Cooking with Virginia: How to Cook Dried Beans

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Beans in some way, shape, or fashion are fundamental in many cuisines. Healthy and economical, they are a go-to in my kitchen. I’ll often cook a pound at the beginning of the week and reheat them over the next few days as a warm side dish, toss cold into a salad, or cook further for soup. They’re also a great protein for a healthy breakfast with an egg atop a tortilla. Knowing how to cook beans gives you enormous maneuverability in the kitchen. This handy culinary skill helps with meal prep and gives you the ability to magically produce multiple meals out of a humble bag. 
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Turkey and Black Bean Chili

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When it’s chilly outside, one of my first thoughts is, “It’s time to make chili! A robust chili like this Turkey and Black Bean Chili is both lean and filling. The best eating plans include a lot of high protein, low-fat foods. Protein gives your body energy and helps to build muscle instead of fat. Sure, you have to be judicious with some of the more indulgent toppings, but a steaming hot bowl of tasty chili can be both good and good for you. 

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Braising Basics: Five Steps to Perfectly Braised Meats

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Blustery days are perfect for braising meats and cooking hearty soups and stews, such as red wine-braised short ribs made with a mirepoix of onion, carrot, and celery — a classic French dish and considered the uptown version of beef stew.

Instead of simply giving you a recipe, I’m going to delve a bit more into a fundamental cooking technique.

Julia Child supposedly once said, “If you understand the technique, you don’t need a recipe.” Now, most of us aren’t going to be Julia Child in the kitchen, but the good news is that we’re going to be tackling one of the easiest techniques to master — braising.

All it takes is a little bit of time. (more…)

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New Year’s Food Traditions: Peas and Greens

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Eating Hoppin’ John, a dish made of peas and rice, with greens and cornbread on New Year’s Day is a Southern tradition. Folklore says the combination of eating peas and greens will bring luck and money in the upcoming year. Typically, the dried peas are black-eyed peas and there is generally a hunk of meat bobbing in the pot. In my family, we traditionally don’t mix the peas and rice, but cook them separately. And, while my mother and grandmother typically cooked their peas and greens with meat, I often keep my New Year’s Day feast vegetarian! (more…)

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Soup Swap: Three Quick and Easy Soup Recipes

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It’s a cold, grey and rainy fall evening at the end of a very long day, and you’re on your way home from work in a sea of angry red brake lights. Your windshield wipers are dragging across the glass, thudding — b-lump, b-lump, b-lump. (Didn’t you just have them fixed last month?) Traffic is an absolute bear. Your stomach growls and all of a sudden it seems like lunch was a million years ago. Ah, yes. Dinner. The most dreaded question of any busy weeknight — “What’s for dinner?”—  screams through your mind. You don’t want to stop at the store and you know the fridge is empty, save for a bottle of wine, a collection of condiments and the bare essentials. “Ah, wine, I want a glass of wine,” you think. … Ok, wait, dinner. We have to eat dinner. Stay focused.

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What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes
Creamed Corn with Bacon

What’s in Season: Best Corn Recipes

corn recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

It’s high corn season! And, this summer vegetable is so versatile we’re having it nearly every meal. From sides and appetizers to entrées and desserts, it can be a part of a sweet or savory dish. To  take advantage of summer’s sweet corn while at its peak, I’ve rounded up all of my favorite recipes in one place. Check out these top ten delicious recipes. (more…)

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Best Tomato Recipes

It’s Hotter than Georgia Asphalt

Tomato recipes on www.virginiawillis.com

It’s super hot and the peak of summer. We may be wilting, but tomatoes are thriving! A garden-ripe, fresh tomato is the absolute ultimate in summer produce. Out of season tomatoes are flavorless rock-hard orbs shipped from some other hemisphere. Out of season tomatoes are pure disappointment. In season, tomatoes are bursting with flavor, juicy and luscious. There is nothing as wonderful as the full, rich, almost wine-like flavor of a vine ripe tomato. So, when it’s tomato season, I heartily endorse eating those glorious ripe ones as often as possible. (more…)

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Skillet Suppers: Hoppin’ John and Limpin’ Susan

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During a busy week sometimes a “Skillet Supper” is the way to go. Toss some ingredients in the skillet, pop it in the oven, and dinner cooks itself. This is one of those busy weeks for me, so I’m sharing a recipe for a Hoppin’ John and Limpin’ Susan mash-up from Lighten Up, Y’all and linking to my recipe for Pork Chops with Cabbage and Sweet Potato on Southern Kitchen. (More about that in a bit….)

Hoppin’ John is an old-fashioned country dish traditionally served on New Year’s Day. It’s made with peas, rice, and most often flavored with a hunk of pork such as salt pork, fatback, or hog jowl. So who is Limpin’ Susan? Legend has it that Limpin’ Susan was the wife of Hoppin’ John. There seems to be little known about the origin of the name for Limpin’ Susan, but the one constant is that it typically consists of rice, bacon, and okra. Both are one-pot, inexpensive meals. In this recipe, I have reunited the happy couple. It seems to me if one is hopping and the other is limping, they probably need each other to lean on! (more…)

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