Saturday, November 20, 2021

Curried Orange Vegetable Soup

Whoops, haven't posted here for 8 months! last Hungry Harvest delivery gave me the largest sweet potato I've ever seen, and the smallest butternut squash I've ever add to a second small butternut squash I hadn't used from a previous week. So I figured some kind of sweet potato-butternut squash soup was in order. A bowl of beta-carotene! I made such a big pot of this that I'm going to freeze some to add to the Thanksgiving spread next week. 

I don't tend to do pureed soups that often because 1) they're a bit more fussy and 2) they don't seem as filling as chunky soups. But those orange vegetables make for good creamy soups, so I decided I'd go for it. I also added a can of chickpeas for some protein.

I was totally going to add a can of coconut milk to this at the end, but after I pureed it I was very happy with the texture and flavor, so I decided to leave it out. I also totally meant to add an apple for some sweetness, but forgot - so I added a splash of apple cider.

Like most good soups, this can be completely improvised for what you have on hand and/or prefer. You can use all or just one of sweet potato, butternut squash and/or carrots. I am not even suggesting quantities because it's that flexible! I would say at least 4 cups of veggies is good - I might have had more like 8; it almost filled my Dutch oven. This is also vegan if you use veggie broth.

If you're inspired you can also have fun with garnishes like pumpkin seeds, bacon bits, kale chips, croutons, flavored oils or maybe a drizzle of heavy cream or sour cream. Or just eat it with a nice grilled cheese!

- Sweet potato, peeled & chopped roughly
- Butternut squash, peeled/seeded & chopped roughly (you can prick & microwave for a few minutes to soften it up first)
- Carrots, scrubbed & chopped roughly (no need to peel)
- optional: 1 apple, peeled & chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2+ cloves garlic, minced
- fresh ginger, grated or minced
- curry powder (at least a couple of teaspoons, maybe more especially if it's a large pot)
- turmeric (1/4-1/2 tsp)
- cinnamon (a few shakes)
- 1 box stock/broth + water
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
- lime or lemon juice
- optional: can of coconut milk, or some heavy cream

Saute the onion in some olive oil in a large pot until translucent. Season with salt. Add garlic and ginger & stir briefly. Add spices & stir briefly.

Add a little bit of the stock and mix everything together. Then add the chopped veggies. Add the rest of the stock, plus enough water to not-quite-cover the veggies, and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer for 15 minutes.

Add chickpeas, cover & simmer for another 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Puree the soup either with an immersion blender, or carefully in a regular blender (do it in batches and maybe let it cool a bit).

Return the soup to the pot over low heat. Add the coconut milk if you like, and some lime or lemon juice. Taste and see what it needs! I also added freshly ground pepper and some Penzey's Black & Red.

Monday, March 29, 2021

BBQ Tofu

My grocery store has apparently stopped stocking tofu...but luckily Hungry Harvest started carrying it, so I can usually get it delivered every week! Which is great, 'cause I have new favorite ways to cook it:

I think I've converted to the camp of tearing tofu into pieces rather than cubing or slicing it. Tearing it into rough pieces creates more surface area for crispy goodness. And when you're stir-frying or baking it, the cubes will sometimes tear anyway. So you don't have to be as gentle with it. And while I'm not one of those people who needs a meat substitute to actually look like meat, if that's your thing, it does look more meat-like this way.

This recipe is roasted in the oven, and uses both a spice rub and store-bought BBQ sauce. The flavor is pretty intense! If you want to simplify things I think you could get away with just the BBQ sauce. Also you could cook this in a pan on the stove if you don't want to turn on the oven. Just saute the pieces on medium high until they get crispy, and then add the sauce.

- 1 pkg extra firm tofu
- spice rub: smoked paprika, chili powder & garlic powder, and a pinch of salt. I did not measure, but I'm gonna guess it's a couple teaspoons of spices.
- olive oil
- BBQ sauce - I also did not measure, but am guessing 1/4-1/3 cup.

1. Press the tofu under a weighed plate with paper towels for 30 minutes, or however long you have. Slice the block in half lengthwise, and then tear into rough pieces.

2. Combine the spices with a little olive oil in a large bowl, and toss the tofu pieces until they're well-coated. Preheat oven to 425, and prepare whatever else you're serving. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil, and spread the tofu pieces out on it.

3. Bake for 15 minutes, stir and bake for 5-10 minutes more until getting browned & crispy.

4. Dump the tofu back into the bowl, add BBQ sauce and toss to coat. Return to the baking sheet and bake another 5 minutes or so. Then turn the broiler on for a couple minutes to make it extra crispy.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes w/Chocolate Bourbon Frosting

I took a risk and made a baked goods recipe from a random food blog, with my own modifications! This has burned me before, but this one was pretty successful. I don't bake much, but when I do I always try to follow a reliable recipe (as opposed to my freeform cooking style for other things). I was looking for an easyish chocolate cake recipe for husband's birthday with ingredients I had on hand (cocoa; no actual chocolate)...then looked for cupcakes because I wanted to share some with a neighbor friend...and also looked for a small batch recipe because we don't need a huge batch of cupcakes! 

This recipe from The Spruce Eats seemed to fit the bill. I'm also not a huge cake person, but I always like cakes made with sour cream (super moist!) and I had some on hand. I also don't like super-sweet frosting, so I found a recipe somewhere else that also incorporated sour cream - it's kinda like cream cheese frosting. I scaled the frosting recipe down and it still made more than needed for a dozen cupcakes (of which I only got 11 out of this batch!). But there's nothing wrong with eating some extra frosting by the spoonful!

So here you go - a reasonable dozen-ish batch of moist chocolate cupcakes with not-too-sweet frosting, using only cocoa!

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

- 1/2 cup brewed coffee, or water
- 1/4 cup butter (I used salted butter which is what I have on hand. If you use unsalted butter, up the salt to 1/2 tsp)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small saucepan, melt butter with coffee or water until simmering. Add sugar & cocoa powder and mix/whisk well, until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat & cool slightly.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder & soda together in a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, beat egg with sour cream & vanilla.

Add butter/cocoa mixture to dry ingredients alternately with sour cream mixture. Mix until just combined.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (I only got 11 out of my batch). Bake for about 20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Bourbon Frosting

- 1/3 cup butter, softened (I used salted; if you use unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbl (ish) bourbon. Or use brewed coffee, or milk.

Place softened butter in a mixing bowl and sift cocoa powder & sugar into it. Add sour cream and vanilla, then bourbon or other liquid. Beat well - you can add more bourbon if you want it boozier or gooier. If it seems to gooey, try refrigerating it and it may firm up - and/or add more powdered sugar.

Ze finished product:


Thursday, February 4, 2021

One-Pot Lemon Chicken, Rice & Broccoli

This was last night's quick "band dinner" and I decided it's a keeper. Didn't get a photo of it last night, so just grabbed one of the leftovers! We got a bunch of lemons in our last Hungry Harvest box, so this used up some of those. A good easy comfort meal with bright flavor. For a vegan option, I think chickpeas would be good instead of the chicken: just dump in a drained/rinsed can when you add the broccoli, use veggie broth and add the lemon pepper with the other seasonings. Or, you could even oven-roast your chickpeas with the lemon pepper until they're crispy, and add them on top of each serving! 

- 1 lb boneless chicken breast or thighs
- lemon pepper seasoning
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups long grain white rice (jasmine is good)
- 1/4 tsp tumeric (optional, but makes it a nice yellow color)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 box (4 cups) low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (use the stems too!). Or use frozen broccoli.
- 1-2 lemons (grate the zest & squeeze the juice of one; the other can be sliced for optional garnish & more lemony-ness)

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with lemon pepper and salt (I also added some Penzey's Mural of Flavor and Black & Red for an extra kick). Let sit for a few minutes while you prep other ingredients (or you can do it a few hours ahead and marinate in the fridge).

Heat a Dutch oven or large pot/skillet on medium high and add some olive oil. Saute the chicken until just browned; it doesn't need to cook all the way through. Remove to a bowl.

Saute the onion until softened, add the garlic and stir briefly, then add the rice. Stir for a couple minutes. There will be some browning on the bottom of the pot, that's good. Add the turmeric and thyme.

Add some of the chicken stock and stir well to loosen up the brown bits. Then add the rest of the stock (you might not need it all, but I ended up using the whole box. It's OK if it's a little soupy at the end). Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes. 

Add the chicken, broccoli, and lemon juice & zest. Stir well, cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Garnish with lemon slices, if you like. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Easy Rice Bowls

This has been a favorite the last few months, and is infinitely adaptable depending on your preferences and what's on hand for protein/veg. I wanted to call these "Korean rice bowls" as it's based on various recipes I found online with that bent...though I make absolutely no claims of authenticity.

Anyway, it turns out that soy sauce + brown sugar + sriracha makes an absolutely delicious sauce. Super easy to whip together. I've always made this with ground beef, but I think you could use any ground meat (turkey, pork or even meat substitute), chicken, or crumbled tofu (I'll probably try that next). I recommend cooking the protein with chopped onion & garlic (and grated fresh ginger if you have could also add ground ginger to the sauce), but those are basically the "requirements."

I like having some kind of green vegetable with this - simply stir-fried or steamed and seasoned with salt/pepper. Maybe some garlic, but the protein + toppings are pretty flavorful so the vegetables don't need much. Pictured below with brussels sprouts...broccoli, asparagus and/or zucchini are good. If you add a good amount of veg to the bowl, you can stretch out the meat further.

I happened to have cucumber, carrot and jalapeƱo on hand, so I decided to make a quick pickled vegetable mix to add to the bowls. This is also optional, but delicious. You can do just carrots or cucumber, and/or daikon radish if you happen to find that. Jalapeno optional but adds a nice kick.

The quantities for everything are super-flexible; it is really hard to mess this up. Serve over steamed rice (or quinoa or cauliflower rice if that's your jam), and if you have green onion and/or cilantro and/or sesame seeds, and/or a squeeze of lime, those are all good garnishes. So this is a recipe for the "deluxe" version, but feel free to omit, substitute and use what you have/like!

Pickled Vegetables
Prepare this first - you can do it a day or a few hours in advance. Leftovers keep in the fridge. You don't need to completely cover the vegetables with the brine (just stir a couple times while refrigerating), so feel free to scale quantities down or up depending on how much you want to make.

- Any quantity of thinly sliced cucumber, julienned carrots and/or daikon radish, and/or some very thinly sliced jalapeno
- 1/2 cup vinegar (rice wine or apple cider are good)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 Tbl sugar

Mix together brine ingredients until dissolved. Pour over vegetables and refrigerate for at least 30 min.

Start your pot of rice now...

Beef or other protein:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbl brown sugar
- sriracha or other hot sauce to taste (you can always add more, but the sugar mellows it out a good bit so keep that in mind)
- optional: a few shakes of toasted sesame oil
- 1 lb ground beef or other ground meat, or drained & crumbled firm tofu
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 or more garlic cloves, minced
- fresh ginger, grated/minced (optional)

Mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha & sesame oil. Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium high, add a small amount of oil and cook ground meat/protein. Try to get some good browning on it. (If cooking a vegetable, start stir-frying it now.)  If the ground beef sheds a lot of fat, drain some of it off. Add onion, garlic & ginger and continue cooking until softened. Add the sauce and cook just a minute or so until it coats the meat.

Build bowls with rice, beef, vegetables and the pickled vegetables. Garnish with any or all of the following: chopped green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, more sriracha, a squeeze of lime. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Spinach Artichoke Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This is a slightly more involved (and slightly less healthy) riff on my Spaghetti [Squash] Pie. So I've had this can of artichokes sitting in my pantry since the spring. I don't buy artichokes often, but I had added it onto an Amazon Fresh order when we were scared of going to the grocery store, in order to meet the minimum. There was a period early on when EVERYONE was getting online groceries and things kept going in and out of stock and they didn't have much selection. I remember looking through all the departments just to find something in stock to add on to meet the minimum. Hence, canned artichokes.

Then I remembered spinach artichoke dip is delicious - I'm not sure I've ever made it, but seemed like a good cold weather casserole thing. And a spaghetti squash came from Hungry Harvest, so...mix em up! According to the internet I'm not the first person to have this idea, and recipes I found varied a lot. Some use cream cheese and/or sour cream, some use a white sauce, some factor in mayonnaise (which I think is traditional for the dip). As per usual, I made up my own thing.

I added chicken to this, but that's totally optional - easy to keep vegetarian. And like with the Spaghetti Squash Pie, you can use all spaghetti squash for the base and keep it slightly healthier/gluten free. I like to add some angel hair pasta to make it a little more substantial. I recommend seeing how much "spaghetti" you get out of your squash and then judge your quantity of angel hair. The squash I used was pretty big, so I used about 1/3 a box of angel hair.

Warning: as was observed by another eater, this does look a bit like "android guts" when you cut into it. But it's delicious!

- 1 spaghetti squash: halved, cleaned, roasted & forked into strands (more info here). 
- 1 large chicken breast, seasoned & cooked as desired - cube or shred (optional)
- 1/3 - 1/2 box angel hair pasta, cooked until just al dente (optional)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch or small bag spinach, washed & chopped (or use frozen spinach)
- 1 can artichoke hearts (packed in water - not the marinated kind), drained & chopped
- 1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- grated italian cheese blend or mozzarella (I used most of a small bag)

Put your cooked spaghetti squash strands in a large bowl. Add cooked angel hair, season with a little salt, and toss together with 2 forks until combined.

Saute onion in olive oil until lightly cooked. Add garlic & stir for about a minute. Add spinach & cook until just wilted. Add chopped artichokes and cooked chicken, turn the heat off.

Mix together softened cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder & some salt & pepper (I added some cayenne as well). Add to squash/pasta mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Add spinach/artichoke mixture. Taste and make sure it's seasoned how you want it.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan and add in the mixture, spreading it out evenly. Top with grated cheese. Bake in a 375 oven for about 30 minutes. Let sit for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 27, 2020

A Small Thanksgiving

Like most people this year, we did a small Thanksgiving at home - my husband and I, and we ended up inviting one additional family member. We were a little conflicted about the safety of even that one addition, but we planned to eat outside if at all possible, and wear masks in the house. It ended up being a gorgeous, mild day - so eating outside was perfect!

Even if it was just the two of us, I figured I'd cook a whole turkey dinner - kind of had a craving for it, and thought it would be nice to have leftovers. I've cooked a whole Thanksgiving meal before, but it's been awhile. So I decided to document the recipes and timing of everything in case I have to reference this in the future. Timing everything is the trickiest part, but this worked out well. This is a relatively simple meal with a couple shortcuts like a packaged stuffing mix, making a gravy "base" while the turkey cooks, and canned cranberry sauce. I like homemade cranberry sauce and it's not hard to make, but I also like the jellied canned stuff. But that's one of two things I would have done differently: I bought Lidl brand jellied cranberry sauce, and it was semi-liquid! No satisfying "plop" of the canned shape with nice slices. I'll stick with Ocean Spray brand next time. The other thing was that I added some lemon slices to the bottom of the Dutch oven along with onion slices to rest the turkey breast on. I think it made the juices a little too acidic for the gravy, so I didn't end up using all of it.

So here's the menu, shopping list and timing/steps of everything - plus a bonus turkey stock recipe!

- Herb-butter roasted turkey breast
- Apple-herb stuffing
- Mashed potatoes (skins on for more fiber and less work!)
- Roasted brussels sprouts with bacon (optional!)
- Bourbon-cider gravy
- Cranberry sauce (canned)
- Store-bought pie

Grocery List:
- Bone-in turkey breast (this was a little over 5 lbs)
- Pepperidge Farm cubed herb stuffing mix
- Yukon Gold potatoes
- Onions
- Celery
- 1 apple
- 1 lemon
- Brussels Sprouts (~2 lbs)
- Fresh sage
- Thyme
- Bacon
- Chicken broth
- Butter
- Sour Cream
- Milk
- Cranberry sauce (beware the off-brand!)
- Apple cider
- Bourbon (optional)
- Pie of your choosing

If turkey breast is frozen, make sure it's thawing in the fridge by Tuesday!

Day Before:

- Prep Brussels Sprouts: wash, trim & halve. Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper & garlic powder. Roast on baking sheets at 425 until just browned (about 15 mins). I already had cooked bacon, but cook 3 strips of bacon if you want.

- Prep stuffing: chop 1 onion, 3 ribs of celery, 1 apple (peeled) and a few leaves of fresh sage. Melt 1/2 stick butter in a large casserole. Saute onion & celery until just tender. Add apple & sage, saute about a minute. Add 2 cups of chicken broth & bring to a boil. Turn off heat and add stuffing mix. Taste - it probably won't need salt. Leave to cool, then refrigerate.

- Prep herb butter: soften 1/2 stick butter. Add some finely chopped sage, some dried thyme, and the zest of 1 lemon.

Day Of:

- About 4 hours before dinnertime, take turkey and the herb butter out of the fridge. Unwrap, pat dry with paper towels, and trim off any bits (I cut out part of the backbone with kitchen shears and saved it for stock). Rub kosher salt under and over the skin. Put back in the fridge for a bit.

- Wash potatoes, cut in half if they're large, and place in a pot with water. Set aside.

- About 2 1/2 hours before dinnertime, preheat oven - I variously saw recommendations to cook turkey breast at either 325 or 350, so I split the difference and did 335. 

- Rub softened herb butter under and over skin of turkey breast. Peel and thickly slice one onion, and lay on the bottom of Dutch oven. Place turkey on top, breast side up. Put in the oven. You want to cook it til it reaches 165 temp, and it's around 15 minutes per pound or so. I ended up cooking mine a bit over 2 hours but it probably didn't need that long - some parts were testing about 150, but I think I could have taken it out earlier. 

- Take stuffing out of the fridge to come up to room temp before baking.

- Make gravy base - melt 3 tbl butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add 3 tbl flour. Whisk for a couple minutes, until bubbly and starting to brown. Add 2 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook until thickened and reduced a bit, whisking frequently. Cover pot and set aside.

- Boil potatoes (add salt when boiling). Bake stuffing at 350 (it fits in my convection toaster oven, which is handy!). Takes about 30 minutes and then you can hold it on warm. Chop 3 slices of cooked bacon, add to brussels sprouts, and spread on foil lined baking sheet.

- Drain & mash potatoes - add about 1/4 cup sour cream, a couple tablespoons of butter, and enough milk to make it creamy. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

- When turkey reaches 165, remove to a plate along with onions. Put the Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat until juices are bubbly. Add a splash each of bourbon & apple cider, and reduce until browned & starting to thicken. Add this to gravy & reheat.

- When the turkey comes out, put brussels sprouts in to reheat.

- Slice turkey and plate up everything!

Turkey Stock:
- After all meat is removed, break carcass into a couple pieces. Heat oven to 425.
- Roast saved turkey backbone for 15 minutes, then add turkey carcass pieces. Roast about 30 minutes more, until browned.
- Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add a bit of olive oil and saute 1 onion (unpeeled, quartered), 3 carrots (chopped in large pieces), a few celery ribs + leaves and 1 head garlic (unpeeled, halved). Saute a few minutes, until starting to brown. Add a splash of water & scrape up browned bits. Then add plenty of water to cover, plus a couple bay leaves and a few peppercorns. Add browned turkey parts, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours.
- Strain out solids, add a couple teaspoons of salt, then cool & refrigerate. Skim off any fat.
- Use for soup and/or freeze.