Posts Tagged ‘carrot’

One of my worst fears has come to pass for local families, and at the worst time of the year.  Early today an apartment complex caught fire, several families with children lost everything.  Can you join me in making a donation or spreading the word to those who can make a donation to help save Christmas for these families?  One of the schools affected, Forest North Elementary PTA is taking donations of any kind but for those not in the area who want to help can do so on their website.  Alternatively, contact the Austin Disaster  Relief Network – 512-331-2600 or donate online.  News story is here.

I realize you probably have every charity in the world contacting you for help.  My dear readers, if you can spare anything for these kids I would be very grateful for any assistance you can give to our neighbors.  Thank you and have a blessed holiday season!

Now a recipe for you and your family on this chilly Austin day…


The fall back plan in my kitchen is pasta.  I can make fresh or dried pasta and any little stragglers of food in the fridge can be used to dress it up.  Even if there’s no tomato sauce, like today, I use some canned diced tomato and tomato paste instead.  Look for tomato paste infused with roasted garlic, whatever you make from the pantry with it will be pleased.

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 15oz can petite diced tomato
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (with roasted garlic)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Greek Seasoning (Victorian Epicure)
  • 1 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry rubbed sage

Start with the pasta.  Brown the meat in a large skillet and break apart as it cooks.  Season the meat well with salt and pepper.  Add the onion and carrot, garlic and herbs.  Stir to distribute and pick up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the tomato, paste and about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to dissolve the paste.  Cover and simmer gently until ready to serve and the pasta is al denté.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat.   Remove from heat.

Serve with Pizza Toasts and a side salad for a comforting meal with your family.

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Meatball Soup

  • Italian sausage
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed
  • 5 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

This is a new way to cook sausage for me and I owe it to cookinginvictoria on Food52 for the inspiration of this soup.  Cookinginvictoria made sausage for a pasta sauce, homemade and from scratch of course, you don’t expect anything less from the Food52 cats.

Prepare the sausage by removing it from the casing and dividing each link into equal pieces, mine were divided in fourths.  Form balls and place them on a rack on a cookie sheet covered in foil.  This allows the air to circulate all around the sausage, cooking and browning it on all sides.  No turning needed!  Use a fairly hot oven (400ºF) and cook for about 12 minutes, as I said they should be golden all over.

Bring the remaining ingredients together in a pot and add the sausage hot out of the oven to finish cooking in the soup.


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On a cold winter day there’s nothing better than curling up with a good movie and a bowl of soup. Soup is also a good way to rescue the last few veggies at the bottom of the fridge before heading to the market for more. The kids can easily enjoy the softened carrots and cool broth.

Scones are something new for me. Big Brother will eat almost anything that is dipped into something else, and breads are on his “yes” list of offerings. I can get him to sit down 90 % of the time if bread and butter are mentioned.

We went to a friend’s house for brunch a couple of weeks ago. The lady of the house prepared homemade scones as a dessert after the meal. The little oblong triangles were sweet and fluffy inside, a perfect pairing for the fig jam I tried. My friend offered up the recipe and I’ve made a twist on her creation: Jalapeno-Cheese Scones.

I made two different soups out of the same base ingredients of potato, carrot, and celery. The first was Turkey Poblano Soup, where chicken substituted the turkey, deliciously I might add.

The second was a first attempt at Dill Pickle Soup. Dill Pickle Soup may not sound like the most appetizing thing on the planet, however, if you like pickles you just might like this soup. Since there was only one lonely pickle left in the jar, it wasn’t an overwhelming pickle flavour. Next time, I think I will use three pickles to see if that would border on insane. If you have a pregnant friend, she might take to this like a duck to water.

Dill Pickle Soup (#1)

  • 1 large kosher dill pickle, fine dice
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 good tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion granules (please use 1/2 of a real onion, I ran out so dried was used here, tastes OK but I suggest real onion)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dill weed
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Start with the potatoes.  Cook the cubes in plain old water first, just until they think about softening.  Drain and set the potatoes aside for the moment. 

Make a roux with 2 tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Melt the butter over medium-low heat then sprinkle and whisk in the flour.  Add the salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and dill until you can smell the dill perfuming the kitchen.  Slowly pour the stock into the golden rue.  Whisk to dissolve.

Now add the par-boiled potatoes, carrots, pickle and celery.  Use a tea ball or sachet for the coriander and mustard seeds, submerge into the stock.  If you need to, add a half cup of water so that everybody is swimming nicely in the pot.  Simmer until the potatoes are falling apart but the carrots hold their shape.  Turn down the heat to low and add 3/4 cup whole milk (optional to make the soup creamy).

Estimated total recipe calories: 865 (with whole milk) 840 (with low-fat milk)  765 (without milk added).  Makes three lunch-sized servings.

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Want to get more broccoli into your kids?  If they tasted my mac-n-cheese they wouldn’t know that there’s sprinkles of broccoli hiding in plain sight!

This is all that was left over from a whole box of macaroni, less than a 1/4 cup.  Big brother tasted one bite then didn’t stop until the plate was clean.  Little Sister screeched when she polished her tray, demanding another round ( or three ) until she had her fill.  Very impressive for a box (eww) of mac and cheese with some steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots blended with the cheese sauce until pulverized to sprinkle size.

(Side note: I usually have some sort of instant boxed kid friendly food for between pay cheques.  They are placed inside a box with a glass panel.  The label reads: Break glass in case of emergency.  Well, that part resides in my brain but it’s effective for me.  I should change out that box more often though, the pasta was a little stale, double eww.)

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Little Sister has now reached her first birthday and I’m astonished at how quickly this year flew by. The whole family packed up to go to the grandparent’s house, only 5 to 6 hours away, for a special celebration. Both Little Sister and Grandpa had birthdays this weekend, so we combined the two together. I made the appetizers and sweets, Grandma made brisket and rice, Tia made her beans.  Thank you very much to those who came out for some good laughs, invincible piñatas, and great company!

(red platter) Apple Cider Brined Carrots, (yellow platter) Skinny Pigs in a Blanket

Here’s what I contributed to the birthday bash.

Skinny Pigs in a Blanket

I’ve been reading Claire Robinson’s book (5 Ingredient Fix) and there’s some great pieces of advice in there, especially how you should use the best ingredients you can afford since there are so few components to a dish. This holds true for many recipes and I applied the philosophy to my Skinny Pigs in a Blanket by using super lean smoked sausage (which I found on sale last week) and pungent sharp cheddar. When you use sharp cheeses you need less of it to get the flavor to appear, this also means less fat. All three ingredients were toned down in fat levels, but flavor was not sacrificed. There were no leftovers whatsoever.

  • Lean Smoked Turkey Sausage
  • Extra Sharp New York Style Cheddar
  • Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls

Cut 3 inch sections of sausage, then quarter them lengthwise. Slice the cheese the same length, use as thin or thick a slice as you like. Wrap the sausage and cheese in a crescent roll, I had no fancy way of doing this, just cover as much as you can with the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or the tops are golden brown.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teasp cinnamon
  • 1/8 teasp allspice
  • 1/8 teasp cloves

Follow the directions on the box, except for the amount of water.  I used about 1/4 cup of water in my batter, the remaining amount will be added by the pumpkin.  You can roast and puree your own pumpkin (I’ve also used calabaza squash) for this recipe. 

pumpkin cupcakes

Pecan Raisin Tarts

Tart Shell:
  • 1 cups cake flour
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teasp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, that’s 175 deg C for my Canadian folks.  Cut the cold butter into the flour and salt until it feels like wet sand and will hold its shape when pinched.  Grease a muffin tin (or use silicone to skip this step, and I would have used my silicone molds because these little tarts stuck to my pan!) with butter.  Take a heaping tablespoon of the pastry and push it around the walls of the mold, then add a little more to cover the bottom.  Repeat until all 12 molds are filled.  Bake for 10  to 12 minutes, the outside edge should begin to brown. 

Whilst the shells bake, prepare the filling.  Set the raisins and pecans aside and whisk everything else in a bowl.  When the tart shells come out, they will look poofy, don’t worry, distribute the pecans and raisins to each tart, you can push them down in the middle gently.  Pour the egg mixture into each tart shell, then quickly get them back into the oven for another 20 minutes.  The result is a flaky shell with a sticky nutty caramel interior.  Let the tarts cool in the pan, this will be the hardest part but trust me, if you try to take them out while they are still warm you will lose a few chunks.  Yep, I did it.  So now you know what not to do, or use those fancy silicone molds instead.

Apple Cider Brined Carrots

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 teasp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teasp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teasp whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 whole Serrano peppers, stems removed
  • baby carrots, rinsed well

Prepare a glass jar by sterilizing in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, I used an empty pasta sauce jar (Classico uses thick glass which should not break if you reuse them * however, do so at your own risk).  Pack the onion slices pulled apart into individual rings into the bottom of the jar, then the peppers and carrots.  I will also suggest adding the spices to the jar, as the mustard seeds stuck to the pot where the brine was made.  Next, make the brine.  Pour the vinegar, water, salt and sugar into a pot and bring it up to a boil while stirring to dissolve the salt.  Let it boil for a minute then carefully pour into the jar.  Cover the jar with a lid.  Tip: don’t put the glass jar on a cold countertop, the temperature difference may crack the glass when the hot brine is added.  Let the jar cool then refrigerate.  I made these carrots two days prior to the party so they would be good and pickled for my platter.

Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts and Sunflower Seeds

(adapted from Emeril’s Microwave Nutty-Caramel Corn)

  • 14 cups freshly popped popcorn
  • 1 jar roasted peanuts (no shells)
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (no shells)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teasp vanilla
  • sea salt
  • 1 teasp baking soda
  • large paper sack

D – this is for you!

Combine the popcorn, nuts, and seeds in the paper sack.  In a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, sugar, syrup, vanilla and pinch of sea salt.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Return to the microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir again.  If the brown sugar feels grainy under the (wooden) spoon, pop it back in for another minute.  Sprinkle the baking soda into the hot gooey mess and stir carefully, the soda will bubble and foam.  Pour the caramel into the paper sack, toss the popcorn around to coat.  Stuff the paper sack into the microwave for 1 minute on high.  Then shake it, preferably with oven mitts.  Spread the sticky popcorn on two wax paper lined baking sheets (or kitchen counter) and if you like salty-sweet nibbles add a dash more sea salt while the caramel is hot.  Let it cool then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, if it will survive that long. 

Hummus and Chorizo Spread

I know what you’re thinking, chorizo is so greasy why on Earth would you use it?  Well, this is not your typical chorizo – this is homemade lean chorizo from the Grandparent’s kitchen.  I’ve requested a weekend to learn how to make this delightfully versatile sausage.  When I learn how to make it, I’ll let y’all know!  This spread was unexpectedly tasty and incredibly easy to prepare, your friends will think you spent all afternoon putting the dish together.  Here is our little secret… buy the hummus from your deli!  I even took two flavors, regular and roasted red pepper hummus, just to have a taste of each.  Grab some low-fat multi-grain pita chips and you’re set.  Well, except for the chorizo, stay tuned for that…  Now you have everything needed to put this spread to work.  Brown the chorizo (drain on paper towel if it’s not lean), spread the hummus on a plate (half regular and half red pepper – or pick the flavors you want), top with a sprinkle of chorizo.  Done.

Now go grab an iced tea and enjoy!

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