Semi-Organic Beef Vegetable Soup

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots,peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, skin on
  • 1 medium green squash, diced
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound top blade roast
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 large white button mushrooms, thick dice
  • 1/2 C frozen corn
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • pinch dried parsley
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 quart organic beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Makes about four healthy servings.

  1. In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot.  Salt and pepper the roast.  Brown the beef on both sides over medium high heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion.  Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
  3. Add garlic powder and thyme.  Add enough broth to almost but not completely cover the roast.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer slowly for two hours.
  5. After two hours, remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  6. Add the rest of the beef broth and tomatoes to the pot.
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes add the squash , mushrooms and corn.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  9. When the roast is cooled, trim any excess fat, cube and add to the soup.
  10.  Adjust your seasonings.  Add parsley.

My meals since Friday evening have been soup, cereal, soup, soup, toast/banana, soup, and soup.   The jeans are getting a little loose.  I cannot remember a weekend of such healthy eating ever.  Yes, The Boss is still sick.  Friday I made chicken soup.  Last night I made Vegetarian Vegetable Soup.  Today I decided upon Beef Vegetable for a change in pace.

A high quality beef vegetable soup is the end result of the right cut of beef and some high quality broth.  This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not.  The beef broth was hand selected store bought prepared organic broth.  I used top blade which IMO makes a big difference  due to the cut and marbling.

Tips

I remembered the mushrooms.   Use vegetables you have on hand.  I also decided to leave out peas because peas are not one of my favorite vegetables.  The corn adds a touch of sweetness.  Note the roast is braised whole for several hours, cooled, cubed and returned to the soup.  The beef stays tender this way.  You won’t end up with tiny hockey pucks.

A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.

So would a three pound top blade roast.  But with that much beef you might as well make Pot Roast.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

  • 10-12 lasagne noodles (more if you’re making a big pan of lasagne)
  • one big butternut squash, halved, seeded and baked
  • a bunch of fresh spinach leaves, 8 ounces minimum
  • one large sweet onion, sliced, caramelized
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups bechamel sauce
  •  dash of nutmeg
  • salt and peppers (black and white)
  • grated parmesan
  • shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the squash halves, lightly grease the cut sides with olive oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately one hour.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, scoop the squash into a mixing bowl.  Smash with a fork and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  4. Caramelize your onion and set aside.  No salt or pepper at this step.
  5. Wilt the spinach in a pan over medium heat.  Cool, chop, season with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and set aside.
  6. Prepare your bechamel sauce (half stick of butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup parmesan, 3 cups milk, salt, white pepper).  Set aside.
  7. Cook the noodles until al dente.  Use more or less noodles, depending on how big you want your tray of lasagne to be.
  8. In a baking dish large enough for the desired dish of lasagne, cover the bottom with several spoonfuls of bechamel sauce.
  9. Arrange a layer of lasagne noodles in the baking dish. Spread prepared squash evenly over the noodles.  Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella.
  10. Fold the spinach and onions into the ricotta.   Add another layer of noodles.  Spread some sauce, the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture, and cheeses evenly.
  11. Keep layering, alternating the vegetable layers, and ending with a plain noodle top.
  12. Cover the top with bechamel and cheeses.
  13. Bake uncovered for for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I had forgotten how much time it takes to make lasagne.  This recipe in particular takes hours due to the vegetable prep.  The next time I make this I’ll prepare the vegetables the night before and assemble/bake the next day.  There are a billion of these squash and spinach lasagne recipes on the internet.  I bet virtually none of them tell you how long this sucker takes to make.

But it was worth it!  If you like butternut squash and you like spinach you will like this veggie pasta bake.  But in the effort of full disclosure I thought I’d screwed up this lasagne because when I got to the final naked noodle layer I realized I had left out a few steps.

I forgot to put any parmesan or mozzarella on any of my layers.  I forgot to add parmesan to the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture.  Too late to deconstruct so I put the dish in the oven and hoped for the best.  To my surprise I didn’t miss the missing cheeses.  The lasagne turned out OK.  Less cheese allowed the flavors of the vegetables to shine.

I guess this recipe is a keeper.

 

 

Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice (aka Pete’s)

 

Pete’s Fried Rice

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3-4 C cold leftover rice
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 T canola oil in a nonstick wok over high heat.  Coat pan with the hot oil by twirling.
  3. Add the egg and fry until golden brown and curling on the edges.  Flip and brown the other side.  When cooked through, remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add the remaining canola oil to the wok, heat on high, and twirl your wok.
  5. Add carrots and broccoli, stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add onions and stir fry for a minute.
  7. Add rice and stir-fry while breaking up the clumps until rice is heated through.  Add more canola oil to prevent sticking, if needed.
  8. Turn heat down to medium-high.  Cut the eggs into large dice.  Add the peas, corn, and eggs to the work.  Stir constantly until the frozen vegetables are heated through.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. Add sesame oil.

 

There have to be as many versions of Fried Rice as there are cooks.  I wrote this line several years ago for another fried rice recipe.  I was making fried rice for dinner when suddenly I realized that one of my favorite fried rice recipes was not written down anywhere.  So after dinner I sat down at my computer and…

Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice!  Number One Son was a damn good soccer player and he had some damn good coaches.  Coach Ampaipitakwong was one of those coaches.  Watching Coach dribble was like watching a professional dancer. His son Ant went on to play professional soccer in Thailand.  But I digress.

At one of those pot luck soccer get togethers that kid soccer teams do all the time Coach Ampaipitakwong brought a tub of fried rice.  It was incredible!  And after years of producing clumpy bad fried rice, I finally got it down.  Here is my version of Coach’s fried rice.

Nobody could pronouce Ampaipitakwong correctly.  So we shortened his name to Coach Pete.  Pete’s Fried Rice.

Tips – The rice needs to be cold and leftover from the previous day or two.  Be daring and use different vegetables.  Add animal protein.  Add fried tofu.  On second thought, don’t add fried tofu.

May your fried rice never clump.

 

 

Semi-Organic Vegan Split Pea Soup

You’re probably thinking to yourself what kind of parent forces this type of soup on their children?  Well, before you flame me in the comments section, my parents never fed this soup to me as a child.  As a parent, I never made or force fed my children with this soup.  The origins of this soup are simple.  It’s Sunday.  So what do you want for lunch?  It’s winter.  Soup.

How about some split pea soup?  Rather than mine the internet I went to my cookbook collection.  After a few unsuccessful look ups I settled upon Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.  My recipe is adapted from Madison’s recipe.  After over 40 years of cooking I’ve finally figured out why I can never follow a recipe.  

I can’t follow a recipe because I usually don’t have all of the ingredients.

The reason why this soup is semi-organic is because not all of the ingredients are certified organic.  I’m pretty sure the organic portion is due to the fact those ingredients were on sale.  (I want a healthy soup, not the most expensive split pea soup ever made).  11:00 am.  Soup should be ready by noon.  My recipe gets posted only if it tastes good.

  • 2 cups split green peas, rinsed
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1.5 quarts vegetable stock or broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Soak the split peas in water while preparing the soup ingredients.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion, celery, and carrots.  Saute for around 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and dried herbs, and fresh black pepper.  Saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  5. Drain and add the split peas.  Add the vegetable stock/broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Stir often so the peas don’t stick.
  7. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer gently for approximately one hour.
  8. It’s yummy tummy time.

For the curious regarding semi-organic: carrots, vegetable stock and most of the herbs were organic.  The rest of the ingredients were high quality but not USDA certified organic.

 

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

1 T olive oil
1 butternut squash (1½ lb.), halved and seeded
1 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
1 4.5 ounce can diced green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp. )
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Enchilada sauce (homemade or canned)
8-12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool, scoop into a bowl and mash.

2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté until soft. Add chiles and garlic. Cook 1 minute.

3. Stir in mashed squash, cream cheese, cumin, and nutmeg. Turn the heat off and mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer tortillas followed by the squash mixture, then cheddar cheese. Repeat, ending with cheddar cheese as your final layer on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the sides start bubbling and the cheese is melted and gooey.

5. Serve with your usual Tex-Mex sides and condiments. Extra cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, green onions, jalepeno peppers, salsa, chips, beans, rice. Or a side salad works too but not as satisfying.

I sometimes forget this blog is about recipes.  I get off on a tangent like mislabeled seafood or nasty who knows what’s in them chicken nuggets from China.  FOCUS!  It’s about the food, the recipes, and the memories.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to make a squash enchilada  casserole when fall rolled around and the hard squashes started appearing in the market.  I was always amazed at how tasty this dish was without any meat in it.  Like all great family recipes this one exhibits the following classic characteristics.

The kids didn’t like it when they were little and I never wrote the recipe down.  I’m sure if I wanted to waste an hour or two I could find the original recipe yellowed and faded, taped to a 3 x 5 card somewhere.  I also know that when I find the original recipe it won’t be how I make it now.  Why bother looking? I do recall the original recipe called for some cooked potato added to the squash mixture.  I also recall the original did not have green chilies in it.  So here you go. This recipe is from memory.  I hope it tastes good.

I can’t believe this is my 100th post.

TIPS

 If you like (or need) an extra kick, sub a heartier pepper for the green chilies.  Need protein?  Add a can of black beans, rinsed and drained, to the middle layer of the casserole.  Monterrey Jack would be a nice sub for the cheddar.  Or Smokey Chipotle Cheddar might work too.  (I have a chunk of this in the fridge and it’s looking for a recipe).  But most of all, have some fun with this recipe.

Update 11.17.14

I know, two days after posting and I’m making changes already.  Step 4 –  for the middle layers, tortillas, squash mixture, cheddar cheese, repeat.  No enchilada sauce.  The red sauce goes only on the bottom of the pan and on the top layer of tortillas.  The final layer is tortillas, enchilada sauce, and shredded Monterrey jack cheese.  Yellow corn tortillas are fine but I used white corn tortillas.  I only needed ten tortillas.  You’ll get eight generous servings from this casserole.  I made some quick enchilada sauce with a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and some chicken stock.  You can leave out the chicken stock if you’re a picky vegetarian.  You can leave the cheese off too but I won’t take any responsibility for how your casserole turns out.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup low fat milk
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flours, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center. In a small mixing bowl combine egg, milk, pumpkin, spice mix and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir batter just till blended.
For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto a lightly greased preheated griddle or heavy skillet. Cook several pancakes at a time over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or till the tops are evenly bubbled and the edges are dry, then turn and cook until golden brown on the second side. Repeat with remaining batter.

An unused cup of canned pumpkin stored neatly in a tiny plastic container  sat at eye level in the fridge for nearly a week.  This was really starting to bother me.  I really didn’t want to throw away perfectly good pumpkin.  Worse, I hoped the squash wouldn’t spoil before I figured out what to do with it.  Muffins?  Bread?  I just couldn’t make up my mind.  Eventually I settled upon pancakes.  Those with a keen eye will notice that this recipe is pretty much my standard pancake recipe with pumpkin in it.

Memo to Family:

This is a new recipe.  So don’t try to remember when I first made everyone orange colored pancakes.