Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sun Oven Soup

It's been a while! Last time I blogged here, we were just in the beginning stages of getting our house listed. We've since sold and moved to Boulder and are happy as clams here. The space is narrower, but there is more of it, and we love it.

The CSA has been more forgiving this season and I'm not going too crazy keeping up with it. A new staple for us is Sun Oven Soup. Karla gave us our sun oven back and I've been using it whenever I can. Biscuits, muffins, Sam's bday cupcakes, beans and this soup, among others, have all turned out great! This soup is based on this recipe, tweaked by what I had on hand. I think the addition of fennel has added a lot to the flavor. I also like it with fresh tomatoes (thank you Dawn!) rather than canned. It's been overcast this week and I want to bring it to the Council dinner tomorrow, so I'm going to do it in the crock pot to be safe and bring along the perfect accompaniment, Zucchini Basil Cheesy Mini Muffins. There are out of this world. I hope the teachers enjoy the meal as much as we do!

Now that the weather is cooling down, I am returning to the kitchen, smaller this time around, with less counter space, but bright and cheery. I've made dinner every night this week and it's been a pleasure. While I love the lazy days of summer, there is something oh-so-comforting about fall and the beginnings of the new season. It's a time to draw ourselves inward, to focus on our families, to be at home ... all of those things come so naturally in the colder months. Happy Fall!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dark Days Recap

Wow! What a busy week! The house has been detail-cleaned and painting starts next week with carpet to follow the week after. We are on track for a Feb. 7 listing!

(photo by c'est la vegan)

We ate out on Monday night but ate (leftovers from Monday) at home on Tuesday since the cleaner was already finished. On Wednesday I defrosted the100% local (from my CSA) celery soup from before Xmas. We had it alongside Buttered Rosemary Rolls and roasted CSA root veggies. We enjoyed it on Thursday as well with Maple Glazed Apples & Turnips (all but the maple syrup from the CSA). On Friday I tried a recipe I'd tagged months ago for Inside-Out Ravioli. It was warm and comforting, but too much nutmeg kind of ruined it for me. I might try it again with ginger and cinnamon instead of nutmeg. We had that with a small bowl of Celery Soup that was still yummy a few days later.

On Saturday Mae helped me make up another dozen breakfast burritos and some rice pudding from the leftover rice. All in all, a comforting and yummy week. It is getting easier and easier to throw a meal together with what we already have. I even made my own dishwasher powder this week instead of running out to the store. I love it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dark Days Recap

This was another delicious week, starring the copious pumpkin soup. It made a lot! It was super yummy with the crispy onion straws on top and comforting with buttered rosemary rolls. Between the soup and the rest of the leftovers in the fridge and freezer, it was a simple week of dinners that took little to no effort. I made a list of our simple go-to meals as well, since they star almost all CSA and/or local ingredients - thus they are free for us! All meals, minus cheese and fruit, are coming from the pantry, freezer or root cellar and it's looking like this will last us til spring. Hooray!

It's been a productive week. We are getting our house ready to list, so we will eat out (for the first time in ... I can't even remember) Monday and Tuesday nights. The kids have requested Chinese one night and Wahoo's for the other. Luckily, both are locally owned, so I feel good going there. It will be very strange to eat out.

Stay warm, everyone, and enjoy those squash! :-)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cheap Eats

We've been living out of the pantry, freezer and root cellar for a few months (my root cellar is a fancy word for my cold basement. Indulge me, ok? ;-)

I've put together a list of some of the truly amazing inexpensive meals we've had lately. What's funny is that these are some of our favorites. Perhaps simple and homemade really is the key. In any case, hope these are helpful!

Homemade bread. This recipe is cheap (it only requires flour, salt, yeast and water) and the batter (3 cups water - 6.5 cups flour - 1.5 TBSP salt - 1.5 TBSP yeast) can wait in the fridge til you're ready for it. I make dough for 4 loaves at a time and just grab a ball when I'm ready for a new loaf. It has a light white, sourdough-y flavor. Ted likes it with peanut butter, Sam prefers honey and Mae enjoys melted cheese. These are our go-to lunches these days. With apples and carrots and a glass of soy or almond milk, it's a good meal for a growing kiddo!

Homemade burritos. Tortillas are stuffed with rice, beans, cheese and salsa. I'm able to get everything but rice locally and they are super yummy and filling.

Breakfast burritos. Mae's brainchild, these tortillas are stuffed with a small amount of rice, egg and cheese. I found some Morningstar (fake) bacon hiding in the back of the freezer and put some of that in this week, but we haven't tried them yet. This is a filling and nutritious breakfast.

Rice pudding. We always seem to have leftover rice and Paul churns out soymilk daily. I skip the egg and bake up a delicious and creamy pudding that serves as a yummy dessert or a filling breakfast.

Crockpot Oatmeal is another chilly morning staple, especially when the homemade GF pancakes have all been eaten by the little ones. This is fool-proof, even if you don't use the water bath method.

Baked squash. This is really a side dish, but I've had it for lunch before. You can brush the cut squash with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar for a sweet squash, or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with curry or garam masala for a savory dish. This is a standard side at dinner time on leftover nights, when the soup or stew doesn't quite make enough for a meal on its own. Yummy!

Caramelized Apples and Turnips. Oh how I love this recipe. I don't even like turnips! This is out of this world, company worthy, and quick enough to whip up as a side dish.

Roasted Root Vegetables. You just can't go wrong here. Any combination will work, and they are all amazing. I use potatoes, turnips, beets and garlic, but any others would work. I would add carrot except my family demolishes them raw, so we leave them in the crisper for that purpose. This is so delicious and makes a fantastic side dish or snack.

Squash Soup. There are so many variations here that it's pointless to link to just one. Soups with squash are a mainstay around here, more often than not accompanied by beans. Our CSA was generous this year with squash and beans, but even if you're buying at the grocery store, dried beans are pennies and squash is dirt cheap. Filling and nutritious, these soups are the perfect antidote to these chilly evenings.

I think those are our standards. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Happy eating!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Made up Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Creating new recipes is something that has always intrigued but scared me. Considering some recipes that I follow to a T are still terrible, making one up seems risky. However! I think I've learned the secret: start with a tried and true recipe and then tinker away. I wanted to cook a pumpkin soup Monday night, because I had defrosted a pie pumpkin a few days ago and hadn't attended to it. But I didn't want to make Black Bean & Pumpkin Soup, which, though a favorite, uses precious CSA Hopi beans and we only have 2 cups left in the freezer (the recipe uses 4 cups.) So, I found a recipe that had all rave reviews, plus some suggestions in the comments, and tinkered away. Here is my version of a homemade, all local, delicious yet simple Pumpkin Soup. All ingredients but spices from my CSA.

1 sugar pie pumpkin (yields about 4 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups veggie broth
2 TBSP peanut butter
2 TBSP ginger
1 TBSP nutmeg & thyme
salt and pepper

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Puree then add 1/2 cup milk (we used homemade almond milk). Stir to combine.

I served our soup garnished with crispy onion straws and freezer coleslaw on the side. Later in the week (this makes a lot of soup!) we had it alongside Rosemary Butter Rolls and baked squash. I probably roast a squash every other day; I either brush it with butter and sprinkle on brown sugar or brush it with olive oil and sprinkle on some curry. Either way, it's a ridiculously easy, fool-proof and versatile way to use up the squash.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dark Days Recap

Good eats this week!

On Tuesday we had chili. With all local ingredients, except the Fritos, it was delectable! Mmm!

On Wednesday we took the freezer coleslaw out - just as crunchy as fresh! - and had it with roasted delicata squash and leftover chili. Warming and filling, this was a simple and flavor-packed meal.

On Thursday I cooked some Honey Lentils to go with Maple Glazed Apples & Turnips (our favorite way to eat those never-ending CSA turnips!). We had drop biscuits on the side (not local) and I think we'll eat this exact meal once a week from now on all winter. It was that good, and super fast and easy.

Mae helped me cook up homemade burritos for Paul's lunches and rice,egg & cheese burritos for Mae's breakfasts. I am very excited about these since getting her to eat breakfast is a huge challenge. She never wants the homemade GF pancakes, our go-to breakfast during the week, and it's always a big tear-fest in the morning. She was so excited to eat her burrito this morning. I had one too and they were yummy. The tortillas are La Favorita, a local place, and they were stuffed with local eggs & cheese and (not local but bulk) rice. Hooray!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

simple yet fast

Tonight's dinner was quick - from fridge/pantry to table in under an hour. That's the way a-huh a-huh I like it. We had Honeybaked Lentils with Carmelized Apples & Turnips and GF drop biscuits (1 cup GF flour (we use Pamela's) ... Cut in 4 TBSP butter ... Mix with 1/3 + 1 TBSP milk - (we used homemade almond milk) ... Bake at 375 for 12 minutes.) Simple and fast and warming and yummy. Happy coldest day of the year from Boulder, Colorado! High of 14 and low of -1 were seen by my van today. Oy! The lentil recipe was pure pantry (i.e. free!) and the apples & turnips were all CSA. I wonder if I'll get through all the squash and turnips this winter - ah, the joy and burden of abundance!