Latest Entries »

Spiced Carrots and Winter Squash

The Soup Sisters have declared this the “Year of the Vegetable.” We would like to add more great vegetable recipes to our repertoire.

While browsing through a cookbook from my local library – Taste of Home’s Skinny Slow Cooker – I came across this recipe. I like the idea of using a slow cooker for the vegetable dish, so it can be prepared ahead and be all ready when it is time to eat.  I plan to give it a try soon.

Makes 6 servings.   16 carb grams per serving.

Ingredients

  • 6 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups cubed peeled winter squash (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Directions

Place carrots and squash in a 3-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients; drizzle over vegetables and toss to coat. Cook, covered, on low 4 to 5 hours or until vegetables are tender. Gently stir before serving.

It has been a few years since I have added recipes here. With 2017 upon us I am hoping to get reinspired in my cooking. Trying to make my goals realistic, I aim to try a new vegetable recipe every month this year. My first one is from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution – Volume 2. (Thanks to my sister for suggesting that vegetables can be made in a slow cooker.) I plan on m making this for my father’s 92nd birthday next weekend.

Serves 4-8

  • 2 pounds small (1-2 inch) red potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  1. Combine potatoes, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in slow cooker.
  2. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 4-5 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
  3. Stir in rosemary; cook on high until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Discard rosemary.
  4. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

*Potatoes can be held on warm for up to 2 hours

*Recipe can be doubled; increase time by one hour.

Chowder Musings

I had some very good clam chowder last night at the Golden Corral restaurant. It wasn’t nearly as good, though, as what my brother-in-law makes. It is always a special treat to be served a bowl at his house. But I think the best clam chowder I’ve ever eaten was handed to me in a bread bowl at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Perhaps it was just the fabulous setting – right there on the California coast – but as I remember, the soup was thick and creamy and loaded with clams… and delicious! Perhaps the Soup Sisters should try making clam chowder sometime.

When and where, dear reader, did you find the best bowl of clam chowder you’ve ever eaten?

Gather ‘Round the Soup Pot

This past weekend the Soup Sisters talked to several of our cousins and invited them to join in on one of our future soup cook-alongs. So… cousins, if you’re checking out the SoupSisters blog, WELCOME! We’re glad you’ve come.

August 26th: Polynesian Peanut Soup

This soup comes from A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, a cookbook given to us by Aunt Debbie. I almost chose a chilled soup, as she did in July, but I love all things peanut-related and felt this was appropriate, as we live in Polynesia.

Polynesian Peanut Soup

This distinctive rich and creamy soup was inspired by a favorite peanut sauce. A friend shared the recipe with my over lunch on a South Pacific cruise. Just making it conjures up fond memories of a sunny deck, sensuous breezes, and the bright blue sea.

(makes 4 cups, 4 to 6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable stock, or as needed
  • 3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney**
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh jalapeño chili, or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (green parts only)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • Asian sesame oil, for garnish***

*Buy natural peanut butter with oil on the top; stir in the oil before using. Many processed peanut butters are hydrogenated to prevent separation and have sugars, salt, and stabilizers added.

**Chutney is a mixture of fruit and/or vegetables, often cooked with vinegar, sugar, and spices. Usually made with mango, chutney is found in most supermarkets; look for it shelved with either the condiments or dressings.

***Buy dark, amber-colored Asian sesame oil, made from toasted sesame seeds, rather than light-colored sesame oil, which is extracted from raw sesame seeds and lacks the distinctive strong aroma and nutty flavor. Purchase toasted sesame oil in the Asian section of supermarkets or in Asian markets. After opening, store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 6 months.

  1. Toast the coconut in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and ginger are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender. Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock, peanut butter, cutney, and jalapeno; puree until smooth. (It may be necessary to add more vegetable stock if the peanut butter is very thick.)
  4. Transfer the soup to the Dutch oven and stir occasionally over medium heat until heated through. Season to taste.
  5. Meanwhile, toss together the coconut, green onions, and cilantro. Drizzle each serving of soup with sesame oil and top with a mound of the coconut mixture.

Refrigerate this soup and the toasted coconut in separate covered containers for up to 3 days. When reheating the soup, stir in water to thin as desired.

Chilled Roasted Pepper-Mango Soup

I thought with the HOT HOT HOT summer in Indiana, a chilled soup would be perfect. In honor of the Hawaii crew, mango seemed like a good way to go. I found several choices, but liked this one as it has a twist from the other. From Coastal Living

 

  • 3 large yellow bell peppers, seeded and quartered
  • 2 large mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup mango nectar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Sour cream
  • Garnish: Fresh mint

Preparation

  1. Place bell peppers on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 5 inches from heat 15 minutes or until blistered. Place bell peppers in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and let stand 10 minutes to loosen skins. Peel peppers, discarding skins.
  2. Process peppers and mango in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add mango nectar and next 6 ingredients; process until smooth*. Cover and chill mixture 2 hours. Top with sour cream, and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
  3. *Note: If desired, press mango mixture through a wire-mesh strainer, using back of a spoon to squeeze out liquid. Discard pulp and solids. Straining and discarding solids yields less volume but makes a very smooth soup.

We will gather on Sunday, July 15, at 4:00 pm Indianaplis / Florida time. If my math is right that makes it 1:00 pm in California, and 10:00 in Hawaii.

Borscht

Twice I have had borscht, a traditional Russian soup – once from a fine restaurant in Chicago and then at a crowded deli in New York City. Both times I enjoyed it immensely. The Soup Sisters will be making borscht at their web cook-along this weekend using the recipe here. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

From Food Network Kitchens

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches red beets, tops trimmed and scrubbed (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into eighths (about 8 ounces)
  • 4 medium carrots, halved crosswise (about 10 ounces)
  • 2 ribs celery, halved crosswise
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup light buttermilk
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce (a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Makes 8 servings (about 1 1/4 cups per serving)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Put the vegetables and garlic on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or a doubled piece of regular), drizzle with olive oil, and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add the rosemary. Seal the foil to make a tight package. Put the package in a roasting pan. Roast until the beets can be pierced easily with a knife, about 1 to 1.5 hours. When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them—the skins should slide right off with a bit of pressure from your fingers. If they don’t, use a paring knife to scrape off any bits that stick.

Put half of the vegetables in a food processor with half of the broth and purée. Transfer the purée to a saucepan. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and broth. Stir in remaining 3 teaspoons salt, season with pepper, and simmer over medium heat until the flavors come together, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the buttermilk and Worcestershire sauce.

Ladle borscht into bowls and garnish with dill. This soup is also delicious served chilled.

Since March is already almost half over, I thought it appropriate to post the recipe I would like to use for our April Soup Sisters Web-Cook-Along.

Food.com says this recipe will take about 30 minutes prep and 1 hour for cooking for a total of 90 minutes. I will probably use our slow cooker as suggested in Step 8 of the directions, which will add about another hour to hour and a half of cooking to my time.

I would also like to get feedback as to which weekend works best for everyone (April 7/8, 14/15, 21/22, 28/29) and time of day (last time was 3:30/12:30/10:30). I know with Daylight Savings Time starting again Hawaii is an additional hour later – I was thinking maybe using 4:00/1:00/10:00 (I know it’s about the same as last time for Hawaii, lol) start times.

http://www.food.com/recipe/chicken-and-gnocchi-soup-351456

What I find nice about this site is that you can increase the number of servings and it will adjust your ingredients list. I have increased my recipe to 8 serving; this recipe doesn’t reference the ingredient amounts in the directions so we’ll be ok (the site warns that it does not adjust the ingredient amounts referenced in the directions).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups celery , chopped fine
  • 1 ½ cups onion , chopped fine
  • 1 cup carrot , grated very fine and chopped
  • 3 teaspoons garlic , minced
  • 2⁄3; cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 8 cups chicken broth or 8 cups fresh chicken stock
  • 3 cups cooked chicken (white meat works best) I will be using a rotisserie chicken.
  • 1 ½ cups fresh spinach , Julienne cut
  • 32 ounces gnocchi (potato dumpling)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan.
  2. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and sauté until soft.
  3. Add flour mixing well, cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add heavy cream, milk and chicken broth mixing well.
  5. Cook and stir until mixture thicken and comes to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and stir in chicken, spinach, gnocchi and remaining seasonings.
  7. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  8. Cook over low heat 8-10 minutes until gnocchi become tender. (you could also place the ingredients in a Crock-Pot and cook on low for 1-1 ½ hours , this really makes the flavors come together.).
  9. Serve with Hot garlic bread sticks and enjoy.

White Chicken Chili!

I’m running off to work, so here is the ingredient list for those who shop ahead of time. I’ll post the instructions tonight.

ETA: The recipe!

My own warning — please use latex or latex alternative disposable gloves when cutting up and handling cut-up chiles! I’ve learned this the hard way when I took out my contact lenses a few hours after cutting up chiles. Soap will NOT remove the capsaicin! Christina gave me the disposable glove trick and I always make sure we’ve got a box in the kitchen. I cut them on a smaller cutting board that isn’t my main one, too. The gloves are helpful for cutting up garlic, as well, as that aroma likes to stick around. Also, Kevin and I have made chili that was way higher than our comfort level on the Scoville scale, simply by being too generous with the jalapeños. If you don’t like spicy, or will be sharing this dish with someone who doesn’t, be careful. I love spicy, but eating that chili caused my one and only case of heartburn, we both had tummy issues as a result, and we had to throw out most of it. 😦

I think they can be added safely to taste once in individual bowls (that’s just my amateur chef opinion, though).

White Chicken Chili

(from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, 2011, p 98-9)

Why This Recipe Works

Chili made with chicken promises a lighter, fresher alternative to the red kind, but most of the time, the resulting chili is bland and watery and the chicken is dry, rather than moist and flavorful. We found not one but three solutions to boring chicken chili. To solve the problem of insufficient chile flavor, we used a trio of fresh chiles: jalapeño, poblano, and New Mexican. To fix the watery sauce, we puréed some of our sautéed aromatics (a mix of chiles, garlic, and onions) and broth with beans to thicken the base. And finally, to avoid floating bits of rubbery chicken, we browned, poached, and shredded bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, which gave our chicken pieces a tender texture and full flavor.

Test Kitchen Tip No. 21: How Hot Is That Chile?

In the test kitchen, we’ve noticed that some jalapeños are searingly hot, while others are mild as bell peppers. We tracked down a number of theories to explain this great variation — and size kept popping up. According to this theory, a small chile will be hotter than a larger one. But when we arranged a tasting of jalapeños of various sizes, there seemed to be no correlation between size and heat. To investigate the matter further, we sent five similarly sized jalapeños to the lab, requesting levels of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin (the compounds responsible for the majority of the perception of “heat”). Sure enough, some chiles were nearly 10 times hotter than others — even though they all looked alike.

One burning question remained: Are there any visual indicators of pungency? No, says Danise Coon of the Chile Pepper Institute, who explained that capsaicin production is tied to the environment. Chiles grown in sunny, arid weather undergo a lot of stress, and stressed chiles produce more capsaicin than chiles grown in temperate climates. (Hot, dry New Mexico is known for producing very hot chiles.)

Until someone comes up with a procedure for diagnosing stressed-out chiles, then, the only surefire way to judge the heat level of a chile is to taste it. If you want more control over the heat when you’re cooking with chiles, start with an easy-to-measure heat source such as cayenne, red pepper flakes, or chili-garlic paste, then layer on modest amounts of fresh chiles, removing the ribs and seeds if you want less heat.

Serves 6 to 8

Adjust the heat in this dish by adding the minced ribs and seeds from the jalapeños as directed in step 6. If New Mexican chiles cannot be found, add an additional poblano and jalapeño to the chili. Serve this chili with sour cream, tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

3 pounds bone-in split chicken breasts or thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra as needed
3 jalapeño chiles
3 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
3 New Mexico chile peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into large pieces
2 onions, cut into large pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
.25 cup minced fresh cilantro
4 scallions, sliced thin

1. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and .25 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and lightly brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; remove and discard skin.

2. While chicken is browning, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 jalapeños, then mince jalapeños and set aside. Process half of poblano chiles, New Mexican chiles, and onions in food processor until consistency of chunky salsa, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl halfway through. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining poblano chiles, New Mexican chiles, and onions; combine with first batch (do not wash food processor).

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and reduce heat to medium. Add minced jalapeños, chile mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and .25 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

4. Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to now-empty food processor. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add vegetable-bean mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, and chicken breasts to Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken registers 160 degrees [F] (175 degrees [F] if using thighs), 15 to 20 minutes (40 minutes if using thighs).

5. Transfer chicken to large plate. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until beans are heated through and chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

6. Mince remaining jalapeño, reserving and mincing ribs and seeds, and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding bones. Stir shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and remaining minced jalapeño (with seeds if desired) into chili and return to simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

I made this yesterday. Wow – was it good! Definitely 5 Spoons!

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 (15-ounce) cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 3 onions, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4-lb boneless pork butt roast, trimmed, cut into 1½-inch pieces (often labeled as boneless Boston butt)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Directions:
1. Puree 1 can hominy and 2 cups broth in a blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
2. Microwave onions, tomato paste, 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, chili powder, and oregano together on high power, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.
3. Stir remaining 2 cans hominy, remaining cup broth, tomatoes with juice, and soy sauce into slow cooker. Season pork with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Toss carrots with remaining tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, and wrap in an aluminum foil packet. Lay foil packet on top of stew. Cover and cook until the pork is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
4. Transfer foil packet to plate. Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Carefully open foil packet (watch for steam) and stir carrots with accumulated juice into stew. Let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Adjust stew consistency with additional hot broth as needed.) Stir in cilantro and lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

You may want to serve with lime wedges, minced fresh cilantro, minced onion or scallions, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, rice, and/or warmed tortillas.

Evaluation:  In step 1, I pureed the chicken broth and canned hominy together. It was easy to do and resulted in a nice, thick, and flavorful base for the stew. I wish I could have found Juanita’s hominy at our store. It is a brand of Mexican-style hominy said to be lower in carbohydrates and especially delicious. I will be looking for it in the future and plan to buy a few cans to keep on hand.

For the next step I used a bag of frozen onions instead of chopping fresh ones myself. I concluded that one bag was equal to 3 medium onions. Using the frozen onions was easy, and I was perfectly happy with the results. Cooking these ingredients together in the microwave instead of sautéing them on the stove is a great technique.

For step 3, I added only one can of hominy instead of two in an attempt to cut down on the carb-count, and I used a three-pound roast to save some money, yet I still felt that the resulting stew had a very generous amount of meat. The most difficult part of this recipe for me was cutting the pork up. I always find cutting raw meat to be distasteful. I prepared and enclosed the  carrots in a foil packet as instructed and was very pleased with the outcome. The carrots were cooked perfectly. I will try to remember in the future to use this technique for carrots when using the slow cooker. I wonder if it would be good for other vegetables as well.

Since I wanted the stew to be ready to eat in less time than suggested, I decided to try pre-heating the broth, hominy, and tomatoes in the microwave before putting them into the slow cooker. I set the slow-cooker on high and was pleased to find that the pre-heating did speed things up quite a bit. The stew was ready to eat in just under four hours instead of 5 to 7.

Step 4 – There was not much accumulated fat to be removed, but I did spoon off what I could. The stew’s consistency was fine, so I did not add any broth. I don’t like the flavor of cilantro, so I left that out, but I did add the lime juice at the end. It was fun to squeeze the fresh lime (cost was only 33 cents), and I think it added a nice touch of flavor. I think toppings of diced avocado and sour cream would have been a great way to serve the stew. I’ll try to do that next time.

With its deep and rich combination of flavors, Dandy husband and I both liked this stew very much. It truly was delicious. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.