Archive for October, 2009





A Little Hint for Leftovers and Extras

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

(Leave a comment and automatically enter the Christmas Giveaway!)

Just a quick note to remind you that even if you are just cooking for two, you can make large recipes and have your freezer full of “prepared meals” that you make yourself. If you love spaghetti or soup or anything liquid like that, you can have your spaghetti and eat too again and again! When I make meals, I usually make a full recipe or even double it and then use either plastic or foil containers to arrange a meal of leftovers that I then vacuum pack in my FoodSaver or that I first freeze in individual servings and then vacuum or put into Ziploc bags. For example, if I have made soup (cream of vegetable with asparagus!), as I did last night – it was cold outside and I do mean cold! – I pour the remainder of the soup into muffin tins and freeze. Then, when frozen, I place the tins in about a half inch of warm water and out pops the soup “muffin-sicles” to be put into freezer bags. I label the bags and I have measured amounts of soup that I can pull out and thaw in a pan. Each “muffin-sicle” is about 1/3 cup of soup and so I can thaw three for a cup for one person.

Finding lemons and limes on sale is a blessing because you can buy 10, 20 or the sky’s-the-limit of fruits, wash them and then cut them in half, ream the juice, put the juice into plastic ice cube trays and freeze the trays of juice. Each juice cube is approximately an ounce of juice. Don’t throw away the empty rinds either, but freeze them in a freezer bag as well and when needing lemon or lime zest, grab however many needed and grate away. They are much easier to grate frozen. I make large amounts of pesto and freeze it in cubes as well or in small jam jars.

In other words, make life easy and think “large quantities” in order to freeze the leftovers to have ready for a day when you are in a hurry. As the holiday seasons approach, those kinds of days may get more and more frequent!! Happy cooking!

Photobucket





Mama Mia! It’s Good!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

I woke up this morning to cold air! It is only the first of October and the chill is already on in Oklahoma. 55 degrees! It truly feels like Fall now and with the cold, rainy and overcast days, I feel like soup, soup, soup. I love Fall and Winter because the cold always offers an excuse for a big bowl of soup. Homemade soup is special because it is filling but doesn’t have to be loaded with calories and it offers a wide range of veggies that I don’t always eat by themselves.

When I go into the kitchen to make soups, I rarely stick to a recipe. I might use one as a base, but I always wind up adding my own twists along with the kitchen sink! I have gotten into the habit of writing down every step I take and every ingredient I toss in or out because, invariably, the hubby will say weeks later, “Let’s have that soup you made a few weeks ago.” All I can do is look at him sheepishly and admit that I have no clue how I made it. Hence, the notes now.

Since it is flu season and since all good mothers know that chicken broth is the quintessential cure for what ails you, I have included below, the steps, recipe and instructions for my own version of Italian Meatball Soup with chicken broth as its base. It uses pork for the tiny meatballs, but ground turkey works just as well. Leftovers freeze very well. I apologize that the photos are a bit dark from using incandescent light, but the wonderfully overcast skies offered little natural light through the windows.

MB’s Italian Meatball Soup
1/2 lb ground pork or ground turkey
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seed
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
3 russet potatoes (new potatoes work fine as well)
1 large Onion
1/2 cup Hormel Picnic Bacon Bits
4 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh spinach or 1 3/4 cups frozen spinach
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can whole or skim condensed milk or 1 cup heavy whipping cream (depends on how much you care about fat content)

Photobucket



In a food processor or blender, add ground pork or ground turkey, salt and fennel seed. Process until meat is finely mixed. (and of course, use the top which is off for photo purposes!!)


Photobucket



Make 1/2″ meatballs by taking a pinch of meat and rolling it in your hands.


Photobucket



Spray large skillet with olive oil spray and brown meatballs. Set aside.


Photobucket



Cut potatoes into large, bite-size pieces.


Photobucket



Dice Onion


Photobucket



Press or dice garlic


Photobucket



Add 1 tbsp olive oil into stock pot and saute onions and garlic until just clear. Do not brown. Add 4 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil.


Photobucket



Photobucket



Add potatoes and water. Return to a boil and allow to simmer until potatoes are tender.

Photobucket



When potatoes are tender, add meatballs.


Photobucket



Photobucket



Add bacon bits. I like to use the Hormel Picnic bits because they are lower in fat. Stir and return to simmering.


Photobucket



Add milk or cream and pepper and stir


Photobucket



Add spinach and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes longer.


Photobucket



Serve with garlic bread spread with pesto and toasted. There will be no chill on a cold day in your home!!
And the Sourdough French Bread shown here is an original recipe for another post soon. Enjoy!