It’s the weekend so that means I have the urge to be all crafty and experimental in the kitchen!
I am particular about soup. Technically I only like Campbell’s Tomato Soup (Homestyle). I don’t like THINGS in my soup, so if I am going to eat one it has to be pureed to the death. I do, however, occasionally like carrot soup… and I have been wanting to make some with ginger and squash for a while. Now that I have my lovely new Kitchen-Aid food processor, I thought, why the heck not!
After scouring the internet for some recipe ideas, I decided to take the leap and try this on my own so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I took ideas from various recipes and kind of went by feel.
Carrots, onion, garlic, buttercup squash & ginger.
- 1 bag of large carrots (2 lbs?) chopped
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 ginger, chopped
- 1 buttercup squash, roasted in the oven for 30 minutes
As you can see from the above photo, I gave up on trying to PEEL the stupid squash because it was impossible. Shawn helped me cut the bloody thing in half and I scooped out the seeds. I googled how to cook squash because I had no idea. Roasting it in the oven at 425F for 30 minutes seemed to work. I didn’t season it or anything because I couldn’t peel the stupid thing. But I was happy I noticed putting parchment paper down on the cookie sheet because that squash gets messy after roasting!
And yes, I used butterCUP squash. I had originally gone to the store looking for another squash that apparently is only a summer one. I had limited winter squash to choose from so I picked this one randomly. Turns out it’s sweet like sweet potato once roasted so I was happy to add it to my soup!
Chicken broth, sage, thyme, coriander & lemon-ginger tea.
- 4 cups Campbells no-salt chicken broth (1 box)
- 1/4 teaspoon sage
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 2 teabags Lemon-Ginger tea
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Yes! TEA! One of the recipes I found mentioned boiling some lemon-ginger tea in the broth so I thought I’d try it. I only left the tea bags in until the broth was boiling. Once I added the carrots to the broth, I took the bags out.
Oh! I also added some pepper and a teeny tiny bit of sea salt to the broth, as well as 1/4 tsp of yellow curry powder because I was feeling adventurous. You can’t tell I added it though.
What I did:
- saute the garlic and onion in the EVOO until they turn brown
- boil the chicken broth (with tea bags)
- roast the squash in the oven for 30 minutes on 425F (I did this while chopping all the other stuff – time saver!)
- add the carrots, garlic, onion, ginger to the broth once it’s bubbling, turn to medium and cook until carrots are soft (about 20 minutes or so?)
- by the time the carrots are cooking, the squash was ready, so I took it out of the oven and let it cool a bit before I did anything. I then scooped one half into the broth and kept the other for when I was mushing it all in the food processor.
- once carrots are soft, I used a ladle to scoop the soup (hee, rhyming!) into the food processor in two batches.
- Food process the heck out of it.
How did I live without a Kitchen-Aid food processor???
The lesson learned here is… even though it LOOKS like it’s going to be too watery, you might want to add a cup or so of water to the broth before processing it. The soup is more the consistency of baby food, like pureed carrots, than soup. I suppose I can add a little bit of water when I reheat my individually packaged soups. It’s not bad, it’s just really, really thick. Like something you’d use in place of mashed potatoes with dinner. Hmm. I will make sure to add a little more liquid to the broth I guess.
Have soup, will travel.
I spooned the soup out evenly over 5 containers. I don’t think there’s a cup of soup in there, maybe more like 1/2 a cup or 3/4 of one. But I can eat it with a sandwich or some more veggies. I put three in the freezer and kept two out for instant use. I had one tonight, actually and yes, it IS a little too thick, but I guess it’s much more filling that way.
It’s not spicy at all. I might want to add more ginger next time. I was afraid I’d over-ginger the soup, what with the tea bags and all. It is rather carrot-y, which is odd because I thought the sweetness of the buttercup squash would cancel some of that out. That being said, I like it. I will eat it and be happy and it doesn’t need crackers or anything in it because it’s thick and filling.
I am open to suggestions on how to make this more soupy and less baby foody. Not that it’s bad.. and I’ll play around with the seasoning next time, too. Maybe make it more curry-ish. Mmmm.
I did have some tonight!
“Soup”, grilled cheese & ANTM. Rock stars don’t have better Saturday nights, yo!
I made myself a grilled cheese (on whole wheat, weight watchers bread), had one of the soups and watched some America’s Next Top Model. Unrelated - I only watched this cycle to see how the changes to the show would go. I was curious and unsure what I thought, but I ended up liking a couple of the contestants. No one I like is there anymore, but I feel like I need to see this through to the end even though I decided I really don’t like the changes to the show. (I miss Noted Fashion Photographer Nigel Barker and Miss J!) It gives me something to watch on Saturdays – normally while I have breakfast, but I was busy cooking this soup then.
So my soup is less soup and more carrot & squash puree. Oh, well. It still tastes ok and it’s healthy. Like, really healthy. So I’ll have something healthy and filling to bring to work with me this week. Woot!
And I will try this again, with adjustments. More ginger. Less solid. More.. spice? And as healthy as I can keep it.
Until we meet again, carrot soup. Until we meet again.
So my chili was awfully soupy… which was somewhat of a disappointment. It tasted ok, but felt like it was missing something. I think if (when) I try it again I’ll add less chicken broth (it called for 2 cups). From research online it looks like other chilis have tomato paste or tomato sauce in them. Maybe I’ll forgo chopping up all those tomatoes and just add the organic (and gluten & sodium free) paste I can get at loblaws.
My homemade chili powder mix wasn’t bad. Very spicy. I’m not sure if it’s because I left out the salt, but it was also missing something… like a fuller taste? I can’t even explain it. I forgot to puree one of the cans of beans, as mentioned on the Dashing Dish site. Perhaps that will help, too? I thought of putting all of this in the food processor before eating it to see if I could mush it up, but I just used a pasta scoop and drained the liquid from it before eating it. (Forgot to take that photo.)
The house smelled lovely when we got home though. And with the warming feature on the crock pot, even though this would have stopped cooking at 4pm, the food was still very hot when we got home close to 6:30!
And you know who was most eager for this chili to come out of the pot?
So… this is MY dinner, right?
I kid you not. This dog was hovering around the kitchen counter and leaning against our legs as I stirred the pot and Shawn and I tasted the chili. He was so EAGER! This is very un-Jinx-like behaviour. Jinx is super proper and doesn’t beg for things. He rarely hovers as much as he did in the kitchen. He’ll leave when we’re working in there, like a good boy. But obviously something about this meal tickled his fancy because he was staring up at the crock pot and just looking so desperate for food.
Because we didn’t put any onions in the chili (an omission only because we forgot we didn’t have any left!) I fished out two tiny chunks of turkey, cooled them off and gave a piece to each dog. Jinx was ecstatic. It was hilarious.
The photo above was snapped a nanosecond before Jinx jumped up on his hind legs and put one paw on the kitchen counter – something he has NEVER EVER done in his entire life.
Even though we found the chili lacking, Jinx obviously didn’t. Just like Annie and her intense love of bananas (which gave her the ability to silently teleport from one room to just under your foot if you even picked one up), Jinx seems to have an attraction to white bean turkey chili. Go figure.
It’s autumn! It’s cold out! That means I need to get my cute little Canadian bottom in gear and use that crock pot I have had forever but never seem to use.
Yes I did use it a few times last fall/winter and I was proud of myself, but this year – THIS YEAR! I plan on using it to the best of it’s ability and make us a whole bunch of yummy things to eat! I am also trying to eat a lot healthier and get back in the habit of making our meals from fresh foods. I fell off that wagon a long time ago and I fell hard. Shawn isn’t big on the cooking either so it’s sort of difficult to stay motivated when neither one of us wants to cook. Especially after work. It’s dark, late and we’re fed up from stupidity that happens in our every day jobs (you know it happens. It happens to most all of us!) But this last month I have been making a habit of cooking on Sundays. Doing a nice grocery and stocking my desk with fresh fruit and veggies. Go, me!
Last weekend I made our new staple – Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie!
I made it with ground chicken, instead of beef and we season it with smoked paprika. I swear that when I was introduced to this spice last year I fell head over heels in love with it. What a great flavour it adds to chicken! We mix two large sweet potatoes in with two smaller regular potatoes and the result is delicious. At least I think so. Shawn is still an old school Shepherd’s Pie guy, but he humours me as I try and eat healthier.
I also took my first chance at leaving our crock pot on while we were at work. I freak out about doing this because I’m terrified it’ll somehow burn our house down. But it didn’t and we happily had turkey stew waiting for us when we got home one night last week. It had stopped cooking about an hour before we got home and was just warming. In fact it was too hot to eat right away!
I used turkey breast rather than chicken breast in honour of Thanksgiving last Monday. There weren’t enough leftovers to take home after the meal with my in-laws and I was feeling like having more turkey! So I chopped up some carrots, threw in some frozen corn and peas, sweet potato, one tiny regular potato and bunch of spices, along with the turkey breast and we had dinner and I had lunches for a week!
I had big plans to make sweet potato gnocchi too but the “dough” never actually turned out so I ended up throwing it all out. That was sad. Alas.
Tonight we cooked up some ground turkey and I got everything ready to make a turkey chili tomorrow!
I don’t know how this is going to turn out, and I’m not sure how I’ll like it because I have never been a fan of chili. Actually, the last time I made chili was way back in… the early 2000s! I remember making the vegetarian chili from the Loony Spoons cookbook and I had some – it was great – but I got so sick afterwards and ended up in the hospital (it was totally unrelated!) that I couldn’t look at or think of chili ever again for a long, long time. So here I am at least 10 years later, trying to make a chili and not end up violently ill and in the hospital. This chili is a modified version of a recipe I found on Dashing Dish. I’m even making my own white bean chili mix, which I found here (also modified). I went gluten-free where I could and, well, turns out I was out of onions so those are left out. So we’ll see how this one goes.
And as much as I hate pinterest and can’t seem to figure out why it’s so popular, I have made myself a board of recipes (I guess it’s good for that) that I am collecting that eventually I want to try and that will hopefully keep me eating healthier for a long time. But don’t expect me to follow you, or whatever it is people do on there, because I am rarely on it. It’s so confusing and busy and it gives me a headache. But I do find it a little easier than just keeping everything in a bookmark file on my browser. =/
Let me know if you have any outstanding crock pot recipes you think I should try. I’m not looking for desserts or really fatty things… I suppose I could modify recipes as well. I’m getting better at that. But I really do want to use my crock pot a lot more this season and there’s only so much googling I can do.
Grilled salmon, grilled baby potatoes, fresh garden salad with cheese & avocado.
Remember a few months ago when I used to cook things and eat healthier? Yeah. That’s not really been happening since, maybe, um, February? Winter is always a bad time for us to eat healthy. Long, dark days with lousy weather do not make us feel all that energetic about cooking something when we finally get home. Alas, we fell back into lousy eating habits for a while and then, I became so stressed and anxious all the time, I was hardly eating at all. (Which was GREAT for losing some weight before I got to NYC in June, but not so much the healthiest way to do things and now that I am eating again, I gained it back. Boo!)
I never want to eat in the summer. I’m hot, uncomfortable and just cranky because of the heat. I am so unhappy with my job right now, I feel way too full of despair to even want to think about doing anything about food. I need to rethink my future and career and stuff. BUT I digress.
I found out I have a vitamin D deficiency. Turns out fish (salmon and tuna(?)) is good for that, along with milk and cheese and sun and stuff. We never buy fish. I hate the smell of fish, but I do adore salmon and I love that it’s so easy to grill! I learned how to do this from my father – stick it on aluminum foil, have the BBQ at 400F (or higher in our case), butter, oil and lemon, cover it and leave it for 15 minutes. Voila!
With all the fresh veggies Jinx has been growing in the back yard, I have been feeling way more like eating healthier and finding things to do with them. We had to go to Costco and fill up our propane tank and do groceries because we were scarily out of food.
And we hardly even DRINK alcohol! That’s why it’s the only thing left! Scary.
I am sure someone somewhere had tried to live on alcohol and kraft singles, but it wasn’t going to fly for us. Heh So while we were at the grocery closest to Costco, I thought I’d check out their fish. Mostly grocery store fish is small and over priced and not very fresh, but I can never seem to get to the fish market during its opening hours. We lucked out though and salmon was then on the menu for dinner that night!
Anatomy of a salad.
First I used up all of the cherry tomatoes and one of the cucumbers from Jinx’s garden. Then I tossed in one avocado and some bocconcini pearls. I picked some basil and parsley from Jinx’s garden, too. Then I tossed in 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and two cap-fulls of balsamic vinegar. Then I covered the container and shook it for all its worth to mix it up.
Garlic… and some other stuff added to it.
I had bought these huge garlic bulbs and the cloves were about the size if three cloves put together from a regular-sized bulb. It was amazing. So I diced up two cloves, sauteed them in 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tsp of unsalted butter. I stirred them around as they browned as Shawn cut up the baby potatoes and put them on aluminum foil. We peppered and very slightly salted the potatoes, brushed them with a little more oil and then I drizzled the garlic stuff from the pan over them. We covered them up and put them on the grill for about 30-45 minutes. Just make sure the BBQ is really, really hot. Then leave them be. (we do check on them once in a while because sometimes they cook too fast and burn.) I discovered this way of doing potatoes on the BBQ when Shawn and I went to New Brunswick in 2009 and saw my cousin Sheryl doing it. We always make our potatoes this way in the summer now!
Once the potatoes were doing their cooking thing, I made up the salad and started sauteing another two cloves of garlic for the fish. Unfortunately I forgot to turn the stove down and burnt the garlic a little, but it was ok in the end. It was crunchy on the fish and SO DELICIOUS! We drizzled the oil on the aluminum foil before putting the fish down, then I brushed the top with a little more oil and squirted a third of lemon all over it. Then we put the garlic/butter/oil stuff on top and I picked some of the lemon thyme I bought (because I thought it smelled good. I am so happy I did that!) to sprinkle on top of the fish, too. I even put two sprigs of it on top.
The end result was delicious. I could probably eat salmon like that every night. I just don’t have the desire to keep fish in my house for more than a couple of hours.
As for the salad… OMG! The cherry tomatoes were SO SWEET. With that hit of balsamic vinegar it was just bliss. I had the rest of the salad as dinner last night. It made a lot (mostly cheese, so possibly not the healthiest. *cough*) and I couldn’t keep the avocado much longer.
Needless to say, I’d like to make this again next weekend. Only, perhaps I’d make some sweet potatoes. The downside of using those as opposed to regular ones is that they do not taste good with garlic at all. They might be better for you than normal potatoes, but if you can bathe them in garlic… why bother? haha!
Weird things have been happening to me lately. I find that I actually miss both exercise and cooking when I am not able to do either. THIS IS NOT NORMAL! However, I seem to miss the stress-release that seems to come hand-in-hand with both exercise and cooking. These two things used to CAUSE the stress in my life and now? Now I find chopping veggies cathartic (with the exception of tomato. I HATE chopping tomato. Never mind that it’s not a vegetable.) I find the challenge in trying to hold myself up in side plank position addictive.
Anyhow, this is weird to me because it’s a total opposite of how I used to feel. Add to that my sudden ability to be able to handle spices and foods I normally could not eat (thank you, Mira and BodyTalk), I like to experiment with new things in the kitchen. On Monday, my bestie Monkey posted her mean plan (remember when I had an oh, so brief flirtation with that? Yeah, that went well.) and on it were so many delicious looking things, but my taste buds were drawn to the Chana Masala with Naan Bread on her list. I knew that I would be attempting that at some point this week. Happily, I had Thursday and Friday off, so Friday I spent it shopping and cooking. I googled “Chana Masala” and ended up over at Smitten Kitchen (where there are a plethora of amazing recipes!). I modified it a little from her recipe though.
Here’s this Irish girl’s first attempt at Indian food :
INGREDIENTS (as I used them, not exactly what’s on SK):
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (I couldn’t find the chili pepper, so I improvised)
1 tablespoon ground coriander I was missing this! So I added an extra tsp of garam masala
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric I couldn’t find my turmeric, but it was in the garam masala
- 1 tablespoon amchoor powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (it calls for 1 tsp, but see notes above)
- 2 cups tomatoes, chopped small
- 2/3 cup water
- 4 cups cooked chickpeas (I used 3 cans of Eden Organic, 1% sodium! yay!)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 lemon (juiced)
Heat oil, add onion, garlic, jalapeño (chili) pepper, fresh ginger and saute until brown (about 5 minutes).
Turn heat to medium-low and add spices (which I mixed in a bowl). Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add tomato. Stir. Then add the water and chickpeas. Simmer UNCOVERED for 10 minutes.
As you can see, I didn’t really chop the tomato very small. Eh.
Stir in lemon juice and salt.
I left it on low and covered for the remaining time between the last step and when Shawn walked into the house. Maybe about another 10 minutes? By the time we dished it out the liquid had thickened a bit. Since I couldn’t find the Naan bread in the stupid store (but they had all sorts of other foreign breads!) I picked up a thick pita with an Indian type name. It was good enough.
Of course I had to sample the final result before Shawn got home. I mean, it was only proper that I make sure I had a decent finished product to serve my husband as he walked in the door after a long day at work. Right?
Just performing a good wifely duty here. That’s all. It’s what a good wife should do! Nom nom nom.
This recipe, of course, is not fit for my Mum (you listening, Mummy?) because it has flavour (and it’s really spicy!) but I adored it! So much so that it was a very tough decision whether or not to eat the leftovers for breakfast this morning. I ended up waiting and I’ll eat it later. I might actually make another pot tomorrow so I can bring it as lunch for work this week.
Shawn, unfortunately, didn’t love it as much as I did. He bemoaned the lack of a) MEAT and b) rice. Ah, well. I didn’t think about making rice to go with it. And I think the chickpeas themselves are more than enough to fill me up and provide protein without adding meat. I told him just because a meal doesn’t have meat doesn’t mean it sucks! Men!. Sheesh.
Although this recipe wasn’t listed as Clean Eating, I’m dubbing it as such because everything I used, with the exception of the chickpeas, was fresh and processed-free. Except the bread part. Oh, well. Close enough. I wonder if they make gluten-free naan bread? Hmm.
Not bad for a first attempt. I am contemplating tackling Butter Chicken next time. This will have both meat and rice, so hopefully my picky husband will be happier. =P