Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I recently brought this easy Black Bean Soup to a pot luck lunch party at my office.  It was a breeze. I actually threw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning in my office and let it cook there until lunch time. The big problem was that I let it cook in my office next to my desk. I nearly ate my arm off trying to not dive head first into the slow cooker and devour the entire thing.

But thankfully I had enough self control to hold off until it was time to serve so that everyone could try it. You’re welcome people!

I recommend this recipe for anyone looking for something super easy and cheap during the weeknight, weekend, or even for entertaining. This is an all around great soup! If you are going on a ski vacation and want to come home to something hearty and wholesome… this is your soup.  If you are just coming home from a long work week, this is your soup.  If you are having some friends over for game night, this is your soup.

I promise it to be a winner. It will satisfy both meat eaters and veggie eaters! It also will be easy on your pocket book and be super stress free.

Easy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Easy Black Bean Soup // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 4 cans of black beans (undrained)*
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup salsa of choice (I use Trader Joe’s salsa)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped (reserve half of cilantro for topping)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • Toppings: greek yogurt, chopped scallions, lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Place two of the four cans of black beans (with liquid) in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender. Puree for about 15 seconds. Add pureed black beans and remaining ingredients through salsa into a slow cooker. Cook on low for at least 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  2. Just before serving, stir in half of cilantro and juice of 1 lime. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve with greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped scallions, lime wedges, and additional cilantro.

*Note – this recipe can definitely be made with dried black beans but will take about 2 hours longer to cook.   Rinse and soak them overnight. Drain them and then puree half of them (about 4 cups) with 2 cups of water. Add all ingredients to slow cooker as mentioned above.  Cooking time will increase by 2 hours, with it taking 8 hours on low and 5 hours on high.

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Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This Black Eyed Pea stew provides all the good luck that you’ll need for the new year.  Well, don’t quote me on that. You may need some other luck besides this stew.  So cross your toes and buy a rabbit foot.

Southern tradition is to eat black eyed peas for luck and greens for wealth.  This Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew has both, plus it is cooked in a slow cooker so you’ll free up plenty of time to do other things, like catch up on some light readings or past episodes of New Girl or really nothing at all.

In fact, I barely put pants on today. *yaaawn* Best. day. ever.

I feel extremely lucky to be able to laze around with my favorite person and my favorite dog while this delicious stew cooked away in the background. It is the perfect bowl of lucky and hearty goodness on a super sleepy and chilly day.

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Cheers to everyone. I hope 2015 brings warmth and love to everyone! I’m truly lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life. Now I’ve gotta go serve me up a big bowl of stew!

Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea, Wild Rice, and Kale Stew (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried black eyed peas
  • 1 large ham hock
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 cup dried wild rice mix
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups of chopped kale leaves, stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak dried black eyed peas overnight by placing them in a large stockpot and filling with 6 to 8 cups of water.  Pick out any bad black eyed peas that look shriveled and float up to the top. After soaking overnight, drain and rinse the black eyed peas.
  2. Add soaked black eyed peas and remaining ingredients (except kale) to large slow cooker (crockpot). Stir to combine. Place lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours.
  3. Remove the bay leaves and the ham hock from slow cooker. Carefully use two forks to shred off the cooked ham from the bone. Return shredded ham and kale to slow cooker.  Stir to combine and allow the kale to wilt, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Easy Gluten Free Old Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, I am preparing a two series post for my favorite Thanksgiving dish….cornbread dressing. Not stuffing. Dressssssing. What’s the diff, you ask?

Stuffing is stuffed inside your bird whereas dressing is a casserole cooked OUTSIDE your bird. Next, make that dressing with cornbread. None of this fancy BRIOCHE. What? Give me southern style cornbread dressing seasoned with plenty o sage!  YAAASSSS. But stay tuned, that’s my next post.

And for my next magic trick, I’ll make amazingly moist gluten-free cornbread. You ready??? aaaah. Put away those boxes of Iffy Jiffy. Serious. This is just as easy and better for you.  It’s perfect alongside chili, soup, and as a base for my Cornbread Dressing for Thanksgiving!  Oh and it’s fabulous with a dab of butter and some honey! holy Moses.

Gluten Free Corn Bread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So what is Old Fashioned Cornbread, you ask?

Welcome to cornbread 101!  I like to break cornbread (pun intended) into two different styles: Old Fashioned (or rather Southern Style) and Yankee Style (or Northern Style).

(1) Old fashioned cornbread is 100% cornmeal, buttermilk, and a touch of sweetener.

(2) Yankee style cornbread is a more cake-like cornbread that contains around 50% cornmeal, 50% all purpose flour, and a lot of sugar. Think yellow cake and Jiffy in cornbread Tender match. Good…but not cornbread to me.

I prefer a savory cornbread that tastes like CORNBREAD…not cake.

Old fashioned cornbread is also generally cooked in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet, adding extra flavor. If you don’t have a skillet (put it on your christmas list and get one), you can easily make this cornbread in a buttered 8X8 pan. However, I should note that something magical happens when the skillet of cornbread is finished. You open that hot oven to an amazing smell of buttery cornbread. Pulling out a hot skillet of hot cornbread from an oven makes me feel close to my grandmother and a different generation that didn’t know about cell phones, and Facebook, and go go go. It makes me wish that she was here with me as I slather a hot wedge of cornbread with extra butter.

Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Easy Gluten Free Old Fashioned Skillet Cornbread

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups stone ground gluten-free cornmeal*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey*
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature), beaten
  • 1 1/4 buttermilk*
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Place an 8-inch cast iron skillet into the preheating oven. (If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, butter an 8X8 baking dish and set aside.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, honey, and greek yogurt until combined.
  3. Remove preheated skillet from oven. Place butter in the skillet, swirl around and allow to melt.
  4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined and no dry ingredients remain.  Mixture will be slightly lumpy.
  5. Pour batter into the skillet. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until top is golden brown. Test the doneness by placing a butter knife in the middle of the cornbread and removing it. It’s finished baking when the butter knife comes out clean. Let the cornbread cool for about 10 minutes. Serve warm!

*Notes:

  • For a more fluffy cake-like cornbread (yankee style), a half-cup of the cornmeal can be replaced with gluten-free flour such as oat flour, almond meal, rice flour, or a gf flour blend.
  • The honey can also be increased to one-fourth of a cup for a sweeter cornbread. I have also used maple syrup and coconut palm sugar with good results.
  • Buttermilk can be substituted with dairy or non-dairy milk and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

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I have been in an alternate universe, my friends. A universe where people never sleep, the air smells like strawberry perfume, puke, and alcohol and no one seems to care that a burger costs $22. Ya….I speak of Vegas.

One of my oldest friends was getting hitched last weekend there. It was great to see him and his new wife as well as many old friends from college.  It’s funny getting back together with friends that you don’t see that often, but when you do see them, it is as if no time has passed. But then the problem is that I feel like I have to cram so much fun into a condensed time span.

So what do you get when you concentrate fun in Vegas?  Drinks that should never be THAT big, beer pong rallies (be sure close to your eyes when the ball hits the floor so that you don’t vom in your mouth), mechanical bull riding that felt like it lasted 10 minutes (I pulled a groin muscle doing this because I’m OLD), no sleep no sleep no sleep.  It took only 12 hours for me and my husband to quickly realize that we were in our mid 30s, not early 20s. Ouch.

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

As a result, mama is in major decompression mode. No bright lights, no floral smells, no alcohol, no loud noises. All I need right now is to be wrapped up in a blanket like a human burrito while I listen to soul music on the record player. Put it on repeat please.

I also need a massive helping of this warm comfy soup to combat the outside temps that are in the teens!

Crockpot Beef and Mushroom Stew (Gluten Free and Paleo-Friendly)

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef stew meat (seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 onions, sliced in 1/4-inch slivers
  • 10 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place first six ingredients (stew through beef stock) in a crockpot. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.
  2. In a small bowl, stir arrowroot powder into sherry until a smooth paste is formed. Add sherry mixture to the crockpot and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

My husband and I ran the KC half marathon this past Saturday. One of the best things about running in the early morning is getting to see the city wake up as the sun rises. You see a view that is typically missed while enjoying the coziness of bed. Chilly morning runs sound so much better, right? I’ll tell ya, that the early morning air was perfectly crisp for me. Plus the trees were all in full amazing bloom of color like they saved all their peak beauty just for us!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

It’s crazy to realize that five years ago I completed the full marathon. *shudder* I will say that I definitely enjoy running half marathons MUCH better than full marathons….obvi. The full marathon is a torturous journey that I’m glad I did once…and will likely never repeat.  (Similar to trying to drink a pint of vinegar on a dare….great to do once, but never again.  Am I right?)

For some reason, I really like running half marathons. It’s a decent length of race to push my training and fitness level a little higher, while not ruining my life or body. Usually. This past training season I pulled a calf muscle three weeks ago but since I gave myself three weeks off from running, I was able to bust out the race. Needless to say, after running 13.1 miles this weekend, I’m in super recovery mode. Give me carbs, give me nutrients….more importantly, give me ice cream!

On Sunday, I did a lot of stretching, drank plenty of water, and worked in my yard enjoying the fall day. I also harvested the end of season crops and late bloomer tomatoes and peppers. I wasn’t sure what to do with my bounty until I remembered this delicious Smoky Red Pepper Soup in one of my favorite new cookbooks, Vibrant Food by Kimberly Hasselbrink. I decided to adapt the soup a bit and roast the peppers and tomatoes in the oven together and whip up this nutrient-dense soup to aide my recovery. Winner winner.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This soup is the easiest thing I’ve done all weekend.  It is so easy since all of the vegetables are roasted together on a single baking sheet under a broiler.  Then all of the roasted vegetables are then pureed with spices in either a high speed blender or in a stockpot using an immersion blender. So easy I could sleep and do this. Maybe I am.

The broiler gives a great smoky flavor to the tomatoes and peppers. It is also spiced with both smoked paprika and chipotle powder which add extra smoky punch of flavor.  If you are sensitive to spice or serving this to lil tikes, then I would recommend skipping the chipotle powder since it is a bit spicy.  This is perfect as a main meal with a dollop of greek yogurt or served as a first course with this kale salad with garlic tahini dressing or this Peruvian Roasted Chicken.

Oooh….or grilled cheeeeeeese pleeeeeease.  Sorry folks. As you can tell I’m in carbo load mode.  I’ll get back to being a green machine tomorrow.

You don’t have to run a half or full marathon to deserve this soup. It’s easy, light, and provides your body the nutrients it needs to get through these fall days. Get on it!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (gluten free, paleo, and dairy free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

  • Servings: about 10 cups
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet red bell peppers (about 2 pounds), quartered with seeds/membranes removed
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic (skins on)
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 pounds of whole tomatoes (about 8 Roma tomatoes or 4 larger tomatoes)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional if you don’t like spicy dishes)
  • Optional toppings: plain greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, roasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler. Place oven rack in the upper portion of the oven about 6 to 8 inches from broiler.
  2. Place cut peppers skin side up, whole roma tomatoes, whole garlic, and quartered onions in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven on the top rack. Broil the veggies, watching carefully, for about 10 to 15 minutes until the pepper and tomato skins are mostly blackened on top.
  3. When the peppers are cool enough to touch, remove the pepper skins by running them under running water. Peel and remove the skin from the garlic as well.
  4. In a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, heat the roasted vegetables, vegetable broth, salt, and spices.  Puree the soup smooth using an immersion blender. This step also can be performed using a high speed blender or food processor.
  5. Serve soup topped with greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Note – Recipe adapted from Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food.

Creamy Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup (Gluten Free, Vegan, and Paleo-Friendly)

Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I have a divided house when it comes to silky smooth soups that only contain vegetables and no cream. Pureed smooth, they show off the amazing flavor of just the vegetables without anything masking their natural deliciousness. I love them…a lot. They are creamy without being loaded with cream. They are smooth and comforting and light. I want them in my belly.

The other person in this house does not like them because, well…they are creamy without being loaded with cream and they are smooth and light and in his words, “like baby food”. He wants heartiness. He wants carbs. He wants meat. He wants cream. He wants butter. He wants bacon. Do I live with Paula Dean?

Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

And I craaaave creamy soups that have NO cream but are just ALL vegetables. I love smooth and creamy tomato soup, or carrot soup, or butternut squash soup. And every time I make them, my poor hubs has to eat this nourishing amazing bowl of yumminess and smile and leave ALL the leftovers for me. GOOD. Best lunches EVER. He can have his can of tuna and weird packages of sardines for lunch. Meanwhile, I will enjoy my creamy roasted soups and everyone at work will smell them and say “whoa…what are you having?”. In a good way. At least, that’s how it plays out in my head.

I stumbled on this Parsnip and Apple soup the other day on the most beautiful blog called Golubka Kitchen and I instantly began drooling. I couldn’t get the soup out of my brain box. I adapted it to roast the parsnips and I swapped out the potatoes for cauliflower. I found fennel on sale at the store and so I through it in as well to round out the awesome white soup. I recommend saving some of the fennel fronds and some thyme for topping these delicious bowls of comfort. The soup is also yummy with a good drizzle of olive oil.

Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So despite knowing that I have a divided house on smooth and creamy dreamless soups, I MADE it. and I loooooved it. I recommend you do the same, because then you will have a few days worth of amazing lunches and they get stuck with canned tuna.

Creamy Roasted Parsnip, Cauliflower, and Fennel Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free, and Paleo-Friendly)

Adapted from Golubka Kitchen

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main dish

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced into 1/2-inch wide slices
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus more for drizzling on finished soup bowls)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (plus more for garnish)
  • 3 to 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Toppings: thyme leaves, olive oil, yogurt, quinoa

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray a roasting pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Place chopped parsnips, cauliflower florets, fennel slices, apple slices, and garlic cloves in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Toss to coat evenly and then spread evenly on baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing at 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven. Place half of vegetables into a blender or food processor along with half of the chicken stock, cumin, and thyme. Blend well for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the pureed mixture to a medium stock pot. Blend next batch of roasted vegetables and remaining chicken stock for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer remaining soup puree to stock pot.
  4. Heat soup in stockpot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Add additional liquid if soup is too thick. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Distribute evenly into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil and thyme leaves. I added some quinoa to mine for a more substantial dinner.

Gluten Free French Onion Soup

Gluten Free French Onion Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Some things in life take a bit of extra time and extra effort to get a great result. French onion soup is a prime example. This will take a good 2 to 2 1/2 hours…but dear sweet MOSES it is worth it. You will have your mind BLOWN that you are enjoying a simple bowl of slow cooked onions under a gooey mound of cheese haven. Smells of sherry, deep caramelized onions, earthy beef broth, and fresh thyme fill your home.

Gluten Free French Onion Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I closed my eyes while enjoying this amazing bowl of soup and could hear the sounds of the tiny cafe in Paris with people whispering, rain falling outside, vespas rushing by, and the an espresso machine running nonstop. But all the while, nothing mattered but the delightful bowl of french onion soup that revealed long beautiful onions and drippy cheese with every bite. It makes me have FOMO (fear of missing out)…FOMO on amazing food.

Gluten Free French Onion Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This soup makes me want to slow down. I stir onions for an hour until they are caramelized. I breathe deep and enjoy all the smells that flow through my home as the snow falls outside the windows. It’s a lazy Sunday and a steady stream of different vinyls are on rotation…from Sam Cook to Ryan Adams and then the Band gets tossed on for good measure.

Grab the one you love, throw some good soulful music on, and dance. The soup will continue to cook and the longer the better. Don’t worry, you have some time. Get comfy and enjoy every bite of life.

Gluten Free French Onion Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free French Onion Soup / Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Gluten Free French Onion Soup

Adapted from Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking

Makes 6 servings 

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 lbs of sweet onions (about 8 cups), sliced thinly in half rounds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry (or dry white wine or dry vermouth)
  • 2 quarts (64 ounces) of good beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Get ready…this will take at least 2 hours. But it’s worth it.
  2. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium-low heat. Place all of the onions into the dutch oven. Stir and coat the onions with the melted butter. Place lid on dutch oven and allow to cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove lid from dutch oven. The onions should have cooked down. Stir. Add salt and palm sugar. Stir again and crank heat up to medium. Stir onions frequently and continue to cook until onions are soft, melting, and golden brown. This will take 40 minutes to an hour.
  4. Sprinkle arrowroot powder over onions. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add sherry, broth, and thyme. Bring soup to a simmer and place lid slightly off of pot so that steam can escape the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for an additional 40 minutes, scooping off froth from the top every once and awhile. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle hot soup into 6 ovenproof bowls. Place at least 1/4 cup shredded Gruyère on top of each soup bowl. Serve immediately or broil the cheese. To broil the cheese, place all of the bowls onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place under a pre lit broiler set on high. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Holy cow…it’s February. Did you know this? It’s February. Crap. Days are passing by me like a freight train.  I’ve been having a tough time keeping up with posting delicious recipes. I’m so sorry. The truth is that I’m holding out on you. I’ve got tons of delicious treats that have been brewing up in this little kitchen of mine as I’ve been dealing with winter blues, cabin fever, and job stress. I just have to sit my butt down, and type them out. So here we go….

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

First, I will catch you up a bit. Recently I celebrated my 34th birthday. I made the mistake of working on my birthday…what? But my sweet man took me out on an unforgettable birthday dinner to a fabulous french restaurant in Kansas City, Le Frou Frog.  It’s a beautiful and quaint restaurant in the inside….the outside, eeeeh…well, looks like a defunct strip club. I kid you not. But don’t let that deter you like it did me for the past 5 years. If you are ever in KC and are in need of a great dinner and lively night, check it out. My husband got the biggest KC strip I had ever seen, dripping with drool-icious green peppercorn sauce. YUM. I had a chicken roulade stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, and sundried tomatoes. A winning combination. And of course some finger-licking fabulous french sauce poured on top. Love those french sauces. Why can’t I recreate them! Eeeeeerhmergerd. Oh and then topped the night off with my fave, creme brûlée. I died and returned to Paris. It was the best.

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Aside from my birthday and crazy work schedule, I’m in a daily battle and staring competition with my pour chocolate lab, Guinness. I typically take him on daily walks, but my poor sad old man dog hasn’t gone on a walk in over a week because wind chills are below zero in this crazy town. UGH.  WHO LIVES LIKE THIS! And how do people in Canada survive? Or even Minnesota! Seriously. I’m wearing two pairs of long underwear…TWO.

The main thing getting me through this crazy cold winter has been cozy and comfy soups. I constantly crave Pho, day in and day out. I love the fresh cilantro, basil, and bean sprouts that get stirred into the hot delicious bowl of goodness. There is an amazing little Vietnamese place that I frequent called Vietnam Cafe. It’s paradise on earth and in a bowl. But alas, I am no Pho master. So instead, I’ve created a love child soup between Thai curry and Pho…sort of.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

This Thai Coconut Curry soup is set up like Pho: fill your bowl with “noodles”, pour in the broth curry soup, top with cilantro, basil, sprouts, and siracha. Instead of rice noodles, I use my favorite veg swap, spaghetti squash.  It’s healthy, nutritious, low carb, whole food. It’s good for you. Do it. But…with that being said, you could easily use rice noodles instead.

If you are a bit bored with your regular soup rotation, give this one a go. It’s comforting, lively, and will definitely brighten any gloomy day.

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Paleo, Dairy Free)

Paleo Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Inspired by Bon Appetit and Bev Cooks

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin (reserve some for garnish)
  • 2 Tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 oz cans of light or full fat coconut milk
  • 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken (breast or thighs)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 10 oz raw mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup snow peas, chop into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, leaves torn
  • Garnish: cilantro, basil, chile paste, lime wedges, scallions, bean sprouts

Ingredients

  1. Place spaghetti squash into microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes. Slice in half, remove and discard seeds. Place into a shallow glass baking dish with 1 inch of water. Place back into microwave. Microwave on high again for an additional 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Place most of the sliced red onion into the pan. Reserve about 1/4 cup of red onions for garnish on top of the finished soup. Saute the sliced onion for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the curry paste, ginger, curry powder, coriander, and garlic to the onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth and coconut milk, stirring until mixture is combined. Add chicken and then bring coconut broth to a boil. Add fish sauce, lime juice, salt, and sliced mushrooms and combine. Cook covered for 15 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool so that you can shred it. Shred the chicken (I use two forks).
  4. Bring the soup back to a boil and add the snow pea pods, shredded chicken, cilantro, and basil to the pot. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Using a fork, pull the spaghetti squash “noodles” from the squash. Place about 1/2 cup of squash noodles in the base of each serving bowl. Ladle Thai soup over the squash noodles. Garnish with additional sprigs of cilantro, basil leaves, Thai chile paste, scallions, and/or bean sprouts.

Chili Verde Pork Stew (Paleo, Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So let’s say you over did it during the holidays. And if you DIDN’T over do it on the holidays…your will power astounds me…go eat some chocolate caramel doo dads and quite making the rest of us feel guilty. Gaaaaaaaah.

Whether you want to eat healthier, or spend more time with your family, or just take care of yourself and your family, this stew answers all of those resolutions. I’m serious!

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I currently have a massive crush on this Green Chili Verde Pork Stew. It’s dangerous. Dangerous to the point that I find myself preaching about this stew to my friends, my family, my husband, my dog, and then to people who don’t care like my eye doctor (she really should care) or my massage therapist (really, it’s THAT good) or even the kid that just stopped by my house to see if I wanted to have my driveway shoveled of the crap ton of snow that is lingering, but then I become the creepy old lady that says “oh honey it’s so cold out there, maybe you just need this green soup”. Someone help me! Poor kid.

So it’s green (green things are healthy, right) and easy (more time to do other things like stalk pinterest). The pics may not look like much, but I’m telling you that this little stew packs a memorable and heart warming goodness that you will not want to pass up. Tomatillos and hatch chiles gives this stew a tangy and slightly spicy flavor that gets better with every bite.  I used canned chiles and a jar of tomatillo salsa verde. But if you wanted to be even more adventurous, you could use both fresh roasted hatch chiles and fresh roasted tomatillos *cough* (overachiever) *cough*.

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

I had a 3 pound pork roast from a local farmer that I needed to use. I’m sure you could also use a pork shoulder or boston butt instead. I prepared this in my dutch oven, but I am quite positive that it would also work in the slow cooker. Either way, the slow cooked pork roast is so fork tender and delicious that it will make you want to inhale the whole pot. But wait…and share it with others. Spread the love. I served this amazing stew for Christmas Eve for weary family as they arrived at our house after a long days drive.  It’s the type of meal that can bubble away for hours until you want to serve it. It can also be made ahead of time and reheated when you want to serve it.

Chile Verde Pork Stew - Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Chili Verde Pork Stew

Serves 8 to 10

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 3 lb pork roast (or pork shoulder or boston butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 4 oz cans of mild green hatch chiles
  • 1 16 oz jar of mild salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped (reserve about ¼ cup for topping the stew)
  • 4 cups of chicken stock

Instructions

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown the pork chunks by placing small batches of the pork into the heated dutch oven. Allow to brown on all sides. Lift the pork out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from dutch oven. Add onion to dutch oven and cook over medium heat until onions become translucent and browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add pork and remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a slight simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, or until the pork is fork tender. Remove bay leaves.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with reserved chopped cilantro.

Notes – I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m quite positive that this also could be prepared in a slow cooker.  Brown the pork before placing it into the crockpot. Add all other ingredients on top of the browned pork. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.

Happy New Year and Lucky Hoppin John

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Black eyed peas are a traditional southern dish that are eaten for good luck for the new year. Every year since we have moved to KC, I have made a huge cauldron of Hoppin John: a spicy, smoky black eyed pea stew-ish thing. Stew-ish things are so creamy and comforting. And while I lounge all day in stretchy pants, this black eyed pea stew just simmers away and brings a soul-warming smell to every corner of my home. You could easily throw everything into a crockpot as well and let it cook, cook, cook away while you get to be as lazy as you want.

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As this lucky black eyed pea stew simmers away, it gives me time to reflect at how lucky I am. Maybe it’s all the black eyed peas that I have consumed over the years, or maybe I have just been blessed to be surrounded by amazing people.

It is very rare to find true friendships in life, much less multiple times.  I have been so blessed to have met a several strong and amazing women in my life. Women that I look up to and that give me the strength to move on during incredibly hard times in life. Women that I consider my sisters. Days, weeks, months may go by that we don’t speak, but as soon as we do, it’s as if no time has passed at all. These are friends and moments that make life amazing. We have share hugs and tears that cure heart aches, provide hope for the future, and heal wounds. I cherish these times.

I am the lucky one to be a part of your life. I love you.

Cheers to hope and love and what may come in 2014.

Hoppin John

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, small diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas (if dried you will need to soak overnight in 6 to 8 cups of water; if fresh, add them straight to the pot)
  • 1 smoked ham hock or ham bone
  • 1 cup of leftover ham (if you were lucky to wrangle some from your family from Christmas ham or other dinner)
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon cajun or blackened seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or kettle, heat oil and add the ham hock and sear on all sides. Ad the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 4 minutes. Add the soaked black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaf, and thyme.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 40 minutes to an hour. If you don’t soak the beans overnight, you can add unsoaked beans to the pot but will need to cook for 2 to 3 hours.  Peas will be creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more water or stock.
  3. Remove the ham hock bone and cut off the meat. I usually add leftover ham from the holidays that I freeze.
  4. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  5. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash some of the peas against the side of the pot until the stewed peas have some body (slightly thick). Add the cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. I like to top this with tabasco and green onions. Serve over brown rice or cauliflower rice