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Posts Tagged ‘fall’

chop drop soup

This is not so much a recipe as it is a map or method to creating soul satisfying soup in five easy steps.  Let your imagination go wild, with the blessing of your taste buds of course.  Soups are a perfect way to use seasonal veggies that you may find at your local farmers market.  Say there is an unusual squash on the table, ask the grower if it is hard, bitter, sweet, or soft?  Bitter squash is not the best candidate for soups, at least in my view, so I avoid those.  Zucchini is about as bitter as I will go.  Give chop and drop a try!

Step 1

Empty the veggie drawer into the (clean) kitchen sink or counter.  Wash all skin-stay-on veggies.

Step 2

Peel and trim veggies.  Chop into manageable pieces.  Hint: the smaller the dice the hastier it cooks!

Step 3

Drop into a soup pot with a swirl of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Stir.

Step 4

Add liquids.  Choose your favorite stock, broth, bouillon, OXO, Knorr, or even tomato puree, or can of cream of whatever plus milk.

Step 5

Wait.  Poke the veggies to see if they are tender. Heck, you could even taste one or two.

You are ready to eat!

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I saw this Pumpkin Roll on A Recipe A Day’s blog and saved it to bake when I had some pumpkin available.  Well after baking the inaugural autumn pumpkin pie, I had half a can of spiced pumpkin puree leftover.  What to do?  This was more than I needed to try Nancy’s recipe.

The original recipe calls for plain pumpkin and calls out the spices to add to the batter.  I’ve shortcut this by using pie pumpkin puree and added a little extra pumpkin pie spice.  For the filling, I used a ready made vanilla icing (for some reason I have four containers of this stuff in my pantry!) foregoing the cream cheese and hopefully a few calories from fat (see the note below!).  The result was a delicate rolled cake with a good amount of sweet filling to hold it all together.  If you prefer less sweetness, visit the original recipe post for the cream cheese filling.

Ready To Serve Creamy Vanilla Frosting  (Duncan Hines)Calories: 280   Total Fat: 10g

Per serving:  28 calories and 1 gram of fat

Cream Cheese (Philadelphia)  –  8oz:

Calories: 800   Total Fat: 72g

Confectioners’  Sugar  – 1 cup:

Calories: 389  Total Fat: 0.1g

Butter – 6tbsp:

Calories: 600 Total Fat: 66g

—————————————–

Total Calories of the filling: 1789

Total Fat of the filling: 138.1g

Per serving 179 calories and 13.8 grams of fat

I think the type of pumpkin used makes no difference in the end, there was a soft spicy note to the cake.  If you have an abundance of pumpkins in your garden, roast them up yourself and use that instead of canned pumpkin, I love fresh pumpkin in pies so this should be equally delicious.

*

Pumpkin Roll

Adapted from A Recipe a Day

pumpkin roll

* Note * I suggest baking and assembling the night before you intend to serve this roll, keep it wrapped in plastic wrap once assembled.  This will help it hold shape and sort of remoisturize.

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel ~ use more if needed)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 can of Duncan Hines Classic Vanilla Frosting or similar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Butter a 15 x 10″ jelly-roll pan then line with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. On a flat surface sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar and set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients in small bowl.  Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in the pumpkin pie filling. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched, do not over bake. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen and carefully turn cake on to the towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully peel off the paper. Roll up the cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, unroll the cake and towel carefully.  Spread the cake with the vanilla frosting and roll it back up without the towel this time.  Wrap the cake in plastic wrap to help it keep its shape.

Calorie and fat information was taken from http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/

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Are you a college student or recently moved out on your own and find yourself in the fast food trap?  Making a meal for yourself and maybe a friend or two can be easy and tasty, and gosh darn it – good for you!  Cooking does not require fancy equipment, expensive ingredients, nor cook books.  You’ve been eating since you were born, silly, use the flavours you like so far and run with them.

I’ve always craved sweet over savoury.  When I moved away for school I started with sweet potatoes, chicken with pineapple or oranges, and grilled cheese sandwiches (Mom taught us how to make them when I was little so I could at least manage to work a stove and one pan).  Simple, yes.  Easy, of course.  Exciting?  Not so much.  Since breaking out on my own and away from the bland monotony of meals on the farm, I wanted to try something new every chance I got.  This strategy is good for expanding the palette but not so good for honing a recipe to its peak of culinary mastery.  Now I’m not trying to turn you into one of those chefs on TV, but everyone should have a stash of reliable and quick dishes in their noggin.  Or in a small coil bound notebook they’ve had since grade 9.

Maybe you’ve been around the kitchen a few times already.  And lately you have no inclination to cook?  Well get in your kitchen, or take over a friends’ for an evening and make something for yourselves!

Here are five easy ways to get cooking tonight.

1. Cheap Eats!

Ground Turkey with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Fry (on medium heat) a pound of ground turkey in a little oil in a large frying pan (at least 10″ in diameter) or use a wide bottomed pot.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper as it cooks.  Stir gently.

Peel 3 potatoes (Russet – the dark brown-skinned ones, be sure to buy firm potatoes).  Cut the potatoes into large chunks that are about the same size.  Put them into a pot of cold water and turn up the heat.  Lower the heat to medium-high when it begins to boil.  Do not put a lid on the pot or it will boil over.  Let the potatoes cook while you watch the turkey in the other pan.

Mix 1 packet of gravy mix (like McCormick’s Turkey Gravy) with half a coffee mug of water (about 2/3 cup if you want to measure it).  Have a can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup ready to deploy (open the can).

When the pink hue of the turkey meat is gone it’s time to add the sauce.  Pour the can of cream of whatever soup in the pan with the meat, follow with the gravy/water mixture from the coffee mug.  Stir to dissolve the soup into the water.  When this bubbles turn down the heat to low.  Now check your potatoes.

Potatoes are mashable when they can be stabbed with a fork and they fall off the tines easily.  Turn off the heat.  Pour off the water and add a splash of milk and some butter.  Add salt now if you forgot to salt the water for boiling the taters.  Mash using whatever you have available: fork, ricer, big spoon. Although the process goes faster if you have a masher.

Serve as pictured above.  (You are half way to a Sheppard’s Pie btw!)

Cost: about $6  ($1.50 per serving)

2. Soup

Beef Soup

Soups are very forgiving.  They can have just a handful of ingredients or a wide variety when you are trying to use up veggies hanging out in the fridge.  My thought on soup is this: all you need is a good base.

I make my chicken stock from bones and scraps of veggies that I collect in the freezer until there is enough to fill a stock pot to boil up at stock.  But you could buy a box, can or powder to create the soup base.  Try looking in the international foods isle at your grocery store, you can find some interesting stuff to use as your base.  Even a pack of Ramen Noodles can get you started on a tight budget buy adding some meat and/or veggies to the water for the noodles.

Try any of these recipes:

Texas Beef Soup

Dill Pickle Soup

MrsWheelBarrow’s Mushroom Soup

Cream of Poblano and Turkey Stew

Caldo de Res

3. Baked Salmon with Garlic

Salmon Baked with Garlic

If you like fish and you can afford to buy a pound or two at the market, go for this recipe.

Cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place a salmon fillet on the foil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and freshly smashed garlic.  Bake at 350ºF for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with rice or pasta and a salad.

4. Roast Chicken Breasts with Root Vegetables

Chicken Breasts and Root Vegetables

Cut some potatoes (white or red) into wedges and layer them into a casserole dish or some sort of oven-proof pan with sides.  Season with salt, pepper, and maybe an Italian herb blend?  Add baby carrots or peeled adult carrots.  Lay chicken breasts that still have the bone attached on the potatoes and carrots.  Rub the skin with oil or butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Ready, Set, Roast!

Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 425ºF. Cover with foil and return to a 375ºF oven for another 20 – 30 minutes.  (Always check the temperature of your chicken at the thickest part, it should read at least 180ºF)

Full recipe is here.

5. Something Sweet to End the Meal

What about dessert?

I can hear your thoughts: I can’t bake!  Nonsense!  Try a crisp.

Take some sliced fruit (apple, apricot, peaches, blueberries, or rhubarb if you are luck enough to live where it grows like weeds) or buy a can of pie filling then top it with a crumbly lumpy mixture from my recipe here.

It’s perfect with its imperfections.

Rhubarb Cookie Crisp

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Little Sister helped make the gravy, it was strenuous work for a two year old…

The gravy making was enjoyable for both of us, unlike the day before when we were making lunch and she poured the dry pasta into the cup of milk standing by.  She must have misunderstood me when I said “next we add the pasta”, she litterally added the pasta to the milk and butter in the cup.  I meant to say “next we cook the pasta”.  Toddlers and young children take everything you say to heart, so chose words wisely!

325ºF for 3 hours (14.5 lb gobbler)

  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage or fresh chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Combine the butter and herbs and spices in a small bowl.  I like to work it with my fingers to get every bit of butter spiked with flavour.  Create pockets under the skin of the turkey, begin at the breasts near the cavity.  Try to make the skin loose around the drumsticks too.  Evenly shove the butter into the pockets, pressing on the outside of the skin to distribute.  Any leftover butter and be smeared over the skin.

Next, fill the cavity.  I don’t usually stuff the bird with dressing, instead I use large pieces of onion, whole herbs and spices, sometimes citrus fruit cut in half.  The filling will eventually scent the broth so choose a complimentary set of flavours.  Today I used fresh rosemary springs and half a white onion with salt and pepper.

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Pie crust and pastry dough is not a forté of mine, at least not yet.  I take the help of pre-made pastry dough when I can.  The trouble is, there’s always two rounds per box and pumpkin pie only requires one.  What to do with the second crust?  Make a handsome pot pie, that’s what!

Here’s what I did.

Cut up one washed bunch of asparagus and put them in a casserole dish with diced ham.  Then I made a roux.  Added thyme, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to the roux.  Poured in some milk and stirred until the sauce thickened up.  Pour this over the asparagus and ham.

Top the casserole with shredded aged cheddar (this was a Kerigold White Aged Cheddar), the stronger the cheese the less you need to use.  I could have used half and achieved a better balance, this stuff is pungent!  Top the cheese with the pastry dough.

Go ahead and make it presentable.  I even made leaves out of the trimmings, how cute, eh?  Egg wash the crust.  Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until the crust is evenly brown and crispy.

I made the mistake of adding another splash of milk before putting on the crust.  Should not have done that because the sauce broke and there was all this liquid in the bottom (probably from the asparagus).  At least Hubby ate it, he actually finished the whole pot pie the next day.  That’s what makes me happy, a full Hubby and room in the fridge to store my next disaster!  So lesson learned: make a very thick sauce and use less asparagus.  Maybe mushrooms would work instead.

 

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Barley is typically found in a beef stew or soup in the grocery store.  Today I’ve create a chicken version that is lean for your waist as well as your pocketbook.

By roasting my poblano peppers, I’ve brought a sweet smoky undertone to the soup.  I’ve been rather obscessed with poblanos.

This soup froze reasonably well, so it’s great to pack for lunch if you have access to a microwave.  The poblano peppers were very mild, Big Brother didn’t mind eating them.  Little Sister was too busy stuffing her face to really see what she was eating.

  • cooked chicken
  • 2 whole Poblano peppers, roasted and peeled (remove seeds for mild)
  • cup of baby carrots
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock & water
  • sea salt and pepper
  • any herb you like (cilantro, parsley)
  • 2/3 cup cooked barley

Simmer everything together until the carrots are done.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

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If you are a pumpkin pie lover, this is for you!

Pumpkin ice cream by Dreyer’s is creamy and tastes like pumpkin pie that is covered in whipped cream.  The spices are subtle enough that my kids didn’t bock at it.  Now I have to bake a pumpkin pie to have with the Pumpkin Ice Cream!  There goes my waistline…

This ice cream was a last-minute gamble at the grocery store that paid off.  Too bad they won’t be making this flavour all year round, maybe I should stock up the freezer!

Not a paid advertisement.  I did not receive free products.  Just wanted to tell y’all about this!

 

 

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It’s a rare thing these days, buying stock in a box or can.  Before the holidays arrive full of turkey, chicken, and family members visiting I spend time to prepare and freeze stock.

Stock will keep in sealed containers in the freezer for about 6 months.  Make sure to label anything you freeze for later use.  Portions that are easier to manage are a good idea.  Most of my containers hold 2 pints (about 4 cups), I use this as soup and stew base.  Smaller containers, even freezer bags, work well for gravy.  Sometimes when you roast drier types or cuts of meat, there’s not a heck of a lot liquid left in the pan.  That’s where a bit of stock can extend or replace the pan drippings when making gravy.

To make your stock you need any of the following vegetables, spices and herbs:

  • celery
  • leek
  • onion
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • black peppercorns
  • cardamom pods
  • cumin seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dill
  • fennel
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Then, if you want meat you can collect chicken, turkey or pork bones and freeze them in freezer ziptop bags until you have enough to make stock.  When I buy whole chickens, I save the neck, wings, and legs.  Either roasted or raw, freeze the extra bits for your stock.  Bone marrow helps add richness to the stock.  Beef can be used too, we just don’t have many beef bones leftover at my house!

Salt, should you add any at all, should be minimal.  The stock is a component for something else, the destination might already contain salt so you don’t want to end up with sea water soup.

Ready?  Throw the chunks of veggies, palm full of seasonings, the optional meat components into the biggest pot you own.  Add water until everything is covered.  Bring to a boil slowly, then reduce to low heat for an hour or longer.  The longer you simmer the stock, the more concentrated it will be due to evaporation.

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Quick & Easy Chili

  • 1 (15oz) can chili meat
  • 1 (15oz) can kidney beans
  • 1 (15oz) can pinto beans
  • 1 celery stalk, diced fine
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large tomato, diced

If I had a little more time, this whole recipe would have been made in the crock pot.  I helped everything get going by sautéing the garlic, onion, celery and half of the tomato.  Add the cumin and ancho chili powder to the pan before the tomatoes to allow the spices to bloom.  Pour the cans of chili meat and beans into a crock pot, then add the onion mixture when the tomatoes have started breaking down.  The can of chili meat contains spices so not much is needed to jazz up the flavor.  You could probably just add salt and pepper to taste and work with the existing spices from the meat.  I happen to like the ancho chili powder and a hint of cumin.  The fresh spices renew the stored food and help amalgamate the sautéed vegetables with the beans.

Cook in the crock pot until bubbly, about 45 minutes.  Everything is already cooked when you add it to the pot, you just need to heat it up then enjoy!

Serving suggestions:

  • Spoon a little sour cream and sliced green onions on top of a bowl of chili
  • Shred some sharp cheddar cheese to top off your serving, let the cheese melt into the sauce
  • Spread leftover chili over nachos
  • The kids love hot dog pieces mixed in
  • Make a grown-up version: chili dogs!

How do you like to enjoy a warm bowl of chili?

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The Mystery of Meatloaf

At Thanksgiving or Christmas, my extended family would get together in the city.  Usually at my aunt and uncle’s house, or my cousin’s place in Beaumont.  My uncle Don made this wicked meatloaf and I asked for the recipe, he wouldn’t give it up.  I asked my cousins if they knew how he made it… no luck there either.  In my quest to unlock the mystery meatloaf à la Don, I came up with my own method.  This recipe probably started with something out of Canadian Living magazine, however I kept trying something a little different from last time trying to emulate the original meatloaf.  Well uncle Don, I hope we can do a showdown with our meatloaf one day, here’s how I prepare mine:

  • 1 lb package ground sirloin
  • 1 lb package ground lean turkey 
  • 2    eggs, beaten
  • 1/4  cup milk
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 6 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced small
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced small
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 (8oz) can tomato sauce, reserve 1/3 cup

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. 

Sauté the onions, celery, carrot in olive oil. Adding salt, black pepper, marjoram, garlic powder, ancho chili, paprika.  Remove from heat when translucent, let this cool.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the meats with a fork or potato masher, until well mixed.  Add the eggs, milk, Worcestershire, tomato sauce, mustard, onion mixture, salt and pepper to taste.  Mash to mix well.  Hands work well for this!  Add breadcrumbs, half at first, then the rest to be sure it is well incorporated.  Put into 1 big loaf pan or 2 regular loaf pans.  You can even buy mini aluminum loaf pans which work well for individual servings for lunches, just adjust the baking time as these will cook faster.  Push meatloaf into pan to avoid air pockets and to have a nicely shaped loaf.  Bake for 45 minutes then add the glaze.

  Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce  
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar  

Stir in a cup all ingredients for the topping.  Spread on top of the loaves to desired thickness.  Bake the loaves for another 45 minutes and check the internal temperature, which must reach 180 °F in the center.

If you don’t like mixing your meats, choose one or the other.  I opt for turkey since it has a lower fat content.  Just add a bit more onion to keep it moist while baking.

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