Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Veggie Soup (that kids will eat!)

                                         Veggies and broth, cooking up
                                        After using the immersion blender.
Finished product

Do you wonder what to do with extra veggies?  Although it's almost grilling season, I awoke this morning to wind and cool weather.  No grilling today, but I wanted something easy for dinner.  By easy, I mean, heat and eat, I don't mind putting in some work up front to have a great tasting meal quickly later.

So, I got a bunch of extra veggies I had in the house....we'd had people over this past weekend and I had leftovers from a veggie platter....carrots, celery, bell pepper, I used those, plus 2 onions and then added some olives I had from an open can of olives and some tomatoes.  I added a couple of cups of chicken broth and then a cup or so of water and let the whole thing simmer for an hour or so.

My grandmother used to make a soup like this and I wouldn't eat it.  She  called it "diagonally through the garden".  But, I have a secret weapon my grandmother never had.....an immersion blender!  If I tried to feed this soup to the kids, without the immersion blender, they wouldn't eat it.  But, after simmering for an hour or so, I removed it from the stove and used the hand blender to make it a smooth broth.  

Let me tell you, this broth is awesome!  It has rich depth of flavor and is slightly sweet, from the carrots and bell pepper. Now I could eat it this way but the kids would want more.  (Side note, you could just take this broth and freeze it, then thaw and add things in later for a super easy meal.)  This time, I added some ham and a couple of handfuls of orzo.  I like orzo because it is a pasta, but it's got the texture of barley...so it adds some heartiness to the soup.

This broth is so easy and so versatile.  I could have added say, brats and rice (precook the rice and add just before serving).  Or I could have added chicken (like if I have leftover chicken, not enough for a meal) and string beans.  Well, you get the picture.

You can make the broth from just about any veggies you have in the house, as long as carrots and onion are in there....got spinach, yeah, that works.  Don't like olives?  Leave them out....it's very versatile and very low cost.  But best of all, it's healthy and tastes delicious!        

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Save Money....Grow Your Own Food!

A great way to save money is to grow your own food.  It's not as difficult as most people think.  About a month ago, I sewed seeds for "cut and grow" lettuce...a variety of lettuces that you can clip the outer leaves and let the inner leaves continue to grow...so you can harvest and eat some of the lettuce and not take out the whole plant.  This is a great way to eat and not have to re-sew the lettuce seeds.

So my lunch today will be salad made with baby greens grown in the garden....and the same plants will give me lunches in the future!

I've got tomatoes in but it's too early in the season to harvest, but they will be great with the salad greens later in the year.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Asian inspired noodles

I got this recipe from the Food Network. I had everything in the house to make it already. It's so tasty...tastes like Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce...the kids love it! I like it way too much! I've made it twice in the last week. Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/sesame-and-peanut-noodles-recipe/index.html

I added leftover chicken and made it a meal!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Basque Beans

Beans with sausages....so easy and so good. Start by dicing 2 onions throw them in the pan with some olive oil. Add 2 red bell peppers (or green or any color you have on hand) diced. Add sausage (this will flavor the beans...so choose...you can make them spicy with a hot sausage or mild with an italian sausage). I usually add a package of sausages, like Johnsonville italian sausage. Add 4 cloves of garlic, diced. Add 3 cans of garbanzo beans, liquid and all. Add 1 can of tomato sauce and then fill the can with water and dump that in, too. Cook on low heat for at least 4 hours. You can easily make these in the slow cooker. A friend of mine makes hers by putting the whole pot in the oven at 250 over night. Either way, slow, low cook them so all the flavors can marry.These beans are so flavorful and delicious! Here they are as they are about to start cooking.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mushrooms....Portobello mushrooms

I love mushrooms. I especially love mushrooms, now that I'm trying to lose some weight. They are hearty and tasty and filling. My favorite way to eat these portobello mushrooms are on the grill. But, it's not exactly grilling weather, so my second favorite is teriyaki mushrooms.

A lot of people don't know what to do with these babies, so I'll tell you....first, you turn them over and pop off the stem. Then, use a tablespoon to scrape out the black stuff that is underneath. When the black stuff is all scraped out, it will look like the picture on the right. Then, I chop them up and throw them in a pan, with a little water on the bottom (so as the pan gets hot, the mushrooms don't burn). I want to cook them, not burn them.

I leave them in the pan at medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If there is any liquid left over, I drain that out. Then I throw on about a tablespoon of teriyaki baste and glaze. This is important....use the glaze, not just teryaki sauce. The glaze will coat the mushrooms and stick to them.

That's it. Now they are ready to eat. They are scrumptious. Don't believe me? Try it yourself!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Spaghetti the easy way....

So, the kids don't like cabbage (their loss) so I needed something quick and easy to serve them for dinner tonight and I decided that spaghetti would be it. I'm not into making sauces for them (they don't appreciate the work or have the decerning palate to appreciate the nuances in flavor from a home made sauce), so I just "juice up" the sauce. For me, that means, use a jarred sauce, heat it for one minute in the microwave in a bowl and then add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream. It makes the sauce nice and creamy and they love it. Then I finish with some parm cheese...so here's what the kids had for dinner:

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

I love sweet and sour.....and I'm trying to shed some weight, so sweet and sour chicken is out. So I decided to get my sweet and sour by making some sweet and sour cabbage. It's delicious and a one pot meal, not to mention low in calories, so it meets my criterea. Now, believe it or not, I add sausage to my cabbage and that's ok, because one sausage is about 280 calories and since the onions and cabbage are practically no calories, it balances out.

This is what I do....in a pan, pour 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Add one whole onion, diced. Let the onion sweat a bit then add 2 tsp. sugar. Add one sausage (I used Johnsonville sweet sausage, cut the casing off and cut it into small bits. ) let the sausage cook with the onion a bit, while you shred the cabbage.
Add the shredded cabbage....I used about a quarter of a cabbage. At the same time, I add about 1/3 a cup of water. I'll add more later, if it seems to be too dry. Then I add a couple of shakes of balsamic vinegar. (Sorry, can't be more specific, that's how I measure.) I'll taste later and add a bit more, if it seems too sweet. Let the cabbage cook, in an uncovered pan, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes. If you hear it sizzling, you've got a dry pan, add a bit of water, maybe a quarter cup and continue cooking. Give it a taste....if it's too sweet, add another shake of vinegar.
Here's the finished product:
It's really quite good and final calorie count is around 320, which isn't bad for a dinner.