Friday, May 31, 2013

Potato Soup for 2

... Or potato soup for 1 if you're really hungry.

I definitely make a habit of making lunch for myself that no one else in the house will eat. It's worth it to me that I get to enjoy my favorite foods without having to worry about the rest of the family. So while the kiddos are munching on PB&J and yogurt, I get to enjoy salmon or spinach soup or whatever, and everybody's happy! (Of course, the exception is our little one. She loves anything Mommy is eating. "Mommy, you share wif me?" *big, pleading blue eyes*) Potato soup, unfortunately, is one of those things. It will get eaten at dinner with the family, but not necessarily enjoyed the way it should be.

Potato Soup for 2

1 large baking potato, peeled and cubed
1 garlic clove, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken (or veggie) stock
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons cream (you can use any milk here - 1/2 & 1/2, whipping cream, 2%, I've done it all.)
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Toppings/variations of your choice - chopped broccoli, cooked/crumbled bacon, diced ham, fresh herbs, green onions, sour cream, corn

In a small saucepan, bring the broth, garlic and potatoes up to a boil. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until potatoes get very soft, stirring occasionally. This is important: using a whisk, stir up the potatoes. You want to break them down to get that velvety potato soup texture. Whisk until the soup reaches desired consistency - it won't be completely smooth, but I love leaving chunks of potato, anyway. Stir in cream, adding more if necessary to thin it the way you like it (add more chicken stock if it's super thick). Salt and pepper to your taste, stir in cheese. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite toppings!

(This is also a great way to use up the last bits of leftover side veggies like broccoli or corn.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hungarian Goulash

One of my favorite comfort foods as a child was Hungarian Goulash. My mom made it at home, but one of my most vivid memories of it was at a little restaurant one night while we were traveling in Germany. I'm not sure how authentic my version is, but it certainly is tasty.

Hungarian Goulash 

1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (can omit)

1-1/2 pounds stew meat (I like to cut my beef into even smaller, bite-size pieces)
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
4 cups beef broth

Begin by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. In a bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. Toss with the stew meat. Brown the meat in batches, adding a bit more oil as needed. Return all to pan and pour the vinegar and broth over. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. This will simmer for at least 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile prep your veggies:

1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced potato
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, chopped

When the beef has simmered for about 45 minutes, add in all your vegetables. Allow to cook for another 20-30 minutes, until the stew is thickened and the veggies are tender.

This is best served over German Späetzle - kind of a cross between a dumpling and an egg noodle. Making your own is not complicated, just a bit messy and takes some practice. But many grocery stores carry dried Späetzle which will work just fine - it's what I used last night. In a pinch you can use regular egg noodles or even rice. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love slow cooker recipes - throwing everything in one big pot and then forgetting about it is a wonderful thing sometimes! This soup is really flavorful without being super spicy. My kids love it, so that's a big plus! I adapted the recipe from this one which was a good starting point but tasted bland to us, and wasn't very filling.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 (32 ounce) carton chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the chicken, shred or chop it, then return it to the slow cooker along with:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn
2 cups prepared (already cooked) rice

Let it continue to heat on low for 1-2 more hours, then serve with your choice of toppings (my favorite part!):

Chopped cilantro
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Tortilla chips
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Chopped green onions
Whatever you like!

Now, that's the official recipe. Since my family is picky, I actually take more time to prep the ingredients by sauteéing the vegetables (first 5 ingredients) in a touch of olive oil until they're tender, then I blitz them in the food processor/blender and add them in like that. You can turn up the heat by adding in jalapeño, and you can certainly use a mix of different peppers like orange or yellow, too. If you're going low-carb, simply omit the rice and/or corn and add in another can of beans.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pizza For Lunch

Our normal lunch routine is that I have taught the kids some basic recipes and they make their own lunches. Kaity or I take care of Selah, but the two oldest generally do their own thing. Joe's favorite is to make grits with cheese, or a ham sandwich with yogurt/apple/crackers on the side. Kaity is a bit more creative (and allowed to use the stove!) so she makes PB & J Croissants or angel hair pasta, or yes, even canned pasta once in a while. They also like to do tortilla roll-ups instead of standard sandwiches. But sometimes we have leftovers, or I'll cook something we all like (not easy to find!). Today, I made pizza.

I don't make pizza often because we can get it from a chain restaurant cheaper than I can make it. However, I had all the ingredients today and the kids were bored with their lunch choices. I started with this simple dough. We had leftover spaghetti sauce (made with onion, garlic, green pepper, tomatoes, herbs) complete with beef that I spread over the top of the crust. I topped that layer with chopped fresh spinach, then layered on torn slices of Muenster. Next came a layer of shredded cheddar, then a bit of mozzarella. (It sounds like a lot of cheese, but I only had a little of each.) I also put the last of the deli ham on one part - just for mommy.

After baking it at 400° for about 15 minutes, our lunch was ready! Easy as (pizza) pie!