Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Rice Soup

     It's that time of year again... soup weather! I love soup weather. And we had a bit of a rain storm a few weeks back that made me immediately begin searching for a delicious looking soup recipe. And I found one.
This soup takes a bit of time, but it was quite worth it. Especially if you like sausage (Yes!), Butternut Squash (Yes!), Rice (Yes!), and Corn (Yes!)!!!

A 3-4 lb Butternut Squash
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
12 C chicken stock
2 1/2 C chopped onions
1 C wild rice (I didn't have wild rice, so I just used regular white rice, it was really good, but I'm interested in trying it with the wild rice next time).
3/4 lb smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, cut in half, then in half again
2 C fresh corn kernels (I cut my kernels right off the cob and tossed them in with the soup)
1 1/2 C half and half
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel, seed and slice your squash into 1 inch chunks. Be careful because this squash is difficult to peel. As you can tell, I bent my peeler. I had to buy a new one... YAH! I mean, darn!

Place the chunks onto a baking sheet lined with foil and toss with 1 tbsp of oil and salt and pepper (Make sure you don't slather it with the oil, just 1 tbsp, you'd be surprised at how far that tbsp will go. I've made the mistake of putting too much oil before, it doesn't roast right). 

Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender. Remove from the oven. Using a spatula, gently move the pieces around so that they don't get stuck to the foil while cooling. Be careful so that the foil does not tear and then you'll be picking little tiny foil pieces out of your squash. 

Once the squash is cool, place in a blender or a food processor (I used a blendor, I think next time I'll use a processor, this was too much squash for a blender. I found it to be very tedious trying to shove the squash on top down to the bottom of the blender to be pureed. It was frustrating... learn from me. Unless, of course, all you have is a blender, then my suggestion is to work in batches), with 2 C of chicken stop and puree until smooth. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, add 4 C of stock and 1/2 C onions and bring to a simmer. Add the rice and cook until done, about an hour (Unless you use an instant type rice that doesn't take that long... my vote!). Remove and let cool.

In a large pot over medium, add a tbsp of oil. Add the sausage and brown for a few minutes. Add the rest of the onions and the corn and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes more. Add the last 6 C of stock and squash puree. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Sorry about the weird glare thing going on here
Stir in the rice and continue cooking for 10 more minutes. (There was no reason to continue cooking for another 10 minutes with the plain white rice, mental note for next time!)

Remove from the heat and stir in the half and half and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with parsley and dig into this delish soup!

Recipe Courtesy of: Emeril Lagasse (Maker of the best soups ever!)

Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Cups


     When we're looking for a starchless meal, I always go to Lettuce Cups. They're super easy, and full of flavor. I typically use chicken, and cut it up into small pieces. I found a new recipe that looked pretty good and thought I'd give it a shot, but, I didn't have any chicken, only ground beef. Still, I thought I'd try it and hope for the best. Well, my wishes were realized as this dish was super tasty! 
     The first time I made it, I didn't measure my soy sauce, and it was super salty. The second time I made sure to measure my soy sauce and it turned out much better. It was still really good the first time, just really salty. So, just make sure to measure that bad boy out.

1 Tbsp oil
1/2 - 3/4 C shredded carrots
1 celery rib, finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
15 sugar snap peas, finely diced
1/2 C red onion
1 - 1 1/2 ground beef
Iceberg lettuce leaves (I usually use butter lettuce, but this was good too)
2 tbsp diced scallions (green onions)

1/2 C soy sauce
3 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp minced ginger
3 tbsp sambal hot sauce
3 tbsp apricot preserves
1/4 C rice vinegar
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp minced cilantro
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
(Mix ingredients together and stir well before serving)

In a medium saucepan, brown the ground beef. Drain the beef and set aside. 

Add a tbsp oil to the skillet and add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes. 

Add the ground beef and mix together.

Add the Apricot Sambal sauce and scallions and let simmer for a few minutes so that the juices get all yummy together in the meat and veggies.

Add the beef mixture to a bowl. Place your lettuce leaves onto a plate and serve. 

I serve this out of one bowl, and give each of us a plate for our lettuce leaves. It makes it really easy to dish up, rather than trying to split the mixture between two plates, then one might want more or less than I served,  so one bowl works well for us. 

I know I said I use lettuce cups as starchless meals, but with this one I did make some white rice. I layered my rice then the beef mixture into the lettuce cup, rolled it up and chowed down. The rice helped to cut the saltiness of the soy sauce. It was really good. 

Super easy, super good, super flavorful! 

Recipe Courtesy of: Guy Fieri

Chile Verde

     Mmmmm, there's something so wonderful about sitting down at the end of the day, and diving into a meal that's been cooking all day long; very satisfying. The whole house smells like the delicious aroma of what's been simmering on the stove for hours, and it's intoxicating! The only thing is... you really have to plan out your day around the meal, b/c you have to make sure that you have enough time to do all the steps... especially when you have a little baby that is so demanding! geesh! :)

     Thankfully, said baby was extra wonderful on Saturday when I started this project. When she was down for her morning nap, around 9am, I thought I'd get started, and boy am I glad I did! While this Chile Verde is by no means hard at all, it can be considered a bit time consuming. Now, there are ways to get around this by buying canned tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic, chiles, etc. But, when you want the satisfaction of making things from scratch... you buy the ingredients and do the roasting yourself. Also, another way to cut time... a lot of time, is by buying your meat cut into chunks already... or at least asking your butcher to cut the meat up for you once you pick our your slab. I, however, did not do that... and cutting up the meat took the LONGEST time. I won't be doing that again, I don't care if the meat quality is slightly less. It got old after a half an hour of trying to cut chunks off a bone-y slab o' meat. Never again!

     This was pretty good! The husband liked it, and the guests enjoyed it as well. This is one of those meals that is a special occasion kinda meal. Enjoy!

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
8 garlic cloves (3 finely chopped, 5 unpeeled for roasting)
2 jalapenos, chopped (I kept in the seeds and membranes, and it had a bit of a kick, but not too much)
2 Anaheim or Pablano chiles
1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned

3 1/2 - 4 lbs pork sholder (pork butt), trimmed of fat and cut into 1-2 in chunks
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp cumin
2 1/2 C chicken stock


Here are your greens for the sauce:

onions, jalapenos, anaheim chiles, garlic, cilantro, and tomatillos

Get your broiler started, and place your 2 Anaheim chiles under the broiler and continue watching them closely, b/c you will need to turn them every so often to make sure they blacken on all sides. This took approximately 10 minutes; but SO much easier than putting them over an open flame on the stove and waiting as it blackens at a snails pace. 

Once the peppers are done, and completely black, place in a container and cover with plastic wrap to allow the skin to steam and come off easily. Let those chill and steam while you work on the tomatillos.

Take the husks off the tomatillos, and rinse. Be careful because they are quite sticky once you take the papery husks off. Slice the tomatillos in half and place on a foil-lined baking sheet, face down. Take your 3 unpeeled garlic and place on the pan with your tomatillos.

Here's the part where you can do one of two things, either broil or bake. I prefer broil b/c it takes a LOT less time. The only problem is... my broiler is under the oven, so I had to keep an eye out and continue bending over to check the tomatillos, which was a little irritating, but I prefer it to waiting for an hour or more for the tomatillos to roast in the oven. So go with your fancy. (If you roast in the oven, roast at about 350-400 for an hour or so). Otherwise... broil for 7-10 minutes. (B/c my broiler was under the stove, a pan wouldn't fit, so I had to place them on the broiler sheet individually with tongs, which was fine, just make sure those legs are bendy!)

Chop your jalapenos, and place in a blender, along with the tomatillos, cilantro leaves, the roasted garlic that you have now peeled, and the Anaheim chiles. (Once the tomatillos are done roasting, take your chiles out of the container and gently peal off the skin and chop. I kept the seeds) Pulse ingredients until smooth and all mixed together. It will smell wonderful!

The next step is a bit frustrating... only because the pork butt can be a little hard to cut if you get a whole chunk of it. Next time, I will definitely get the meat pre-cut, this step took up way too much time! While everything is roasting, begin cutting the meat into chunks. Pour a tbsp of oil into a hot skillet. Place some flour in a bowl, and put a few chunks into the bowl and roll 'em around to coat. Working in batches, so that the meat will brown evenly and get a nice crispy coating to it, put some of the meat into the skillet and cook for a minute on each side. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.

You can do this next step at the same time as the meat, or wait until you are finished with the meat (I tried to save time so I did this step while the meat was cooking and then just transferred the meat right into the pot). In a large pot, add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add the meat, oregano, and cumin. Let the seasonings cook into the meat for a minute before adding the tomatillo mixture. Then add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for 2-3 hours.

Serve with white rice and tortillas. Mmmm starch and more starch!
And, those I served this dish to liked the addition of some sour cream.

Recipe Courtesy of: Simply Recipes

Taco Salad

     Game night at church is the second Friday of every month. And I love it! I love getting to meet up with people from church and chat with them and catch up on things we don't have time to talk about on Sunday morning. But, the best part: the food everyone brings! I always try to change it up and bring something fun and interesting. Even though I love to bake, usually we have a ridiculous amount of dessert, so I am resigned to bring a dinner type of dish each month; which is great, because it allows me to find new recipes to try that I normally wouldn't.
     Last month I was looking for something fun and different, and I came across a Taco Salad recipe. We love taco salad. When I started dating Grant he introduced me to the addition of Catalina dressing poured on top of the salad. I thought it might be kinda weird at first, but because I love Catalina dressing, I was all about trying it... and it was SO delish! I will never go back to having a normal taco salad!
     What I like about this recipe though, is that it adds a little something I didn't used to include, beans. Duh, Meghan! I don't know why I never thought of it before. Needless to say this recipe is super delish, and I could not have received more compliments throughout the evening on it.
     So, the next time you are looking for something easy and fast, yet still not skimping on taste, try this one out!

2 lb ground beef (We like things meaty, so I added the extra half pound)
2 packets of taco seasoning mix (I just use my McKormick seasoning container from Costco!, and A LOT of it! Season that meat up baby! Make it tasty!)
1 bag shredded lettuce
2 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Cup chopped tomatoes
2 Cup chopped onions
1 medium can of sliced olives (I give them a rough chop)
2 15oz cans Ranch style beans (1 used S&W, and they're exact title is Chili Beans in a Zesty Tomato Sauce)
1 bag of corn chips (I used the small ones to make it more bite size)
1 16oz bottle Catalina dressing
1 12oz jar salsa

**This makes a pretty good amount of salad, so if it's just for 2 people, I might cut it in half. Although, every time I make it I wish there were leftovers, so I would probably make this amount and save it for meals later. Obviously, don't mix it all together though or some of the ingredients will be soggy and wilty.

Brown the ground beef and onion, and drain. Add the Taco seasoning mix and 1 C water and simmer for roughly 10 minutes or until the meat has soaked up all the water, making it all kindsa juicy!

Add the beans with some of the juices to the pan and continue simmering for however long you like, I simmered for about 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl, add the chips, the ground beef and bean mixture, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, Catalina dressing, and salsa. Mix this delish concoction together until everything is married together with screams of joy! Sprinkle cheese on top, dish and devour!

You could even add sour cream as well, but I chose to stick to the recipe this time, and it was really tasty!
You will not be upset about trying this one folks!

Recipe Adapted from: Taste of Home