day, and came home to what amounted to the odor of a skunk rotting in August - only it was sitting in my favorite big pot.

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage

Olive oil
1lb Andouille sausage
1 red/yellow/OR orange bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (approximately 16oz)
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Heat 1tsp oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Slice the sausage into small rounds and saute for five minutes. You want to heat it through and get a bit of color on the meat. Remove from the pan and cover lightly to keep warm.
  2. In the same pan add 1 tsp oil and add the bell pepper and onion. Saute until softened. You do not need to caramelize these.
  3. Add the garlic and tomatoes with their juice to the bell pepper and onions. Lower the heat to medium to avoid scorching the garlic.
  4. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the vegetable mixture. Allow to heat through for five (5) minutes, stirring gently so that the beans don't get crushed.
  5. Return the sausage to the pan and heat through.

While cooking this dish make a pot of your favorite rice. I had jasmine on hand the other night. Even though jasmine rice evokes memories of Thai or Indian food, it paired well with the beans and Andouille.

Serve the dish in bowls with rice on the bottom and the bean mixture spooned on top. The addition of a bit of sour cream or Greek yogurt and freshly-chopped scallions adds freshness to the dish.


Don't know what Andouille sausage is all about? Take a gander.
You can use the easy-to-find Johnsonville brand in almost any grocery store. I've always had great luck speaking with managers when a brand I like isn't on the shelves. Never once has any manager told me he/she wouldn't be able to order what I requested. Well-stocked meat departments in grocery stores are beginning to carry Andouille in their meat cases. A mail-order company that offers high-quality Andouille is Jacob's out of Louisiana.

The sausage packs quite a wallop for some people. If your taste buds can handle the heat, see the variations below.

I didn't use additional seasonings in this quick recipe. Purists might blanch at the thought of omitting salt and pepper, among other items. The Andouille I use truly has enough seasonings in it to support the taste of the entire dish. Also, the use of canned tomatoes and beans adds some sodium. I liked how the bell pepper and onion provided just the right amount of aromatics to complement the deepness of the Andouille.

Replace the Andouille with a mild smoked sausage, shrimp, or chicken. If you do not use the Andouille, I'm suggesting the addition of the following spices/herbs to beef up the flavor of your dish:
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp chili powder

Cranberry-Apple Chutney

This sucker's so simple, it'll make you smack ya mama!

I made this on the fly on Easter. I grilled chicken breasts and pork tenderloins outside even though it was cold. I decided that I wanted to offer something else to go along with the pork since I'd only dry rubbed it. I came up with this.

  • 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbl butter
  • 1/2 C white vinegar
    1 to 1 1/2 C dried cranberries (fresh or frozen can also be used. I had dried on hand.)
  • 1 - 2 apples - peeled and sliced. I used about 1 cup of DRIED apples from last year's harvest since I didn't have any fresh ones available, and the recipe was GREAT!)
    2 large navel oranges, JUICED- throw away everything else although you could throw in some of the zest if you're a real citrus-loving person.
  • 1 C white grape juice
  • Dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  1. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a pan and add the onions. Saute over medium heat until softened and translucent. Don't brown them.
  2. Add the vinegar to the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cranberries and apples.
  4. Pour in the orange and grape juices and stir well. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer. The apples and cranberries will plump up while absorbing the liquid. (About 10 minutes)
  5. Add the cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
  6. Let the mixture simmer for about another 5-10 minutes and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the chutney. Mix well. The butter will provide a nice gloss to the sauce.
  7. Serve along with grilled meat or fish. I served it with grilled pork tenderloin which had a simple dry rub of sea salt, cracked black pepper, and rosemary.

Zucchini-Onion Frittata

I found this one on Cooking Light's website. I'm a Cooking Light whore and am proud of it! Frittatas are so very easy and naturally lend themselves to the whims of the cook's palate because so many ingredients can be substituted depending on what's in the fridge, the garden, the season, in general. Enjoy!

I'd suggest using a spring mix with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper to round out a meal.

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

8 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Garnish: chopped seeded plum tomatoes


Melt butter with oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; add zucchini and onion, and sauté 12 to 14 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Whisk together eggs and next 3 ingredients at least 1 minute or until well blended. Pour over vegetable mixture.
Bake at 350° for 13 to 15 minutes or until set; increase oven temperature to broil, and broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 1 to 2 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and basil. Garnish, if desired.

Lightened Zucchini-Onion Frittata:

Reduce butter to 1 tablespoon, and omit oil.

Sauté zucchini and onion as directed; remove from heat. Reduce grated Parmesan cheese to 1/4 cup, stirring 2 tablespoons into vegetable mixture.

Substitute 1 (15-ounce) carton garden vegetable egg substitute for 8 eggs and 1/4 cup low-fat milk for 1/4 cup milk, and whisk together with salt and pepper. Pour over vegetable mixture.

Bake as directed; do not broil. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and basil. Garnish, if desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Peach-Glazed Pork Chops

Nothing says lovin' like me standing over a grill. Got that?

Here's your list:

4 boneless center-cut pork chops

1 C peach preserves (preferably homemade...by me or someone else)

Spice Rub (see below)

Spice Rub
1/2 C brown sugar
3 tsp sea salt
3 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
3 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder

  1. Mix rub ingredients together and massage into all sides of the chops. Let sit for about 30 minutes. You don't want to grill super-cold meat. That's a no-no.

  2. Put preserves into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir with a non-stick spatula. Once the preserves are sauce-like, turn the heat on as low as possible. Ignore the sweet stuff for the moment.

  3. Preheat your outdoor grill (or indoor if you're in grill hell and can't have an outdoor grill for whatever reason) on LOW.

  4. If you grill these suckers on anything but low, you will end up with BLACK chops. Black chops = shit on a shingle.

  5. Grill the chops until done - remember a teeny bit of pink won't kill you. Too many people kill pork and end up eating what looks, tastes, and feels like damn bark. You don't want bark. Got that?

  6. During the last 5-7 minutes of grilling, baste all sides of the chops with the peach glaze. Don't walk away. Don't close the lid. The sugars will caramelize - that's good times. Walk away? They will burn. See above for Damn Bark.

  7. Serve the remaining peach glaze. My kid referred to it as dippy. He lives for dippy of any kind.

I served the chops with homemade Asian slaw, steamed corn on the cob, and grilled semolina bread. Grilling it alongside the chops turned out to be a great idea.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Balsamic Peppers and Onions

Very simple stuff here. I'm trying to make more homemade veggies to compliment proteins and starches. The kid may not be adventurous with veggies just yet, but I know the Pack Mule will eat anything I put in front of him for fear that he will have an empty plate one evening.

I stumbled on a beautiful bottle of balsamic vinegar yesterday when the kid and I were perusing things at Fresh Market. I couldn't resist it. Here's what I threw together with the thick, dark, pungent goodness.

Balsamic Peppers and Onions


1 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, sliced in half-moons

1 red bell pepper, sliced in strips

1 orange bell pepper, sliced in strips

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

2-3 Tbl balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat a skillet to medium to medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and toss with onions and peppers.

  2. Stir quickly. You don't want the veggies to burn. A slight carmelization is the only kind of color you're looking for here.

  3. After cooking for 7-10 minutes, throw in the salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

  4. Turn the heat down to a slow simmer allowing the vinegar to become glossy and thick.

  5. Serve hot.


I'm a snob. I'm ok with paying $20-$30 a bottle for a good balsamic vinegar. If you're not used to the dark loveliness that is balsamic, you can buy whatever you like. The good stuff sometimes overwhelms the palates of people who are unfamiliar with it.

Stop by the almighty produce department and pick up a bowl of the pre-sliced peppers and onions.

Use mushrooms (cremini, anyone?), zucchini, or eggplant to beef up the veggie content. Be sure to increase the amount of balsamic you use so the veggies don't become plain Janes.


Grilled or sauteed fish such as sea bass, swordfish, and cod pair nicely with the veggies served on top. Grilled shrimp with this as a side is also great. The thickened vinegar will add a delicious undertone to the entire dish.

Grilled chicken. It's a no-brainer here, kids. Use some coriander and fennel as a rub on the chicken and see how it pairs with the peppers. Divine simplicity.

Atop polenta, quinoa, brown rice, or pasta. If you choose to use pasta, double the recipe so you're pasta becomes coated with the reduced sauce. Try tossing on some crumbled feta or ricotta salata to add some protein.


This worked exceptionally well as a reheated dish as well. I have made this early in the morning and heated it through for lunch or dinner later in the day as well as the next night as a leftover. And? It's CHEAP.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spiced Quinoa

I've suddenly become fixated on this healthy grain. I've been ill for the past few months and haven't focused on eating in a healthful manner. In addition, my appetite hasn't been consistent. I'm hoping the addition of this grain along with more vegetables and spices/herbs will help me enjoy my meals more.

No pics on this one yet. I will update and add them the next time I make this side.

Spiced Quinoa

1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3/4 to 1 C grated carrot (estimate it - don't lose your shorts over this)
1 1/4 cups raisins
1tsp cumin
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp orange zest
1/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans) optional
1/2 cup chopped parsley OR cilantro


  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir onion, carrots, raisins, and cumin until onion becomes golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in quinoa and allow to toast for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour in orange juice, water, and zest and stir to combine.
  4. Bring this to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is absorbed - 15-17 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Add nuts and parsley or cilantro and fluff with a fork before serving.

I served this with citrus-marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts and will post that recipe soon.


Quinoa: You can easily purchase this grain in the "health food" aisle at your local grocery store. Barring that, find a local co-op or natural foods store. They'll likely have it in bulk. This grain packs a punch of protein that rice just doesn't have. In addition, it's gluten-free for those of you who are struggling with the damn gluten.

Raisins: If you feel that yours are a little tough, soak them in some warmed apple juice or water prior to adding them to the pot. I used a mixture of regular and golden. I think this would also work well with some snipped apricots.

Oil: Feel free to reduce this if you're looking to lower the fat content or if you find the finished product to have too much of it. I usually start with 2 Tbl and up it if my veggies require it.

Orange Juice: I bought a case of oranges and grapefruit from the citrus sale at my school and decided to squeeze the juice rather than buy some from the store. Either way will yield a good end product.

The kid was a little skeptical. He's on a mac n cheese and chicken noodle soup bender right now. I'll continue to introduce him to this grain, though. I'm playing around with a hot breakfast quinoa and think he'll go for it. The Pack Mule was digging how the citrus in both the quinoa and chicken complimented each other.