Cookbook Review: Southern Pantry Cookbook

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This review of The Southern Pantry Cookbook: 105 Recipes Already Hiding in Your Kitchen by Jennifer Chandler includes a FREEBIE RECIPE for Weeknight Red Beans and Rice! Don’t miss out!

I didn’t intend to buy this book. I was bored and flipping through cookbooks looking at the food photography was a way to pass the time while my husband shopped.

Now, I don’t impulse buy things.  I’m a thrifty person, and I normally think long and hard before I make a cookbook purchase. I read amazon reviews. I check my local library.  My cookbook shelf is reserved for a very select few permanent figures.

I bought this book upon first glance, and I’ve had ZERO regrets.

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This book has nestled in comfortably among its peers on the shelf, but it hasn’t stayed on the shelf for very long! It’s extremely useful.

For instance, this delicious Weeknight Red Beans and Rice dish only took 20 minutes in its entirety. So easy and yummy!

For instance, this delicious Weeknight Red Beans and Rice dish only took 20 minutes in its entirety. So easy and yummy!

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I have fallen in love with the idea of using existing pantry ingredients creatively.  I was already compiling the Non-Chef FOREVER Grocery List before this book–which will be ready early next week! Yay!

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Weeknight Red Beans and Rice

(Or, like this photo, black beans and rice, because that’s what I had on hand.)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb Andouille smoked sausage, sliced thinly
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans red kidney beans, rinced and drained
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 4 cups brown rice

Instructions

0. If you would rather use dried beans, put beans in water to the brim in a crockpot on low in the morning and allow beans to soak in water for 8 hours. While preparing dinner, rinse with water before adding .

1. Start cooking the rice per package instructions.

2. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, warm oil. Add the sausage, onion, green pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

3. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in oregano, thyme, and bay leaf (or, if you were out of oregano and thyme like I was, substituting a tsp of Italian Seasoning mix was still absolutely yummy). Salt and pepper to taste, and add beans and stock.

4. Bring pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Allow flavors to meld for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Discard the bay leaf, and serve beans over rice.

TIP: If you are watching your carb intake, I have read that you can substitute black soy beans, which have a lower carb and higher protein trade-off.  Also, give cauliflower rice a try! 🙂

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Chickpea Curry Over Brown Basmati Rice

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Something magical happens as the onion and the curry powder bloom over the heat. Flavors come to life, and the stress of the world melts away. These vegan curried chickpeas over brown basmati rice feed body, mind, and soul. It’s one of my favorite recipes, in case you can’t already tell.

I was on the fence about writing about this.  Google chickpea curry and a TON of identical recipes will come up, and mine isn’t all that different.  One of those was what inspired me to cook this for the first time several years ago, but as time passed, the recipe changed.  Now I use fewer ingredients and have upgraded to brown basmati rice (which you can now buy at Aldi grocery stores!).

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Chickpea curry is one of our favorite recipes, and it served to be a huge inspiration to writing about food in the first place.  I clearly remember the day: screaming fussy baby and we’re STARVING.  My husband volunteered to do the cooking for the evening (he was that hungry haha), so I’m calling instructions over the partition between the living room and the kitchen while doing the mom-things that needed to be done.

Me: “Are the onions in the skillet opaque yet?”

Adam: “Yes. Now what do I do?”

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I shout off the next several ingredients off the top of my head, including where to find them in the kitchen, reminding him to shake the can of coconut milk.  I ended up coaching him through the entire dinner process off the top of my head from the other room.

Now maybe that’s something that lots of people can do.  I know several of the women in my family could probably cook a favorite recipe blindfolded.  Adam, however, was apparently impressed.

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After seven years of marriage, I managed to surprise him by doing something unexpected. And that’s a pretty good feeling.

There’s something about getting encouragement from someone you love, someone who knows you better than anyone else, that’s just the little push you need to try something new 

Both Non-Baker and my site broke triple digits in views this month.  We’ve moved beyond just the friends and family who feel loving obligation to read what we write into a small community of kind readers who happened to stop by.

(In case you didn’t know, my sister, Anna, and I realized that we were both flirting with the idea of starting very different food blogs, so we started at the same time.  Check out Anna’s blog sometime!  It’s great!)

So why do I share a recipe that’s been done before on the internet?  Because sharing a recipe is also showing a little piece about who I am.

So enjoy chickpea curry.  Its texture is absolutely perfect, not to mention its flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C brown basmati rice
  • 2 1/4 C water
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1  14 oz can coconut mil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp hot chili paste (sriracha or other  brand)
  • 2 14 oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the rice per package instructions.
  2. Start the onion cooking in olive oil over a medium heat in a large deep skillet.  Stir occasionally.
  3. When onion is opaque, add curry powder.  Allow curry to cook with onion for about a minute to meld the flavors.  Add the cayenne pepper.
  4. Give the can of coconut milk a shake, as it naturally separates.  Pour into the pan.
  5. Add the honey and chili paste.  Let the sauce bubble for a minute or so. (Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Some curry powder and chili paste is more mild than others.)
  6. Drain cans of chickpeas and dump into curry sauce.  Stir to combine.
  7. Serve curry sauce over rice in bowls.  Enjoy!

Something magical happens as the onion and the curry powder bloom over the heat. Flavors come to life, and the stress of the world melts away. These vegan curried chickpeas over brown basmati rice feed body, mind, and soul. It's one of my favorite recipes, in case you can't already tell.
-Brohgan

Tomatillo Ranch Chicken

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Tangy tomatillo ranch smothered over chicken and rice! While the chicken and rice are served immediately after cooking, the sauce is cold, which makes this a very enjoyable  summer dish.This creamy dish is quick and easy to make. It makes dinner time a breeze! Exactly the relief we need in this Kansas summer heat!

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This recipe provided an opportunity for self-growth. A new ingredient, and an unfamiliar flavor. Oh, I am so glad I embraced the tomatillo goodness, because the tangy ranch sauce just hit the spot!

Tomatillos are common in the Deep South. However, I was unfamiliar with this ingredient when I ordered from it as a part of my weekly produce co-op basket. I’ve never even seen the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.”  Basically, I had no idea what to do with it.

Tomatillos are basically the flavor of a sweet lemon. Peel off the husk and rinse off the sticky film that is commonly found underneath. Handle like a tomato.


Let’s talk about the ranch seasoning, because seasoning mixes are one of my favorite things, and this ranch is certainly the most commonly used mix in my kitchen.  Powdered ranch seasoning is extremely versatile to be used on both vegan and non-vegan dishes without adding tons of unwanted extra calories or sodium.

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While fresh herbs have a better taste, this dry mix is much more convenient to have on hand.

Firstly, rub the the chicken in the ranch mix and get it into the oven.  While the chicken roasts, put together the tomatillo ranch sauce and cook the rice.

Ingredients:

-3 medium chicken breast

-1 tbsp homemade ranch mix (see ingredients below)

-1 c white rice, uncooked

-2 c water

-1 C mayo

-1/4 C milk

-2 cloves garlic

-1 C fresh cilantro

-3 medium tomatillos

-2 tbsp homemade ranch mix
Homemade Ranch Mix:

-1 tsp Black Pepper

-1 tbsp Parsley, dried

-1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder

-1/2 tbsp Onion Powder

-1 tsp Dried Dill
1. Top raw chicken with ranch mix and put in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes until fully cooked.

2. Cook rice per package directions.

3. Combine mayo, milk, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and 2 tbsp ranch mix in a food processor until creamy.

4. Slice chicken into strips. Spoon rice into 3-4 bowls. Top rice with chicken and sauce. Enjoy immediately.

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After I made this, I just realized a vegetarian or vegan version using this sauce could be amazing!  Unfortunately, my leftover sauce was left out, and I had to throw it out.  Someday, I will figure this out.

Tangy tomatillo ranch smothered over chicken and rice! While the chicken and rice are served immediately after cooking, the sauce is cold, which makes this a very enjoyable  summer dish.This creamy dish is quick and easy to make. It makes dinner time a breeze!