Cauliflower, Leek & Potato Soup

Even after eating this soup, I still can’t tell you what a leek tastes like.  It looks like a giant green onion… and that’s all I know.  But this soup is good- it pretty much tastes like creamy potato soup.  And it would be a good way to get veggies into kids, or even adults who don’t like cauliflower 😉

Cauliflower, Leek & Potato Soup

Adapted from Clean Eating magazine, October 2012 issue

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c thinly sliced leeks (the white & light green parts, not the leaf-ish parts)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, diced
  • 3 1/4 c chopped cauliflower florets
  • 2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c water
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 slices bacon

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium-low. Cook leeks, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes
  • Add garlic & cook for another minute, stirring frequently
  • Add potato, cauliflower, broth, water, salt & pepper. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover & simmer for 20 minutes, or until cauliflower & potatoes are soft.
  • While that simmers, cook the bacon in a small skillet.  Remove from pan & allow to cool before crumbling
  • Blend the soup mixture, with an immersion blender or by running batches through a regular blender.  Stir in bacon bits & serve
  • Optional: top with shredded cheddar cheese

Tuna Pepper Melt

The last couple of weeks, we’ve had temperatures in the 80s & 90s… and I start melting at anything above 70 😦  So I’ve looking for dinner ideas that don’t involve heating up the whole house… even though this tuna melt recipe involves the oven, it’s a short enough time that the house doesn’t warm up.  I liked my half a pepper, but Cody wasn’t much of a fan; until he starts cooking every night, he can deal with it 😉

Tuna Pepper Melt

slightly adapted from Fooducate

Ingredients:

  • 2 (7 oz) cans tuna in water, drained
  • 4 tb Miracle Whip or mayonnaise
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 large bell peppers, halved, with core & seeds removed
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Mix tuna, Miracle Whip/mayo, celery, salt & pepper in a small bowl
  • Fill each half pepper with mixture & top with cheese
  • Broil on high for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted

Shrimp & Sweet Pepper Saute

Today, we got a lot of peppers in our Basket… like over 30!  Luckily for my sensitive stomach, they were mostly sweet peppers; but that meant I had no idea what to make with them.

I found a good looking recipe for shrimp linguini… but that involves pasta.  So I upped the amount of sweet peppers (by a lot) & left out the pasta all together.  And it tasted great!  If you’re eating Paleo, this would probably be a good breakfast option too.

Shrimp & Sweet Pepper Saute

Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 to 1/4 c olive oil (adjust based on your tastes)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb cooked shrimp, de-veined & de-tailed (you know what I mean…)
  • 15-20 small sweet peppers, sliced into 3/4 inch strips
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Rinse the shrimp in cool water.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, shrimp, sweet peppers, and onion.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
  • Saute until onion & peppers are soft.

Taco-stuffed Bell Peppers

Last week, we had two big bell peppers & two small bell peppers.  And I didn’t want nachos or tacos again. Or fajitas. Or a frittata.  Cody suggested stuffed bell peppers, but his regular recipe makes waaay too much for 2 peppers.  So I went searching…

And found a recipe that I tweaked just enough to make it easy & tasty!  Cody was a little disappointed I didn’t make the regular stuffed peppers, but he got over that 😉  I made the recipe as listed below, but had too much for 2 peppers.  We ate the leftovers as dip for tortilla chips, so 4 large peppers is my best guess at using up the stuffing.

Taco-stuffed Bell Peppers

Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix (if gluten matters to you, check the label)
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 (16 oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/2 c shredded Cheddar cheese
  • sour cream for topping (optional)

Directions:

  • In a large skillet, brown the hamburger & saute the diced bell pepper & onion
  • While the burger browns, cut around the stems of the large bell peppers.  Pull the stem (and the middle part of the inside) out; scrape the seeds out of the peppers.  You’ll now have “cups” made out of bell peppers.
  • Drop the peppers into boiling water for 5 minutes.  Drain & set aside
  • When the burger is browned, follow the directions for adding the taco seasoning packet.  Add water according to packet.
  • Add black beans, tomato sauce, and diced tomato.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Spoon mixture into the bell pepper “cups,” filling nearly to the top.
  • Bake bell peppers, standing up in a cake pan, for 7-10 minutes at 350, or until peppers are tender.
  • Remove from oven, top with cheese & bake until cheese is melted.

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Apparently, I don’t like cabbage.  Unless it’s sauteed, in coleslaw, or in sauerkraut (in limited quantities).  Luckily, Cody eats pretty much anything.  I made this casserole to use up the cabbage we got in our Basket last weekend… and I just couldn’t make myself finish my first serving. I’ll admit, I can be picky at times, so don’t just take my word for it, regarding this recipe.  I left out the rice the original recipe called for, to make it a little closer to Paleo.  Cody ate the entire casserole over a 3 day period with no complaints… so try it!

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Adapted from Skinny Taste

Ingredients:

  • 2 tb olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  • Heat a large frying pan on medium heat; add ground beef & cook until it’s browned.  Remove beef & set aside.
  • In the same pan, add 1 tsp olive oil, chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent & starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, & paprika; cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Add diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce and ground beef.  Mix together well.
  • While the ground beef is browning, heat the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in a large skillet.  Cut the cabbage in half, cut out the core, & remove any wilted leaves.  Chop the cabbage into coarse 1 inch pieces.  Cook the cabbage over medium-high heat in the large skillet until wilted & about half-cooked, turning it several times so it all wilts & cooks.
  • When the beef-tomato mixture and the cabbage are done, combine everything in a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until the mixture starts to bubble on the edges.
  • Remove foil & sprinkle with cheese.  Bake uncovered an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted & starting to brown slightly.

Chicken Broccoli Stir-Fry

When I first saw this recipe, I thought it sounded delicious.  So I put it on our meal plan for the week.  Unfortunately, I usually just skim recipes, then print them off.  And that back-fired this time…

Because I was too lazy to go to the grocery store, and I have a rule to never buy ingredients that I’ll only use once or that I’ll waste a lot, I had to make some serious substitutions.  Luckily, it turned out tasty!  Cody mixed the sauce the sauce for me… and said it smelled nasty.  But, once I poured it over the chicken & broccoli, he was all excited because it smelled soooo good!  We both really liked it, so I’m sure this recipe will be making an appearance again. There weren’t even left-overs for lunch the next day 🙂

My substitutions are in parenthesis below.  I didn’t have hoisin sauce, fresh ginger, or fresh chili paste. I was too lazy to mince a teaspoon of garlic.  I can’t handle spiciness, so I chose chili powder over cayenne pepper.  So feel free to customize it to suit your kitchen & your tastes!

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Adapted from Mother Thyme

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c chicken stock
  • 1 tb soy sauce (if gluten matters to you, check the label- La Choy is GF)
  • 1 tb tomato paste
  • 1 tb hoisin sauce (or 1/2 tb ketchup + 3/4 tsp honey)
  • 1 tb rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp ground fresh chili paste, like Sambal (or 1/2 tsp chili powder or ground cayenne pepper)
  • 2 tb cornstarch, divided
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 lb broccoli crowns
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • optional garnishments: flax seed, sesame seed, green onions, scallions

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, soy sauce, tomato paste, hoisin sauce (or ketchup & honey), rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, chili paste (or pepper powder), and 1 tb cornstarch.  Stir until blended & set aside.
  • Generously spray a large skillet/wok with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, toss chicken with remaining 1 tb cornstarch, salt, & pepper.
  • Add coated chicken to skillet & cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center & juices run clear (about 7-10) minutes.
  • Add broccoli & garlic (or garlic powder), and cook until broccoli is just tender (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Stir in sauce, reduce heat to low, and cook until sauce is heated (about 2 minutes).
  • Remove from heat, garnish, and serve.

Note: the original recipe is shown served over rice… I didn’t even think of that until Cody mentioned rice while we were eating.  So, have rice if you want.  Or leave it out if you’re watching carbs.

Steaming Veggies 101

To be honest, I’ve only been cooking consistently for the last year or so, since I finished grad school.  Before that, we lived on frozen and/or food, Hamburger Helper, and hamburgers…but now I’m learning.  And my health issues have really made me look at my diet- so we’ve been eating lots more fruits & veggies, no gluten, and now slowly cutting back on carbs.  To use up all the veggies we get from Bountiful Baskets, I bought a veggie steamer basket… and now I actually like vegetables 🙂 Fruits are sweet, so they’re easy to eat… but vegetables are another story.

Steaming is a pretty healthy way to eat vegetables- it preserves the nutrients, while maintaining color and texture.  It seemed like an easy way to increase my vegetable intake, but I couldn’t find an internet resource with everything I wanted to know (times, toppings, ideas for variety)… so here it is:

Step By Step:

  • Wash your vegetables, and cut into chunks small enough to fit in the basket.
  • Put enough water in a saucepan to cover the bottom, but not so much that it touches the bottom of the steamer basket (about an inch of water.)
  • Bring the water to a boil, then add the steamer basket with your veggies.  Make sure veggies aren’t packed too tightly- they should be arranged in a loose layer.
  • Cover & steam until tender (see table below).
  • Make sure the pan doesn’t boil dry- add more water as needed.
  • I usually stab with a fork every once in awhile to test the tenderness 🙂
  • If steaming different vegetables to the same basket, add them by order of cooking time: longer-cooking vegetables go in first, faster-cooking vegetables go in later.

Steaming Times for Common Vegetables:

Vegetable

Steaming Time

Artichoke, medium

40 minutes

Asparagus, thin spears
thick spears

3 to 4 minutes
5 to 6 minutes

Beets

30 to 35 minutes

Broccoli, florets
spears

4 to 5 minutes
5 to 6 minutes

Brussels sprouts

7 to 11 minutes

Cabbage, cut in wedges

6 minutes

Carrots, cut 1/4-inch thick

6 to 8 minutes

Cauliflower, head
florets

12 to 15 minutes
4 to 6 minutes

Corn on the cob

5 minutes

Green beans

4 to 5 minutes

Kale

4 to 5 minutes

Parsnips, 1-1/2-inch pieces

8 to 10 minutes

Peas

2 minutes

Potatoes, new
2-inch pieces

12 minutes
15 minutes

Spinach

4 to 5 minutes

Sweet potatos, whole
1-inch pieces

40 to 50 minutes
12 to 15 minutes

Winter squash, peeled, 2-inch pieces

15 to 20 minutes

Zucchini, 1/4-inch slices

5 to 7 minutes

Simple Topping Ideas:

  • Olive oil: toss veggies in a bit of olive oil, salt & pepper
  • Cheese: sprinkle a couple tablespoons of shredded cheddar or grated parmesan over warm veggies (so the cheese melts!)
  • Soy sauce: add a couple tablespoons of soy sauce to the water before steaming
  • Vinegar: splash some balsamic, red wine or other vinegar onto veggies
  • Garlic: sprinkle minced garlic over veggies, or sprinkle some garlic powder & parmesan on
  • Fresh herbs: add chopped herbs (thyme, parsley, dill) to the veggies before steaming
  • Lemon: add lemon juice to the water, or add a few slices of lemon to veggies while steaming
  • Spice it up: just sprinkle a bit of chili powder, cumin, or cayenne pepper powder over the veggies (make sure you taste as you go, so it doesn’t get too hot)
  • Mix & match any of the above ingredients- just experiment!

Sources: O Chef, The Kitchn, Cooking Light magazine, October 2011 edition.