navy bean soup

this gem of a recipe comes from my mother. probably from her father, to be honest. it’s been in my family for a long time. when i was a child we would always have this the week after christmas, because my mother would use the ham bone from christmas dinner (you know, the one with delicious bits of pink ham still clinging to it?) as the base for the stock. i’ve adapted it so that it can be made any time you’d like. this soup is comfort and happiness in a bowl. it’s thick and hearty, but the bulk of the heartiness is made up of beans—a lean protein upon which our bodies thrive. the ham is really just there for flavor…amazing, porky flavor.
navy bean soup

ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried navy beans, soaked at least 12 hours in water
  • 1 ham hock
  • 1 chunk ham (you can use center cut ham slices, or even a boneless spiral cut ham portion like i did – amount of ham to taste)
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pound celery
  • salt and pepper
  • water, about 8 cups
  • olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons

directions:

soak the beans overnight in water. the timing on this usually varies for me from about 12 hours to 18 hours, but rarely is it ever 24 hours. oh, and it should happen at room temperature.  drain your soaked beans and pick through them to remove any stones or twigs.

peel and cut your carrots into 1 inch chunks. dice your onion, and cut your celery into 1/2 moon chunks. the shape isn’t too important with the veggies, you just want to be sure that they are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium to medium high heat and add the aromatics. saute until they begin to soften and brighten in color, add the ham hock, the beans, salt and pepper, and water to cover. cut the ham into chunks and add in when ready, add more water if needed to be sure everything is covered.

bring the mixture to a boil and continue that for about 10 minutes.  then, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered. you will know the soup is ready when the beans are very soft and the water has thickened into a creamy rich broth.

like most soups, this is better the next day. enjoy!

notes:

this little family recipe is relatively inexpensive to make and will feed an army. it is the perfect p90x friendly meal because it’s low in calories and high in lean protein. i hope you enjoy!

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turkey tacos

tap, tap, tap…is this thing on?

sorry that it’s been a while. the long and short of it is that i’m reaching a key deadline at work and have had no time for personal pursuits of late. things are good. we are still doing p90x (though that is drawing to a close) and still eating super healthy. we are loving the abundant produce of summer, and fritz is growing like a weed. all is well at chez fritz, i just have no free time.

i could not pass up the opportunity to share this recipe with you, however. we’ve had it one night a week for the last month, so i think that makes it “blog worthy”. make this over the ground-beef-with-seasoning-packet version of tacos and you will not be disappointed.

turkey tacos

Turkey tacos

  • 1# ground turkey
  • one small onion, minced
  • one red, and one green pepper, minced
  • one pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • three cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 scant tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • cayenne to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt

heat olive oil a large skillet over medium high heat. add minced onions and peppers and the tomatoes—salting to taste—and stir until they soften a bit. add garlic and cook about a minute. make a well in the center and add in the turkey. break it up with the back of a wooden spoon and stir through with the vegetables, being sure to brown it well. sprinkle on the paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne, and stir through to combine. taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

notes: these really don’t need much in the way of toppings. the filling is super flavorful and is packed with vegetables. serve in a crunchy taco shell (or soft if you are so inclined) with fresh shredded lettuce and some sliced avocado or cheese. we occasionally put some greek yogurt on in place of sour cream.

a new eggplant parm

i’ve always made eggplant parm in the same way. and it was always very good. i would grill the slices of eggplant and would make a delicious tomato sauce from scratch, then carefully layer the concoction and bake until bubbling.

recently, however, i attempted a new method and the results were amazing. the first alteration i made was to salt the eggplant to draw out the bitter liquids. i usually skipped this step because grilling was so time consuming. i have to say though, it was totally worth it! the eggplant was sweeter for the extra 10 minutes of patience. the second change was to par boil the eggplant instead of grilling it. not only does this result in a much healthier version of the dish, but the eggplant was softer in its final form and easier to manage during assembly. i really thought i’d miss the char-grilled flavor from before, but i honestly didn’t even notice it was gone. finally, i added a mixture of pork, veal, and beef to the tomato sauce. this really makes the dish sing, and was necessary for me due to the protein i need to intake every day for the p90x nutrition plan.

this is a more labor intensive dish than i usually make, but it’s well worth it and something that would be perfectly suited to a sunday dinner with the family.

a new eggplant parm

Untitled

  • 3 medium/large eggplants
  • 1 pound blend of beef/veal/pork (or any ground meat)
  • two 16 oz. jars store bought/homemade tomato sauce
  • 6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt
  • olive oil

heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. in the meantime, peel and slice the eggplants (about 1/4″ thick). lay all of the slices out and then heavily salt them. let them sit for about 10 minutes. you will notice little droplets of liquid form on the eggplant during this time. rinse them off and then add them to the boiling water. you will likely have to work in batches. you want to cook the eggplant for about 6 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. drain and set aside.

heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. add the meat and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. you don’t want any large chunks of meat here, so be sure to break it up really well. drain off some of the fat (i just tilt the pan and use a large spoon here) or not, it’s up to you. add the tomato sauce and let it come to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and allow the flavors to come together for about 30 minutes.

preheat the oven to 375.

when all of the ingredients are ready smear a small amount of tomato sauce into a 9×13″ baking pan (there is no need to add oil here, the tomato sauce will do the trick). layer eggplant, then sauce, then cheese, and repeat until all of the ingredients are gone or the pan is completely full. be sure to top with a nice layer of cheese (it goes all brown and bubbly).

pop into the oven for 1 hour, and then remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. enjoy!

notes: this is so delicious. fritz loves it, he gobbled up an entire piece for dinner last night! oh, and speaking of p90x, it’s been going great! papa fritz is down almost 30 pounds and i’m down 10. we both look and feel great. we are on our second cycle right now, in our 4th week of it…just in case you were interested.

black bean soup

i was discussing the ingredient list with my cousin before i wrote this post and she said “that can’t be all that’s in it…right?” but it is. there are three ingredients. seriously. sure, you can garnish with a few others if you’d like, but the bulk of the soup is comprised of three ingredients. i got the idea for this about 8 years ago when someone handed me a photocopy (remember those?!) of a magazine recipe for something similar. i’ve altered it since then, but the true essence remains the same; delicious black bean soup with only three ingredients. oh, did i mention it only takes about 17 minutes to make? no? well, read on…

black bean soup

black bean soup

  • 2 cups of your favorite salsa (the spiciness of the soup will be determined by the salsa you select)
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

heat a pot over medium heat and add the salsa. stir it around and let it heat through to allow the flavors to “blossom”. this should only take about 1-2 minutes. add the drained and rinsed black beans and stir through until they are slightly heated and mixed well with the salsa. pour in the vegetable stock until it has just covered the beans (this will likely not take the full four cups, but you may need extra stock later to get the soup to the consistency you prefer).  allow the soup to cook for 12-15 minutes so that the flavors can meld. then, using an immersion blender, whiz it up until it’s your preferred consistency, adding stock as needed to thin it. if you don’t have an immersion blender you can put batches of it into the food processor or blender. i suggest keeping some whole beans in the soup as it adds a nice texture. garnish with cheese, sour cream, or (my favorite) avocado for a healthy and quick dinner! enjoy!

notes: this dish can be made in advance and warmed, and like most soups actually improves the next day. it is completely vegetarian, and provided you don’t garnish with sour cream and cheese, even vegan. as long as you use gluten-free salsa and stock, it is also gluten-free. you could serve this with toasted tortillas on the side (corn or flour). this is a nice p90x dinner when combined with a salad and some carbs, which is how we ate it.

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protein bombs

protein bombs is not a sexy name for a breakfast food—but that’s fitting because these little gems aren’t going to win a local beauty pageant. however, protein bomb is what they are called because that is exactly what they are. papa fritz and i recently started the p90x program and are really enjoying it. we’ve completed the first 30 days and have decided to incorporate the nutritional plan into the next 30 days to see if it has an impact on our results. they recommend a high protein (lean, of course) diet for the intensive exercise regimen, and so i developed these portable protein bombs for weekday breakfasts.

the adjustment to the program has been challenging. more than anything, time management has become our primary focus. we have chosen to work out in the evenings after fritz goes to bed, because that works best for our schedules. that means that we need to eat dinner with him at 6:30, which in turn means that it can’t take more than 30 minutes to prepare. add to that the requirements of this nutritional plan, and we are left with limited options. i’ve opted to do a lot of prep for our meals on sunday, which frees up time late at night when we should be getting into bed. it’s working so far, but i’ll keep you posted…

protein bombs

protein bombs

  • 10 egg whites + 3 whole eggs
  • 1/2 pound turkey bacon (or regular bacon)
  • 1 pint baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 oz. baby spinach leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • non-stick spray

preheat your oven to 350 degrees and use nonstick spray to coat the insides of a muffin tin. set aside.

using a bowl or a large measuring cup with a spout, whisk the egg whites and eggs together and set aside.

heat a medium pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. toss in the sliced mushrooms, salt and pepper (to taste) and stir for a few minutes until they begin to soften. once this happens add the garlic and continue stirring for a few more minutes. begin adding the spinach by handfuls until all wilts, then remove from the pan to a bowl.

return the pan to the heat and wipe out any liquid that remains from the vegetables. cook the turkey bacon in batches until browned and then cut into chunks.

evenly distribute the turkey bacon and vegetables into the muffin tins and then carefully pour the eggs into each cup. (you will need to use a fork or your finger to move the filling around so that the eggs penetrate all the way to the bottom of the muffin tin.)

pop into the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until the eggs are set. wrap individually and keep refrigerated. when ready to eat, pop in the microwave for 30-35 seconds. enjoy!

notes: there is no cheese in this because the dairy intake on the p90x nutritional plan is a little restrictive (not very, but enough that i was unable to put cheese in these). you could add cheese to this very easily, and i’d recommend either a nice feta or a sharp cheddar. i have not tried, but i suspect that these would freeze very nicely, just thaw in the fridge overnight for breakfast and then heat according to the recipe above.