Thursday, April 28, 2011

Susan's Family Soup

This is the main soup my mother taught me. She learned it from her mother-in-law, Barbara. This is a meal I regularly make, to host friends, to comfort myself when sick, or to use up stuff in the fridge. Since most of the ingredients can vary, it's not so much a specific recipe as a framework.

Makes 1 gallon

Sautee in olive oil in a large soup pot:

l lb chicken, cut into bite size chunks, raw
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

When chicken is cooked, add:

1 32 oz container chicken or veggie broth ( I like the rectangular cartons)
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes (16 or 32 oz)
2-8 cups water, depending on the size of your soup pot
1 tsp each of dried basil, thyme, oregano, parsley
2 bay leaves

Bring to a boil- while it's heating up, prepare and add (in order of how long items take to cook)

2 carrots, sliced
1 red potato, chopped
2 sticks celery, sliced
4 leaves kale or collards, chopped into strips
1 small zucchini or summer squash, sliced
1 16 oz can kidney or canellini beans

After rolling boil, reduce heat and simmer a bit. Ok to cook for an hour or more but it's not necessary at all.

Add small amount of salt & pepper if desired. Adjust spices as desired.


Vegetarian: Omit meat. Use veggie broth.

Beef: Sautee raw ground beef and use beef broth.

Turkey: sautee raw ground turkey.

Minestrone: Instead of potato, cook elbow pasta in your soup for the last 15 minutes. Serve when the pasta is done.

If using cooked meat, just add it with the broth and tomatoes after sauteeing onion and garlic.

The broth is optional. It adds a rich flavor but if you don't have it just add more water. Or if you have juices left over from other cooking projects. Bouillon is ok if used sparingly.

Many other veggies can be substituted: chopped parsley or cilantro, string beans... experiment. I have my doubts about broccoli.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dangerous Texas Skillet Cornbread

This recipe requires the use of a cast iron skillet or dutch oven, and is written for one approx. 9" in diameter.

It's dangerous for 3 reasons:

1. It's not health food.
2. You can threaten people with a heavy skillet.
3. It's delicious.

The recipe is from Karen McEvoy of Comanche, TX, a co-worker at Wilderness Wind Camp this summer and a proud Texan (although one that loves the North Woods!). It's a typical cornbread recipe, but it's given a crisp, delicious crust by the recipe technique. I'd imagine that other cornbread recipes would work as well- maybe even gluten free ones, I'd venture.

2 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c cornmeal
1/2 c sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

2 c milk
1/2 c veggie oil
2 eggs

1 stick butter

Mix wet and dry ingredients separately (except for the stick of butter), then combine. Melt butter in cast iron skillet on stovetop. Pour batter into skillet and cook on stovetop over medium heat until it bubbles around the edges. Then, bake in 400 degree oven for 20-30 min, until golden brown/ a knife comes out clean.

Cornbread & Beans Variation:

Omit butter. Make some pinto beans or crack open 2 cans of refried beans. Place prepared beans in the bottom of the pan, and pour cornbread batter on top. Bake as before. Time may need adjusting.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gluten Free Pasta Bake

This is a bit of a homemade mash that myself and a few friends threw together the other night, but it turned out so delicious I decided I would post.

If you have ever tried to cook a lasagna with gluten free noodles, you will quickly come to realize the only substitute for regular lasagna noodles are made with rice. No pure quinoa or corn noodles are currently sold where I live, which means there is no store bought alternative.

We almost made our own noodles, but decided within our time constraints this would take too long, thus we turned to the alternative: pasta bake.

Enter one of my favorite brands ever: Ancient Harvest. If you ever look for noodles in the "alternative noodle" section, you will probably see this bright turquoisish box, most commonly containing spaghetti noodles. However, if you are lucky your local grocer will also have ordered the shells, elbow macaroni's, or something other than spaghetti noodles. Today we opted for shells.

And before I go into a narrative of how the entire recipe went. I will simply tell you everything we put into it.

Gluten Free Sausage Pasta Bake

Servings: enough feed entire italian family


2 boxes gluten free pasta (shells or w/e you happen to like)
4-5 italian sausages, uncased (you could do this the easy way and just buy a pound of sausage)
cheese, two types or more, of a sharpish french/italian variety
milk, higher fat content preferred, cream works best
1 zucchini
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
2 carrots
1 head broccoli
Red Wine (drink while cooking, add while cooking)

Chop up all the veggies into chunk size pieces.

Start boiling enough water for the pasta.

It is probably easiest to cook the vegetables using a wok, since they have considerable volume prior to cooking down. However, any old pan works fine.

Saute onions in oil, and add all other veggies when onions are almost finished. Add wine to vegetables and leave to cook on medium heat stirring often. Add S & P as desired.

When water is ready, cook pasta according to box directions. Save pasta water to thicken cheese sauce.

Cook sausage in another pan. Do not brown too much since you are going to bake it for another 10 or fifteen minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Place cream in a small pot over medium heat. Finely grate cheese and add slowly, allowing it to melt with the cream. For thickener either add a flour of your choice or use the water from the pasta. Add S & P to taste. Stir until thickened.

Mix veggies together with pasta and sausage. Spread in a large pan and add cheese sauce on top.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve with warm focacci, spinach salad, and more wine. Yum.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Olive Oil Granola

So. I became very excited about granola this week.

Teal sent me some granola that she'd made, roughly following this recipe for Olive Oil Granola from the New York Times. It is amazing. Of course. I will also share a similar recipe from Karen Peters, Jennifer's mother. Still yummy and with a different flavor. Try 'em both!

A note: granola is easy to make, but I've also found it easy to burn. Sometimes it burns on the bottom where you can't see it, so stir it often while baking!

Karen Peters' Granola

Makes 2 gallons (a lot!)

In a very large bowl combine dry ingredients:

12 c rolled oats
1 c wheat germ
1 c sunflower seeds
1 c sliced almonds
(Variations: pumpkin seeds, flax seed. I think most any nut or seed will work here)

Mix well.

Combine liquid ingredients:

1 c (to the line) olive oil
1 c (to the top) honey or maple syrup
2 TB cinnamon

Mix well together, combine with dry ingredients. Spread in a couple of baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for a total of approximately 45 minutes, taking it out and stirring it every 15 minutes during that time. Take the pans out and let the granola cool, either leaving it in the pan or spreading on wax paper. Add dried fruit, raisins, dates, cranberries as desired.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken Fajitas a la Gutenberg

Here's a very easy recipe. Prepared several times at Gutenberg house dinners 2003-05; I copied this from Melody Herrick but I don't know the ultimate origin of the recipe. The combination of lime, cayenne and cinnamon is tasty; not spicy.

3 chicken breasts
Finely grated zest and juice of two limes
2 Tb sugar
2 t dried oregano
1/2 t cayenne
1 t cinnamon
2 onions, sliced into strips
3 bell peppers, sliced into strips
3 Tb oil

sour cream

Slice raw chicken breasts into strips. Marinate at least 30 minutes in spices and lime. Stir fry chicken in oil for 5-6 minutes. Add onions and bell pepper and cook 3-4 more minutes. Serve with warm tortillas and toppings.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Troubleshooting

Thanks to an email from Melanie, I have been informed that the "comments" are still not working properly for some people. Unfortunately this is not the first time someone mentioned this problem.

The problem has been described as their being no way to scroll down to a word verification box, the kind you encounter when you are posting on a site that uses a more traditional blogger template.

I do not know exactly how this looks on people's screens since I have not actually encountered the problem myself. However, I have checked the comment settings and since turned the word verification off. We will see how much spam we get. Those of you who are having trouble commenting, try again and send me an email (kristenwal at gmail dot com) if you still unable to post.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili

From World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey. This is a wonderful vegetarian cookbook, with recipes from around the world, including some delicious foods from India and the Middle East. It is organized by ingredient, a good feature when you want to make something with... lentils, or whatever. It also has an ingredient index for learning more about unfamiliar spices and so on.

I love beans. Until recently, I would try to cook up a big crockpot, making it up as I went along. Some of these creations were barely edible. The worst was when I added a large amount of vinegar to kidney beans following a recommendation that vinegar may help make beans more digestible. That one was destined for the compost pile. So, my new-found secret to cooking beans is: use a recipe! Amazing... And this is a very tasty recipe indeed. It's more of a comfort food than a spectacular main dish. The lentils end up being more dominant than the kidney beans. I took this to a potluck this fall where it took a starring role in chili-dogs, but it's good on its own, or with shredded cheese and avocado, sour cream, olives, chips, tortillas, and so on. It's easy to make, as well.

Tex-Mex Vegetarian Chili

3 Tb canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 to 1 jalapeño. (Jaffrey suggests 1/4 chile for medium heat and 1 chile for spicy. Instead, I substitute a 6 oz can of mild green chiles)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried crumbled sage
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

4 1/2 cups water
1 cup dried lentils
1 cup cooked drained red kidney beans (I use a 15 oz can, unless making this in a slow cooker)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, including juice (I like Muir Glen brand "fire-roasted")
3 Tb chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tb yellow cornmeal

Put the oil in a soup pot and set over medium high heat. When hot, put in the onion, garlic, pepper, and jalapeño. Sautee a couple minutes until they just start to brown. Turn the heat down to med-low and add dried spices (through the cayenne). Stir briskly once or twice and add water, lentils, beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat down to low, and cook for 50 minutes.

Mix the cornmeal with 3 Tb water and then pour the mixture into the chili pot. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring now and then.

Makes 2 quarts.