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SOUP TIME!!!! (finally…)

I live in Texas. Except for the August heat, I love the weather here. After months of HOT, we get a month or two of cold weather, maybe 2 snow days, although Texas Snow is really sleet, hail and flurries that turn to road hazards the moment they hit the ground.

baby its cold outside

I look forward to the cold months for a couple of reasons:

  1. I get to warm my icy feet on my dear husband’s legs and make him curse me every single night (MUAHAHAHA),
  2. I can go for months without worrying about my toenails being presentable,
  3. There is the possibility of going on a ski trip (YAY!),
  4. And it’s not unbearably hot when I use the stove and oven to cook or bake!

The hubs pretends to HATE #1, but I am really doing him a favor since he’s always hot and I’m always cold – it evens it out! #4 means that it’s time to make hot things – like snickerdoodles, kartoffelsuppe, cakes, and kale soup.

Since I have been lax in posting, this will be a two-fer. Just for you!

The soup making began with a request for something with kale.

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I like kale, but I never know what to do with it besides kale chips, and anytime I don’t know what to do with a vegetable, soup is usually the fallback. So I decided to make a kale soup. I added sausage to it, and it actually turned out kind of like the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden, only better.

Yummy soup in my favorite bowls

Yummy soup in my favorite bowls

The next soup-making quest began with a craving for german food. We eat at Everything German in Bedford fairly often, and I LOVE their kartoffelsuppe (german potato soup). We eat out way too much, so in an effort to cut back on our food costs, I decided to take a crack at making it myself. It was a smashing success, if I do say so myself.

New wine was on sale - so I bought a red and a white, we drank both bottles that night. ;-)

New wine was on sale – so I bought a red and a white, we drank both bottles that night. 😉

As with any meal, the animals in our lives benefit as well:

Carrot Peels = happy chickens (and darker yolks!)

Carrot Peels = happy chickens (and darker yolks!)

Kale ribs = happy bunnies

Kale ribs = happy bunnies

Kale/Sausage Soup

What You Need

  • 2 bunches Kale, torn into bite-sized pieces (I give the ribs to the bunnies)
  • 5 medium Carrots, sliced
  • 12 whole Red Potatoes, slided (I used a mandolin slicer)
  • 1 whole Onion, diced
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 4 cups Half-and-half (optional)
  • Oregano
  • Black Pepper

What to Do With All That

  1. In a medium pot, boil sliced potatoes and carrots until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large soup pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage. Drain as much as the fat as you can. Stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth and half-and-half (if desires, if not, replace with water).
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Give it a taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. Add the potatoes, then stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 10-15 minutes, then serve.
  6. If one of you wants creamy soup and one doesn’t, splash some half and half into your bowl at the end. I like it better that way, hubs disagrees.

DSCF1050

Kartoffelsuppe

What You Need

  1. 6 large Russet Potatoes
  2. 4 medium Carrots
  3. 2 stalk of Celery
  4. 3 Leeks
  5. Sprig of Parsley
  6. 2 Onions
  7. 4 slices of Bacon (more fat the better)
  8. 2 Tbsp Butter
  9. 3 Tbsp Flour
  10. 8 cups Salted Water
  11. Pinch of Marjoram
  12. Salt and Pepper to taste

What to Do With All That

  1. Slice Potatoes, Carrots, Celery, Leeks, dice Onions and mince Parsley
  2. Add to Salted Water and bring to a slow boil in a large pot
  3. Cook until Potatoes are tender
  4. Chop Bacon into small pieces and fry in large skillet
  5. Add Butter and onion and sauté in skillet until browned
  6. Add Flour to skillet and mix thoroughly, cook over medium heat for 2 minutes
  7. Slowly add 1 cup of liquid from soup pot to skillet, stirring until combined
  8. Add skillet mixture to soup pot
  9. Stir in Marjoram
  10. Simmer for 25 minutes
  11. Puree using an immersion blender
  12. Add water until desired consistency is achieved
  13. Salt and pepper to taste
  14. Bring to a slow boil, then serve

ENJOY!

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Dove Season Jalapeno Poppers & My Favorite Helpers

Since I met my wonderful husband, we have gone dove hunting every year. We usually go alone or with his dad (who I think goes just so we can eat at this one italian restaurant on the way home…), but we have taken all three kids together or separately at least once.

The first time we took Gabs, she was so excited. She wanted to bring her purple feather and sparkle-lined easter basket from earlier that year, and she wanted to bring Harley, our weimaraner. When we asked her why, she said that Daddy was going to shoot the “dubs” and Harley was going to get them and put them in her basket. HA! It was so hot, that Harley would only lounge around or seek out other shade… But she did get a dub in her basket!

DUB!!!!!! Poor Gabby, look at all that sweat…

This year, we took all the kiddos, and, even though it was still blistering hot, they still had a lot of fun.

Loving siblings 🙂

Louie learned lots about hunter safety this year since he actually got to use a gun!

Now, I know my whole family knows we love to hunt, but I thought it was especially sweet of my mom to send me a recipe from Texas Monthly about Jalapeno Dove Poppers, so I made a point of making them with some of the birds.

Poppers and Dove Breasts on the grill!

Dove breasts, jalapenos, cream cheese, pepper, garlic salt, and bacon… Grilled over charcoal and mesquite wood…

These were SO delicious….

They turned out DELICIOUS.

The only thing I would have changed would be to use taco seasoning, or some other combination of seasonings, with the cream cheese – the salt and pepper just weren’t quite flavorful enough for me, but they were still so very tasty that I wished we had more birds to fix up!

We had them with a plain lettuce salad and some watermelon to keep it fairly simple.

Jalapeno Dove Poppers

What You Need

  • whole plucked dove breasts
  • garlic salt (or other seasonings)
  • pepper
  • 16 ounces cream cheese per 15 dove breasts
  • one jalapeno per dove breast, halved
  • One slice of bacon per dove breast (cut in half width-wise)

What to Do With All That

  1. Separate the dove breasts from the breastbones to make 30 lobes.
  2. Sprinkle the lobes with garlic salt and pepper.
  3. Mix in any seasonings you want with the cream cheese.
  4. Take a lobe, some cream cheese, and a jalapeno half, wrap in bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  5. Grill over charcoal and mesquite (or oak or pecan) for 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and continue grilling until bacon is crisp.
  6. Don’t forget to make more than you think your family will want – they will eat more!!!!!!!!

ENJOY!!!

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Delicious Foil Salmon & The Advocare 24-day Challenge

The recipe at the end of this post is my absolute favorite way to fix salmon (besides salmon patties, but those are too sinful to have very often!). I’ve fixed it before, but I was re-inspired to make it while coming up with a meal plan for the 24-day challenge that I just started thanks to my good friend Janel!

Salmon and tomato mixture, ready to be sealed and baked!

Janel and her husband started using Advocare products early this year, and Janel gave me some samples of Spark at a game night. Spark is a mental focus and energy drink mix that works better than a pot of coffee. I was skeptical, so the samples stayed in my purse for a few months completely forgotten (oops). One day at work, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open and focused on the task at hand, so I went digging for some gum. Lo and behold – the spark samples fell out of my purse! I thought “what the hell, why not,” and mixed it up, drank it down and got back to my desk. Within 10-20 minutes, my eyes were open, I was furiously working away, and I felt like I could keep going all afternoon and well into the evening. I used the other 2 samples over the next 2 days, and I was truly amazed. I had plenty of energy, and I was focused like a laser beam!

So… I told the hubs about it, and he asked me to look into the company, the products, and the opportunity. After talking more to Janel, we went to a “mixer” (the dreaded… mixer…). What sold me on giving the challenge a shot was hearing the amazing before and after stories from others as they described losing weight, having more energy, and learning to make better healthy choices all at the same time.

The challenge is broken into 2 parts: Cleanse & Max (or Lean). Besides taking certain supplements, you are supposed to minimize fried foods, dairy, alcohol, refined sugars, white starches, bread, crackers, corn, coffee & soda for the first phase, and minimize alcohol, white starches and dairy during the second phase.

These limits meant that I needed to plan meals out, so I created a spreadsheet (of course)! I had to keep things interesting and tasty since the kids and husband would still be eating the same things, so I went back into my stash of recipes to find ones that met the criteria. The recipe below, adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, was one of them!

3 sealed packets and one open

Salmon Baked in Foil

What You Need:

  • 4 (5 ounces each) salmon fillets, skin removed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2+ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Foil

What to Do With It:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle salmon with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir the tomatoes, onions, 2 tablespoons of oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.
  4. Make “boats” out of 4 12″ square pieces of foil.
  5. Spoon half of the tomato mixture evenly on the boats.
  6. Place a salmon fillet on top.
  7. Spoon the rest of the mixture on top of the salmon.
  8. Fold the sides of the foil over the fish and tomato mixture, covering completely; seal the packets closed.
  9. Place the foil packets on a heavy large baking sheet.
  10. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  11. Using a large metal spatula, transfer the foil packets to plates and serve.

Enjoy with brown rice for a yummy, healthy, advocare 24-day challenge friendly meal!!

Serve with brown rice – yum!!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Summer Corn Soup (vegan!)

Summer Corn Soup (vegan!)

Side note before I get to the main topic – I just noticed that ALL of my posts so far have something in parenthesis in the title… Interesting…

So I’ve made a few fantastic dishes lately, but I wanted to blog about this one for my wonderful Sea Star – who is vegetarian – so she can take advantage of it while corn is C-H-E-A-P. Her boyfriend is vegan, so this works for him too, but it’s for her – most certainly. 🙂

This dish uses every part of the corn, and after you strain the broth, you can still put the husks and silks into the compost!

I made this Corn Soup for game night, served chilled, and it was pretty good. I would like to try it hot also, I think it would really be delicious.

Gabby had to help me, of course…

The Princess needed to have her picture taken after helping me make the salsa…

The kids all love to help me cook and clean – I know that will not last for forever, so I take advantage of it now and let them help any way they can!

Two tools I recommend for this recipe:

An immersion blender – I LOVE mine. Especially when I am making something hot that needs to be pureed (like this soup, or tomato/red pepper soup), it’s so much easier than transferring to a blender, pureeing and then transferring back…

The Vidalia Chop Wizard – This LOOKS gimmicky, but I swear it’s worth it! It chops, contains, measures and keeps you from crying.

This recipe is adapted from http://17bites.wordpress.com

Corn Broth

What You Need:

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 12 cups water

What to Do With All That:

  1. Shuck the corn, placing all of the husks and silks into a stock pot.
  2. Cover with 12 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for about an hour.
  5. Strain the broth and freeze any extra for future use!

Looks interesting… This is the strained corn broth. I froze a whole bunch.

Summer Corn Soup

What You Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups corn broth (don’t skip this and use veggie broth – the corn broth really MAKES this soup!)
  • 8 ears corn
  • Dried parsley
  • Butter (or olive oil)
  • salt & pepper
  • 2+ cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeno, diced

What to Do With All That:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange your 8 ears of corn on a cookie sheet. Top with butter or olive oil, dried parsley, salt and pepper. Cover with foil, and roast for 20 minutes.
  2. While that is cooling, saute garlic and onion in olive oil for about five minutes.
  3. Cut the corn off of the cobs, splitting 3 and 5 groups out for different uses:
  4. Add the group of corn kernels from the 5 cobs to the garlic and onion, puree with an immersion blender.
  5. Add 1 1/2-2 cups corn broth (depending on how thick you like your soup) and heat gently for about 5 minutes.
  6. To top your soup: in a bowl, mix the remaining roasted corn (from the group of 3), a tablespoon of olive oil, a few tablespoons of finely chopped red onion, two tablespoons chopped cilantro, the juice of one lime, chopped avocado, and diced jalapeno. Mix.

Summer Corn Soup topped with Corn Salsa

Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Grilled or Roasted Corn – Wrapped in Bacon (of course!!!)

Grilled or Roasted Corn – Wrapped in Bacon (of course!!!)

I have a hard time finding fault with things wrapped in bacon. So when this recipe came to my inbox in my Food.com newsletter, I was more than ready to try it out.

The notes from the recipe say that it is adapted from one of Paula Deen’s recipes, which are typically hit and miss with me. Sometimes they come out so wonderful and tasting like the best thing I ever ate, sometimes a recipe will completely tank and taste like crap in a pan covered in butter, and a lot of her recipes take FOREVER to make. So knowing that it was from her, I read it over carefully and made some changes that I thought would help.

The end result was a very, very tasty side of corn where the kernels practically jump off of the cob and onto your taste buds. We ate the corn with Reuben and Cuban paninis (I forgot the bacon on the Cuban, but it was ok because there was some on the corn!!! At least, that’s what I told myself…).

While Louis went to pick up the boys, Gabby and I got started on dinner. She’s such a cute little sous chef!!!

She’s peeling the silks off of the corn and putting them into the compost bucket.

She did complain a little that her hands were tired of working on the corn, but that was just because she could smell the bacon and was a little impatient.

She really does like to help!! She even swept up the stray scraps when we were done. – voluntarily!

Here are the changes that I made, also noted in the recipe below:

The original recipe says to soak the corn for 30 minutes, but I just soaked the first ears as long as it took to peel the husks back, remove the silks and then cook the bacon a bit, then I pulled the bottom ones out first to wrap the bacon around and tie off before getting the next one out of the water. I thought the bacon wouldn’t get crisp being wrapped in the husks, so I cooked it about halfway in our cast iron skillet before putting it on the corn. After you wrap the bacon around the corn, get one side of the husks pulled up and then drizzle some of the pan drippings on the corn, then finish wrapping it up and tie it all together. I also didn’t pat the water off of each one as I pulled them out.

I think the changes really had a big impact, but if you want to try it as written, let me know how it turns out!

Bacon Wrapped Grilled (or Roasted) Corn on the Cob

What You Need:

  • 8 ears corn
  • 1 lb bacon
  • water, for soaking
  • butcher string

What to Do With It:

  1. Carefully expose the corn kernels by pulling back the husk, but do NOT remove the husk.
  2. Remove the corn silk – you can use a soft brush to ensure that all the silk is removed. (I had Gabby help with this, and she seemed to have fun with it – we also still had some silks left on the final product and no one seemed to notice.)
  3. Put water in a large container, add the corn, and soak the corn in the husks for 30 minutes. This will help to prevent the husks from charring on the grill. (I soaked the first one for as long as it took to do the rest and cook the bacon a bit, then used the first one first to wrap & tie)
  4. (This is a step that I added: while you are de-silking the corn, cook the bacon about halfway – don’t make it crispy, but it should be just about there – remove from the pan and set aside)
  5. Preheat grill to medium temperature. (or turn on the broiler)
  6. Remove the soaked corn from the water and pat dry. (I skipped this step)
  7. Wrap strips of bacon around the corn kernels on each ear; fold the husks back over the bacon and kernels. (before I folded all of the husks back, I drizzled some of the drippings from the pan, I don’t think the corn would have had as much of a bacon taste without this step.)
  8. Tie the husks down with butcher string; repeat with all ears of corn. (I did this as I wrapped them with bacon and pulled the husks back up)
  9. Grill over medium coals/heat, turning occasionally, for about 15 to 20 minutes and until the bacon is cooked and the corn is tender. (I put it all in the broiler for 20 minutes)
  10. Cut the butcher string away from the husks and serve.

Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Best Way to Eat Beets, Asparagus too

I don’t mind beets, but they’ve never been my favorite, and up until the other day, I don’t think I’d ever had fresh beets. Let me tell you, friends, I actually enjoyed eating them instead of just tolerating them!

I decided to give these root vegetables another try after trying to decide what was for dinner. I knew that my husband would want steak, and I usually do roasted vegetables with that, but I wanted something a little different, which is how I came across a recipe for roasted beets.

YOU GET TO LEARN STUFF TOO:
Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and can help detox your body by carrying out the bad junk in your digestive system when they, um, exit your body at the end of that system.

Roasted Beets with Feta

You need:
4 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieves
1 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp salt (I use coarse ground kosher for this)
pepper to taste
4 scallions (or green onions), chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 package crumbled feta

What to do with all that:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Toss the beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste.
Transfer to a baking sheet or glass baking dish.
Roast in the oven for 35 minutes (or until tender), stirring once or twice
Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the scallions and lemon juice (please, please, PLEASE use fresh lemons to get your juice! It tastes SO much better!)
Top with the crumbled feta (if you want the kids to like it, stir the cheese in with the beets, this will make the crumbles turn hot pink!)

While I’m on the topic of foods I didn’t like or was indifferent about as a kid… Let’s talk about Asparagus.

Gross. I still don’t like it very much. HOWEVER! I have ONE way that I cook it that my husband loves, my daughter loves and I actually enjoy too!

Broiled Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus (hey, I didn’t say it was still healthy…)

You need:
1 Bunch of Asparagus
1 tsp pepper
1 package bacon

What to do with all that:
Preheat oven to 425, and turn on broiler
Put the asparagus, olive oil and pepper in a 1 gallon ziploc bag and shake it up (after closing the bag, of course!)
Wrap 3-4 asparagus pieces with 1 piece of bacon and place on a broiling pan (or a cookie sheet with a wire rack nested in it), repeat until you are out of asparagus and store the leftover bacon for breakfast in the morning

Put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes
Transfer to the broiler and cook for about 3 minutes per side to crisp the bacon

The great thing about doing it this way is that the tops of the asparagus get nice a crispy and the rest tastes like peppery bacon with asparagus undertones. SO yummy with a nice medium rare steak! Delicious!

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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