January 28, 2013

Rosemary Roasted Root Veggies

I love potatoes. But sometimes, you're just in the mood for something with a bit more variety. Still traditional and filling, but a bit different, and super yummy.
Well, this is it!
I love how everything gets turned jewel bright. Such a beautiful side dish!
You'll get rave reviews with it, even my kids will eat it.
I got the recipe originally from my good friend's BLOG. She's amazing.
This is what you'll need... for a giant batch of it.
Last night I had a big family dinner, 11 adults and 8 kids. I made 2 whole chickens in the crockpot... I had to borrow an extra crockpot, and I made this as a side. It was awesome! But this is a lot! So I'm cutting the recipe down to 1/3 of what I made last night, so that it would be appropriately sized for a normal family dinner.
 
1 red beet, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato (not yam!!!), peeled and chopped
1 russet potato, washed and chopped
1/3 of a butternut squash, peeled seeded and chopped
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
 
Toss it to coat, and put in a baking pan. For this amount, probably just a cake pan should do it for yah and you can cover it with tinfoil. But for the full amount you see in the pictures... I used my roasting pan. Ha! I haven't used it in forever, because now I always do my chickens in the crockpot... but it has found a use again!
Cover and cook at 400 degrees for 1 hour. I usually stir it around at 40 minutes, just to make sure it's cooking evenly. And quite often I'll cook it for an extra 20 minutes to get the carrots nice and soft enough for my 1 year old to eat on her own... but I find that makes the rest, especially the squash, be really over cooked. My brilliant fix for that is to put the harder veggies at the bottom and the softer on top. So the beets go on bottom, then carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and squash. (Still stir it around to mix it at 40 minutes.)
Look at how pretty!
 More nutrients, more variety, more taste.
Mmmmm.
The only complaint I ever get is from my husband who misses all the extra butter I put in mashed potatoes. LOL. But he just adds it here and is plenty happy.

January 23, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

This is a favorite around here. A staple. Easy, cheap, warm, filling. Comfort food at its finest!
 
I think I originally got the inspiration for this from Rach.ael R.ay, but I have tampered with it so much to make it "perfect" that it doesn't really resemble what she did originally. 
 
Okay, so first get a red bell pepper roasting in your oven. I know you can buy them canned, but... seriously, puke.... easy enough to do yourself and it tastes a thousand times better!
I need to get a post up on how to just roast a pepper, instead of including the directions on every blasted post... Hmmm. I'll work on that, but for now, you can look at the directions HERE.
 
So now, in a frying pan, over medium-high heat:
 
1 bulb onion, chopped
1 pound hamburger
8oz fresh mushrooms, sliced or diced
salt and pepper to taste
 
Cook all of that until the meat is browned and the veggies are tender-firm. Then add:
 
2-3 cloves of garlic, pressed
Let that cook for about a minute, then add:
1 family sized can of Cream of Mushroom soup
OR
3 "cans" of the cream of anything soup mix, prepared nice and thick
2-3 TBS paprika
2 tsp dillweed
1 roasted red bell pepper, (skinned and seeded) finely diced
 
Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes... Which gives you time to make the noodles or the rice. Oh yeah, did I mention, you serve it over egg noodles, or rice?
 
Mmmm.... delicious!

Cream of Anything Soup Mix

Yeah, so I'm allergic to a lot of things. A LOT of things. And it pretty much sucks. Do you know how hard it is to make a casserole when you can't have canned soup?
And then I found this recipe.
*Heaven!*
I found it on THIS blog, and I have no idea where it originated.... er... originally.
But it is a life saver for me!
Also I must say, that even without all my food problems, I would still choose this over canned cream soup. First, it's pennies on the dollar compared to the canned stuff. So cheap to make! And it only has a few ingredients, so you know exactly what you're eating... no chemicals and stuff you can't pronounce. But most important to me, is the taste. I mean, being healthy and frugal is great and all, but if it tastes like cardboard then no thanks! But this is so good! Tastes SO MUCH BETTER than the canned soup. For serious.
Try it out.
You won't regret it.
(Also, if you're into emergency preparedness and food storage, this is an AWESOME thing to plan on having. All the ingredients can easily be found in a long term storage package.)
2 cups powdered milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup chicken bouillon granules
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Mix it together and store in a plastic or glass container.
To make it into soup:
1 1/4 cup cold water
1/3 cup of dry mix
Whisk it together over medium-high heat until it thickens. The key is to use cold water, so that the cornstarch will dissolve all the way before you even turn on the stovetop. Then just keep whisking (to keep the other ingredients from falling to the bottom of the pan and burning), just like you're making gravy. You don't want lumps, so whisk away. The longer/hotter you cook it, the thicker it will get.
Substitute that amount of mix for one 10 3/4oz can of condensed soup in recipes. Or you can eat it straight, just how it is. Delicious! Only, don't thicken it so much if you're just eating it. You don't want goo.
So I just use my own Italian seasoning when making this. But you could also buy the little packets. In fact, you don't officially have to add the spice at all, it just makes it better.
But that's the beauty of this recipe. You can make it however you want it.
Want cream of potato soup? Add potatoes and different spices. Want cheese soup? Add some grated cheese (I love sharp cheddar!) while you're whisking away until it incorporates with the soup. Want a sauce for salisbury steak? Use beef bouillon granules instead of chicken, or just add some worcestershire sauce and smoke flavoring.
Try it out, you won't be sorry...

Italian Seasoning and Salad Dressing

Here's a little quickie that I like to always have on hand. It's a dry Italian seasoning mix. Use it as a dry rub... mix it with oil and vinegar to make a salad dressing.... sprinkle it in your food... whatever.
 
It's cheaper (and healthier) to make than it is to buy those individual packets, and it tastes much better.
 
1 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS  onion powder
2 TBS oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1 tsp basil
1 TBS parsley
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp sea salt
 
Shake, stir, or otherwise mix together.
Store in a plastic or glass container.
It makes about 6TBS, I usually make it 4 batches at a time, and it lasts forever.
 
To make it into a nice salad dressing:
 
1/4 cup vinegar of your choice
2/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin of course!)
2 TBS of the dry mix
 
Combine and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

January 21, 2013

Succotash Recipe

Okay, this is probably my all time favorite side dish. Full of veggies and flavor, with almost nothing "unhealthy" in it, and takes all of 10 minutes to make.  You could easily make it into a main dish by adding black beans and serving it over rice... or adding some shredded chicken breast and serve it over noodles... or something easy like that. I've done both, they're good, but I always fall back to the straight veggie version. 
 
I grew up watching that cartoon cat use succotash as a curse word, and had no idea that it was an actual food item. A very yummy food item at that! Then a few years ago I saw some chef on TV doing his version of it, I guess it's an old traditional recipe that's supposed to have come down from when the American Indians helped the Pilgrims survive.
Wow, who knew?
 
It's supposed to be sauteed in bear fat,
but if you can't find that at your local store (ha!) you can just use oil.
I usually just use olive oil, but sometimes I'll use bacon grease to feel more pioneery.
Anyway, I've been making it ever since I saw that show, and I've changed it many times over. This is just my version, but I love it... and my kids even love it, which really counts for vegetable dishes.
 
So get out your largest frying pan, and heat a little oil in it. Then add:
 
1 white onion, chopped
1-2 zucchini squash, chopped
1-2 yellow summer squash, chopped
1 tsp salt
 
Let those sautee over medium-high heat for a little, because they'll take the longest to cook. After about 2 minutes, add:
 
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
 
Wait another minute... what I really do is just chop the veggies as I go, in the order I'm telling  you. (Chop onion, dump it. Chop squash, into the pot. Add salt. Chop pepper, in it goes.) I chop very slowly, which gives it just the right amount of time to cook, so that at the end (10 minutes tops), everything is tender-firm and delicious.
 
Okay, so next add:
 
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
2-3 roma sized tomatoes, chopped
4-5 dark green leaves (I like kale, but you could use collards or spinach too) Cut those leaves into "ribbons" for a pretty look, or just chop them and stick them in.
More salt and pepper to taste
 
Leave over heat just long enough for the leaves to get tender.
And that's it. Just eat it.
Sometimes I'll add a pinch of oregano or something, but usually I just rely on the veggies to flavor themselves. And, unless you cooked it over too high of heat, you should have a nice amount of liquid in it which helps it to pair nicely with a grain or something.
 
I know this is a huge amount of food, but we really do love it that much, plus I'm frequently cooking for lots of people... and anything veggie that my kids will eat is something worth making a lot of!
So you could easily cut the recipe in half, or even quarter it, just to try it and see if it's a fit for you.