Navy Bean Soup with Kielbasa

I don't know about you but I hardly ever follow all the steps and use all the ingredients in a recipe. Except for most desserts, recipes are flexible and changeable. You can add and take away based on your tastes, what's in your pantry or what you think will work. I found a recipe on Real Simple for Cannellini Bean Stew. It looked great but there were several things I didn't like about it. It didn't have any meat, I don't like cannellini beans, the recipe called for carrots 3 inches thick, there was no tomato product and there was no onion. And it was only stew because it had less than 2 cups of liquid, not because it was slow-cooked and thickened. So I swapped out the Cannellini beans for Navy Beans, made it a soup by using 4 cups of chicken broth, chopped up the carrots, added onion and squirted some tomato paste into the mix. I also topped it off with kielbasa. I asked my fellow Twitter foodies what kind of meat I should pair with this soup. The blogger at Cave Cibum recommended kielbasa. Inspired choice!  The result was a pretty good soup. Next time I'll add a can of diced tomatoes for even more tomato! I served this with a side of hot rolls.

4 carrots chopped
1 onion chopped
extra light olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp of tomato paste
4 cups of chicken broth
2 15 oz. cans of navy beans, rinsed
2 cups of fresh spinach
drizzle of your favorite vinegar (optional)
sliced Turkey Kielbasa
hot rolls

In a soup pot, heat up a drizzle of olive oil. Add the carrots and onion and cook until the carrots start to become soft. Add the garlic, bay leaf, tomato paste, chicken broth and navy beans. Bring to a boil then lower heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. While that's cooking, brown the sliced Turkey Kielbasa in a separate pan that's been preheated and has a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.

To the soup pot add the fresh spinach and turn off the heat. Let the spinach wilt. Serve hot in a bowl and top with a drizzle of your favorite vinegar (if you want) and slices of kielbasa. Enjoy!

Simple Homemade Lasagna

Some of the most difficult recipes to find are the most basic. What if someone wants to make a simple homemade lasagna? Nothing fancy, nothing with mushrooms, spinach or artichokes. Just cheese, meat, sauce and lasagna noodles. Here is my attempt to give folks a very basic recipe for a very delicious casserole. Read my recipe for Simple Homemade Lasagna at the Woburn Patch.

Simple Homemade Lasagna

This recipe was originally posted on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Simple Homemade Lasagna

1lb of ground beef
garlic powder
salt and pepper
extra light olive oil
1 jar of marinara
1 cup of pasta water
1 package of lasagna noodles
4 cups of ricotta cheese
2 eggs
shredded mozzarella cheese 

Preheat oven to 380 degrees
Start a large pot of water boiling. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package instructions. While that is working, heat up a large skillet with some olive oil. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the ground beef. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Once the meat is cooked, drain the extra fat. Add the marinara sauce (minus a few tablespoons) and a cup of the pasta water to the pan. Stir and cook on low for a few minutes.
Add your cooked noodles to a bowl of cold water. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, add the ricotta cheese, 2 eggs and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Take your lasagna pan and add the extra few tablespoons of the marinara to the bottom and coat. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom.
Layer noodles, then half the ricotta mixture, then noodles, then 1/3 of the meat sauce, then noodles and repeat. Cover the top with the last of the meat sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan then cook for an additional 15 minutes so the cheese can start to brown. Serve hot or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Big Pile of Green Beans

One of my favorite things to is stick my hand in a big pile of green beans. If they are wet with morning dew from being recently picked, even better.

Autumn at Wilson Farm

It's that time of year again.

Minestrone Soup

This recipe was originally posted on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

1 small onion chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks (including leaves) chopped
extra light olive oil
2 14 oz cans (or 1 28 oz can) of Low Sodium Diced Tomatoes with Juice
3 cups of chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 8 oz can of small white navy beans, rinsed
2 whole bay leaves
½ tsp of dried thyme
½ tsp of dried sage
1 cup of ditalini pasta
1 small zucchini shredded
½ cup of thawed frozen spinach (optional)
whole wheat rolls

Heat up a couple drizzles of extra light olive oil. Once the oil starts to sizzle, add the mirepoix, which is the chopped onion, carrots and celery. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the diced tomatoes with juice, chicken/vegetable broth, navy beans, bay leaves, thyme and sage. Bring the pot to a boil. Lower temperature to medium and add one cup of uncooked ditalini pasta. Cook for about 8 minutes until pasta is al dente then add the zucchini and spinach to heat it up.
Serve hot with some freshly baked whole wheat rolls on the side and let the warm fuzzies take over.
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