Dill Pickle Soup

I know. I know what you must be thinking…pickle soup? WTF? Right? I thought the same at first when I’d overheard several people mention this soup. It’s also on the menu at one of my favorite little spots to grab a bite here on Chincoteague, Poseidon’s Pantry. So naturally, I had to give it a try at home.

Last week Jon ventured to San Francisco for work stuff. What better place to have to go to for a 49ers fan? I was at home with our 3 boys, and we survived. I’m blessed with pretty well behaved kids! Towards the end of the week I had two of my best girlfriends over to for dinner to try this odd soup…

Turns out it’s REALLY good. Chunks of potato, dill pickles, carrots, chicken broth, sour cream and fresh dill all combine together to create a wonderfully rich, and filling – yet light soup. I think the key is to use really good quality refrigerated pickles in the soup. They stay crunchy and retain their briny flavor. Whereas some of the guys from the shelves in the jars are flabby and crunch-less from the get-go.

We all really enjoyed it, especially the boys. With all the bright flavor from the pickles and the dill, it’s a great soup to welcome springtime. Definitely one I’ll be making again and again, it’s just too much fun not to!

Souce: adapted from The Noble Pig

Southwestern Egg Rolls

With Super Bowl upon us tomorrow, I thought it was only prudent to share a great appetizer recipe with you before the big game! I’ve wanted to make these guys for a couple years now, but just never managed to get around to it. Traditional homemade egg rolls are one of our very favorite things ever, and we love Mexican food – so it was totally no surprise when we all loved them!

Corn, red pepper, black beans, red onion, spinach, garlic, and cilantro are given a quick saute to soften. Then they’re mixed with a blend of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, rolled into an egg roll wrapper, and quickly fried. I suspect that they would also be great baked, if you’re looking for a healthier route. But it’s Super Bowl, and I’m not.

I served with an avocado ranch dipping sauce, which couldn’t have been any easier. I just mashed up an avocado well and mixed it with ranch dressing. I think salsa would also be another great option for dipping, which is again- much healthier! I hope everyone enjoys the big game tomorrow – we’ll be rooting for the Patriots (anyone BUT the Seahawks!). Stay safe and warm, everyone!

Chili con Carne

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone has their own special recipe for, which they swear by as being the best. Mine is no different! Meaty, spicy, and filling – it’s one of the things my boys most look forward to in the colder months. There’s nothing better than a pot of chili bubbling away on the stove on a lazy football Sunday!

I like to start with a mix of lean ground beef and a roll of hot pork sausage, plenty of beans, chunks of chopped tomatoes, and some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. Then, some beer. It adds so much great flavor to the chili, and I’m always looking for an excuse to cook with the stuff. But, you could certainly use beef broth for your cooking liquid as well.

A couple hours simmering on the stove and you’ve got a delicious and hearty meal that’s always a family favorite. Leftovers are good for days, and great to re-invent into so many applications (Frito pie or chili dogs, anyone?). And, it’s great for a group too. A low maintenance meal for the cook, and guests can have tons of fun topping their bowls of chili with different ingredients – scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheeses, jalapenos, guacamole, tomatoes or pico de gallo, poblano-corn salsa…the possibilities are endless!

Also, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the ingredients in the chili itself. I love to switch it up using a chuck roast instead of the ground beef and sausage. Or, using black and pinto beans in place of the kidneys. It’s so easy to make your own! So, if you’re still looking for that one perfect chili recipe, give this one a try! It’s our favorite, and it might just become yours too.

Chili con Carne

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb bulk roll hot sausage (like Jimmy Deen)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can light kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer (your favorite is fine)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until browned well. Remove from pan into a bowl. Drain most of the rendered fat from the pan.

Throw onions into the pan and cook until onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato paste and spices, and cook for about 3 minutes – until the tomato paste darkens in color. Add in the beef and sausage, tomatoes, beans, and beer. If it looks like it needs a little more liquid, add a splash of water.

Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours. You could also cook up to this point, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Serve with your favorite toppings.



Sweet Potato Biscuits

Did you guys know that such a wonderful thing even existed? They do indeed, and they’re as wonderful as you’d imagine. They are pretty much a food group here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and it is where I was first introduced to them. After years of enjoying them, I thought it was high time I passed the recipe along to you guys!

It’s your basic biscuit dough with the usual suspects – flour, buttermilk, flour. But then you invite some pureed, roasted sweet potatoes to the party. It adds great flavor and color, and also some additional moisture. Which is always welcome in a biscuit!

They aren’t quite as fluffy as your standard buttermilk biscuit, just because the addition of the sweet potato adds some density too… but, what they lack for in fluffiness they more than make up for in deliciousness.

I like to serve them with a bowl of soup, or just plain with some jam or pumpkin butter. But, our favorite way to enjoy them is sandwiching a few pieces of ham. Very thinly sliced country ham is a treat, but more often than not it’s just plain deli ham. It makes for one delicious and easy meal – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Source: adapted from The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook and Food & Wine, Nov 2013