Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

I recently purchased a jar of coconut oil for the first time.  I wasn't sure how much I'd actually use it, but the jar was empty way faster than I expected!  I found so many great uses for the oil, including this delicious soup.  I wouldn't say it necessarily tastes like spring - it's a fairly hearty soup.  But it's a bright yellow color at the end and yummy enough to eat even when the weather doesn't necessarily call for tucking in with a bowl of warmth.  Wild rice takes a long time to cook and soften, so make sure you give the soup enough time to simmer.

2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
1 1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup wild rice
1/4 cup brown rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water
1 cup water
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
squeeze of lime juice

Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, then add the curry paste, garlic, and onion and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.  Make sure the curry paste is evenly distributed before moving on to the next step.

Stir in the wild rice and 3 cups of the broth or water.  Bring to a simmer, lower the heat a bit, and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the rice starts to soften, split and show it fluffy insides.

Meanwhile, prepare the sweet potatoes.  Warm remaining 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the cubed potatoes and a few pinches of salt.  Toss to coat the potatoes, then cook a few minutes, until they start to get some color on the bottom.  Give them another toss to brown the other side, and continue tossing every few minutes to get more color and crispiness.  If the pan dries out at all, add a bit more oil.  When the sweet potatoes are cooked through, season to taste with salt, then scoop them out onto a paper towel to use a topping for the soup.

When the wild rice is tender, stir in the turmeric, sugar, soy sauce, coconut milk, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp salt.  Stir, return to a simmer, and cook for another 5 minutes to meld flavors.  Remove from heat and finish with a generous squeeze of lime juice.  Taste for seasoning and add a bit more salt if need be.  When you go to serve, ladle from the bottom of the pot to make sure each person gets plenty of rice in their bowl, and top with a generous sprinkling of sweet potatoes.

adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Banana Bran Muffins

I came across a recipe for banana bran muffins that looked good.  Glancing at the clock, I decided I had just enough time to whip up a batch to be ready as an after-school snack.  However, I broke a cardinal rule of baking and did not read the recipe carefully before beginning.  So there I was with creamed butter and sugar, but not much else that the recipe actually called for.  Oops.  Some major adjustments later and, I'm happy to say the result was still delicious!  The muffins were best just warm from the oven, but also good the next day as breakfast with some yogurt on the side.  They are hearty and brany (it's a word) and everyone liked them.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup all-bran cereal
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup  butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 12-tin muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, all-bran, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pecans.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter an drown sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  Stir in mashed bananas.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling each cup about two-thirds full.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the venter of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool in tins for 5 minutes then remove and serve warm with a tall glass of milk or mug of coffee.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Carrot Cake Pancakes

My husband's favorite dessert is carrot cake.  So these pancakes were the perfect breakfast treat for him - and the rest of us!  We topped ours with yogurt and maple syrup, but I'm sure the honey butter would be delicious, too.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground ginger
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups finely grated carrot
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp honey

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in 2 cups carrot.

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spoon 4 (1/4 cup) batter mounds onto pan, spreading with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat procedure twice with remaining batter. Combine butter and honey in a small bowl; serve with pancakes.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

My middle gingersnap and I made this simple, yet moist and delicious bread to give as gifts to teachers before the Easter holiday.  I doubled the recipe below, which originally says will yield one loaf, but divided the doubled batch between four disposable loaf pans and it worked well.  We gave three loaves away, but I felt better about the gifts after I tasted the one loaf we kept at home.  Though if you're looking for a really special banana bread recipe, I'd point you to this one.    

A couple changes made from here:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease one 9x5-inch loaf pan, or use two loaf pans to get two smaller but still substantial loafs.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Stir bananas, milk and cinnamon in another bowl.  Beat butter and sugar in a third bowl until light and fluffy.  Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir bananas mixture into butter mixture.  Stir in dry mixture until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes for one loaf or 50 for two.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Italian Meatball Sub Sandwiches

I'm not sure what prompted the craving, but I really wanted meatball sandwiches last week.  After a bit of searching, I decided to go with this recipe (which I made a few changes to that are reflected below).  I'm a sucker for using the crock pot.  And, whoa, were these great!  I loved the beef and sausage combo (also a winner in lasagna).  There was plenty of sauce to smother over the meatballs, and watching my husband eat the result reminded me of that Carls Jr. commercial that claimed, "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face"!  This made about three dozen meatballs and my family ate them all in a couple days.

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine or beef broth
1/3 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
Italian rolls, baguette, or other sandwich buns
Parmesan cheese or other preferred cheese for topping

In a large bowl, combine eggs and milk; add the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Add beef and sausage; mix well.  Shape into 1-inch balls.  Broil 4 inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes; turn and broil 2-3 minutes longer.

Transfer meatballs to a 5-qt. slow cooker.  Combine the tomato sauce and paste, onion, green pepper, wine or broth, water and seasonings; pour over meatballs.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.  Serve on rolls topped with cheese.

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