Navy Bean Soup on a Snowy Day (slow cooker)

This winter is the pits. Frigid, grey, slushy, and it. just. won’t. end. Here we are today on another snow day, this time with some actual snow, so at least that’s pretty.

Snowy Baltimore

The upside is: I have been really racking up the hearty soup recipes this season!

Here’s another one: Navy Bean Soup made in the slow cooker with ingredients I usually have in my pantry and freezer.

1213 navy bean soup

Navy Bean Soup

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound dried navy beans
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ham hock
  • 2 quarts water or stock
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil


  1. Put beans in the bottom of the crock pot. Put vegetables, fresh herbs and bay leaf on top.
  2. Nestle the ham hock among the beans and vegetables.
  3. Add stock or water, set crock pot to the lowest setting for a longer cook, high for a shorter cook
  4. Cook for 8-10 hours for low setting, or 4-5 for high setting (you may want to stir now and again on the high setting), until beans are tender.
  5. Remove ham hock and pick the meat off. Stir it back into the soup.
  6. Season like crazy, splash of vinegar and some olive oil because, why not, and dine.
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Dan said it was the best soup I’ve ever made and the kids ate every bite.

Red Beans and Rice

On a cold, snowy day like this I think of warm, hearty food inspired by…the south? Yep, it’s New Orleans inspired Red Beans and Rice for dinner tonight. It started snowing earlier today than expected so I didn’t have time to go to the store. After rummaging through my pantry I discovered I had all of the fixings for a rich, hearty, and actually healthy meal right here at home.

 red beans pinterest

The great thing about Red Beans and Rice is that you don’t really need to follow a recipe. Traditionally made on Mondays, it was a way to use the leftover bones from the weekend meals and stretch them into the week, so really it’s a scrappy kind of dish–use what you’ve got, give it some love, and you’ve got an amazing dinner for a crowd or for your family for a week.

If you’re looking for baby food ideas, this is a great one to puree up for some Stage 2 or 3 food. Just wait to add the creole seasoning and salt until near the end. When the beans are cooked but there’s still a lot of liquid, scoop some out, add some rice and away you go. The add the seasonings to the main pot and cook it down.

Since I was home (and didn’t get started until the afternoon) I did this on the stove. But you could just as easily do this in a crock pot. Just don’t soak the beans and put it on low all day.

Red Beans and Rice

Yield: 8 servings

Red Beans and Rice


  • 1 pound dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and liquid drained
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon creole or blackening seasoning
  • 6 cups water or stock
  • 1 ham hock and/or andouille-type sausage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • Chopped parsley, optional


  1. In a large, heavy bottom dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Then add onions and cook until they're translucent, about 5 minutes. Add celery and peppers and cook until soft, another 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir until fragrant about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in tomato past and creole seasoning and cook until tomato paste becomes copper-colored, approximately 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add drained beans, water or stock, and ham hock. If you're just using sausage put some in whole now to be discarded later, and save some for slicing and adding at the end.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to a simmer and cook for 2-3 hours over a very low heat until thick and rich. If it's still watery after an hour or so, turn up the heat and uncover to thicken.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over rice and garnish with parsley and scallions.
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And the kids couldn’t get enough. More please!


Plus, I’ve been working on transitioning my site from to It’s still in transition, but let me know what you think so far!

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The week in food

pizza making CollageOnce a week I usually lay out what I plan to make for the following week with a list so I can gather all of the ingredients in one go. Then I get completely distracted by farmers markets, sales at the grocery, or the arrival of my Food and Wine mag so my plan evolves, or devolves. Either way, it’s usually delicious and generally pretty economical. Here’s what evolved this week. What’s your favorite weeknight cooking tip? [Read more…]

Baby Food Bonanza

Katie is eating people food. She’s 5 1/2 months and has finally taken to spoonfed meals. I know that’s still early for many kids, but since our son was practically eating spaghetti dinners without spilling a drop at 6 months I had expected she’d be on to hors d’oeuvres by now.

So, obviously, to each their own. But, now that she is interested, I’m going to town making her a ton of meals and freezing them in 1 ounce portions.

I really debated with her whether or not I’d make all of her food like I did for Nicholas. I loved doing it, but my situation has changed with her: we’ve got a 3 year old at home that takes a ton of energy, I’m making her food out of season so I can’t source my ingredients from the farmers market like I did with Nicholas, and chefs like Tyler Florence have come out with lines of baby food which look pretty darn good.

But, when it comes down to it, she’s my little girl and I want to make her what I think is best. Plus it really doesn’t take much time. Now and again I’ll puree something up along with whatever I’m making for the rest of us (see butternut squash risotto with pureed butternut squash).

And once every few weeks I’ll set aside some time and make 2 or 3 meals just for her. I figure it’s the least I can do.

So, here’s what I’ve made her so far and in the order that I’ve introduced it.

Pureed Sweet Potatoes completePureed Butternut Squash
Pureed Sweet Potatoes
Pureed Pears
Pureed Squash and Broccoli (mixed 2 purees together)
Kale, green bean, potatoes completePureed Kale, Green Beans, and Potatoes
Roasted Apple & Grape Oatmeal
Pureed Sweet Potatoes and Brown Rice

How do you introduce foods to your baby?

Meat Loaf and meatloaf

New Year’s Resolution #2: Work out more. I’m going to need a little inspiration for that one.  Who do I turn to? Pandora of course. Station: Meat Loaf. Really, you say? I don’t really even like Meat Loaf. Yes, trust me. Just do it. You don’t have to like Meat Loaf. You just have to like music that rocks and is awesome. That’s the beauty of Pandora.

You’ve got Meat Loaf of course, already excellent workout music–Bat Out of Hell anyone? Then you throw in some Queen (I Want it All), Bon Jovi (Livin on a Prayer), and Journey (Any Way You Want It) just to rattle off the first few songs on the station.

Right, so anyway, this post is actually about meatloaf the food. Like Meat Loaf the artist, do not underestimate it’s potential for awesomeness. Make a classic recipe for your family, it’s comfort food that can last a whole week. Make a cumin-scented lamb meatloaf over couscous and you’ve got an exotic twist on an old favorite. Or make Red Wine Glazed Meatloaf over Parsnip Puree for company and you’ll knock their socks off.

Oh, and it’s only 8 Weight Watchers points, if you care about that sort of thing (see New Year’s Resolution #1).

Plus, make a Parsnip Puree for baby. Feed while playing Meat Loaf Pandora station. Katie has been in this world for 5 months; it’s time she learned to rock. And eat parsnips.

Broccoli Puree

Pureed BroccoliSteam additional broccoli from Broccoli Cheddar Soup recipe for 10-15 minutes until very tender. Add a few tablespoons of water and puree in blender or food processor. Add additional water until you reach the desired consistency.

If you are using florets, this puree is never going to be completely smooth, so may not be appropriate for babies just being introduced to solids. If you are looking for a smooth consistency, use stems only reserving florets for soup.

Weekly Menu: Turkey Trot

Turkey, turkey, and more turkey. I bet you’re getting sick of talking turkey by now. But if you’ve got leftovers, your turkey days aren’t over yet! Here are some recipes for the week that will help you move on from Thanksgiving and finish up that turkey…one classic recipe, one *hopefully* new one, and one that has no turkey at all (but it uses up some of that turkey stock you made)!


Menu #1: Game Day

Make this on Sunday for a football fiesta!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Corn Chips or Cornbread
Garden Salad

The recipe calls for ground beef or turkey. Just omit the beef or turkey, and add in 3-4 cups chopped, cooked turkey at the same time you add the beans. Delish!


Menu #2: Make Ahead Casserole Night (and baby food)

A great way to use up all of those leftovers…just put them in a casserole and bake. This is easy to assemble the night before. Then when you come home all you need to do is throw it in the oven and 45 min later you have dinner. For this one, you can also make a Stage 3 baby food version of Shepherd’s Pie.

Nicholas loves Turkey Shepherd's Pie!

Shepherd’s Pie
Garden Salad

Baby Food: Shepherd’s Pie


Menu #3: Hump Day Help

Here’s a good one for a cold, rainy midweek meal. You’re sick of cooking, sick of eating turkey, but you can come home to a warm nourishing meal nonetheless.

Sausage, Kale, and Navy Bean Soup

This recipe is for the stovetop, but making it in the slow cooker couldn’t be easier. Just dump everything in the crock pot (you don’t need to soak the beans), set on low, and 8 hours later you have dinner.

Shopping List

5-6 cups cooked, chopped turkey
polish kielbasa or other smoked sausage
kale–1 pound
cubanelle or poblano peppers–3
sweet potatoes
1.5 oz dried New Mexico chiles
1.5 oz dried ancho chiles
olive oil
dried thyme
bay leaf
chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
28 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
chicken or turkey stock–3 quarts
kidney beans–14oz can
pinto or black beans–14 oz can
garbanzo beans–14oz can
dried navy beans–1 pound
corn chips
1 oz dark chocolate
yogurt or sour cream
Cheddar or jack cheese
frozen green beans
frozen peas
turkey gravy
mashed potatoes




Weekly menu: Greens, BBQ chicken, Sloppy Joes

This week at the farmers market there were tons of fall vegetables like greens and sweet potatoes, so I embraced it. I find that it’s a bit easier and economical to get a lot of one or two things and cook those throughout the week, rather than come up with a unique side dish for every meal. Also, I’ll be making some baby food with the sweet potatoes so I needed to get a bunch.

These meals do take some prep, but everything can be done ahead so anything can be a fairly easy weeknight meal.

Dinner Menu #1:Sloppy Joe dinner finished
Sloppy Joes
Curry Sweet Potato Fries

To prep the sweet potatoes ahead, follow the recipe and bake them for only about 30 minutes. Then let them cool and refrigerate. They will still be soft. When you are preparing dinner, just pop them back in the oven for 20 minutes or so. The sloppy joes can be on the table in under 30 minutes, but you could also certainly prep the joe mixture ahead as well. I cook my peas in the microwave, covered tightly in plastic wrap, for 2 minutes, so no time at all for that either.

Dinner Menu #2:
Braised Kale over Parmesan Polenta

I love to cook one vegetarian meal per week, so this is the one. Just a good nourishing weeknight meal.

Dinner Menu #3:

Barbeque Chicken
Collard Greens
Baked Sweet Potato

This is a great one to prep ahead for a Wednesday hump day meal. It feels like a Sunday dinner, but takes very little effort when you get home from a long day. BBQ chicken greens sweet potatoSimply marinate the chicken the night before or in the morning, and throw on the grill when you get home. Set the collard greens in the crock pot in the morning so all you need to do is serve them up in the evening. Put the potatoes in the oven or on the grill when you get home and don’t touch them till dinnertime. Minimal effort, maximum comfort will get you over hump day.

Homemade Baby Food:

Pureed Sweet Potatoes
Sloppy Joes and Sweet Potatoes
Pureed Peas

Shopping List:

1 pound ground beef
1 small chicken
6 ounces bacon
3 onions
green pepper
3 pounds sweet potatoes
1 pound kale
2 pounds collards
curry powder
olive oil
cider vinegar
brown sugar
tomato sauce–8 ounce can
barbeque sauce
coarse ground yellow corn polenta/grits
Parmigiano Reggiano
frozen peas