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).
In an effort to cut back on carbs - especially refined grains - I am trying to find tasty, workable substitutes for crackers, chips, basically anything crunchy or doughy (just typing that gives me cravings). Arriving home from homeschool park day around 3pm, my snack brain turned on and I started thinking out of the (bread) box as I contemplated my options, not wanting to repeat anything I had already eaten today, which meant no eggs, cheese, nuts, or fruit.
When I went to the pantry to get a bottle of apple cider vinegar (for mixing with garlic olive oil to dip carrots), I noticed a can of skipjack tuna from Trader Joe's. I always buy the wild albacore tuna from Costco, but something about that name just made me want to try it, even though it's chunk light. I knew that I still wanted protein, and near the can of tuna was a jar of sliced dill pickles (also from TJ's) - the kind I usually chop and put in tuna salad.
It occurred to me that the pickles were the right shape for rolling, and then I realized that other tuna salad mix-ins could also work, like pickled jalapeno peppers and pepperoncini. So I mixed the tuna with a little mayo (just enough to moisten it), and voila, inside out tuna rolls! I did add a little chopped onion after the first taste, because you know, onions and pickles...
The only one not pictured is the artichoke heart. It was okay, but it needed something, so I dropped it in the leftover vinaigrette dip from my carrot snack and let it marinate for a few minutes. Then when I topped it with the tuna, it was delightful. My favorite, though, was the stuffed pepperoncini.
I didn't use celery because I had already had that earlier in the day with cream cheese and lox - if you add capers, it's a grown-up version of ants on a log...or you could do dill for termites :)
Another low-carb way I sometimes eat canned tuna is mixed with cottage cheese and salsa. Next time, I'm going to try it with Sriracha mayo on a cucumber slice...mmm...
In the summer, one of my favorite ways to have tomatoes is Pan Am Tomaquet - much simpler than the name sounds, but just as grand tasting. This morning I decided to try a twist on the original. I added a fried egg and slices of tomato. It was delicious.
Egg Tomato Toast
1 garlic clove
1 slice of sourdough bread or French baguette
1. While the bread is toasting, fry an egg (I like mine with the yolk poked - gooey but not runny).
2. When the toast is done, rub the whole surface with a cut garlic clove.
3. Cut a tomato in half - cut one half into slices and set aside momentarily.
4. Press the other half into the toast all over the surface (like you're stamping), so the bread soaks up the juices.
5. Drizzle olive oil over the toast and sprinkle with salt.
6. Top with fried egg and tomato slices. Sprinkle with more salt (I used truffle salt).
Fry one large onion and a pound of chicken in butter w/s&p in cast iron pan. Move to baking pan. Add more butter to pan. Saute garlic, chard, mushrooms, potatoes, 1.5 cups rice, curry powder, garam masala, ginger, garlic powder, s&p, and chopped pickled jalapenos for a few minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth, bring to a simmer. Simmer with a lid for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, season chicken with all of the above spices. Mix veggie mixture in with chicken and add a cup of water. Cover tightly with foil and bake in oven at 450 for 20 minutes. Top with chopped cashews and broil for 3 minutes or until browned. (maybe you could skip the baking step if you simmered longer with more broth/water? or skip the simmering if you bake longer?). Posting for safe keeping - will post pics next time :)
Concocted a new way to make pork tenderloin - roast in the oven on 475 for about a half hour (still a little pink in the center), then put butter, maple syrup, and morello cherries (with some of the juice) into the pan and broil to finish off cooking. On my plate, I stirred dijon and habanero berry jam into the sauce (I kept it separate for the kids' sake). I served it with mashed potatoes and an invented salad of cucumber, cooked beets, avocado, gorgonzola, and onion, with orange-infused olive oil, cider vinegar, dried dill, and a touch of honey. Salt and pepper on everything. Posting for safe keeping - pictures next time :)