Broccoli Soup

There are a lot of Broccoli Soup recipes out there and many of there are delicious. I’ve made a number of variations myself over the years. Here’s one I made today that went over well.

Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped broccoli (I used frozen and the amount is pretty much a guesstimate)

    broccoli-soup

    Broccoli Soup

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup half and half or cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese (Parmesan would work well too)
  • 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15 oz. can of white beans, drained and well rinsed (just about any kind work or use a couple cups of freshly cooked beans).
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Put it Together

  • Heat olive oil in a soup pot and then saute the onions and garlic for a few minutes until soft.
  • Add the broccoli, red pepper flakes, and chicken stock. Heat til just boiling and simmer until broccoli is done (6-8 minutes)
  • Add the white beans and heat a few more minutes. Remove from burner and let cool a few minutes.
  • With an immersion blender, puree the soup. You can also puree in a regular blender and work in batches.
  • Add the cheese and cream. Heat a couple more minutes and then serve with crackers, crusty bread or toasted garlic bread. A salad on the side can complete the meal or serve as a side with a main dish.

Kale Quinoa Salad

The original inspiration for this salad came from Smitten Kitchen. I’ve had to make several changes to accommodate the availability of ingredients in our rural area. The end result was a hit with the family and I’ve made it several times since.

Kale Quinoa Salad

Ingredients – Dressing

  • 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

    Kale Quinoa Salad

    Kale Quinoa Salad

  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of kale (I’ve used both the curly kale and the dinosaur (aka Lacinator) kale.
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 bunch of scallions, sliced part ways up into the green stalk.
  • 5 oz bag dried tart cherries (my daughter used cranberries instead)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted until light brown and cool.
  • Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • Lemon zest gratings

Put it All Together

  1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups boiling water and a 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until tender. Rinse quinoa well in cold water and drain. Set aside.
  2. Rinse and dry the kale. Remove the leaves from the stalks, discarding the stalks. Finely chop the kale and put in a large bowl.  (Do make sure it is chopped finely. )
  3. Add the quinoa, scallions, cherries, almonds and mix well.
  4. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour over the dressing. Grate some lemon zest over the salad. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Add the Feta cheese to the individual servings.
  6. This servers 3-4 as a meal or several smaller servings if used as a side.

Surprisingly, this salad will keep well in the refrigerator for a day.

Easy Cabbage Soup

Not much to say about this soup except that it is TOTALLY awesome. I had posted a link to the recipe on Simply Recipes on Facebook awhile back and it generated a lot of comments. This soup is incredibly easy to make, healthy, and tastes great. I tweaked a few ingredients from the original. The spices are essential to this soup, so please don’t skip them!

Easy Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin seed
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds (grind them in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder used for spices)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

    cabbage soup

    Cabbage Soup

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-7 cups packed of sliced cabbage (I make slices around a quarter inch)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 14 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups water (depends on desired thickness of soup)
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Put it All Together

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat in a soup pot (8 qt).  Add the garlic, onions, and spices. Cook until onions are softened, 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the cabbage to the onions, stirring to mix. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
  3. Add the tomatoes and juices to the onions, again stirring.
  4. Add the chicken broth. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 25-30 minutes or until cabbage is thoroughly cooked.
  5. If soup is too thick, add additional water or broth.

This is a light soup. I have sautéed some sliced Andouille sausage for users to add to the soup at their discretion. My husband likes this addition.

Buckwheat Pancakes

I love Sunday morning breakfast. Church is later in the morning, and it’s fun to make a special meal when I have time to spare. Buckwheat pancakes with real maple syrup, sausage, and fresh fruit is one we really enjoy. I got the original recipe from Simply Recipes and made it our own. Buckwheat has an earthy flavor and Simply Recipes says you can substitute the wheat flour for all buckwheat (which is gluten free). I haven’t tried that.

Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour ( use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (again, Bob’s Red Mill)

    buckwheat pancakes

    Buckwheat Pancakes with Sausage and Blackberries

  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 rounded tsp. baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk

Put it All Together

  1. Heat a griddle or non-stick pan to medium heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and start mixing.
  4. Add the slightly beaten egg to the buttermilk. Slowly add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients until you get the desired consistency for the pancakes. You may need to add or not use all buttermilk.
  5. Put a small amount of vegetable oil or spray on the heated pan/griddle.
  6. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles appear on top (3.4 minutes). Turn for an additional 2-3 minutes or until nicely browned.
  7. Serve with warmed REAL maple syrup, the fresh fruit of your choice (we use a variety of fresh berries), and sausage or bacon if desired.

Scrambled Eggs – All Dressed Up

I’m not a huge egg fan by any stretch of the imagination, as my family will attest, but today seemed like a good day to make them for a brunch. Our church service was at 0900 instead of later in the morning this week, so we went before breakfast and ate afterwards.

If I’m going to eat eggs, they need to be amped up a bit so I don’t taste the egg too much. I add lots of veggies and cheese and then serve with toast and some fruit. (Today the fruit was clementines).

Scrambled Eggs – All Dressed Up

Ingredients

  • 7 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

    eggs

    Scrambled Eggs All Dressed Up

  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 4-6 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced (I like to use baby Portobella mushrooms, but pic what you like)
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (Usually use the white)
  • 1 tsp. tarragon, dried
  • 1/4 tsp. truffle oil
  • Olive oil and/or butter

Put It All Together

  1. Prepare the garlic, pepper, mushrooms, and cheese. Set aside for the moment.
  2. Crack the  eggs into a medium bowl and add a 1/4 cup water. Mix thoroughly. An immersion blender works wonderful!
  3. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat until a drop of water spatters. Add 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil and/or butter and heat again. Add garlic, pepper, mushrooms and tarragon. Sauté until soft – about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs to the pan and then top with the cheese. Let eggs cook for a half minute. Then with a rubber or wooden spatula, gently push the eggs from the side to the center of the pan. Continue until there is no liquid left. (I find the eggs get fluffier when I add the cheese at the start of cooking).
  5. Sprinkle the truffle oil over the top of the eggs. This is optional, but it does give a delicious umami/earthy flavor to the eggs that I absolutely adore.
  6. Serve with toasted whole wheat bread and fruit.

My New Favorite Chicken Soup

I published a chicken soup recipe awhile back here that I’ve made for years. These past few months I’ve found a new way of making chicken soup that is much faster to put together and tastes pretty darn good!

My son has been “into” brining poultry after we brined a turkey for Thanksgiving last year. He uses a recipe where uses equal amounts of kosher salt and sugar boiled to completely dissolve and then cool. He then puts two chickens in a large container with the brine and refrigerates over night. The next day he rinses the chickens in cold water, applies an herb run and roasts them. This is absolutely delicious and there is leftover chicken for salads, sandwiches and soups for a week for three of us. Maybe I’ll get more details later and publish a full blog on Brined Chicken! You can use any type of chicken you have available for this soup, however.

chicken soup

Fast Homemade Chicken Soup.

Chicken Soup – Fast to Make

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cut up roasted chicken
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I use 2 – 32 oz. boxes of broth – or make your own broth as noted in my original chicken soup recipe).
  • 2-4 cups hot water – depending on how much liquid you want in your soup
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp (generous) of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 pkg frozen spinach (10 oz) – I’ve also used fresh chopped bok choy or baby spinach. Leave the spinach out for a couple hours to thaw if possible, but not necessary.
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or equivalent dried parsley)

Put it Together

  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add garlic and sauté briefly. Add thyme, red pepper flakes, onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until just tender – 7-10 minutes.
  2. While veggies are sautéing, warm the chicken broth in another pan until almost boiling. Add this to the original soup pan and bring mixture to a low boil. Add bay leaves.
  3. Rinse the barley in warm water for a minute or two. Add this to the broth mixture. Bring soup back to low boil and simmer until barley is done. This usually takes 35-30 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach and cook until it is thawed or add the fresh spinach or bok choy.
  5. Add chicken and parsley. Cook until hot. Let simmer a few more minutes to meld flavors.
  6. Serve with bread, crackers and/or a simple lettuce salad. Enjoy.

Apple, Cranberry, Sausage Stuffing

I haven’t posted anything for a long time. Doesn’t mean I’m ignoring my blog cuz I use it to lookup my recipes frequently. Work and family seem to have left less time to write. But with Thanksgiving coming, I decided to put down the stuffing recipe I got from my daughter and edited to what we had on hand. This stuffing goes over very well with our guests and it’s open to any tweaking or changes the cook wants to make!

Apple, Cranberry, Sausage Stuffing

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 loaves of 100% whole wheat or multi-grain bread.
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs pork sausage (you could substitute turkey sausage if desired)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple, cored & chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. dried sage
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 6 Tbsp. melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley. Substitute dried if not available.
  • 4-5 cups liquid – mixture of chicken/turkey broth and water – use proportions as you wish.

Put it Together:

  1. Cube the bread in desired size. (My hubby did an awesome job of making nice small cubes of the bread and it made a difference in the outcome). Put the bread in a couple of cake pans and toast in oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Check on this frequently and stir as needed as the bread isn’t in a single layer. Remove when it’s at your desired “toastiness” 🙂 and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Brown the sausage in skillet. When almost done, add the onions and garlic. Stir until onions done and sausage is nicely browned… probably another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the celery, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Stir a few more minutes to meld flavors.
  4. Pour sausage mixture over dried bread cubes. Add apple, cranberries, melted butter and parsley. Mix.
  5. Add broth, stirring until desired consistency is reached. The last time I made this, I used 4 1/2 cups broth. The dryness of the bread and how moist you want it if you stuff the turkey will dictate the amount of liquid used.
  6. You may either stuff the turkey or bake the stuffing in the oven. I have baked it at 350 for 45 minutes or so. I also like to put it in a crockpot on low for a couple hours.

Berry Crisp

I’ve always liked Apple Crisp from when my Mother and Grandmother used to make it when I was a child…. fond childhood memories, comfort food and all that goes with it!

My daughter recently made a Berry Crisp when we were visiting her – it was sumptious. Got the recipe from her and adjusted to what we had on hand. The fruit measurements are close to what I had available. You can use any combination you have on hand just so you have 4 1/2 – 5 cups of fruit – even if it’s only one or two kinds. I’ve been thinking of using peaches or nectarines for one of the fruits sometime.

Berry Crisp

Ingredients – filling:

  •  1 1/2  cups sliced/diced strawberries

    Berry Crisp

    Berry Crisp – fresh out of the oven. One helping removed before it even cooled!

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I’ve been using raw cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (I love Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon.
  • 2 tsp. corn starch

Ingredients – Topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups rolled whole oatmeal (not quick kind)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I use pastry flour)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (See my Penzey’s link on filling)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar.
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts (I’ve used sliced almonds or pecans cuz that’s what was there. You can omit if you wish, but why??)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Put it Together:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Put all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix topping ingredients (except for butter) thoroughly. Add the butter and mix again.
  4. Put the fruit mixture in a deep dish pie pan.
  5. Cover with the topping mixture, spreading out evenly.
  6. Bake in 375 degree F oven for 40 minutes or until fruit is done and topping lightly browned.

Serve plain, with whipped cream, or with vanilla yogurt. This is not overly sweet, so it could easily be served for breakfast. In fact, I have had it for breakfast :-). Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Granola – for breakfast and snacking

I’ve been on a granola kick lately. I used to make it a lot when the kids were younger, but got away from that. Then my daughter made this granola for us that we really liked and inspired me to start again. Got her recipe and then made some changes just because I could. I’ve made this a few times and it’s gone over quite well. I had searched the Internet for recipes, but they all had too much oil and/or sweetener in them. So this is what I came up with…

UPDATE: Updated 8/26/17 to reflect my current use of ingredients.

Granola

Ingredients

Granola

Granola

  • 8-9 cups Old-Fashioned Oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups natural whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or use 2 c almonds)
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 rounded Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup REAL Maple Syrup
  • 1 – 2 cups dried fruit – I’ve used cherries, raisins, currents

Put it Together

  1. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, seeds, nuts, cinnamon, salt
  2. In a small bowel combine oil, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the syrup mixture over the cereal mixture. Mix thoroughly to coat everything.
  4. pour in two cake pans and spread out evenly.
  5.  Bake at 260 degrees for 1 1/2 hours… stir every 30 minutes to bake evenly.
  6. Remove from oven and put granola into large bowl. Let cool. Add dried fruit and store in containers.
I put this on my yogurt/fresh fruit mixture for breakfast. My son likes to eat it by the handful as a snack.
There is room for a lot of variation in the recipe…. you could use a mixture of grains, add some flax meal. Substitute walnuts for the pecans. Use honey instead of maple syrup…. you get the picture :-).

Stir Fried Broccoli with a Kick

We had quite a bit of broccoli in our garden, especially after the first frost…my son froze it in several gallon freezer bags. We wanted to do something besides the typical stir-fry or steam/boil… so this is what we came up with. The amounts are really just what we had on hand and what looked good, so feel free to experiment. My son added the Cajun seasoning and we find that we like it! Putting lots of thin sliced onions in the mix gives this a delicious treat.

Stir Fried Broccoli with a Kick

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of fresh broccoli cut in bite size pieces or a large bag of frozen broccoli
  • 2-3 medium onions – cut in half and sliced thin
  • 5-6 large cloves garlic, minced

    stir-fried-broccoli

    Stir Fried Broccoli with a Kick

  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cajun seasoning such as Slap Ya Momma which can be found on Amazon

Put it Together:

  1. Steam the frozen broccoli until it is thawed and slightly done. If using fresh, steam for 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse in cool water.
  2. Heat Olive Oil in large pan and saute the onions, garlic, and red pepper a couple minutes until onions are starting to go limp.
  3. Add the drained broccoli and continue cooking until done.
  4. Season with sea salt and the Cajun seasoning.

White Bean Dip

I got the recommend of this recipe from my sister who found it on Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks.com web site. Made a few changes such as more beans and less olive oil… upped the garlic and rosemary also. It is an awesome recipe!!

White Bean Dip

  • 2 – 15 oz. cans white beans (I’ve used Cannellini & Great Northern) or cook the dry beans and use 3 1/2 cups of cooked beans.
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced

    White Bean Dip

    White Bean Dip

  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 5 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 – 3/4 cup water

Put it Together:

  1. In small saucepan, heat olive oil and add rosemary and garlic. Cook on low sizzle for 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Pour through a strainer and set aside the olive oil.
  2. Rinse beans and put in medium size bowl.
  3. Add approximately 2/3 of the almonds to the beans along with the lemon juice, salt, 1/4 cup water and 4 Tbsp. Olive Oil.
  4. Puree the bean mixture adding additional water as needed to make a creamy paste to your desired consistency.
  5. Put the bean mixture in a serving dish (I use an oval shaped dish). Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top, add the lemon zest and the remaining toasted almonds.
  6. Serve with whole grain crackers, pita crackers, or veggies and enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli is probably one of the more popular cruciferous vegetables being touted for its health benefits… but there are numerous other ones. Brussels sprouts is a favorite around here…. and our most favorite way of preparing it is to roast it. My mother used to harvest brussels sprouts from our garden after the first frost and prepare them by boiling and serving with butter. I always liked this, but roasting takes it to a new level.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs. fresh brussels sprouts

    brussels-sprouts-unclooked

    Brussels Sprouts before roasting

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Maldon Salt (you can use any salt (regular or sea salt), but Maldon Salt adds a nice dimension to this dish
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Put it Together:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Clean brussels sprouts – cut ends off, halve, and rinse in water, removing any leaves that are damaged or wilted. Drain.
  3. Combine brussels sprouts and olive oil in a 13 x 9 inch cake pan. Add salt and lightly mix.
  4. Roast brussels sprouts in oven 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss a few times to mix during roasting time. Season with pepper and additional salt if desired.

    roasted brussels sprouts

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  5. Serve and enjoy!!

White Bean Chicken Chili

I’ve never made white bean chili, but I’ve tasted a few variations. The weather is cold and windy, and it seemed like a good time for a new recipe. This one comes together pretty fast. It is based on several recipes I found and the ingredients I had on hand. We all thought it was pretty good and will make it again.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    white bean chili

    White Bean Chicken Chili

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 – 32 oz. box chicken stock (4 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 cups cooked chicken, diced (preferably the white meat)
  • 5 cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese – Monterey Jack, white Cheddar, Pepper Jack. May also use sour cream instead.
Put it Together:
  1. Heat olive oil in large pot. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until slightly cooked – 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add broth, water, and chicken. Cook a few minutes until slow boil.
  4. Remove 1-2 cups liquid and pure two cans of drained, rinsed beans with an immersion blender or food processor. Add to soup.
  5. Add remaining 3 cans rinsed, drained beans and cook mixture 30 minutes or so to blend flavors.
  6. Stir in cilantro.
  7. Serve and top with cheese or sour cream.

Simmered Cabbage

I really like cabbage, but don’t think to cook it as often as I should as it’s so good for you with all sorts of antioxidants and cancer fighting substances. I also like it raw as in coleslaw, but when fall and winter are here, cooked cabbage is always a nice addition to the meal. Here’s what I like to make (Note to self: Make it more often!). My husband thought it was awesome, so the recipe will stay in the “list of things to make.”

Simmered Cabbage

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped (around 4-5 cups)

    simmered cabbage

    Simmered cabbage

  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
Put it Together:
  1. Melt butter and add olive oil to large skillet
  2. Add garlic and saute briefly
  3. Add cabbage, salt & pepper and saute 5 minutes, stirring often
  4. Add the broth, bring to just boiling, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until done, stirring often.
  6. Season with additional salt & pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Taco Seasoning for Taco Meat

Well, here it is Sunday, and looking for a quick lunch/dinner after church. I used to make tacos for Sunday dinner all the time when our kids were young as it was quick and they liked it (or at least they ate it). How could I lose? Anyway, decided to make it today as I thought I had all the ingredients. Turns out – no taco seasoning! After a quick search on the Internet, I came up with something I thought would work based on several ideas.

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. Ancho chili powder (this is a milder, sweeter chili powder that I really like – sub as you wish)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt  (you can use regular salt; I’m just a lover of sea salt as flavor seems brighter)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper (this is really a ballpark measure – I ground until I was sick of it)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • NOTE: I add fresh onions and garlic to my taco meat – otherwise you will want to add onion and garlic powder.

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. This batch should make 2 batches of taco meat, depending on how much you use.

If you want to know how I used it, here’s what I did today… tomorrow may be different 🙂

Put it together with the hamburger:

  1. Brown 1 lb hamburger, draining fat.
  2. Add 3-4 cloves garlic and 1 onion, chopped. Cook until onions are done.
  3. Drain 1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans. Rinse, add to meat mixture and mash slightly.
  4. Add 1 small can of diced green chilies
  5. Add 2 Tbsp. of Taco seasoning and 1 cup of water. Cook until desired consistency, adding water if needed.
  6. Put your tacos together as desired.
  7. This went over VERY well with all present. The green chilies and kidney beans were a new addition and think I’ll keep them.

New Chili Recipe

Hot Peppers from our garden

Hot Peppers from our garden

I was at my sister’s this past week and she made chilil…. a nice dish to welcome the fall weather. It inspired me to make a pot of chili when I got home. Instead of my usual recipe where I marinate the meat overnight (which should be another entry), I put this together using hot peppers from our garden. Not sure what the variety of pepper it is, but it added a nice kick to the chili. Here’s a picture of the peppers in case anyone knows what they are (I didn’t plant them).

Here’s the recipe as I recall. There is no recipe to reference… just put it together as the mood suited me at the moment.

My New Chili Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 14 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4+ hot peppers, minced (wear latex/vinyl gloves when you do this – voice of experience speaking. You are NEVER as careful as you think you will be.)
  • 2 Tbsp. Ancho Chili Powder (much milder and a bit sweeter than regular chili powder)

    Chili server with tortilla chips

  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin powder
  • 2 tsp. of oregano
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)

Putting it Together:

  1. Brown hamburger, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired & then set aside.
  2. Heat Olive Oil and then saute celery, garlic, and onions until soft. Add hamburger.
  3. Add Ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano and hot peppers. cook a few minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and kidney beans, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Cover and simmer 1-2 hrs to meld the flavors. Add water if it becomes too thick.
  6. Server with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if desired.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal

I’m a breakfast person. Having some food in the morning makes me think better and generally feel better the rest of the day. Have a few things I rotate through for breakfast depending on my mood. One thing I’ve been into this past winter is steel cut oatmeal. It’s

Uncooked Steel-Cut Oats

different than the rolled oats you get in the store. It is the whole grain groat (inner portion of kernel) that has been cut into 2-3 pieces with steel rather than rolled. It looks a bit like rice, except a golden brown.

There are a lot of minor variations on how to cook steel-cut oats. Here’s what I currently use.

Steel-Cut Oats (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups 1% milk (I generally use organic milk)
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Honey & cinnamon to taste

Directions

  1. Combine water, milk, & salt in small cooking pot
  2. Heat until just boiling on medium heat. (NOTE: Watch carefully!! With milk, it will come to a boil quickly).
  3. Add oats and vanilla. Cook on medium-low, until done. Stir frequently (like every minute or two – you don’t want this sticking to the bottom of the pot!)
  4. It takes 20-25 minutes to cook. It has a pearly texture when finished cooking.
  5. Pour into 4 cereal bowls. Top with honey and cinnamon.
  6. You may wish to serve with fruit and/or maple syrup. My husband puts chocolate syrup on his and thinks it tastes like chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Thin with additional milk or water if needed.

You can make this with only water, but the milk gives it a nice creamy flavor. You can find steel-cut oats in most grocery stores. It’s a bit spendy, but my son has found it for a fraction of the price at a local food coop.

Seafood Corn Chowder

Winter’s almost over and spring “should” be just around the corner. The soups may be put aside for awhile, but want to publish one more that we’ve eaten several times this past winter. I got the original recipe from my “Clean Eating” magazine, and as usual, made a few changes. Here’s our rendition…

Seafood Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced (amount depends on heat desired)
  • 2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika (This IS different from the typical Sweet Hungarian Paprika)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, diced
  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup milk (1% or 2%)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery; season with salt & pepper.  Cook until soft (8-10 minutes)
  2. Add jalapeno, paprika & thyme & cook an additional minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add broth, bring to boil. Add potatoes, reduce heat to simmer until potatoes are just tender (8-10 minutes)
  4. Add corn & milk. Simmer 3-5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour 3-4 cups of soup mixture into a small bowl. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Pour back into soup mixture. This thickens the soup without using a flour mixture and still leave the texture of the veggies.
  6. Add scallops, shrimp, & scallions/parsley. Cook until fish is done (or warmed if using frozen fish).
  7. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with additional parsley or scallions for a finishing touch.

The interesting thing about this soup is the use of the smoked paprika to give it a smokey taste. If you wish, you could add or replace this with a few slices of cooked, crumbled bacon. The choice is yours 🙂

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

I love soups of all kinds, and this winter weather makes me want a bowl of soup even more.  Today we are in a “blizzard warning,” so figured some comfort food was in order. There are a lot of variations on Chicken Wild Rice Soup, so I took one a few years ago and made it mine. I believe I picked up the original from my Cooking Light magazine. The ingredient list may seem long, but it really doesn’t take a lot to put this soup together.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

  • 1.5 – 2 cups cooked Wild Rice, cooked according to package instructions & drained – amount depends on thickness desired.
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1.5 cups onions, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped, diced, or sliced
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1 (8 oz.) package mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
  • Additional water if needing to thin soup
  • 3 Tbsp. dry sherry (optional or sub a dry white wine at 1/2 cup)
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk (I’ve substituted 2% milk with good results)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp. thyme
  • 3/4 tsp tarragon
  • 3 cups roasted chicken, cut into small pieces or shredded
  • 1/3 cup parsley, minced

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms until tender (6-8 minutes)
  3. Add the thyme and tarragon. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook an additional minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the broth, water, sherry, and milk. Bring mixture to a low boil, and cook 2o minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  5. Add chicken and wild rice. Bring to boil and cook an additional 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add parsley and cook and additional minute or two.
  7. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
  8. Serve and enjoy. This feeds 4 of us with rarely any leftovers (we have more than one bowl).

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I really like the fall orange vegetables available this time of year. I particularly like sweet potatoes and will pop one in the toaster oven for a meal. I’ll season it with cinnamon, various curries, nutmeg, or whatever suits me at the moment. Recently, I saw a recipe for Mashed Sweet Potatoes with vanilla. Made a few changes and served it up for Thanksgiving. It was well received.

Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 large sweet potatoes or 6 medium sized ones
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated is best
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest

Directions

  1. Cut ends off sweet potatoes and bake in oven at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hr or until done.
  2. Remove potatoes from oven and cool long enough so that you can handle them to peel skins off. Cut in chunks and place in medium sized bowl.
  3. Put milk and orange zest in small cooking pan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrap seeds. Put all in milk mixture, bring to just simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the long vanilla bean. (the aroma of this is just heavenly!)
  4. Add milk mixture, butter, and nutmeg to peeled sweet potatoes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add more milk if mixture is too thick for you. Serve with sea salt and white pepper for additional seasoning if desired.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Another comfort food for our family is Homemade Chicken Soup. We make it several times every winter and it has become a

Homemade Chicken Soup

tradition for our Christmas Eve meal. My daughter & husband were home for a week and she asked me to make soup while she was home. Here’s the recipe, but note, that there is a lot of flexibility & measurements are not precise to say the least.

Homemade Chicken Soup

First, make the broth:

  • 1  3-4 lb chicken, thawed if frozen (I put in the whole chicken, but you could cut it up if you wish)
  • 3-4 Bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion, cut in half
  • 2-4 whole cloves (put them in the onion halves)
  • 1 bulb garlic, cut in half
  • 1-2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3-4 stalks celery, cut in large chunks
  1. Put all ingredients in a large pressure cooker. Put enough water in it to just cover the chicken.
  2. Put pressure cooker on stove, cover and heat to boiling, cooking for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Put the pressure cooker weight on the steam vent when it has been putting out steam for several minutes. Cook at 12 lbs pressure for 45 minutes. Turn the heat off and let pressure come back to normal.
  4. Remove the cover from the pressure cooker carefully… drain the chicken broth using a colander into a large stock pan. Discard all solids except the chicken. Remove the meat from the chicken bones and refrigerate until you make the soup. Put the broth in the refrigerator overnight. The next day you can remove any fat that rises to the top.
  5. You should now have some lovely chicken broth.
  6. If you don’t have a pressure cooker or choose not to use one, you can simmer all the above ingredients in a stock pot for several hours until the chicken is done and pulling easily from the bones.

Now put the soup together:

  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 1 lb. carrots, sliced
  • 5-6 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • Diced chicken from the broth above – add as much as you wish. Sometimes I put some aside for sandwiches or another dish.
  • 1 large bunch parsley, chopped (either curly parsley or flat Italian parsley)
  • Chicken broth made above
  1. Put chicken broth on stove and heat to boiling.
  2. Rinse pearled barley in warm water and then add to the chicken broth. Cook 30 minutes or until almost done.
  3. Add carrots, celery, & onions. Cook 15-20 minutes or until done.
  4. Add the chicken and heat until simmering.
  5. Add parsley and cook another 5-10 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning with salt & pepper.
  7. Serve with fresh bread or crackers.

I will sometimes add diced potatoes in addition to or in place of the barley.

Banana Bread

Today was a lazy day for me…. Saturday and no work. But there were 3 ripe bananas sitting on the counter, so decided to make banana bread. Haven’t made it for awhile, so pulled out my recipe and “doctored” it up a bit. Here’s the result. If I do say so, it was delicious!!

Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Sucanat (you can substitute 1 cup granulated sugar, but the slight molasses flavor of sucanat gives it a good flavor – maybe add 1 Tbsp. molasses to the sugar – just a thought)
  • 1/2 cup Butter, softened,
  • 2 Eggs, large
  • 3 ripe Bananas
  • 1.5 Tbsp. Milk
  • 1/4 cup ground Flax Seed
  • 1 3/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Nuts of your choice (i.e. walnuts, pecans, almonds…)
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F
  2. Cream butter and sucanat. Add eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. In separate bowl, mash bananas and milk. I used my immersion blender to make it nice and smooth. Add to butter mixture, combining until well mixed.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, flax seed meal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  5. Add dry ingredients to banana-butter mixture, combining until flour just disappears. Do not over-mix. Adjust consistency with flour or milk if needed.
  6. Divide batter into 3 mini loaf pans (approx. size is 3.5 x 5.75 inches) that have been sprayed with a cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes at 325 F or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let pans cool 5 minutes on a rack. Turn out of pans and enjoy!

I will sometimes put in 1/2 cup of mini-chocolate chips in this and that is awesome. Of course, we are of the opinion that chocolate rarely hurts anything!!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I’ve always loved pizza – any way you slice it. When I was younger growing up on a farm, my sister and I made pizza from scratch many Saturday nights. We’d enjoy it for supper and then have leftovers for breakfast on Sunday morning before we went to church. I still like pizza, but now I’m a bit more conscientious on the ingredients. One thing I really like to use is homemade whole wheat pizza dough for the crust. There a lots of variations on the Internet on pizza dough, so thought I’d put my version down….

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

3 – 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups warm water (I make sure it’s warm to the wrist)

Showing off the homemade pizza & crust

1 Tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
1. Measure out the warm water and add sugar and yeast. Stir and let set 5-10 minutes until foamy. (If it doesn’t get foamy, the water is either too hot and you killed the yeast or too cold and it can’t “grow.”)
2. After the yeast mixture has become foamy, add the salt and olive oil.
3. In a medium sized bowl, add 3 cups flour. Pour in the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add more flour if needed.
4. Put the flour mixture on a cutting board that has been lightly floured. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed.
5. Lightly oil the dough, put back in bowl, and cover with a dish towel. Let sit 1/2 hr to 1 hr or until dough has doubled in size. Punch dough down and knead a few more minutes. Put back in bowl, cover, and let rise another 30-45 minutes.
6. The dough should now be ready to make some fabulous pizza. I roll it thin and bake the pizza on a cornmeal “floured” pizza baking stone.

Sometime I will put together a recipe for the rest of the pizza. We usually just “throw” things together and then bake, so need to do some measurements.

Fresh Basil Pesto

I absolutely LOVE fresh basil and one of the favorite things I like to do with it is make fresh pesto. There are a lot of recipes out there for pesto.

fresh basil pesto

Fresh Basil Pesto

They basically combine fresh basil, nuts (usually pine nuts), garlic, olive oil, Parmesan, Romano or some similar cheese, and season with salt and pepper. My version varies by the ingredients I have on hand (or usually don’t have on hand). This is the way I made it today and no one is complaining….

Fresh Basil Pesto
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese (fresh grated is always best, but not always in my house)

1/3 cup pine nuts (I’ve seen Walnuts and Brazil nuts substituted, but never tried them as I really like the taste of pine nuts even tho’ they are spendy).
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (I usually use 1/2 cup, but was short on olive oil)
6+ medium sized garlic cloves, minced (most recipes seem to call for 2-4 cloves, but we like garlic and have some fresh from the garden)
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (Good quality salt and pepper really brightens the taste, IMHO).

Directions:
1. Combine the basil with the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add garlic and pulse a few more times until evenly chopped.
2. Slowly add the olive oil in a stream while the food processor is on. Stop half ways through to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
3. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Pesto can be served in numerous ways, but my favorite way is to cook some fresh whole wheat pasta and put a couple tablespoons on a serving. You can also put it on pizza, pasta with marinara sauce, or even a dollop or two in homemade soup. The possibilities are endless 🙂

Rice and Edamame

Haven’t written for a long time it seems…. work has kept me more busy than I’d like, so haven’t done much cooking. However, thought I’d put this “quick” recipe down that I like to fix when I don’t have to think much. It takes a bit of time to cook the brown rice, but the hands on is totally low.

Edamame are green soybeans and are a good protein source. Historically, edamame come from Asian cultures. I first tasted this dish when my sister prepared it with white rice. Since our family likes brown rice, I used that and added the saffron which gives a nice subtle flavor.

Brown Rice and Edamame

1 cup brown rice
4 cups water, divided
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
pinch of saffron
2/3 cup. frozen edamame, shelled
Soy sauce, to taste

Directions:
1. Boil 2 cups water and add 1/2 tsp. sea salt and a pinch of saffron threads.
2. Add the rice, turn heat to low, cover, and cook for 30-40 minutes or until water is absorbed.
3. In a separate cooking pan, bring another couple cups of salted water to boil. Add edamame and boil 3-5 minutes. Drain.
5. Put rice in bowl, top with edamame and season with soy sauce.
6. Servers 2-3