Cooking with Lady Smokey: One Pot Wonders!

Oh winter. More than any winter thus far in my life, I have felt a strong desire to hibernate. I’ve found myself not really going out much but instead choosing to stay in and cook, work on big projects, curl up and read or watch a good movie. I’ve been dreaming up lots of warm comforting recipes. These are some of my favorites lately, all of which can be made in one big pot.

This first one is such a simple, fresh recipe and a great way to use those lima beans you put up in the freezer last summer. I created this on a Monday as Grant was working late and I just wanted something that was yummy and not too unhealthy but really simple. We had just a few pieces of bacon left over from a weekend indulgence, which was perfect. To make a vegetarian version, you could easily substitute some tempeh. The lemon and fresh herbs gave it the slightest hint of spring!

Lima Bean Soup with Bacon and Lemon
Serves 4-6
• 3-4 slices of Bacon (I used Cowboy Apple Smoked Bacon), cut into small pieces
• 1 Yellow Onion, chopped fine
• juice of ½ a Lemon
• small bunch of Fresh Thyme
• 7 cups Lima Beans (I used frozen)
• 1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
• 4 cups Vegetable Stock
• Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

In a Dutch oven or soup pot, cook the bacon pieces on medium heat until almost done. Add the onion and stir. Cook until the onion is soft. Add the lemon juice and herbs, stirring to mix well. Add the beans and stir well. Cook for a few minutes and then add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Side note- I have to tell you that I generally hate the taste of boxed or canned vegetable broth. And it always feels so unnecessary, all that packaging not to mention how expensive it can be. But this little container below does the trick. It’s called, Seitenbacher Vegetable Broth and Seasoning, and it is enough to make 40 cups of broth (1 tsp per 1 cup of water). It is actually made in Germany from all natural ingredients that I can pronounce. You can probably find it in your local natural foods market or online somewhere. Look for it.

I don’t know about you but I grew up eating lots of casseroles made with Campbell’s Soup. I have to admit that I find the memory of one of these ooey-gooey, heavily breaded casseroles quite comforting. The reality of it, though, is that these really don’t offer much physical comfort at all- only emotional comfort. They are loaded with sodium and calories and can zap your energy for the rest of the evening. So I’ve been trying to come up with ideas that have that same comforting idea but with a higher nutritional value. That’s the idea behind this next recipe.

Skillet Chicken & Rice with Saffron
Serves 4
• 2 skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts, cut into 8 pieces
• 1 Tbsp Butter
• 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 small Onion, chopped
• 4 oz Mushrooms, sliced
• ½ cup Red Wine (I used an Argentinian Malbac)
• 2 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
• 2 pinches of Saffron threads, crushed with mortar & pestle
• 1 cup Basmati Rice
• 2 cups Chicken Stock
• Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Heat an iron skillet on medium heat. Add the butter and a little of the olive oil. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides and then set the chicken aside. Add the remaining olive oil. Saute the onions until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and mushrooms and ¼ cup of the wine. Stir and cook until they start to soften. Add the rest of the wine and the rice and stir. Add the saffron, salt, and pepper. Add the stock and stir. Place the chicken pieces on top and put skillet in the oven for about 30 minutes, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid and is done.

Speaking of saffron, this was a favorite of ours last year that I have been thinking of making again. Saffron may be costly but just remember that it only takes a pinch for most recipes and it saffron is known a mood elevating spice and research has shown it can help with depression. Plus, visually it is so bright and cheery.

Pasta dishes to me are easy, delicious, and comforting yet, these too can often be a bit too heavy. I was trying to come up with a good vegetarian pasta dish loaded with tons of vegetables and flavor. I think this one worked.

Mediterranean Pasta
Serves 4-6
• 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• ½ onion, chopped
• 3 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
• ½ Red Bell Pepper, chopped
• ½ cup sliced Mushrooms
• 2 tsp dried Basil
• 2 tsp dried Oregano
• 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
• 14 oz can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes, crushed with your hands
• 1 15 oz can cut artichokes
• 2-3 cups fresh Spinach, chopped
• 1 handful fresh Parsley, chopped
• Red Pepper Flakes
• Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
• 8 oz Pasta (I used Montebello Strozzapreti which is yummy and available in many natural grocery stores)
• Parmesan Reggiano, finely grated
• Herbed Goat Cheese (optional)

Heat a big pot of water and bring to a boil for the pasta. Heat a big pot on medium heat. Add oil. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften. Add garlic, pepper, and mushrooms. Stir. Add herbs. Add vinegar and tomatoes. Stir. Cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions and until al dente. Drain and set aside. Add the artichokes to the tomato sauce and continue to cook for a few minutes. Add the pasta, chopped spinach, and parsley. Salt & Pepper to taste. Stir. Serve in bowls. Top with a spoon of grated Parmesan Reggiano and a dollop of goat cheese (I used Noble Springs Garlic & Herb Chevre.)

I thought of this next dish for a couple of days. I wanted a comforting stew but one that wasn’t too heavy. This one is loaded with vegetables and fairly low fat. The fresh ginger and garlic seemed perfect for helping us fight off all those colds and flus that are going around. And the ginger is very warming. I used very little meat for how large the stew was so you might want to use more, depending on how meaty you want it.

Ginger Pork Stew
Serves 4-6
• 2 Center Cut Pork Chops, fat trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
• ¼ cup Flour
• ½ tsp Sea Salt
• ¼ tsp White Pepper
• ¼ tsp Black Pepper
• 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 Yellow Onion, cut into 1” pieces
• 3 Carrots, cut into thick rounds
• 1 Russet Potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
• 1 Turnip, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
• 4 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
• 2 “ piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled and then cut into thin matchsticks
• 1 small Red Bell Pepper (or half of a large), cut
• 1 small Green Bell Pepper (or half of a large), cut
• 4 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
• ¼ cup Brown Rice Vinegar
• ⅓ cup Tamari, Shoyu, or Soy Sauce
• about 2 cups Chicken Stock
• Chopped Fresh Spinach
• Chopped Fresh Cilantro
• Chopped Green Onions
• 1 more Tbsp Flour (mixed with warm water to thicken)

Mix the flour, salt and white & black pepper together in a bowl. Place pork pieces in bowl and coat with flour. Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot and then add 2 Tbsp oil. Add the pork and brown on each side but do not cook all the way through, just a few minutes on each side. Remove pork and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Wipe out the bottom of the pan. Add the other Tbsp of oil. Add the carrots, turnips, potatoes and stir. Add the vinegar and stir again. Add a little of the stock and Tamari and stir again. Cover and let it cook to soften the vegetables.

Once these begin to soften, add in the garlic, ginger, peppers, and mushrooms. Stir. Add the remaining liquid and introduce the pork back in. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for another 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Mix the extra Tbsp of flour with some warm water and then add to the stew and stir to thicken. Chop fresh spinach, cilantro, and green onions and mix together in a bowl. Place a handful of the green mixture in a bowl and ladle the stew over. This was delicious served with a WA Pinot Grigio.

We crawled out of hibernation last week just long enough to go to our friend, Jacob Jones’ cd release party at the world famous 5 Spot in East Nashville. What fun we had!

Jacob Jones’ cd release at the 5 Spot in East Nashville, January 29, 2013

Jacob’s new cd, Good Timin’ In Waynetown, has been in the making for the past two years. It’s been a labor of love for him and it was fun to see his idea finally come to fruition with such a bang! In the studio, Jacob assembled a group of top-notch musicians, including one Grant Johnson on guitar and dobro, Micah Hulsher on keyboards, Steve Latination on drums, Chris Autry on bass, and various other musical guests. Check it out.

For his live performances, Jacob uses Nashville good-timin’ band, Los Colognes, as his backing band. Put this cd in and you can hibernate while feeling like you’re at the biggest party in the city! You can also hear Jacob spinning his favorite dance tunes at the South’s biggest dance party- Keep On Movin’ Dance Party- every Monday night at the 5 Spot in Nashville and fairly regularly on the weekends in Atlanta as well.

I’ll close with this little short film about the making of the record.


Jacob Jones – The Making of “Good Timin’ In Waynetown” from Jacob Jones on Vimeo.

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