Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 17


This week's recipe comes from the Ravelry "Knit.Hook.Cook." Group via a thread for crockpot recipes. When I spotted puggletrouble's recipe and realized I had all the ingredients on hand-even the lentils- I knew it was the perfect recipe for this week. After last weekend's chop-a-thon, I needed a "low-maintenance" soup.

Hot Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup

Serves: 4

2-3 hot Italian sausages
1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery

Slice and brown 2 or 3 hot Italian sausage. Drain. Place in crockpot. Add remaining ingredients. Stir. Cook on low all day, or high for 4 hours or so.

  • A great no muss/no fuss recipe!
  • I added a little bit-literally just a tablespoon or two of cream for color/flavor at the end.
  • This amount was perfect for a 2 - 2 1/2 quart crock pot; adjust ingredient amount to your needs/crockpot size
  • It was begging for some French bread to be dipped in it-yummmmm!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Most Productive Sunday

This is a result of drinking Red Bull AND Coffee in the morning:

1. 4 loads of laundry washed/dried and put away.

2. Made huge batch of spaghetti sauce from scratch

3. Made soup-will post about that tomorrow.

4. Did lots of dishes.

5. Made jello for lunches this week using boxes with a July 2007 expiration date-does jello expire?

6. Knit a fish-only 14 left.

7. Re-planted some jalepeno and banana pepper plants(10 total).

8. Watched Grey's I had recorded-loved this episode!!

9. Lamented the fact we didn't get the rain we were suppose to, but did enjoy the cooler temps. Poor Mom and Dad got dumped with snow again yesterday-Mom said it snowed even more after this pic was taken yesterday:
10. Updated my blog

11. I have a feeling I'll be pooped tomorrow morning.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Knitting Content

I've been knitting again! After a few weeks of busy-ness in life/work, I've gotten back in to knitting. Although I'm really excited about knitting the Susie Hoodie (even going to order the yarn this weekend) from this book, I've decided to put some time into some W.I.P.

I am continuing to knit my fish.
Last night I met up with Janna- who is in town, and some of my other knitterly friends which made knitting the 143rd fish quite enjoyable. Today I was able to catch up on some TV shows I DVR'd to knit fish #144-also quite enjoyable. Only 15 1/2 fish left....or something like that. BTW, I was really surprised at this week's Top C h e f elimination. Looking forward to seeing the new Ugly B, Grey's, and of course The Office. I love my DVR.

I've also been adding to my Everlasting Bagstopper. I think the reason I stopped knitting it awhile ago is that for some reason, a few of my left hand fingers go numb knitting this. Not sure if its the yarn (hemp-maybe my fingers are getting stoned or something-HA) or what. I can only handle knitting a round or two before this starts to happen-so progress is slow. The numbness is "project-related" since I can pick up another project and knit just fine right away. I've also knit other projects "in the round" without any numbness.

In the knitting book department, I was surprised I liked this book so much. I actually laughed out loud in several places. I am also excited that this book is coming out. My pre-ordered copy should be here in the next week-yee!

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 16

Note to self: Making homemade vegetable stock AND homemade vegetable soup requires A LOT of chopping, especially if done the same afternoon. Also, think twice about making muffins and a pasta salad from scratch the same afternoon.

For this week's soup I decided to go with a modified Spring Tonic Soup. A true tonic soup would be something like this. I made a tonic-type soup but without the nettles-whatever they are. The recipe came from another book I checked out from the public library and ended up buying my own copy. One of the things I like best about the book is that it has suggestions for bread/salad to make a full meal.

I also thought the tonic soup would help me finally get rid of the allergy congestion I'd been suffering with the last nearly 2 weeks from and get back into eating healthy again.

I decided to make a homemade vegetable stock which, in short basically means sauteing a bunch of veggies in olive oil.

Adding a bunch of water (10 c.), a pinch of salt and a bouquet garni (made from herbs in my herb garden-other than the lemon zest-nestled in a rib of celery).

Simmer for a bit-30 minutes.Then strain out the veggies. I used 5 c. for my soup and froze the other 5 cups.

Now for the main event:

Spring Tonic Soup

Source: Soup Makes the Meal: 150 Soul-Satisfying Recipes for Soups, Salads, and Breads
Serves: 4 -5

1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (or a couple of finely chopped leeks-white part only)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to your taste
Handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped
large handful spinach leaves (3-4 ounces), rinsed well and coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized soup pot or large saucepan. Add the vegetables and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock and salt, then bring the soup to an active simmer.

2. Simmer the soup, partially covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and spinach and season with pepper. Simmer the soup, partially covered for 5 more minutes; check to see if it needs more salt or pepper. (Colds tend to dull the taste buds, so sick folk might need a little extra flavor punch to actually taste the soup.) Serve piping hot.

Mmmmmmm...I felt healthier just looking at it!!!

  • This is a great soup when you want to eat something light or are feeling under the weather.
  • I followed the book's suggestion and also made some homemade carrot/raisin muffins and an asparagus pasta salad (both also made yesterday). Everyone oooed and ahhed when I brought my "healthy" meal to lunch today.
  • These are parsnips by the way. Kind of like albino carrots.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 15

Yesterday I hopped in the car and headed out to a local strawberry festival. The weather was gorgeous and it had the usual carnival rides and such, but it was all about the strawberries for me. I ended up purchasing 6 pints of strawberries, a jar of strawberry jam, strawberry honey, and a bottle of strawberry wine. So it just makes sense that this week's soup would be, Strawberry Soup! This is the second recipe I've made from this particular cookbook and definitely one I'd make again. Read here about the first.

Chilled Strawberry Soup with Creme Fraiche

Source: The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook
Serves: 4-6 as a starter

1 1/2 cups rose wine (I used some white zin)
1/4 cup thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
1-2 Tablespoons honey, or to taste (I used 1 Tablespoon of the strawberry honey I bought)
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons raspberry or strawberry vinegar, or to taste
1 Tablespoon grenadine syrup
2 Tablespoons kirsch (I used 2 T liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries instead)
4 cups of fresh strawberries
1 cup Creme Fraiche or plain yogurt (I used the plain yogurt)
1/2 cup half and half (I used fat free and it was just fine)

unsweetened whipped cream or additional creme fraiche for garnish ( I used canned whip cream)
fresh mint leaves for garnish

1. In a large enameled saucepan heat the wine, apple juice concentrate, and honey to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer. Mix the cornstarch, vinegar, and grenadine together until smooth, then whisk into the simmering liquid. Cook, whisking gently, until clear, smooth, and thick, which should be almost immediately. Stir in the kirsch and remove from heat. Taste; there should be a sweet-tart balance. Add more honey or vinegar if necessary. Let soup cool to room temperature.

2. Set aside 4-6 perfect strawberries for the garnish. Hull all the remaining berries, slice half of them, and in a food processor puree the remaining half. Whisk the strawberry puree, creme fraiche or yogurt, and the half and half into the thickened wine; stir in the sliced berries. Chill deeply.

3. Serve the soup in glass cups and garnish each cup with a dap of whipped cream, or additional creme fraiche, a mint leaf, and a strawberry.

My Notes:
  • This was much better than expected! I really enjoyed it! It would be a refreshing dessert on a hot summer day or a great starter soup for "Tea Room" style lunch (finger sandwiches).
  • I made a few substitutions as noted. For some reason, the local liquor stores don't carry kirsch (cherry liquor) and I wasn't about to pay $33.00 for something similar. I looked online and saw where some people just substituted the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries and tried that instead-worked great! I also wasn't about to mess with making (or buying) creme fraiche so I opted for the plain yogurt.
  • I would make this again-it was definitely worth the effort, but if you want something a bit less putzy, try this award-winning recipe.
Now I'm enjoying finding ways to use up the rest of the strawberries! Maybe next year I'll buy more and make some freezer jam. It's going to be hard to top the incredible strawberry shortcake I had at the festival though. Mmmmmmmmmm. Just look at all the whipped cream!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 14

Today's soup is my first attempt at recreating my all-time favorite can soup, Campbell's Bean With Bacon Soup.

It wasn't quite the taste I'm looking for, but it would be "ok" in a pinch and would taste great with some cornbread. Needless to say, I'm still on the lookout for a good clone of the canned soup.

Here's the original recipe, and as always, I've made some changes based on reviews.

Bean and Bacon Soup

  • 1 (15 ounce) can ranch-style beans
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 6 thick slices bacon, cooked and cubed ( I used pre-cooked bacon pieces)
  • Based on reviews, I also added some: hickory liquid smoke, garlic powder, and pepper.
Saute onions in a bit of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the beans, tomato sauce, chicken stock and onions. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Using a potato masher, carefully mash some of the beans in the soup to make it a little thicker, if desired. Add the bacon and serve.My Notes:
  • I'd fry up bacon next time and cook the soup in the same pan as the bacon (after taking the fat out.
  • It tasted better the longer it simmered, can hardly wait to try it tomorrow.
  • I wouldn't go out of my way to buy the ingredients for this, but it's a hearty and cheap soup if you're raiding the pantry!

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Passport for the Cabin?!?

Imagine my surprise when a story about my beloved cabin town of Ely, Minnesota was shown on the 5:00 San Antonio news station the other day. I couldn't find a video version, but here's the radio release they were talking about:

It was an April Fool's Day joke! Petitions and signs were created to "Keep Ely in Minnesota!" Check it out!

When I called my Dad, who is currently up at the cabin, he said, "Some of the old timers were a bit upset, but it didn't fool him. He was just a bit offended they didn't let him in on the joke-heh!"