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Curry Carrot & Rutabaga Soup

21 Apr

Another soup! With all these root vegetables, I’ve found that I really enjoy making up different soups. I had some leftover carrots and a single rutabaga leftover that were about to be all nasty. They were a little limp for much else than cooking and pureeing, so that’s what I went with.

I wish I had thought of it earlier when I first started our CSA, but I’ve found Andrea Reusing’s Cooking in the Moment to be really helpful in figuring out what to do with all these veggies. Her recipes are divided up seasonally and focus a lot on fresh produce, so when I was at a loss, I started there. I found an excellent recipe for carrot soup and edited it a bit to include my sole rutabaga and to make substitutions for a few ingredients I already had on hand.

If you haven’t bought it yet, go out and get her cookbook. But in the meantime, you can try this recipe. It’s not quite the original, but it’s pretty good.

Curry Carrot & Rutabaga Soup

Curry Carrot & Rutabaga Soup, adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing

2 tablespoons butter
4 green onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoons kosher salt
2/3 pound carrots & rutabagas, chopped
1 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
Chopped walnuts, for garnish

Melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and some of the salt. Cover and cook about 8-10 minutes, until the onions are clear.

Add the curry and cajun seasoning and stir. Cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the carrots, rutabagas*, wine, and a little more salt. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the stock, water**, and the rest of the salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 30 minutes, until the carrots and rutabagas are tender.

Puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor. Add seasoning if necessary and serve hot. Garnish with chopped walnuts and/or plain Greek yogurt.

* Any combination of carrots and rutabagas will do. The original recipe called for only carrots. I used one medium-size rutabaga and the rest in carrots.

** Any combination of vegetable stock and water will do. The original recipe used only water in order to better bring out the flavor of the vegetables. I used some homemade vegetable stock to add a little more herbal flavor.

Yummy Soup

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
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 Wild, Inside BruCrew Life, The Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

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Sweet Potato Fries

11 Mar

Yep, I said sweet potato fries. Oh my goodness, these were so delicious. They were so good, I made another batch 2 days later! We had some sweet potatoes from this week’s CSA, so this seemed like a great way to use them.

I had never used my mandoline before, so I decided to give it a try. It wasn’t quite as easy to use (or as easy to clean!) as I hoped it would be, but it still worked great. It sliced up my potatoes to a pretty consistent size and left a nice ridged surface for salt and pepper to hold on to. If you have one, use it, and then make your husband clean up afterward. But if not, just slice your potatoes thinly.

The recipe below is a very loose outline. Since everyone likes their fries with different flavors and textures and degrees of crispiness, make it your own. We enjoyed ours lightly salted, slightly crispy, and served alongside a super yummy veggie burger. Don’t forget the ketchup and the barbecue sauce!

Fries

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes
Olive oil or grapeseed oil
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Slice the sweet potatoes in thin rounds. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet.

Pour a small amount oil over the potatoes. Toss until potatoes have a light, even coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake at 425 F for 35-45 minutes or until potatoes reach desired crispiness.

Or chips?

 

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

So-Called Pizza Puffs

21 Jan

So-called? Yes, so-called. Because I’m not sure these puffs deserve the name of “pizza.” They certainly didn’t taste like pizza. They tasted kind of like little bread muffins. Which I guess is what they are.

Look at that puff!

On principle, I don’t believe in taking a healthy recipe and making it healthy. I don’t think that ever turns out well. I’d rather just eat a small amount of the unhealthy thing every now and then. I don’t need to stuff myself full of bland fat-free mac-and-cheese or one-point Weight Watchers “desserts.” And don’t EVEN get me started on frozen yogurt, because I can’t tell you how angry I am that I can’t find a dang ice cream store anymore while there’s bland frozen yogurt bars on every street corner. All those exciting neon colors are false advertising, in my opinion.

I guess my issue is that I’m terrible at denying myself anything, but I’m pretty fantastic at portion control, IMHO. I guess most people have the opposite problem. But since I don’t, I’m going to continue buying the Double Stuf Oreos, but only eat 2 (okay, 3) after dinner tonight. I’ve never been the person who accidentally eats the whole bag.

The point here is that this recipe is way too healthy to be called Pizza Puffs. Puffs, sure, no problem. But pizza? You can barely taste the cheese, it’s whole wheat, AND there’s vegetables in it. That’s 3 things that would never be true about any pizza I’d eat.

So why I am sharing it? Well for one, I’m not arrogant enough to believe that everyone thinks the same way I do, and I imagine many people might appreciate this recipe. But also, I think my poor reaction to this recipe was one of expectations. I was expecting pizza, and upon not tasting pizza, I was mightily disappointed. But if they were called Whole Wheat Puffs with Marinara Dipping Sauce, then I think I’d be pretty happy.

So go ahead and make this recipe. They’re great for a snack or for serving at a party. They’re also great on the side of an Italian meal. Maybe I’ll make them again. Or maybe I’ll make real Pizza Puffs.

"Pizza" Puffs

Whole Wheat Pizza Puffs adapted from Cooking With My Kid

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup lowfat or skim milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese
1 cup broccoli
1/2 marinara sauce, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan.

Blanch the broccoli: Boil for about 2 minutes and then remove and immediately place in a bowl of ice water for 20-30 seconds. Remove from water. Chop finely. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Whisk in the milk and beaten egg. Stir in the mozzarella and broccoli. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

31 May

The final broccoli dish I prepared is this Broccoli Cheddar Soup, perfect timing since broccoli season in North Carolina technically ends today. (Procrastinate? Me? Only all of the times.) This recipe also requires the use of a food processor or a blender, but if you haven’t bought a food processor yet, go get one. They’re amazing. Also, advance apologies here: I could have sworn I took pictures of this process, and now I can’t find them anywhere. Who knows where in the black hole of the interwebs they ended up? I do have a picture of the final product though. Read on!

I started off sauteing half a chopped red onion in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat, and then set that aside. Then I made a roux by whisking together 1/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup flour over medium heat for a few minutes. Then, as I whisked, I added 2 cups half-and-half and then 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup beef broth. (The original recipe called for 2 cups chicken broth, but I had some leftover beef broth from another recipe, so I just mixed that in. If you need a vegetarian soup, just use a strongly flavored vegetable broth.) Once all this was together, I turned the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Now for the veggies. I added in 3 cups chopped broccoli,  1 cup shredded carrots1 cup shredded red cabbage, and the cooked onions. I continued cooking everything over low heat for about 20 minutes. I added in a little bit of salt and pepper, and then 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

The soup was fairly thick by this point. I poured it in batches into the food processor (or you could use a blender), and after blending each batch, returned it to the pot over low heat. Once all the soup was back in the pot, I stirred in 3 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese – about half white cheddar and half regular cheddar, since that’s what I had in the fridge. And that was that! I had a bit for dinner, and then saved half for lunch the next day and half for the freezer for later.

Soup's on!

How Sue Sees It:

I think this would make a great side dish, but it wasn’t really good enough to satisfy me for a main dish. The original recipe claimed to be just like Panera Bread, which was just not true. I know I didn’t follow it exactly, but there’s no way that beef instead of chicken broth and a handful of cabbage made that much of a difference. It just wasn’t cheesy or creamy enough. I kind of figure that to get even more cheese flavor, this would have to be extremely unhealthy. And if it’s going to be that unhealthy, I shouldn’t eat it very often, so instead of trying to make it myself, I’ll probably just go to Panera when I need to satisfy my cheesy craving. So honestly, even though this soup was decent, I probably won’t be making it again.

If you do try to make it yourself, I recommend steaming the vegetables separately beforehand. I’m not sure the vegetables cooked well enough — the soup ended up with a slightly grainy texture.

Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole

8 May

My mom is affectionately known as Aunt Dee Dee or just Dee Dee to all of her nieces and nephews. She is the fun, crazy aunt who not only lets you throw a ball in the house, but is often the one to initiate and participate in said indoors throwing game. I was jealous of my cousins as a teenager because at that age, I thought my mom was a way cooler aunt than mom. But now I have a little more perspective (and a little less attitude), and I more remember all the fun and crazy projects my mom cooked up over the years, which now loom much larger than the fights and arguments we were having when I was in high school. For example, my Double Dare birthday party was the coolest party of the 4th grade, complete with pie-throwing contests, tricycle races, and a relay race that involved massive amounts of butter, popcorn, Jell-o, and a Slip ‘N’ Slide.

My mom is also a pretty amazing chef, and it’s humbling to think back over the years at how she taught herself new skills in the kitchen. When my siblings were very young (before I was around) and our family didn’t have a lot of money, they ate a lot of casseroles, soups, and one-pot meals. They were classic, homey meals that were cheap and easy to put together, perfect for a mom working crazy hours with 2 small kids. But by the time I came along, my parents were a little more settled. My mom left work to stay at home with us, and our meals became more complex, fresh, and nutritious. By the time my little sisters were in the picture, the family was eating ethnic foods like Indian and Japanese, and our meals had a lot more fresh produce and a lot less cream of mushroom soup.

I think this trend is very interesting from a sociological standpoint, but I also think that from a personal view, I became very used to learning about food and trying new things. Now my mom and I swap ideas for new foods, new recipes, and how to use the massive quantities of rosemary she gets from the rosemary bush in her backyard big enough to hide two toddlers in (speaking from experience). I regularly call her for advice (“Mom, 10 people are showing up for dinner in 20 minutes, and I ran out of ___. What should I do!?” or “Mom, this chicken I just cooked is, like, gray… If I eat it, will it kill me?”), and I give her tips I pick up from health food nuts and farmers’ markets in my more liberal small town. My goal one day is to be able to take a quick glance into a pantry or refrigerator and put together a dinner plan, just like I’ve seen her do a million times. I’m not that comfortable or familiar yet with food, ingredients, and recipes, but I think I’m getting there.

When I was staring at the broccoli – this month’s seasonal produce – and trying to figure out what to do with it, I could not stop thinking about broccoli casserole. This is a huge throwback dish, something my mom made relatively regularly when I was a kid. I loved it so much, I think I even requested it as part of my birthday dinner one year. But as I explained above, our family has trended over time toward more nutritious foods, so this is a dish that my mom no longer makes or eats. It’s very unhealthy, especially since I only want it if she agrees to my request for extra cheese. Every year at Thanksgiving she proposes leaving it out, and every year my siblings, cousins, and I demand that we have it. It’s a Thanksgiving staple that I generally only have once a year. So she agrees to its presence at our Thanksgiving table, but one of us has to make it ourselves. It’s a very simple recipe that can be made in 15 minutes or less. So here it is… Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole.

Start with 1 bag frozen broccoli. Thaw it completely (on the counter or in the microwave) and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Spread it in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Broccoli and cheeseSpread a layer of cream of mushroom soup over top the cheese.

Cream of Mushroom SoupAnd now spread another layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the center, and cook it in the microwave on high for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is cooked.

More CheeseI hadn’t made this in a long time, but I knew the cheese was the most important part, so I just kept adding some. I wasn’t sure how much was necessary. When I pulled it out of the microwave, it really just looked like a dish of cheese with a few broccoli bumps. I realized I went a little overboard, but obviously it was good because I tried to take a picture a few minutes later, but people were already digging in!

Broccoli Casserole

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Mini Party Quiches

20 Nov

Can you tell we like things mini? Mini things are so cute!

Last weekend my family and I threw a surprise party for my Dad’s 50th birthday. Once I got my baking assignments, I called Betsy, and we got together that morning to put together a couple dishes. We made a simple blueberry cobbler, but the mini quiches were the highlight, and we made a TON of them. Quadrupling the recipe may have been a little overboard — there were plenty leftover — but we wanted to be prepared. We made two different varieties: a bacon cheddar quiche and a spinach, tomato, and swiss quiche. Deelish!

We began by mixing up the fillings and setting them aside.

  • For the bacon cheddar: Betsy cooked up 10 slices of bacon, let them cool, and then crumbled them up. I mixed 1 8-oz block softened cream cheese, 4 T milk, 4 eggs, and 2 T dried garlic flakes into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on low until it got relatively smooth. I stirred in 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese and set the bowl aside. The bowl of cheese mush looked pretty disgusting, especially sitting next to a plate of bacon bits.
    Milk, eggs, and cheese... yum!Gross Cheese Mixture
  • For the SpinTomSwiss: I chopped up 1 1/2 hot house tomatoes and a couple handfuls of spinach and set them aside. Then I mixed 2 8-oz blocks softened cream cheese, 2 T milk, 4 eggs, and 2 T oregano into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on low until it got relatively smooth. I stirred in 1 cup grated swiss cheese and set the bowl aside. This one looked disgusting too.

Now for the tricky part. We greased some mini muffin pans and set them out. I un-popped a tin of crescent rolls, spread them on the counter, and mushed the scoring lines back together so it would be one big square instead of divided into the triangles. Betsy used a circle cookie cutter and cut round pieces of dough that I shaped into the mini muffin pan.Cutting DoughWord to the wise: Leave the dough in the fridge as long as possible before you take it out, and work quickly with the dough once you open the tin. The dough seizes up really quickly. We tried to roll out the leftover dough and cut it again, and it was REALLY hard. The dough becomes really elastic, so when we tried to spread it into the muffin tin, it just shrunk back up on itself. If you have an extra couple dollars to spend, I recommend just buying a couple extra tins of crescent rolls and tossing the old dough. We re-used a little bit of the dough, then got frustrated and threw it out. So in the end, it took about 3 tins of crescent rolls to make the base for 48 mini quiches.

Dough Cups
So once we lined all the muffin tins with dough, I filled them up.

  • Bacon Cheddar:  Sprinkle bacon in the bottom of each quiche cup. Fill each cup with about 1 tsp of the cheddar mixture. Sprinkle a couple more pieces of bacon on top. (This just makes it easier to identify what it is, which is nice visually, but also is important if you have any vegetarians in your crowd.)
    Mmm... bacon cupsBubbling Bacon Cheddar Quiches
  • SpinTomSwiss: Sprinkle tomato and spinach pieces in the bottom of each quiche cup. Fill each cup with about 1 tsp of the swiss mixture.
    Spinach and Tomato CupsBubbling Spinach Tomato & Swiss Quiches

Bake on 375 F for 10-12 minutes. The bread edges of the quiche will start to turn a golden brown, and the tops might get a little bubbly.
Golden Brown Edges

They’re so cute! The bacon cheddar is a nice golden yellow color, and the SpinTomSwiss is more of a white color.

Mini Party Quiches!

How Sue Sees It:

  • The most difficult part of this is definitely working with the dough. If you want them to look nice, like if you’re serving them at a party, then don’t worry about re-using the dough. Just buy extra, toss the leftover dough, and don’t worry about it. But if you care more about taste than looks, just cram the dough down there however you can. Even if the dough kind of sits on the bottom and doesn’t make a cup, the dough will still rise and the egg mixture will stiffen enough that it will still hold a firm muffin shape.
  • And don’t worry too much about over-filling the cups either, unless you’re going for a nice uniform look. It will still hold a muffin shape.
  • Take some time to experiment with your own flavors! The original recipe I found called for bacon and swiss, and I just modified the recipe a bit more to our crowd’s tastes. As long as you preserve the basic egg and dairy components, you can add or substitute pretty much whatever else you want in there.

Betsy & Susie