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Soup for One from Home Canned Pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

Home canned pumpkin

I have several pint jars of pumpkin sitting in my pantry that I canned after Halloween this year. I decided to pop open a jar and make some soup!

First, I drained the liquid from the pumpkin and transferred it to a small saucepan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

Drained pumpkin in a sauce pan.

(If you substitute store-bought canned pumpkin, you might need to ADD a little water, as it is “solid pack”, meaning that it has had a bunch of water removed.) Then I added about 1/3 cup of buttermilk and a pinch each of powdered ginger, garlic powder, salt, fresh black pepper, and ground coriander.

Spices and buttermilk added.

Spices and buttermilk added.

I combined those ingredients until smooth, using a hand blender, while I brought the soup up to temperature over medium-high heat. I decided to add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of half’n’half and blend that in as well.

Blended, with half'n'half added.

Blended, with half’n’half added.

To have a little more fun, I added croutons to the glass canning jar that the pumpkin had been in, and topped them with about a 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

Croutons and Gruyere cheese.

I poured the soup over the cheese and croutons and stirred. It was stringy with hot cheese and tasted like a soup and grilled cheese sandwich, all blended together!

Soup!

Soup!

Obviously, you could just eat the soup, without the croutons and cheese. You could vary the flavor by changing the flavor of croutons and/or the type of cheese. Also, you could vary the spices added to the soup. Cumin, instead of coriander; mustard powder, rather than garlic; add some chicken stock for a non-vegetarian option. It’s a versatile little soup that you can spice to suit your tastes, plus it’s quick and easy! Enjoy!

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Yellow Squash Banana Bread

Mmm...warm Yellow Squash Banana Bread!

Mmm…warm Yellow Squash Banana Bread!

I’m making a version of this recipe that I found at :http://www.cooks.com/recipe/5s7g16m9/squash-banana-nut-bread.html   I always like to give credit to my sources and recommend them.

The recipe is as follows:

>>>SQUASH BANANA NUT BREAD

from COOKS.COM

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 med. bananas, mashed

1 c. grated raw squash

2 c. all­purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. chopped nuts

In a large mixing bowl cream butter with sugars. Blend in eggs and vanilla, then bananas and grated squash. In separate bowl sift together dry ingredients and beat into first mixture. Stir in nuts. Pour into greased, floured 9×5 inch loaf pan. 350 degrees 55­60 minutes.<<<

So, I made a couple of minor changes. None of us are big fans of nuts in brownies and breads, so I left them out. The recipe sounded a little bland without any spices, so I added a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice. In addition to those minor ingredient changes, I also baked mine in 5 mini loaf pans, instead of the single large loaf. I baked them at 350F for 30 to 35 minutes, testing with a skewer for doneness. (Mine did take the extra five minutes.)

Filled the mini loaf pans about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

Filled the mini loaf pans about 2/3 to 3/4 full.

The results were delicious! They were not overpowered by the spice, but it was a good tweak. The banana flavor comes through nicely. The kids love them…and THEN I told them that there was yellow squash in them. My son was shocked, but could not deny how good they tasted! (I had one that stuck to the pan a little and got a little messed up, so it was sacrificed to sampling.) This recipe WILL be used again! Enjoy!

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Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese and Cream of Mushroom Soup

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So, I’ve had this really easy recipe for a chicken dish that I got out of Southern Living Magazine decades ago. It’s boneless chicken, swiss cheese, cream of mushroom soup, white wine, bread crumbs and melted butter…baked for 45 minutes at 350F. Now that I have to cook for a vegetarian, I need to try some new things. I was looking for something to do with yellow squash from my garden and I decided to make this recipe.

Yellow Squash Casserole with Swiss Cheese & Cream of Mushroom Soup

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

Most of the ingredients for the casserole.

5 c. Yellow Squash. cut into approx. 1″ cubes

1 medium Sweet Onion, thinly sliced

1 can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

About 2 cups of Shredded Swiss Cheese

2 cups Plain Panko Bread Crumbs

1/4-1/3 c. Dry White Wine

Salt & Pepper, to taste

5 T. Butter, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small saute pan, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, but not browned. Spread the onions evenly over the bottom of a large casserole dish.

Sauteing onions

Sauteing onions

Cover with yellow squash and season with salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Onions, squash, salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute the shredded swiss cheese over the squash.

Swiss cheese.

Swiss cheese.

In a bowl, mix the cream of mushroom soup and the wine. Ladle the soup mixture over the casserole, to cover.

Mushroom soup layer.

Mushroom soup layer.

Next, cover the casserole with the panko bread crumbs. Melt the remaining 3 T. butter and drizzle over the bread crumbs.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Panko and butter drizzle.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 to 40minutes, until bubbling throughout. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve hot, over rice.

Served over rice...yum!

Served over rice…yum!

Vegetarian approved…and I liked it too! Enjoy!

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Easy Vegetarian Pazole in the Crock Pot

Easy Vegetarian Pazole

Easy Vegetarian Pazole…I went back and removed the big pieces of chili and chopped them. Next time, I’ll break-up into small pieces first!

Always looking for something vegetarian that is still satisfying. This one fits the bill! Traditionally made with pork, pazole is a Mexican stew made with hominy. Hominy can be purchased canned or dried. I find the canned to be easy and good. Plus, the liquid in the can adds both liquid and flavor to the stew. Pazole is a corn product that has been dried and treated in an alkali solution using lye or lime (not the citrus). Grits are nothing more than ground hominy. It can usually be found in white or yellow. The canned version is a bit chewy and looks large and puffy, compared to a regular corn kernel. Combined with some other common ingredients, it makes a great stew. It is also versatile! Some people might like to add chopped green chilies, crushed red pepper, hot sauce, regular corn, etc. In the summer, you could add some of that abundant squash and/or zucchini and use fresh tomatoes. I find my version here to be on the spicy side, but not killer. You can serve as is, or you could serve with some rice or macaroni. If you want to garnish it, I would recommend sour cream/crema, fresh cilantro and some crispy tortilla strips. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients

1 can Black Beans, not drained (or 1 pint, home canned)

1 large can Diced Tomatoes, not drained (fire roasted  is okay, or 1 quart home canned)

1 large can Mexican Style Hominy, not drained

2 large dried Guajillo Chilies

2  or 3 dried Pasillo Chilies

1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin

1 Tablespoon Ground Oregano

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Directions

Preheat a large crock pot on high temperature. Add all the canned ingredients and the oregano and cumin. Cover and let start warming. Break up the dried chilies and remove the seeds and stems. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chilies for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the power of your microwave. DSC04285

Cool enough to handle…do NOT breath the fumes as you remove the chilies from the microwave! When cool, break into very small pieces and add to the crock pot and stir to combine. (I missed that to bebin with and had to go back and fish the big pieces out and chop them.) Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or overnight on low. Refrigerate any unused stew. It will be even better the next day! Serve hot. Enjoy!

Ready to serve...but I'm refrigerating and serving tomorrow. It'll be even better!

Ready to serve…but I’m refrigerating and serving tomorrow. It’ll be even better!

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Pumpkin Soup with Cumin and Ginger

Soup and grilled cheese...perfect comfort meal on a chilly Autumn evening!

Soup and grilled cheese…perfect comfort meal on a chilly Autumn evening! Pumpkin on the left and Tomato on the right.

So, I just made a few quarts of pumpkin puree (see previous post). I guess I need to do something with some of it before I prepare the rest for storage! It’s raining and chilly outside and it’s the first of November. How about a nice soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner? Enjoy!

Pumpkin Soup with Cumin and Ginger

Ingredients:

1 t. Olive Oil, extra virgin

IMAG1618

Some of the ingredients….

1/2 t. White Pepper

1-1/2 t. Cumin Powder

2 Garlic Cloves

½ c. Onion, chopped

1/3 c. Celery, chopped

¼ c. White Wine

2 c. Vegetable Stock

2 c. Pumpkin Puree

1 T. Honey

Pinch of Kosher Salt, to taste

½ c. Half’n’Half

Sour Cream for Garnish

Directions:

Sauté onions, celery and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes to soften. Add spices and continue until fragrant, about a minute. Add stock and wine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Soup base.

Soup base.

Puree soup base, carefully, with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, with the center of the blender lid removed and a folded kitchen towel to cover the hole.

Pureed soup.

Pureed soup.

This prevents pressure build up and painful burns! Add pumpkin puree and honey to the soup base. Season with salt. Bring back to simmer. Just before serving, add half’n’half. Garnish with a small dollop of sour cream on top of the soup.

Soup with a dollop of sour cream. Dollop...fun word...dollop. Heh.

Soup with a dollop of sour cream. Dollop…fun word…dollop. Heh.

Pass additional sour cream separately. Offer croutons, if you like. (I tried some roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish, but they got tough and chewy in the soup. They would be good on the side, though!) Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich and you have a bone-warming autumn meal! Enjoy!

Note: Leave out the Half’n’Half and sour cream (and use vegan substitutes, if you like) and go salad instead of grilled cheese and you have a nice vegan meal.

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From Pumpkin to Puree

You're going to do WHAT?

You’re going to do WHAT?

I have had people say that you HAVE to use canned pumpkin to make a good pumpkin pie. Poppycock! (There’s a word I don’t use often…but I try to keep the blog clean.) What you need is pumpkin puree that isn’t too watery. At the start, let me just state that this process takes awhile, but it is very easy and you get a LOT of pumpkin puree! You can use the small “Pie Pumpkins”, but there’s nothing wrong with a regular pumpkin. In fact, for this blog, I used our Halloween Jack O’Lantern! It wasn’t out for too long and it didn’t get burned by the candle or covered in wax, so I decided to put it in the refrigerator overnight and use it. Basically, the pumpkin should be baked, rather than boiled, to avoid adding water to the pulp.  Then it needs to be pureed, to eliminate any stringy texture, and simmered to evaporate more water. This can be done on the stove or in a Crock Pot (depending on how much time you have and how much attention you can devote to supervising the process). So, you only need a couple of cups of puree for a pie or pumpkin bread and my average sized, grocery store pumpkin gave me enough puree to fill a 5 qt. Crock Pot, before simmering down, so this should last me through the holidays!

Since I am into canning, it is with some disappointment that I find that pumpkin puree is not safe for home canning…even pressure canning. The only safe method is to can pumpkin chunks in a pressure canner and I believe that will produce a product that is too watery for baking, unless you go through the rest of the process I’m doing here anyway. So, I’m going to put my pumpkin in jars anyway, because I have some extras, but I’m going to vacuum seal some and refrigerate them for baking in the near future (more on that soon!) and then freeze the rest. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a pie with fresh pumpkin puree. You just hand them a slice and tell them, “Enjoy!”

Ingredients:

1  Pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break down pumpkin and reserve seeds for roasting (see previous post), trim inner sides of pumpkin pieces and place inner side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes or until tender all the way through. Test with a knife or fork.

In the oven.

In the oven.

Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Remove pulp from skin either by scooping with a spoon or peeling with a knife.

Discard skins and process pulp in batches through a food processor to break up any stringy texture, until smooth. You may further process the the pulp through a strainer or food mill, if desired. (I ran mine through a china cap strainer with a wooden pestle.)

Finished baking.

Finished baking.

Cooked and peeled.

Cooked and peeled.

After the food processor, I used the strainer for a smooth texture.

After the food processor, I used the strainer for a smooth texture.

Transfer pulp to a large sauce pan or a Crock Pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, until puree is the desired consistency. I used a Crock Pot on “High” for about 4 hours, until the puree was fairly thick and no longer watery.

Evaporating more moisture from the puree.

Evaporating more moisture from the puree.

Cool the puree and either freeze in freezer zippered bags or airtight containers or refrigerate and use within a couple of days. Enjoy!

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Dad’s Lo Mein

(Originally published on July 17, 2013 MMM Foodies)

The Lo Mein is served!

This is one of my “go to” recipes for a quick dinner my finicky kids will eat. Very often, I will make a double batch of thin spaghetti noodles and later find out that someone had too many after school snacks and I have a bunch of leftover noodles. This is a great way to use them! (Obviously, use Lo Mein noodles, if you have them or prefer them! )This meal can come together very quickly, especially if you have your veggies and/or meat prepped in advance. You can keep them in storage bags or containers in the refrigerator a day or two ahead.

To make this recipe friendly to my kids, I have used just a few veggies, but good ones that they will eat. Feel free to add, subtract or substitute whatever suits your tastes. If this were just for me, I would be adding water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, onions, scallions, broccoli, baby corn (my kids like that, but I was out!), tofu, etc. This recipe is very adaptable! If you prefer, you can skip the noodles and serve over rice. I used a piece of flank steak from a local Asian market, but you could just as easily use chicken, pork or some other cut of meat or even shrimp. I put my flank steak in the freezer for about half an hour and that made it easy to slice very thin. If you want to add a little more authenticity, you could add a teaspoon of sesame oil to the sauce. In our family, we have a  severe sesame and shrimp allergy, so I never have them in the house, but there are endless possibilities for you to make this the “Mein” dish at your house tonight! Enjoy!

Dad’s Lo Mein   Matt Miller  July 17, 2013

Lo Mein ingredients

Ingredients:

 

¾ lb Beef Flank Steak, sliced very thinly

4 T. Soy Sauce, divided

3 t. Rice Wine Vinegar, divided

1 T.  All-purpose Flour

¼ cup Vegetable oil, divided, for wok frying

1 small Yellow Squash, diced

1 Lg. rib Celery, diced

½ cup Carrot, diced

1 lg clove Garlic, minced

1 T. fresh Ginger, minced

2 T. Ketchup

1 small pinch Five Spice powder

1 T. Plum Sauce (or Hoisin)

1/3 cup water

1lb Lo Mein Noodles or thin spaghetti, cooked

Thinly sliced flank steak

 

 

Directions:

Get all of the chopping, slicing and dicing done first. In a mixing bowl, add the meat, 2 T. of the soy sauce, 1 t. of the rice wine vinegar and the flour. Mix well and set aside. In a smaller bowl, mix the other 2 T. soy sauce, 2 t. rice wine vinegar, the pinch of Five Spice powder, ketchup and water. Stir to blend well and set aside.

Partially cooked meat

Heat your wok over high heat until screaming hot and add half of the oil. Add meat to wok and cook, constantly moving until almost all the pink is gone. Dump contents into a mixing bowl, set aside and rinse wok. Reheat the wok and add the rest of the oil.

Add carrot to the wok first and sauté. Add the celery next and then the squash, ginger and garlic about a minute later.

Thickening the sauce

Add the meat back in, form an open spot in the middle of the wok and add the sauce mixture. Bring to a boil to thicken and add noodles.

Stir everything together and continue until the noodles are coated with the sauce and heated through. Serve hot! Enjoy!

Toss to combine

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