a Cook at Heart

practical tips and recipes for busy cooks

Spicy Pinto Beans with Smoked Turkey – Crockpot Recipe

This time of year is always schizophrenic in Tennessee. It’s not spring yet but we’re starting to see blooms on the trees already. One day it’s 70 degrees, the next day it’s 40 degrees. One day there’s snow flurries, the next day it’s warm enough to go without jacket. Believe me, I’m not complaining. I would much rather have it this way than to have snow up to my knees like some parts of the country.  Until my spring fever kicks in, I’m clinging to winter comfort food like Linus to his blanket. Pinto beans and cornbread are totally comfort food. Until I got my current crock pot, I didn’t mess with dried beans much. The whole

Lentil and Sausage Stew with Greens

  I haven’t wanted to mention this but I’ve been trying to change the way we eat. Nothing drastic – just a few small changes to incorporate more healthy foods into our dinners.  After 7 years of marriage, I’ve learned not to make a big deal out of things like this. When I decided to stop eating white sugar, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I just replaced it with Tubinado and acted like it was nothing new. When I wanted to go from cows milk to almond milk, I just showed up one day with some Almond Breeze and poured it on

Goat and Lentil Stoup

      Joining a CSA has been a lesson in open mindedness for us. You never realize how much you’re set in your foodie ways until you get thrown a curve ball or two.  Goat meat is a curve ball. When we opened our CSA bag and started sorting out our haul, I was slightly taken aback by the package of ground goat meat I found nestled underneath the chicken and ground pork. What the heck do you do with goat? I was scared it would have that gamey strong taste that you sometime get with lamb. Well goat doesn’t really taste like lamb. It’s more of cross between lamb and

Country Ham Chowder with Collard Greens

  Mother nature has a bizarre sense of humor. Just last week I was debating on unpacking my warm weather clothes  and planning my spring herb garden. This week I’m bundling up in blankets and wearing sweaters and long socks. Mentally I had moved onto warm sunny spring weather but mother nature slapped me back to reality. What do you do when the temperature goes from 80 degrees to 35 degrees? You make soup. Good soup. Soup that makes you forget the cold dreary weather outdoors for a few minutes. This soup recipe is courtesy of Chef Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille at the Hermitage Hotel.

Lamb and Vegetable Stew with Thyme

Getting tired of beef stew? Substitute lamb and you have a completely different taste. This a lowfat variation of a classic lamb stew that has lots of super tender chunks of meat and veggies. Leeks can be pretty dirty so make sure you clean them well before you put them in your stew.   This recipe is easy but it takes some time so this is best for a weekend. Lamb and Vegetable Stew with Thyme Recipe Ingredients     1 pound lean leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces2 cups water     4 cups vgetable broth      2 large leeks sliced, white and pale green parts only      2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced      2

How to make homemade vegetable stock

Making vegetable stock is so simple that now I wonder why I never tried it before. Since the weather has turned cold,  soups and stews are showing up on our table more and more often. I was prepping a soup recipe a few weeks ago and started reading the ingredient list on  store bought vegetable broth. It contained malodextrin, glycerine, and disodium something or other among various other chemicals and preservatives I couldn’t pronounce. I’ve talked before on this blog about my increasing level of paranoia about what’s in the food we eat. I started wondering how difficult it would be to make my own stock and this is my first attempt. Boy was it easy. I gathered up

Snow Day Spicy Brown Lentil Soup

It’s amazing what you can come up with when there’s too much snow outside to get to the grocery store. This should probably more accurately be called “clean out the veggie bin and pantry” lentil soup. Lentils are a great blank canvas. Toss them in with any aromatics and a good flavorful liquid and you’ve got yourself a tasty soup. I used hot sausage in this but meat is completely optional. If you really want to add some kick, substitute 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning for the thyme springs. This makes about 6 servings. Ingredients 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup onion, diced 1 cup carrots, diced 3/4 cup celery,