Cauliflower Potato Sausage Collard Soup

Well. I guess I could use a better name for this soup, but that’s not my skill set. It’s finally feeling like Fall here in Baltimore, and thank God, because I hate hot, muggy weather and I was getting depressed. (Aside: Dan and I took our first trip together without Gabriel. We went to Moab for five nights and mountain biked, hiked, and rock climbed. And missed Gabriel. It was 95 degrees in Baltimore the day before we left, but it’s been in the 70s or lower since we got back, thank GOD.) Also, I love soup. And Fall activities. Like all of the Fall activities at Gaver Farm where my mom and I took Gabriel last Saturday. And football games. And camping (which we’re doing this weekend).

I’ve said before that I don’t write recipes, and that’s true, but there wasn’t really any single inspiration for this soup, I kinda just made it. My inspirations were: an abundance of russet potatoes from a large Costco bag that were starting to go bad; a beautiful head of cauliflower from our From the Farmer bag; an equally beautiful bunch of rainbow chard from that same bag, made less beautiful in my eyes by the fact that I didn’t have a plan for it and didn’t know what to do with it; and a little bit this recipe that I had seen several days before and had been thinking about.

I’d baked the potatoes the previous day just to have done something with them (to hopefully delay the going-bad process). For this soup, I partially peeled them (partially rather than fully mostly due to laziness) and cut them up. I roasted the whole head of cauliflower in some olive oil at about 350 for 30 minutes. I chopped up one small onion and the white and light green parts of maybe 6 green onions. I peeled 4 cloves of garlic. I chopped the bunch of chard. And I defrosted my last almost-quart of bone broth.

I sautĂ©ed the onions in olive oil, then pressed in the garlic. Then I added the potatoes and roasted cauliflower. I added the broth, but it wasn’t enough to cover the vegetables, so I added water til they were mostly covered. I also added in 3/4 cup coconut milk for some creaminess. I would have used heavy cream if I had it or was going to the store, but I didn’t. I let that come to an almost boil, then I used my immersion blender to get it all pretty smooth. Meanwhile, I also cooked one pound of pork sausage in my cast iron skillet.

After it was smooth, I added salt and pepper til it tasted right, and then I emptied my entire spice cabinet looking for Italian seasoning. Turns out, we’re out. So I put in some pinches of dried tarragon, basil, rosemary, and thyme, and some red pepper flakes. Then I added in the sausage and chard and stirred and stirred. Then I added lemon juice – first just from 1/2, then the other 1/2, then a whole other. It might have a liiiiiitle too much lemon in the end, but maybe not.

I ate what didn’t fit into the four Tupperware dishes I’d gotten out for storage. I garnished with cheese and the green parts of green onions, and I dare say it was quite good.

Baby Food

This is not what you might think, from the title.

First, let me just acknowledge and move on from the fact that I haven’t posted since August. Clearly, other things have been my priority. That’s okay.

Moving on. In October, a colleague of my husband’s and close friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. This friend and her husband also have a dog that we often temporarily adopt when they are out of town, and they do the same for us and our dog. Their dog, Stark, has made an appearance in at least one previous post. I’ve never done this for friends before, but I decided to make several freezable meals for them so they would have easy food after the birth of their child. (So, not baby food – but food-for-parents-that-just-had-a-baby doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.)

I selected four recipes that I thought would freeze well and that would provide some variety. For them, I made four servings each, so 16 individually packaged meals in total. The recipes usually made more, so this was also my meal prep for the week! They were all recipes I’d made before, except one. I chose most from the Fed&Fit cookbook, because most of those package and freeze well, and I like them!

  • Lemony Kale and Sausage soup from Fed&Fit. I believe I added some potatoes and used both sausage and ground turkey (because I had it on hand).
  • Lagered Turkey Chili from Ali Larter’s Kitchen Revelry. I’d made this recently for myself (see photos below), and it was delicious.
  • BBQ Chicken Casserole from Fed&Fit. This was the one I’d never made before, but I thought it turned out great! Dan and I had 4 servings of our own from the recipe to enjoy, so it was great.
  • Tomato and Sausage Frittata from Fed&Fit. Easy and good. I made with chorizo.

Now, I don’t eat frequently with these friends. My husband spends more time with them (as I mentioned, the wife is a colleague of my husband’s). I’ve been to their house for a meal of grilled fish and another for a barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers. I wasn’t aware of any major food preferences. However, after I was most of the way through making the meals, my husband informed me that he wasn’t “sure they ate much meat.” Hm. Well.

So, I wrote a note that I sent along with the meals when I gave them to them explaining what the meals were and that I mostly eat paleo-ish (lots of vegetables and meat) so that’s the way I cook, and that all of the meat was as high quality as we’re able to get. They did indeed eat them, but the wife told me later that she’d become vegetarian several months before. I’m not sure if she ate any or just let her husband, even though I think he’s eating mostly vegetarian also. Alas. I respect their decisions but also don’t feel bad about providing them super nutrient-dense meals (made more-so by the presence of high quality animal products). Lesson learned for next time though.

I didn’t take photos while cooking, but have some images of other times I’ve made a few of these meals.

Lagered Turkey Chili

 

Tomato & Sausage Frittata

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Lately – February 2017

Lately:

Things I’ve been reading:

  • The Bone People. About three people – a man, a woman, and a child – all damaged. Set in New Zealand. Really beautiful, really hard to read at points, and really wonderful.
  • Big Little Lies. I read this on a short vacation in Park City last weekend. I was in the middle of reading Underground Railroad, but switched to this so that I could start watching the HBO series. I thought I had read it already, but I hadn’t. (Instead, I’d read The Husband’s Secret by the same author.) Anyway, a quick, fun, suspenseful read!
  • The Underground Railroad. Currently reading. Isn’t everyone? I’m going to a book club for this book on Wednesday (in three days!) and I’m only 30% into it. I should not have deviated last weekend to read Big Little Lies. Sigh. Anyway, I’m into it, it’s not that I’m not into it. I was just feeling a little beaten up after The Sympathizer and The Bone People and not wanting to read something with torture and abuse. Hence the deviation. But I’m back at it, and maybe I’ll be able to read enough by  Wednesday.

Things I’ve been watching:

  • Big Little Lies. I’ve watched the first two episodes. I think it’s good. It’s so hard to watch things based on books I’ve read. So far, it has only minor deviations from the book. I think it’s good. Certainly good enough to have on while I’m cooking dinner!
  • The Putin segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I don’t actually usually watch these types of shows (I group this with The Daily Show, SNL, Colbert, etc.). But I always wish I watched them more, and on the particular evening I watched this, I really wanted some perspective and comic relief on the media.

Things I’ve been eating:

  • Many of the recipes from Cassy Joy Garcia’s Fed & Fit book, including:
    • Cold Cut Roll-ups
    • Basic Pork Tenderloin and Easy Parsnip Mash
    • Roasted Fruit Pops
    • Anti-inflammatory Smoothie (I added spinach.)fullsizeoutput_aa9a
    • Buffalo Ranch Bison Burgers and Braised Greens (Really enjoyed these, and have been eating the leftovers in a salad with roasted sweet potato chunks and leftover homemade paleo ranch dressing, also from the book.)fullsizeoutput_aa99
    • Plantain Protein Pancakes with Salted Raspberry Jam (Yum.)
    • Sausage & Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash with Rosemary Orange Cream Sauce (thought I would love this, but I think I could have cooked my acorn longer, and citrus-y anything is really hit or miss for me. The orange cream sauce was a bit of a miss.) (Photo is from before I cooked it. You couldn’t see any red after I cooked it.)fullsizeoutput_aa98
    • Lemony Kale & Sausage Soup (wasn’t sure I would like this because, again, citrus. But turns out it was delicious and the lemon wasn’t lemon-y tasting, just bright.)
    • Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash Casserole (quite a lot of prep but pretty good).a2e19108-4b8a-401e-ba8e-3a1021aea263
    • Buffalo Chicken Casserole (made for the Super Bowl, and made with spaghetti squash instead of potatoes, which I didn’t have. Very good.)

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  • And… HelloFresh! Dan and I tried it out for two weeks. We meant to only do one week (we had an introductory offer), but I forgot to cancel it in time. I have to say, all the meals were really, really, really good. Easy to prepare, not too time consuming. I’ve always sort of pooh poohed these home delivery dinner things, since I have no trouble prioritizing grocery shopping and making dinner. But. It was convenient and delicious. And I was able to make them all paleo/Fed&Fit compliant. We’re trying Blue Apron with an introductory offer next week 🙂 (but those will be more difficult to make paleo/compliant). Some photos:

Races I’ve registered for:

Fitness I’ve been doing:

  • Still CrossFitting at CrossFit Federal Hill. 3x week, except the past two weeks. I developed some fairly intense low back pain throughout January, and it got so bad a few weeks ago that I totally put the halt on everything. Then I saw a PT and met with the gym owner and gained back some confidence to keep moving but taking it easy. So now I’m back at it, with lower weights.
  • Still running 2x week. Yesterday, I did a 6-mile trail run in Patapsco State Park. I combined the Soapstone Trail with the Grist Mill Trail and road, then the River Trail, and returned on the Grist Mill Trail from the swinging bridge. Clio had a blast (so did I). It was near 70 degrees! I’ll be doing more trail runs to get ready for the half marathon. Fun!
  • Easy C1 yoga at CorePowerYoga in Fed Hill and Canton. This has been amazing for my back. I hadn’t been in a while, but have been 3-4 times over the past two weeks.
  • Skiing at Snowbird and Deer Valley in Utah last weekend.

So that’s that! I’m going to do a cooking class tonight with Baltimore Delta Gamma alumnae at Pier Point Restaurant. Looking forward to it!

Oh hey there, 2017

It’s a new year! The kitchen looks pretty much the same. Here’s a little bit of what’s been going on:

I made posole on New Years Eve! I basically followed the recipe in my previous post except… I bought a 3.7 lb Boston butt from the farmers market that morning that was frozen and on the bone. I was mostly able to thaw it before cooking, but not enough to cut it up into chunks, so I just threw the whole thing in there and started trying to shred after about two hours. I cooked it for 3-3.5 hours total. Dan and I both thought it was okay while eating it. Then we remembered to season it with salt and add some lime and cilantro. Then it was really good. I forgot to take a lot of pictures, so I’ll share a couple pictures from when I made it 5.5 years ago, and a couple from Saturday. Sorry, my photography was just as bad then as it is now.

June 2011:

Look how clean my Lodge Dutch oven was! I think it was newish then.

NYE 2016:

Yep, that’s all I got. The red sauce was definitely darker this time. I didn’t use Anaheim chiles. I used… I forget. I’m sorry! They were just some dried chiles that I found at Harris Teeter a couple weeks ago. And, I think in future, I would prefer the pork chunks I’ve used before over the shredded pork I used this time. It made the stew fattier and heavier this time.

A couple nights before NYE, I made Greek turkey burgers and an arugula salad with tahini sauce from RealPlans (the burgers actually called for ground chicken, not turkey, but turkey’s what I had).

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The night before the last night of Hanukkah, we made latkes. My first time ever! We paired them with roasted vegetables and some leftover chicken thighs in mole sauce that Dan had made before.

On NYE morning, I sorta made a Benedict out of leftover latkes. Except without hollandaise sauce. And a fried egg instead of poached. Is that still sort of a Benedict? Okay, it was just latke piled with smoked salmon, sautéed spinach, sliced tomato, fried egg, and yogurt. It was delicious.

Yesterday morning (post NYE celebrating), I made the NYTimes shakshuka for breakfast for my friend who’d spent the night and me. No pictures. I had leftovers this morning (and a leftover latke – oof, a big full breakfast before CrossFit. Normally I don’t eat before my 5:30am class, but the gym only had a 9:30am class today due to the holiday, and I woke up starving, so had to eat). Ohhhh, and last night, Dan and I finally ate the remaining bone marrow that I bought from The Pigheaded Butcher many months ago. I also bought a ton of bones for broth when I bought the pork shoulder at the farmer’s market on Saturday, so I started a batch of bone broth last night. It’s been making the house smell real good all night and morning. I’ll strain and jar it in a couple hours. Bone broth for the new year!

And that’s it!

I’m going to clean out the fridge today. That’ll feel good. While watching Gilmore Girls. I’m on season 6. I do this every fall/winter. This is the season where Rory and Lorelei are not talking for the first half season. Not my favorite, but I’m  marching on :-).

And I’m going to have leftover posole for lunch. New Year’s off to a good start!

 

 

Plans for Posole

Posole(pozole) is traditional holiday food in some places in Mexico, as well as in New Mexico. I was treated to some white posole while in Albuquerque last week. I plan to make posole rojo on New Years Eve or New Years Day this year, which I’ve done before, but apparently not for several years. I had trouble finding the recipe I’ve used (which I recall, I cobbled together after looking at various other recipes), but I finally did! I wrote it in a Word document with a file name: my first attempt at posole 060611 (meaning it’s from June of 2011. I can’t wait to make it. I might make a few variations from what I have below, but I do recall it being quite good. I was pretty new at cooking then, as you’ll see. This is what it says:

My first attempt at posole

  1. Make a red chili sauce (2:45 pm)

I bought 4 red chilis.  I didn’t know enough about different kinds of chilis to even know if they were dried, even though they were thin and papery.  But I thought that’s just how they might be.  I googled peppers and have finally determined that they are dried California chilis.  Apparently, both California chilis and New Mexican chilis are Anaheim chilis, but when grown in California, they are more mild than those grown in NM.  After looking at a few posole recipes, I decided to cook and make a sauce out of the red chilis first.

Ingredients:

  • 4 dried red New Mexican or California chilis*
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ~ 2tbsp olive oil
  • dash of salt
  • two pinchfuls of oregano (all recipes call for Mexican oregano, but I don’t have that, nor do I know what it is)
  • 1.5 c. chicken broth

Steps:

Dice and sauté onion in oil in Dutch oven on the stove (over medium or low/medium heat).  (This time, I also diced and sautéed the top ¼ of a red bell pepper just because I had it and wanted to use it – it was going bad).  Slice open the side of each red chili then slice off stem and pour out as many seeds as possible and pull out the vein(s) if possible.  After onion is soft, add salt and oregano.  Add garlic and sauté for less than a minute.  Add chicken broth.  Add peppers and let them soak/boil in the stock for 15 minutes.  Move everything to a food processor and process until smooth.

Store extra in the fridge, or freeze.

Makes about 1.5-2 cups

2. To make soup:

  • 2 cups red sauce
  • 1 lb pork, cut into ½-1 inch pieces (most recipes call for pork shoulder, which I can never find… I’ve just been using pork loin chops)
  • 28 oz hominy
  • 8 cups liquid (mix between broth and water)

Steps:

  • Brown pork
  • Add 4 cups liquid (broth)
  • Bring to a boil, then decrease to simmer/low boil
  • Add hominy
  • Add enough more liquid to make it seem like enough
  • Add the red sauce after an hour
  • Cook for however much more time you have.
  • (Note: some recipes call for shredding pork… so you cook the pork for an hour or so and then shred it and then put it back in. I think you just have to cook the hell out of it to get it shreddable…?)

accompaniments:

  • avocado
  • cabbage or lettuce
  • cilantro
  • radish

*“Anaheims are the California produce industry’s name for the New Mexican pod type. When Anaheim chiles turn red and are dried, they are called California chiles. California chiles are mild in comparison to other chiles. Dried California chiles are a shiny dark red. They’re mildly pungent, ranging on average from 2 to 3 out of 10 on the Scoville heat scale.” (from: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/index.php?item=734&name=Dried_California_Chile_Peppers)

 

 

Chicken Pumpkin Stew

Last Sunday, Dan and I put up our holiday decorations. It was two days after Thanksgiving, which had been nice and filling, but not incredibly painful and indulgent. Nevertheless, I was in the mood for something filling but not super-heavy to round out the weekend and to enjoy after we set up our house for the holidays.

I wanted to use the small butternut squash from our Hungry Harvest box the week before as well as some of the pumpkin purĂ©e I’d made in October and have frozen in the freezer. I decided to make a pumpkin stew. I looked up a couple recipes for ideas but didn’t follow any particular one. On the stovetop in my Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven, I progressively added each of the following (all amounts ‘ish’):

  • 1 tbsp bacon fat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, after peeling, removing seeds, and cutting into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Ish.
  • About 1.3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • About 1.3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 4? Cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 4 cups homemade pumpkin purĂ©e
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth

I let it come to a boil, then put the lid mostly on and put it on low to simmer for 90 minutes. I then added a bit more chili powder and salt. I definitely should have added more spices at the beginning. It was tasty, but not spicy (or spiced-tasting).

We garnished with lime juice, cilantro, green onion, and Dan added some shredded cheese. We froze the leftovers and have been continuing to eat them. It’s thick and hearty without feeling too heavy.

And our house is decorated! We put on holiday music and got it done. Dan spent most of the time getting the lights on the outside railing while I put ornaments on the tree. Penelope had a blast hanging out in the box with the newspaper that had been used to wrap the ornaments.

Sorta-Miso Soup

Dan sent me a link to this Bon Appetit winter miso soup earlier this week. It’s recommended as a healthy reset soup (perfect for the week post-Thanksgiving), and the ‘recipe’ is more of a template than a recipe. Thank goodness, because I didn’t really follow it very well.

I hadn’t been planning to make it this weekend, but our farm box – which arrived on our doorstep Friday morning – had kale, shiitake mushrooms, and leeks, all of which were useful for this recipe. I didn’t do any other shopping for it, so just used what I had.

Which never includes fishy things like seaweed and katsubushi/bonito flakes. And the description of a broth with both those things in it tasting ‘like the sea’ was not anything I was interested in (though Dan would have loved it). Instead, I used the open box of beef broth I had in the fridge and some water (very different flavor). I used a lot of the kale from the farm box. I sautĂ©ed some of the leeks (we didn’t have green onions) and all of the mushrooms. And we had some udon noodles but no soba noodles, so we used those instead. I also added some ground ginger since I didn’t have any fresh and a bit of fish sauce just as a nod to Dan… I don’t think it was enough to actually add much flavor.

I also added tofu and soft boiled some eggs. I’d never soft boiled eggs before. Their consistency was great, but Dan and I wondered if there is a trick to peeling them.

Anyway, it was pretty good! Especially once I heated mine more to make it super hot and added chili garlic paste. Then it was temperature hot and spicy hot and made me so warm-feeling that I had to take my top layer off.

The ‘recipe’ was pretty easy and quick. The only downside was the number of dishes. There was the  pot for the broth, the pan for sautĂ©ing, a pot for cooking the noodles, and another pot for soft boiling the eggs.  But Dan did the dishes, not me, so that didn’t bother me too much :-).

The vegetables on the side you see in that second picture are roasted mixed vegetables, one of my perennial winter go-tos. Yum.

On another note, a link at the bottom of this recipe led me to information about a book called The Food Lovers Cleanse that BA is putting out on December 22. Does that mean they’re not doing it this year? That it will only be available through this book? Sigh. As I’ve mentioned before, I was really looking forward to it…

**Update**

A few days after we ate this, Dan sent me this link with common miso-soup-making mistakes. I do admit that I probably committed 1 (though I don’t know whether my miso is good or not), definitely committed 2 and quite egregiously (see mention of beef stock above), committed 4 (but was following the recommendation to sautĂ© the mushrooms from the original recipe/template I used!), and committed 6 (even though the recipe/template I used told me not to… I actively decided just to do it). So. Okay. Guilty.