Black bean & Pork {Slow cooker Soup}

Happy Saturday!

This week the weather has been beautiful!  I welcomed back cooler evenings with this classic Black bean soup – slow cooked with pork, chipotle peppers & onions.

If you don’t have chipotle peppers on hand, I recommend it!  I use them a lot for flavoring beans or chili.  My husband loves to use the sauce as a condiment, too.  You probably will never use a full can for one recipe.  I use what is needed, then store the rest in a glass jar in the fridge (old spice jar or jam jar will work perfectly!).


black bean pork slowcooker soup

Black Bean + Pork Slowcooker Soup

6C chicken broth
1 red onion, chopped
1lb dried black beans (rinsed)
4 cloves of garlic, minsed
1 tbsp chopped chipotle chiles + 2 tbsp of the chipotle sauce
2 tsp ground cumin
1.5lb pork shoulder (boneless)
kosher salt

for serving : sour cream, avocado, cilantro, red onion

Add all ingredients to slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours (6 on high).
Remove pork and shred.
Using an immersion blender, puree beans until you reach deserved consistency.
Add shredded pork.
Top with sour cream, red onion, avocado & cilantro.

Bonus : Before pureeing the soup, I save around a cup of the beans and use them for Pork quesadillas for another night’s dinner!

Recipe adapted from Woman’s Day magazine.  I could not find a link online, so I retyped it here for you!


Homemade : Mozzarella Sticks

In our house, we love snacks and appetizers.  Dinner parties and cook-outs are perfect for whipping up our favorite guilty pleasures.  What other time can you justify a plate full of homemade-deep-fried-cheese-sticks?  Well, Sunday afternoon football might be the other time.  And we have taken advantage off both occasions with this delicious recipe!

Homemade mozzarella sticks (Bonus : marinara dipping sauce!)

homemade cheese sticks

These seriously are so easy to make!  And they taste way better than their mass produced cousins. Only 4 ingredients – cheese, bread crumbs, eggs and flour!  In fact, this one is really more technique than recipe.

1.  Take one block of mozzarella cheese, the big block, but not the fresh ball.  And get the whole milk version.  Trust me.  The low fat variety will yield a less tasty stick.  It’s not like you are gonna eat these every day.  Its ok.  🙂   Cut the block into sticks.  I usually cut it into 1/4’s across then each slice into 4-5 pieces.
2.  In a bowl, whisk one egg and a splash of water.  On a separate plate, measure our 1 – 1.5c of flour.  Finally, on a 3rd plate 1.5 – 2c of italian breadcrumbs.
3.  Take each cheese stick, roll it in the flour, dip it into the egg, roll it in the bread crumbs.  Place on a freezer proof plate.
4.  Repeat with each piece of cheese.
5.  Ok, this is an important step – Freeze the sticks for 10-15 mins.  This helps the cheese stay together when fried.
6.  Warm (2-3 inches) oil in a deep fryer or dutch oven to 350 degrees.
7.  Fry each stick for just a few mins – until golden brown. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese!

If you want to, you can leave these sticks in the freezer, before frying, for a week or so.  We served them last weekend and had a few leftover that we fried today.  They came out just as yummy.  No thawing needed, but you will need to fry a little longer – so watch the temp to insure you don’t burn them!

Bonus : Marinara Dipping Sauce

1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes with basil
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sugar (or to taste, depending on your tomatoes)
salt to taste
1/2c diced onion
1 tsp minced garlic

Saute onion and garlic together.
Add tomatoes, seasoning and sugar.
Let simmer together for 15 mins – or you can let it hang out until you are ready to use (on low setting). If it gets too thick, add a splash of water and stir!

Wake Up Wednesday link up here!



Sausage, White Beans & Spinach

Vacations are awesome.  Period.  End of story.  We just finished having a full week off and it was amazing.  No emails, no phone calls, no alarms.  We spent the time doing what we wanted to when we wanted!  We also ate LOTS of great food and had LOTS of good craft beer.  Before we left, we had already planned to start the South Beach diet when we returned.  So here we are, end of a vacation, beginning of a diet.  South Beach Diet Day 1.

sausage white bean & spinach

I tried this once before, just before our wedding.  After the first couple of days, it really isn’t that bad.  Except for the weekend – especially when so much of my “entertainment” comes in the form of cooking and trying new recipes!  But the results were well worth the limitations of the first 2 weeks.  This time it was my husband’s idea – so we will be trying new recipes that we both can enjoy and that will keep us on track.

Dinner tonight was one of our usual menu items – sausage cooked with white beans and spinach.  Really easy and really good.   And with lots of protein and fiber (and no carbs or sugar), it fit perfectly with our diet plan.

We used mild Italian Turkey sausages.  They are first browned in the skillet, then sliced and simmered, along with white beans and garlic, in chicken broth.  Since we are using mild sausages, I added a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

sausage white bean collage

After the beans and sausage have simmered awhile and the broth has reduced by at least half, I add in the spinach.  And really pile it on!  It cooks down so much, you have to start with a big handful.  Finish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


What makes this recipe versatile?

Use mild or hot, chicken, turkey or pork sausages.

Add in 1 to 3 cans of beans.  The more you add the further this recipe stretches!  And you can leave out the meat all together to make it vegetarian (use vegetable broth too!).   The more beans you use, the more chicken broth you will need.

Add more or less spinach – you can tweak to what your family likes.

Love pasta?  Stir in cooked pasta at the end – a small size noodle works best.

Here’s the dish!  Sausage, white beans and Spinach

1 pound link sausage

1 can white beans – drained

BIG handful of baby spinach

3 cloves garlic minced

pinch of red pepper flakes

parmesan cheese – freshly grated

salt / freshly ground pepper remember you are flavoring the spinach and beans too!

Brown sausage in skillet, slice and return to pan.  Add in garlic and toss.  Add beans, broth, salt/pepper/red pepper flakes.

Let simmer until broth has reduce and thickened. (5 – 8 mins) Add in a 1/4 c. freshly grated parm cheese.

Top with spinach, put a lid on it, and let the steam wilt the spinach.

Finish with another sprinkle of cheese!