My husband asked me to write down the beef barley soup I concocted yesterday, since he said it was "restaurant quality," so here goes (read it all the way through before preparing):
Brown 1lb chunks of stew meat in bacon fat, stir in chopped onion, celery, and carrots, about a cup of each.
After a few minutes, add 4 cups beef stock and 4 cups chicken stock, a half pound more of stew meat (not browned), 2 bay leaves, 1 T Worcestershire sauce, 1 T tamari (or soy sauce), 1 T Trader Joe's umami paste (optional - can use tomato paste), 1/2 t seasoning salt, 1/2 t garlic salt, 1 t chicken bouillon concentrate (because the cartons of stock from Trader Joe's aren't as flavorful, though healthier), and top with a cup of sliced mushrooms.
I did all this in my instant pot. Turn it to the slow cook setting on normal for two hours. Turn it up to high for another hour. Add Trader Joe's quick cooking barley for the last 20 minutes.
How I concocted last weekend’s Turkey Spinach Artichoke Chowder - definitely a rough draft (speaking as a writer), but it was delicious (husband raved) and I will be making a final version the next time I have turkey gravy (may be a while):
I wasn’t paying attention to amounts (I rarely do), but the base of this soup was leftover turkey gravy (from Christmas dinner) and chicken broth.
I made the meatballs out of ground turkey, frozen chopped spinach (defrosted in the microwave), parmesan (the canned stuff, I admit it), garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and - here’s the weird part - cream cheese. Next time I would soften the cream cheese and thoroughly mix it with the seasonings before adding it to the meat, but this time I got away with putting it in the mixture in random chunks (I tried to distribute evenly) and letting them melt into the soup.
So basically, I brought the base (gravy/broth) to a boil, added in roasted red potatoes I had frozen (you could use fresh, but just cook longer), reboiled, lowered to simmering, and added the meatballs (making them as I went - plop, plop, plop).
Then I added some quartered (or maybe it was halved) canned artichoke hearts (that I had frozen, but I don’t think that matters).
After ten minutes or so, I thickened it by adding potato starch and sour cream (next time I will dissolve the potato starch into the sour cream - or a cupful of soup - to avoid glops).
Cooked for another five minutes and it was done.
A long while ago, although perhaps not quite as far back as ancient Greece (despite the title), I discovered a unique dip recipe on food.com. I made it, tweaked it to my taste/texture preferences, and brought it to a party. It got so many compliments that I started to taking it to all the parties. And when I say parties, I mean church potlucks, moms night outs, baby showers, etc. Despite being an introvert, I am, as it turns out, a total partier, in the best sense of the word. I love food and I like people. Sometimes. The people always want to know WHAT IS IN THIS DIP? Before trying it, they are wary of the bright yellow color ("Is it French's mustard?" Heck no, but that has its place, like on a hot dog). I tell them the key ingredients and they either eagerly take the plunge or move right along. Once they've tasted it, they want the full recipe for this magical concoction that sweeps you away to the terrace of a villa overlooking the serene, sparkling Mediterranean sea, with all those pretty, deep blue-domed white buildings and pastel cottages decorating the coastline.
Curry Garlic Feta Dip
4 oz feta cheese
4 oz cottage cheese
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 C sour cream
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves
1 t yellow curry powder
1/2 t dried dill weed
1/4 t dried oregano (optional)
1/8 t ground black pepper (optional)
Blend all ingredients in a food processor (I like the Ninja) or blender until smooth. Taste and see if it needs any more curry or dill. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Serve with crackers, veggies, sweet potato fritters (that was an accidental discovery at a party - love it when two potluck dishes find each other and fall in love!), whatever you like...
I'm not much of a breakfast person, unless it's savory (eggs, bacon, etc.), but as a child, one of my favorite treats was going to my grandparents' house and having my Jewish grandpa make his famous cottage cheese pancakes. I still remember the ritual of my grandma getting out my vinyl Mickey Mouse bib, him mixing jam with sour cream (topping), and setting a plate of heaven in front of me. I've recreated his recipe many times over, but recently having discovered the goodness of gluten-free flour as well as my new favorite tool - the Ninja (blender) - I've been experimenting again. The other day I came up with what I think (and the rest of the family agrees) is the best recipe yet, so enjoy...
2 cups cottage cheese (small curd, 4%)
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (tapioca, potato, rice blend)
1/2 cup almond meal (from Trader Joe's)
1 T baking powder
vanilla extract, to taste
coconut oil (for frying)
1. Put all ingredients in your blender and whizz. Adjust amounts of flour (they're approximate) to get a thick, moist, pourable consistency.
2. Cook by the heaping tablespoon over medium heat with a tablespoon of oil per batch (I used a non-stick pan, so I reduced the oil and the heat with each batch).
Joy of Cooking apple crisp recipe but unpeeled apples and sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar before adding topping. Served with Trader Joe's caramel sauce and cookie butter ice cream.
It rained for an hour this afternoon and that was all it took to put me in the mood for soup. I was on the countdown with the spinach from Costco (today is the "best use by" date) and my red potatoes have seen better days, so what better to marry them then a rich broth made from spicy sausage and cream (actually half and half)?
Potato Spinach Sausage Soup
1 T butter (I actually used bacon fat from pastured pigs)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 stalks celery, finely chopped (I used my mini-chopper)
1 1/2-2 lbs small red potatoes, quartered
4-6 cups spinach
1.5 pounds spicy sausage (or add spices to ground pork - I did a mixture of both, from pastured pigs)
4 cups water
1/2-1 cup half and half
1. Saute onion and celery in butter (or bacon fat) for five minutes in a stock pot.
2. Stir in garlic and saute for one minute.
3. Pour in water and add about a teaspoon of sea salt (or to taste).
4. Turn up the heat to high, add potatoes, seasonings (to taste) and bring to a boil.
5. Turn to down to a simmer, form the sausage into meatballs (about 1" in diameter), and drop them into the broth, one by one (or all at once, if you read this and decided to make the meatballs in advance, and then let them cook for a few minutes).
6. Pour the spinach on top, spreading it out across the pot, then gently stirring it (it's okay if the meatballs break up a little, or even if they totally crumble).
7. Simmer until meat is fully cooked and spinach is nicely wilted.
8. Stir in the half and half and simmer until heated through.
9. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese, black pepper, and red pepper flakes at the table.