Gameday Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup

With the recent snow and freezing temps in Denver, there was no better time for me to take out that old slow cooker and whip up a nice warm soup. Nothing screams winter like a hearty stew… and just in time for a weekend of football, too!

Resembling a chili (but way better), this recipe has tons of beefy bean and tomato goodness, with more veggies and a plethora of pasta to top it off. Throw it in the slow cooker in the morning and you’ll have a crowd pleasing, well-rounded complement to all that beer, in plenty of time for the afternoon and evening games. Plus, the leftovers will last you all the way til next weekend!image

Makes 10-12 servings
Ideal slow cooker size:  6 quart

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • 1lb ground beef (I always use at least 90% lean… you can also use ground turkey if you choose)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans beef broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, with liquid
  • 1 (15oz) can great northern beans, with liquid
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 8 oz dry pasta (I used mezzi rigatoni – slightly smaller versions than the original – because it gives the soup a heartier look. Feel free to use ditalini or even shells if you prefer smaller noodles)
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, for serving

Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, lightly seasoning with salt & pepper. Drain then add to a large slow cooker. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, kidney beans, great northern beans, salt, oregano, basil, thyme and pepper.

Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or until veggies are tender.

Add in apple juice (I know it sounds weird but trust me on this one. It gives the soup a slightly tangier touch, a whole new dimension of flavor).

When you are just about ready to serve, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until just under al dente. Drain, then add to the soup and let cook for about 5-10 more minutes.  (if you add the uncooked pasta straight to the slow cooker it will absorb all the liquid and all you’ll be left with is pasta and veggies. That defeats the purpose!)

Salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into serving bowls and top with Parmesan cheese and a little sprig of parsley to garnish.

Namas-tasty!

Gameday Gourmet Butternut Squash Pizza

2013-10-20 19.12.26-2As promised, here is this week’s gameday recipe for an exciting weekend of games. I love this recipe because it’s a great way to use a healthy fall gourd that is abundant this time of year; we all know how much I love fall ingredients! Also, goat cheese of boring old mozzarella. So feel free to impress all of your football fanatic friends with this gourmet ‘za, or, if you’re like me and hate to share something so delicious, keep it all to yourself.

Gameday Gourmet Butternut Squash Pizza

  • basic pizza dough
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss squash with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. On a baking sheet, cook squash until soft and lightly browned, 25 minutes, stirring halfway through; set aside.

2013-10-20 18.27.51Turn out prepared pizza dough onto lightly floured baking sheet or pizza pan and mold into desired shape. Let rest for 10 minutes. While dough is resting, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Cook onion (season with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper), stirring, until light brown, 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water; cook, stirring, until brown, 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

2013-10-20 18.57.39Sprinkle pizza dough with squash, onion, and cheese. Place baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven and bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is slightly golden brown in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice (carefully!) and serve.

Namas-tasty!

Gameday Pesto Portabello Pizza

2013-12-01 17.47.17Football season is upon us once again!! One of my very favorite times of the year, there are few things I find more comforting than posting up on the couch to watch my favorite players in pads tossing that pigskin. Several components are required for the optimal football viewing experience, including friends, good beers, and of course, lots of delicious food. Thus, every Thursday for the rest of the season I will be posting a new gameday recipe in anticipation of the exciting weekend of football ahead!

I may be partially biased because of my own personal passion for it, but I think most people would agree pizza and football are the perfect match. Anything you can eat with your hands ensures maximum viewing time, and pizza is less messy than most finger foods (as long as it has a good, sturdy crust). Plus, load it up with veggies (or even fruits) and you’ve got all the major food groups in one neat three-sided package!

My Gameday Pesto Portabello Pizza is less of a traditional style pizza (no tomato sauce, gasp!), but it is loaded with some awesome and complex flavors. When paired with a nice Belgian Strong Ale from Three Floyds Brewing Co., one of my favorite brews from a popular midwest pub, this pie sure didn’t last long 🙂

Pesto Portabello Pizza

Adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker

  • 2013-12-01 17.22.40basic pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Turn out prepared pizza dough onto lightly floured baking sheet or pizza pan and mold into desired shape. Let rest for 10 minutes. While the dough is resting, prepare the mushrooms and onions. In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and both the mushrooms and onions are soft and browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.

S2013-12-01 17.27.27pread the pesto over the pizza dough, just as you would pizza sauce, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered. Spread the mushroom and onion mixture evenly over the pesto, and then top with the provolone and Parmesan cheeses.

Place baking sheet or pizza pan into the oven and bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, slice (carefully!) and serve.

Namas-tasty!

Hearty 30-Minute Chili

DSC02025Last weekend was the first string of rainy days we’ve had this fall. The combination of that and football gave me no other choice… I had to make chili! This recipe is entirely my own, and it’s a real crowd pleaser. Not only that, but it only takes 30 minutes to make! I paired it with a delicious and moist Cheesy Cornbread Casserole for a comfort food meal that was perfect for a lazy night spent watching the games. YUM!

Hearty 30-Minute Chili

  • 1 1/4 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 T. instant diced onions or 2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cup chopped celery
  • 16 oz. can diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 11 oz can tomato soup + 1 can water
  • 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper

DSC02030In a 12 inch skillet, brown ground beef, onion and celery. If necessary, drain and return to skillet. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve in bowls with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, crackers, corn chips or Cheesy Cornbread Casserole. Yields 4 servings.

Namas-tasty!