Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Life has gotten busy and thus the blog has been neglected. Morgan and I had a wonderful anniversary celebration in Asheville, which I have been remiss in posting about. I’ve also participated in one of my favorite events, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta. Just this past weekend, Morgan and I were in a community theatre production of “The Bad Seed.”

It’s been a fun fall so far, but sadly all the activities have left me run down and battling a bit of a cold.

Lucky for me I have a wonderful husband to swoop in and save the day with the most wonderful soup to help me get over my cold!

Morgan’s Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Ingredients:

• 1 large or 2 small links chorizo sausage

• 1 small onion, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• half pound of kale, chopped

• 1 carton beef stock

• 1 large can diced tomatoes

• 1 can pinto beans, drained

• 1 Chipotle pepper, chopped

• dash of crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• teaspoon oregano

• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Brown chorizo in a large soup pot. Once sausage is browned, added in diced onions and saute until translucent. Add in minced garlic and kale and saute a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasoning and bring to a boil. Boil for five to 10 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

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Lettuce and onions

Lettuce and onions | The Lush's Blush blog
Lettuce and onions, also known as a wilted salad.

If I say “lettuce and onions” that likely means the start of a salad, or maybe toppings for a burger to most people. Where I’m from in Yadkin County, NC, it means something a little bit different. This time of year, in the early spring, lettuce and onions is a special treat.

When that early lovely light green lettuce and spring onions come in the garden, Yadkin County folks pick them and serve them sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, vinegar and piping hot oil poured on top. It seems like such a simple thing, but there is something about this dish that just tastes like springtime and it is so delicious. Some folks choose to use bacon grease to create this wilted salad.

I did a quick survey of some friends near and far and sure enough, those from outside the Yadkin County area just thought lettuce and onions are burger toppings. My Yadkin County friends were quick to answer though on how to prepare lettuce and onions as described above.

We typically serve lettuce and onions with pinto beans and cornbread. I remember my Mamma making this when I was little. It was always one of her very favorite meals. She’d always shoo me out of the kitchen when she was heating up the oil in the cast iron skillet. She didn’t want me anywhere near the hot oil though she wasn’t afraid of it herself. I think maybe that’s when I really felt like a true adult myself, is the first time I made lettuce and onions my own self. There is something so satisfying about the sound of that hot oil as it sizzles on the lettuce.

Snow day link roundup

We are getting hammered here in Yadkin Valley Wine Country with snow and sleet. I’m really more of a warm weather gal, but I have to admit the snow is pretty. Now we’re just hoping it doesn’t turn to freezing rain.

So on this snow day here at The Lush’s Blush headquarters, here a few things I’ve been perusing on the internet.

How delicious does this look?  Prosciutto Lemon Wrapped Chicken from The Splendid Table.

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Photo from The Splendid Table

Boy, I sure wish I had started this soup earlier in the day. This Slow Cooker Potato Soup would have been perfect on a day like today! Great recipe from Gimme Some Oven!

 

 

 

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Photo from Gimme Some Oven

Looking for an awesome new app to keep you busy on a snowy day? Check out the amazing new app A Color Story!

Crystals in the snow at The Lush's Blush
Crystals in the snow
The Lush's Blush blog | www.thelushsblush.com
Snow covered sacred bamboo

Living somewhere warm and wishing for snow? You can view my snow scopes and chat on Katch.me!

My Korean cooking adventure

kimchi
Korean Kimchi | Photo courtesy of Alicia B.

I heard a really interesting segment on NPR not long ago about kimchi. I know next to nothing about Korean cuisine, but I do know the word kimchi. My dad served in the army and was stationed in Korea from 1965-1966. He was not a fan of Korean food and doesn’t speak highly of kimchi. But, my dad is not too adventurous when it comes to food.

Click here to skip to the recipe for Kitsey’s Kimchi

I, on the other hand, like to try new things and especially spicy things. And so I decided to try my hand at making my own kimchi. I used a really simple recipe I found on The Kitchn, one of my favorite cooking websites.

I wanted to dig a little deeper into the cultural tradition that is kimchi though. While my dad didn’t care for it, kimchi is a staple in the diets of the people of Korea. There are more than 50 million people in South Korea alone, that many people can’t be wrong.

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My kimchi

My friend Alicia is currently living in South Korea where she teaches English. Here’s what she had to say about kimchi.

“I’m picky about the kimchi I allow onto my plate. Some kimchi can be really spicy, some too fishy, some too salty, and I know of one place that serves kimchi that tastes like it was just dunked in tomato sauce. If I were Korean, I would be embarrassed to serve it!” Alicia said.

In the fall and winter of the year, the women of the household begin the process of making kimchi which is called Kimjang.

“The moms and grandmas get together and make huuuuge batches of kimchi around this time of year,” Alicia explained. “One of my boyfriend’s students said she was stuck making kimchi all weekend with her grandmother, and one of my adult students said she made about 30kg of kimchi one Sunday!” That’s around 66 pounds of kimchi! Wow!

“Traditionally, kimchi is left to ferment in an onggi, which is an earthenware pot/urn that comes in all different sizes, but these days people can just put it in a glass container or a BPA-free plastic container. Easier for storage, especially in the tiny high-rise apartments in the cities,” Alicia said.

“There are actually dozens of different kinds of kimchi, even though most people think of the napa cabbage kimchi when they hear the word.”

Alicia said in Korea that kimchi can be served for lunch or dinner and even at breakfast!

“Kimchi is as good thrown onto a hot grill as it is served in fried rice or eaten on its own,” she added.

12469380_10103252485150508_1446807820842409094_oMaking kimchi is a real family affair in Korea, Alicia said. It was a family affair at the Harrison household as well. Morgan helped me chop all the vegetables up, and by help I mean he did it all. We used carrots, radishes and green onions in ours, in addition to the Napa cabbage.

But our kimchi making was on a minute scale compared to how they do it Korea.

Alicia said a woman from her class, who goes by the English name of Jasmine, spent an entire day making kimchi with her husband.

“They made three different kids of kimchi with 100kg  (about 40 heads of Napa) salted cabbage! The kimchi she made will be sent to her daughter’s family and her son’s family. Another woman (Jun), her sister, and mother made the same amount of kimchi to be divided among 11 people in their family. I asked if they had to wait a couple of days before eating it, and they laughed and said, ‘Oh noo.’ They usually end up picking at the kimchi while they are making it, and often eat it with boiled pork as they go. Some women said there is no real recipe they follow, but one woman (her English name is Naomi) said that she wrote down her mother’s recipe about 20 years ago because she knew she would have to make it for her two daughters one day. Her daughters are now in college and do get the kimchi that Naomi makes.”

Kimchi is so popular in Korea that many apartments come equipped with a special refrigerator just for storing the kimchi.

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A kimchi fridge in Korea

“They’re about the size of a dorm fridge, set under the counter where cabinets would be. There are usually two drawers with separate climate controls. Kimchi tends to make everything else in your fridge smell and taste like kimchi, so a separate fridge is a must when you have 30 kilos of it!” Alicia said.

“We use ours to store leftovers and beer though,” she added.

Morgan and I made only a small amount, which

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A peek inside the kimchi fridge

fit into a quart mason jar. We served it with rice and chicken stir fry. I was a little nervous to cook it into the rice as I had never had it before so I cooked the stir fry and rice and just added a bit of the kimchi afterwards. I really enjoy it though and so did Morgan so next time maybe we’ll try making fried rice with the kimchi.

Alicia recommended the website Maangchi for anyone interested in cooking Korean cuisine.

Another friend of mine, Rachel, has an entire blog about her adventures in Korean cooking. 

Lush'sBlush

 

Kitsey’s Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you want)
  • 4 to 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium carrot, julienne
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

Chop cabbage, remove core and cut cabbage into two inch pieces. Put cabbage into large bowl and gently massage salt into cabbage until it begins to soften. Once cabbage has softened a bit, cover with water and let sit in brine for one to two hours.

Following the brining process, rinse cabbage and allow to drain thoroughly while chopping the remaining vegetables. Using a small chopper or food processor, combine water, sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to make a paste.

Combine the cabbage with the other veggies in a large bowl. Using disposable gloves (seriously, you’ll burn your hands if you don’t!) massage the spicy paste into the vegetables. Keep massaging until the mixture becomes fairly liquidy.

Next pack the kimchi until a clean and sterilized glass quart jar. Pack mixture down into jar until liquid covers. Allow to sit on counter in a cool dry place for one to five days to ferment. Each day check the kimchi, open jar to release air bubbles and use a clean spoon to pack kimchi further down into the brine in the jar. On day five move kimchi to fridge. Serve with stir fry!

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Super simply spicy enchiladas

DSC_0610You can certainly make enchiladas all the way from scratch, even making your own sauce. They are delicious. But sometimes, you want something a little easier and a little quicker.

My husband and I made these super simple spicy enchiladas last week and they hit the spot!

Super Simple Spicy Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (You could substitute ground turkey if you prefer.)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies (we used the hot kind, but you can do mild if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (or cheddar if you prefer, we actually used a little of both)
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • flour tortillas

Directions:

In a skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Once browned, remove beef from pan and drain the fat. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in pan and saute diced onion until golden brown. Add chilies and stir to combine. Return ground beef to the pan and half the can of enchilada sauce. Season with cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Put half the cheese into the beef mixture and stir to combine. Spread some of the beef mixture into each flour tortilla, roll up and place seam side down into a lightly greased 9 X 13 casserole dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top of rolled enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

 

 

Red wine braised roast

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I can take absolutely no credit for this recipe. This is my husband’s culinary creation and it is amazing. I’ll spare you a long and drawn out post describing exactly how good it is and just give you the recipe and some photos. I promise it is amazing and you’ll want to make this as soon as absolutely possible!

Morgan’s Red Wine Braised Roast

Roast marinade ingredients:

A 2 to 3  pound chuck roast

1 bottle red wine (Morgan recommends a Cabernet Sauvignon)

1 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp cracked black pepper

2 tbsp dried rosemary

1 tbsp dried thyme

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Marinade directions:

Combine all ingredients other than roast and bring to a light simmer over medium heat just enough to warm it up and “wake up the flavors. ” Let cool. Put roast into large freezer bag and pour cooled marinade mixture over it. Let marinate overnight.  Don’t throw out the marinade mixture, you’ll be using it later.

Roast ingredients:

3 pieces bacon, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 small carrots, chopped

flour for dredging

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tomato paste

Roast directions:

In a large Dutch oven, brown chopped bacon over medium heat to render fat. Meanwhile, remove roast from marinade, sprinkle light with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Remove cooked bacon from pan and sear roast in bacon drippings. Brown roast well on all sides. Remove the roast from the pan. Add two tablespoons olive oil to pan and saute chopped vegetables until they begin to brown. Once vegetables are golden brown in color, add two tablespoons tomato paste and saute a minute longer. Pour in marinade mixture to deglaze the pan. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the “yummy crusty bits.” Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for two minutes. Add roast back to pan, cover and braise on 325° for two and half hours.

We serve ours with sauteed asparagus and Parmesan garlic grits. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe for Morgan’s creamy cheesy Parmesan grits.

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Wicked chicken

I know there is a big push these days to eliminate all pre-made, processed foods from one’s diet. I get it. Pre-made stuff is just not as healthy or good for us. Le sigh. . .

But sometimes you just want a meal that you can throw together that doesn’t take all night and dirty up every pan in the kitchen.

A good friend of mine and her amazing friends have spent the last four years putting together a cookbook in honor of their high school class. You can read all about the Starmount Class of 1970 and their cookbook Ramalicious here. 

DSC_0514There are some complicated, dirty-up-all-dishes-in-the-kitchen recipes in Ramalicious, but there are also tons of super easy, quick and totally delicious recipes as well.

On Sunday night my husband and I spent at least an hour in the grocery store and by the time we got home in the cold and the dark, we certainly didn’t want to spend all night in the kitchen.

Enter the Ramalicious cookbook and one of my new favorite recipes Wicked Chicken.DSC_0526

Holy cow, y’all. This recipe is so simple, but the best thing about it is, it is delicious and flavorful!

Wicked Chicken

From the Ramalicious Cookbook by the Ladies of Starmount’s Class of 1970

Ingredients

• 4 skinless chicken breasts

• 1/2 box any shape pasta

• 1 jar Classico Alfredo sauce or regular Alfredo with 1 can green chilies

• Salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes to taste

Directions

Cook and drain pasta. Salt, pepper and garlic powder the chicken breasts to taste and brown in a skillet for 3 minutes on each side until brown. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. In a casserole dish, layer the pasta and the chicken. Pour the Alfredo sauce over the chicken pasta mixture and then mix for all to combine. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I used a jar of Alfredo sauce and a jar of hot green chilies. I also added just a bit of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on the chicken. If you want a milder version, leave out the red pepper flakes and green chilies or be sure to get mild green chilies. I also used chicken tenders rather than chicken breasts. And I topped mine with a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese and served it with a salad. Yummy!

DSC_0552We also enjoyed this dish with a wonderful Pinot Noir.