Posts Tagged ‘winter’

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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Bring on the cooler weather, this farm-girl-turned-city-mama is up for it and she has the warm silky soup to prove it.

Begin with a plump organic red kuri squash.  I’ve never seen such an intense orange colour on a vegetable.  I hope the pictures do it justice, this squash was amazing.  Surely there’s a load of vitamins and beta-carotene in there.  I saved the seeds since this was a beautiful specimen, drought tolerant squash which will perhaps like our mild Texas winters.

This soup would be perfect as a soup course for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Red Kuri Soup

Serves 4-6

  • 1 red kuri squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 qt chicken stock + 1 qt water
  • 1 cup milk
  • cayenne pepper
  • thyme
  • garlic powder
  • bacon bits
  • shredded apple (I used half a Gala apple)

You will require a blender or immersion blender stick for this recipe and a large soup pot.

Open the squash and clean out the seeds and strings.  Salt the flesh and place cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet.  Trim the red onion and quarter it, place the onion on the baking sheet.  Roast at 350ºF for 40-50 minutes.  Let the veggies cool on the pan so you can handle them.

Roughly chop the onion and add it to a pot containing the stock and water.  Begin to boil the liquids then add the spices, hold off on salt until everything has been added.  Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Scoop the soft orange flesh into the pot.  Don’t worry if there are large chunks at this point.  Once all the squash is in, blend the soup until it is very smooth.  Careful, it will be hot.  Add the milk and stir.  Taste for salt and adjust.  Keep the soup warm until ready to serve.

Garnish the soup with bacon that is cooked and chopped, as well as freshly grated or finely diced apple.  Share with someone you love 🙂

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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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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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Winter in the South is mostly cold and rain. I’m glad not to have to deal with snow, especially with the huge dumps everyone back home are dealing with.  The annoying part about so much rain is that the yard starts to turn to mush and mud.  A happy place for the rambunctious Pepper, she got herself all full of mud!  You should have seen how much I had to wash off of her.

I found this soup on Good Bite (.com) and made my version with what ingredients were available in my kitchen.

In the midst of chopping the sweet potato I heard, what I though was, rain. Shhhhh! Then a clank as if something heavy and half full hit the tile floor of the kitchen. To my surprise, Little Sister was busy cooking up something herself.

See why it sounded like rain – the rice gently pouring out of the container. And the bang was Little Sister dropping the container and watching it hit the floor. Little Sister is often milling around the kitchen, or around me rather, as breakfast, lunch or dinner is underway. I never shoo her out, unless I need to open the oven door, then she it picked up and placed safely in her high chair or distracted by something in the living room for the 30 seconds needed to complete my maneuver. I guess the latch on the rice container was hardly difficult for her to figure out!

Bokkie inspired the tag-along for the soup: salmon melts. Essentially the same idea as your typical tuna melt, only a can of wild salmon is swapped in for the tuna. Canned salmon, I thought would be uber-fishy, both in taste and smell, was not fishy at all. Actually, it’s less so than tuna. So there’s your encouragement for today – try canned wild salmon! Of course the best thing in the world would be a wild salmon, which you caught yourself and smoked – but that’s a whole other sandwich…

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup

Made after Julie Van Rosendaal’s Sausage, Black Bean, Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 good sized sweet potato, diced (the exact size is not the greatest concern – just make it all the SAME size)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • pinch cumin seeds
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 link chorizo sausage
  • 3 tbsp hot salsa
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water, or enough to cover the potatoes
  • 1/4 cup crushed tomatillo

The tomatillo adds some acidity to round out the flavours of the sweet potato, smoky cumin and spicy salsa.  If you don’t have them where you live, you can use a diced tomato and tablespoon of vinegar. 

The salsa I used it not a typical off-the-shelf sauce, this is a very thin, hot and smoky sauce made in one of the Mexican grocery stores here.  Hubby bought some with taco fixings as a quick weekday supper.  It would otherwise sit in the fridge waiting to be tossed in a few weeks, or when I’m really in my pack-rat mood, I will freeze the leftovers.  (There’s still about 3 small frozen containers of a similar style salsa in the freezer right now!)  By all means, adjust the amount of salsa to the level of heat you desire.

I started the soup by browning the chorizo, then removing it to work on the onion.  Once the onions are soft, add the cumin seeds to lightly warm them to release the oils.  Add the chorizo back in as well as everything except the black beans.  Bring the soup to a boil and simmer, covered, for 5-6 minutes.  Turn down the heat to low and add the beans, salt and pepper to taste.  Continue simmering for another minute or until the sweet potato pieces are tender (but not falling apart).

Salmon Melts

  • 1 can wild caught salmon, drained
  • 1 slice of red onion, diced fine
  • 3 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • shredded cheese of choice (I used a Mexican Blend, good cheddar would work too)
  • salt and pepper

Mix the salmon, mayo, onion, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Turn on the broiler to low.  The platform of the open-faced sandwiches were slices of my olive-rosemary bread, lightly toasted under the broiler, just until stiff but not browned.  Then I buttered the toast, slathered on the salmon mixture, sprinkled with cheese and returned the pan under the broiler.  When the cheese melts, they are done!

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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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