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Turnip & Sweet Potato Soup

12 May

Oh, the joys trials joys of a late winter/early spring CSA. So many root vegetables in March and April! Pounds of sweet potatoes, turnips, or rutabagas each week. Though now that it’s a bit warmer and there’s just greens greens and more greens, I kind of miss sweet potatoes. If you told me a month ago that I’d be saying that now, I would have said you were crazy, but there it is.

Actually, I don’t mind having a million sweet potatoes. I love ’em. I figured out how to cook them in the microwave, which makes for quick, last-minute meals. My favorite has been sweet potato & black bean quesadillas. Muy delicioso.

Rutabagas and turnips, on the other hand… Honestly, if I don’t see another rutabaga or turnip for a decade, I’d be okay with that.

At any rate, I had to figure out something to do with these veggies. I actually made this soup a couple months ago and forgot to post it, so here it is! If you get any last root veggies from your garden, try this out. It’s not incredibly flavorful, so you really taste the fresh vegetables. And I think that makes the walnuts necessary. The kale I could have done without, to be honest, but that was a healthy addition, so whatevs. It’s not very substantial, so serve this as an appetizer or side dish.

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Turnip and Sweet Potato Soup adapted from The New York Times

1 T olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound turnips, peeled and diced
1/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz curly kale, stemmed and washed (optional)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil over medium in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the turnips, potatoes, water/stock, bay leaf, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45-60 minutes, until the turnips are very tender. Remove the bay leaf.

Optional: While the soup is simmering, blanch the kale in boiling salted water just until tender, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain, and squeeze out excess water. Slice into thin strips.

After removing the bay leaf from your soup, puree with a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls topped with greens and toasted walnuts.

Turnip Soup

 

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Block Party from Hungry Happenings
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Life of the Party from The Grant Life
City of Links Party from City of Creative Dreams

Pimento Cheese

7 Apr

I was sitting at my kitchen table with the BF and friends staying the night with us, all working on our laptops and sharing a bottle of wine. I was struggling with what to write for this post, so I said, “Finish this sentence: Pimento cheese is as Southern as…”

I got a lot of inappropriate answers that are probably best not to share here. Let’s just say that the bottle of wine really had the jokes flowing.

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I actually thought I hated pimento cheese. I am a North Carolina native, a Tar Heel born and bred, but my family isn’t particularly Southern, more just a typical suburban American family. And I grew up in a part of North Carolina where I went to school mostly with transplant kids, from places like New York, New Hampshire, India, and China.

So pimento cheese… This was not a thing my mom made. I’d only ever had store-bought stuff, which is super nasty. The pre-shredded “cheese product” tastes more like wax than cheddar, and there’s always wayyy too much mayonnaise. Nasty. But I tasted a gourmet pimento cheese at a friend’s a few months ago, and I started to reconsider. It wasn’t perfect, and it still had too much mayo, but it was good enough that it got me thinking. So I decided to make my own.

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I researched recipes for a long time, trying to figure out what I would like. I ended up going off on my own thing because I couldn’t find anything that sounded good.

But after trying some of this… goodness, it was so delicious! I mean, I ate so much cheese. So much cheese. You can’t really tell scale from that first picture, but that’s a HUGE bowl.

For book club, we’d read I Capture the Castle, a lovely coming-of-age story about a teenage girl living in genteel poverty in England. So to keep with the theme, we made tea party food: tea sandwiches, quiche, fruit salad, scones. I made three varieties of tea sandwiches: cucumber and cream cheese, peanut butter and raspberry jelly, and — the club favorite — pimento cheese. It was a lovely English/Southern fusion, and I highly recommend it. The pimento cheese was so popular that after we polished off all the little sandwiches, I set out the bowl of leftovers and some crackers, and we went to town on that too!

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A little note on the recipe: the cheddar is my favorite part, and if that’s yours too, you might consider changing your cheese ratio to 1 lb cheddar and 1/2 lb colby jack. The cheddar is definitely a requirement, but you also might consider swapping out the colby jack for another favorite cheese — maybe a pepper jack for a bit more kick, or maybe a creamy monterey jack. Oh! Another requirement: take the time to grate fresh cheese yourself. Waxy, flavorless, pre-shredded cheese is NOT allowed in my house.

Pimento Cheese

3/4 lb extra sharp cheddar, grated
3/4 lb colby jack, grated
1 (4 oz) jar pimentos, drained
1/2 tsp powdered garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch cayenne
3 T mayo

In a small bowl, stir together the mayo and spices. Add the pimentos.

In a large bowl, add the grated cheese. Carefully stir the mayo and pimento mixture into the cheese.

 

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Block Party from Hungry Happenings
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderfully Creative Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Life of the Party from The Grant Life
All Things Pretty from My Fashion Foward Blog
City of Links Party from City of Creative Dreams

Classic Potato Soup

4 Nov

I feel like all I’m posting lately are soups and desserts. But that’s pretty much all I’m cooking, so I guess that’s about right. I’m not sure how long my soup obsession will last — it’s a relatively new thing, so I’m not sure if it will stick around. And of course I’ve always been obsessed with chocolate and sweets, so that seems like a permanent thing.

At any rate, I wanted to share this one with you now because it is so tasty and warm and filling and comforting. So if the time change has got you down — and I know I’m pretty down when I get home from work and it’s already completely dark — then this is the soup for you. It’s delicious and super unhealthy and it will warm you from the inside out. And it’s definitely hearty enough to be a complete meal. Though maybe you could balance it out with a nice salad or something.

Typically I try to give you options for vegetarian/vegan alternatives, and I am usually inclined to take that route myself. And I guess here you could go with vegetable broth and facon if you so desire. But really, if I’m talking comfort food, I’m talking about real bacon. I highly recommend it.

Potato Soup

Potato Soup from The Pioneer Woman

2-3 slices bacon
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 whole small potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cajun spice mix
4 cups (free-range, organic, low sodium) chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cheddar, grated

Cook bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot.

Return the hot to medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice.

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are starting to get tender. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove about 2/3 of the soup, and blend in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Stir in cream. Check for spices, salt, pepper, and temperature, adjusting as needed.

Serve in bowls garnished with grated cheese and crumbled bacon.

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Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Melt In Your Mouth Monday from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderful Food Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove
Foodie Friday from Simple Living & Eating

Apple Cheddar Squash Soup

30 Sep

Do y’all know how much I am loving soup? I never thought of soup as a main dish, except for chili. But after last winter’s CSA, I found myself really enjoying soups, not least because soups are an easy way of sneaking in more veggies into your diet. I’m not a fan of simple vegetables — I like lots of added flavor and spices. The BF is happy eating steamed veggies with salt and butter, but I prefer something a little more than that, so spiced soups are awesome. Plus, I love cooking up a soup and then having bowls and bowls of it leftover for meals throughout the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I eat weird things for breakfast, and soup is one of my favorites to have in the morning.

Squash Soup's On!

When I was researching recipes to use up the 4 dozen apples I had after the Apple Fest, I found this amazing recipe for Apple Cheddar Squash Soup. Even after ABC sandwiches and Honey Apple Cake, I still had apples from the festival. I also happened to get a butternut squash in my CSA that week too, so it seemed like fate. I finally got around to making this soup and have been enjoying it since.

This soup is super tasty with subtle flavors. I thought that the soup tasted better and better with each passing day — the flavors built over a few days in the fridge and were stronger by the time I finished the last bowl around day 5. It is a pureed soup — I love eating pureed soup but I don’t love preparing it. After transferring multiple batches of soup into my semi-functioning food processor, I am feeling the need to invest in an immersion blender soon. The lid on my food processor keeps getting stuck on, and I’m certain that if I keep wrestling with it, this will eventually mean a lot of soup spilled all over my kitchen, and I really don’t want to have to clean that up. How long is it until Christmas again?

Delicious Fall in a Bowl

Apple Cheddar Squash Soup adapted from Food Network

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled butternut squash
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup apple juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Chives for garnish (optional)
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, apples, sweet potato, and squash. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the sage and flour. Add the apple juice and cook over high heat, stirring, until thickened. Add the broth and milk. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the potato is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cheese to the soup and stir over medium-low heat until melted.

Puree in a food processor or blender in batches until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If necessary, transfer back to the pot and cook uncovered over low heat until soup reaches desired consistency.

Garnish with crumbled bacon, chives, and more cheese, if using. Serve with bread.

Linking up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from I Should Be Mopping the FloorTwelve O EightRedhead Can Decorate, and Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
Melt In Your Mouth Monday from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Squashbanzo Soup

26 Aug

This weekend was absolutely gorgeous. The kind of North Carolina weather that makes visitors decide to put down roots. The beautiful weather came a little early, though I suspect this was just a small taste, and we’ll be back to normal sweltering for a few more weeks. Regardless of what Mother Earth brings next, this cool sunshine was a reminder that… drumroll, please… fall is on its way!!

As a kid, summer used to be my favorite season – duh. But as an adult, fall is where it’s at. Nice weather, awesome fashion, delicious food and warm drinks, great traveling. Plus, fall is when the BF and I celebrate our anniversary, so I’m typically reminiscing about falling in love back when we were in college (awwww). And this fall, we’ll celebrate our first wedding anniversary, so I’m looking forward to that.

This summer seemed to go rather quickly, and we have a few fun trips coming up that I think will keep things speeding along. And since I was in the mood to celebrate fall, even if it isn’t here yet, I spent a little time in the kitchen yesterday making this soup. Between the squash and the warm autumn/winter spices, it certainly tastes like fall come early.

Squashbanzo!

I found a recipe for a curried squash soup I thought about trying, but I already shared a curry vegetable soup with you, and I wasn’t in the mood for curry anyway. So I played around with the spices and opted for a more wintry flavor profile. It reminds me of pumpkin bread or chai latte. I also wanted to make this soup a little more substantial so it could be a meal on its own, so I added in some garbanzo beans. Hence the name: squash + garbanzo = squashbanzo. (It seemed like a better name than garsh soup).

This soup is healthy, light, but filling enough to make a meal. The spices certainly fit well on a cold night, but overall, the flavors are light enough and delicious enough to make it enjoyable year-round. Plus, it’s a great way to use up all that summer squash that’s flooding the farmer’s market and our CSA box. Give it a try!

Squash Soup

Squashbanzo Soup adapted from Bon Appetit

1 1/2 large summer squash, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the squash, onion, garlic, and spices. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garbanzo beans and chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until very tender, about 25 minutes.

Puree until smooth using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender or food processor and pureeing in batches.

Just before serving, swirl in a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt and crumble walnuts over top.

Linking up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Summer Pasta Salad

24 Jun

It’s officially summer time! And with the summer solstice, it certainly got dang hot in North Carolina. And muggy. And gross. I’m sweaty all the time. But just for the record, this is NOT a complaint. I most certainly prefer this weather to anything below 60 degrees. Though we’ll see if I’m willing to negotiate that number come July. It’s maxed out at 90 so far, so I may change my mind once it gets into the triple digits.

I went to my nephew’s 6th birthday party on Saturday, which meant hot dogs and pasta salad and cake and ice cream. Yum. That night, I was heading to a potluck for a friend’s housewarming party, and I hadn’t any ideas. But the pasta salad was good inspiration, and I decided to make my own.

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My mom and sister make a very simple, classic pasta salad: noodles, olives, and feta cheese, all held together with Italian salad dressing. I expanded on the idea by adding a bunch of veggies I had in the fridge from our CSA delivery. I left out the olives though: disgusting.

When you make this, there are only two basic things to know:

Girard's

1) Use Girard’s Italian dressing. For reals, it’s the best. And don’t put it on until within an hour or so of serving it. If you put it on too far in advance, the pasta will soak up the dressing, and you’ll have to add more to get more flavor, which is just wasteful, both of the delicious dressing and of calories. If you need to make it in advance, just put everything together except the dressing, and add that when you’re ready. Easy peasy.

2) My family’s basic ratio is a pound of pasta to a bottle of dressing. I cut it to about 3/4 of the bottle, but go with what works for you. As long as you keep that ratio, you can then add whatever fresh, raw veggies you want.

Oh, here’s another tip! Let the pasta air-dry a little bit before you mix everything together. If there’s too much water, the oil-based dressing won’t stick. (But if the pasta is too dry, it will absorb all the oil and flavor.)

The cool thing about this dish is its versatility. You can add whatever veggies you and your family like, so it’s completely and easily customizable. And it can easily serve as a side to hot dogs and burgers OR as a cold main dish, perfect for a hot summer night. Add some beans — edamame would be awesome! — and it would be an even better main course.

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Summer Pasta Salad

1 lb pasta, preferably rotini or bowtie (farfalle)
1 bottle Girard’s Italian dressing
feta cheese, crumbled
1 zucchini, diced and quartered
1 yellow squash, diced and quartered
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
1 handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Boil the pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Chop the vegetables. Place pasta and veggies in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing. Add crumbled feta cheese, to taste.

Toss and serve.

Note: For a vegan dish, omit the feta. For gluten-free, substitute rice-based or other gluten-free pasta for the rotini.

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog
Link Party Thursday from Somewhat Simple

Zucchini-Rutabaga Fritters

29 Apr

Fritters? Latkes? Hashbrowns? Something like that. But with zucchini and rutabaga instead of white potato, they were just as delicious (especially when dipped in ketchup) but way healthier. Plus it was a great way to use up what will hopefully be the last of my winter CSA vegetables. (I am getting real tired of roots and greens.)

These do have a bit of flour in them, but if you’re gluten-free or doing the paleo thing, substitute almond flour, and it will be just as good.

Fritters

I guess technically these are a side dish and would be great as the starch alongside a main course. But I’ve had them as a main dish along with sauteed greens or a salad. They’re definitely versatile and would be appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

As with most of my root-vegetable recipes, you can use pretty much any combination of root vegetables you have on hand. Straight-up zucchini would be good, using some sweet potato would be delicious. Whatever. Use your imagination.

It took some time to prepare these, mostly just because it takes a while to grate vegetables. But the nice thing about it was that I fried up a bunch of them and saved extras in the fridge. They were really easy to re-heat (in the convection oven, baking on 350 until warm) and have as a snack or as part of a quick, last-minute meal.

You may like these served latke-style with sour cream and apple sauce. I preferred them with ketchup, like hashbrowns. Yum.

Fritters2

Zucchini and Rutabaga Fritters adapted from SlimPalate.com

1 medium zucchini (about 200 g)
1 medium rutabaga (about 200 g)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup flour (or almond flour, to be gluten-free)
1/4 cup parmigiana reggiano, grated and packed down
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying (I used garlic grapeseed oil)

Grate zucchini and rutabaga with a medium-sized grater. Add a dash of salt. Place shredded vegetables in a clean paper towel and squeeze to get as much liquid out of it as possible.

Place in a large bowl and add beaten eggs, garlic, flour, cheese, and fresh ground black pepper. Mix well.

Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and wait for the pan to get hot. Once oil is shimmering, add spoonfuls of mixture to the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Place on platter lined with paper towels to soak up any grease.  Serve with sides of salt, pepper, sour cream, applesauce, and/or ketchup.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack