Roasted Vegetable Soup, Slightly Curried

curry veggie soup

Who doesn’t love a delicious soup?  And when it’s incredibly easy to make and pretty healthy then it’s definitely a winner.  Soups in the fall and winter are a no brainer, always have been, but once I had kids soups became my way of sneaking in vegetables that they normally wouldn’t eat.  For some reason if it was in soup form they gobble it up like it’s the best thing ever!!!

Last night I was noticing I had a lot of vegetables in the fridge that I wanted to use up before I forgot about them only to find them next week needing to be tossed.  Soup was the perfect dish, I could eat it during the day while I was making all my hors d’oeuvres for New Year’s Eve.  It would keep me happy, but not fill me up so I would be too full to enjoy the evening delectibles.

raw veggies

The vegetables I used were what I had on hand, you could very easily swap out for what you have or what you prefer.

For the Recipe:

1 head of cauliflower, cut into large pieces

2 onions, quartered

2 carrots, peeled and cut in half

1 parsnip, peeled and cut in half

2 celery ribs

olive oil for drizzling

**I use a seasoning mix that I make, it includes salt, pepper, fennel, coriander, and red pepper

1 32 oz. container of vegetable broth

1 32 oz. container of chicken broth

1 tbsp. curry powder

Place all the vegetables on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and seasoning (use whatever seasonings you like).  Roast the vegetables in a 375 F oven for 45 minutes.  Once the vegetables are roasted put them in a food processor (or blender or Vitamix, whatever you have) with enough broth to help it get pureed.  Once you have a nice smooth consistency transfer to a pot.  Add the remaining broth and curry powder.  Stir well and let it heat back up.  Taste for seasoning, adjust to your taste.

Obviously the curry powder is optional, but I really like the taste it adds.  It’s such a small quantity for the amount of soup that it really doesn’t give it that “curry” flavor that some people do not like.  Try adding it by the teaspoons, tasting after each addition to see if you like it with less.

Enjoy!!

Parmesan Polenta

parmesan polenta

It wasn’t until about four years ago that I really started making polenta, it just wasn’t something that was on my food radar.  Then I went to a restaurant that served it with my dinner and I was in love.  But then, what’s not to love?  It’s incredibly inexpensive, easy to make, and can be served a zillion different ways.

Tonight I made braised short ribs so it was a no brainer to pair it with some creamy parmesan polenta.  Truth be told, I could just eat a bowl of the parmesan polenta and be quite happy.

For the Recipe:

6 c. water

2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1 1/2 c. cornmeal

3 tbsp. butter

1 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1/2 c. cream

Bring the water, salt and garlic to a boil.  Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking while you pour.  Cook for 8-10 minutes stirring constantly.  Turn off the heat, add the butter, cheese, pepper and cream.  Stir it all in.  Serve immediately.

Finishing Up 2013

With less than two days left in 2013 I can’t help but look forward to 2014, but also look back over the past year.  As I reflect I think about how to make the coming year better.  Every new year is like a fresh start, wipe the slate clean, so to speak.  I think about my garden and what I’ll do differently to have a more successful growing season.  My blog and Facebook page, what I would like to post about and share.  My home, and how I would like to change the look, reorganize, de-clutter, etc… My friendships, making an effort to spend more time with the people that are truly important to me and less with those that are not.  Traveling, where I want to go, with and without my family.  Mothering, where I really excelled and where I, well, didn’t.  I kind of laugh when I hear people say they are “seasoned” mothers or when they refer to new moms as “inexperienced”.  If you think about it we are all pretty inexperienced, even those with multiple kids, since each day is a new experience.

New Year’s Resolutions are not for me, rather, I like to have a “to do” list of things I would like to accomplish.  This year I’m writing it down, laminating it and hanging it near my desk so I can see it everyday.  I love lists, always have, they are so helpful to me.  I have more notepads than you can imagine, I LOVE THEM!!!  No fancy electronics for me, just simple paper and pen…I’m old school like that.  Maybe some monthly updates on this list will be in order, maybe…

 

 

Gifts For New Parents…

I am no longer a new parent, my twinadoes are now three years old, but I know several people that are expecting.  Like most people, when I pick out gifts to celebrate the arrival of a new baby I tend to go for the tradition/normal items.  A cute outfit, little toys, a blanket, etc… you get the idea, but what I really want to get them are my top five items that they will really need.  I’ll list them in no particular order…

1.  Gorilla Superglue:  Your little darling (or darlings in my case) will break stuff.  Sure you think you will keep all breakables out of their reach and you will teach them “no touch”.  Get real, it’s not going to happen that way.

2.  Spray-n-Wash:  Kids are gross and are complete dirt, goop, unidentifiable I don’t want to know what the hell it is attractors.  This stuff WILL get all over your clothes and it will not come out with just regular laundry soap.

3.  Resolve Carpet Cleaner:  That brown spot on the rug…let’s just say you really don’t want to know what it truly is.  You will be amazed at how quickly you start seeing little spots all over the carpets and rugs.  You can only cover with so many throw rugs…

4.  Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs:  Do I really need to give an explanation?

5.  Ibuprofen:  Not just for the massive headaches you will get, but also the aches that you will get from carrying around that little bundle in some of the most awkward positions just to keep them asleep.

But to keep a positive spin on things be sure to tuck this stuff in with a nice soft blanket and a super cute outfit.

 

Black Beans and Rice Didn’t Miss Her…

black beans and rice

I know, I know Sir Mix A Lot said “red beans and rice didn’t miss her” but I made black beans so I had to improvise…  However, red beans would be pretty darn good in this too.  I have had this craving for beans and rice since last weekend’s visit to the Brazilian steakhouse.  Seriously, I could have just eaten bowls and bowls of the stuff if it weren’t for that succulent meat they kept bringing around.

Saturday I went to the butcher near my home that has the absolute best ham hocks ever.  It’s safe to say that I always have a few in my freezer, and when I run out I promptly run to get more.  I love them because not only do they taste out of this world delicious but they are so meaty.  A lot of the smoked ham hocks you get in regular grocery stores are so fatty and have all skin and no meat.

Not only was this meal delicious, it was actually quite inexpensive to make, maybe a little over $10, and to top it off it was very simple.

I used my pressure cooker for the beans, but you could most definitely do them in a normal pot, it would just take more time.  You could also substitute any bean you preferred if black isn’t your first choice or you don’t have.

The rice, well you could always just use plain steamed rice and it would be really good since the broth of the beans is beyond fantastic.  But since I was trying to copy the beans I had at the restaurant I added extra ingredients, mainly, butter!  Everything’s better with butter!!!

For the Beans:

1 smoked ham hock (if you are using the really fatty no meat kind then you will want to use more if you want the meat in your beans)

2 large onions, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 celery ribs, chopped small

2 large carrots, chopped small

1/2 c. red pepper, chopped small

2 tsp. pepper

1 tbsp. coriander powder

1 tsp. ground fennel seed

4 cups chicken stock

enough water to cover the ham hocks

2 c. dried black beans (or whatever beans you are using)

Depending on how you plan on cooking your beans will determine if you need to soak the night before, cook for hours and hours or if you use a pressure cooker to get them started and finish in the ham hock pot.  I did the pressure cooker so I’ll give the directions for that option.

In a large pot add all the ingredients, except the black beans.  Cook over low heat until the smoked ham hock is really tender.  Since the ham hock I used was not fatty at all I really didn’t need to de-fat the broth, but you might want to if you used a fatty one, totally up to preference.  Take out the ham hock and cut the meat into bite sized pieces, return to the pot.

About 20 minutes before you are ready to take out the ham hocks to cut up you will want to prepare the beans.  Rinse well and make sure you get rid of any stones or grit that might be in them.  Put the two cups of clean beans into the pressure cooker with 6 cups of water.  Cook for twelve minutes on the second line.  I’m impatient so I push on the steam release to hurry the process of being able to get them out.  Drain and add to the ham hock pot to finish cooking.  They should be pretty close to being done so the additional cooking time should only be about 20 or so minutes.

Now I like my beans to have a little more liquid in them so I can pour it over the rice, but you can always use a slotted spoon when you serve to cut down on all the liquid.  But don’t throw it out, it’s just too tasty to waste!

For the Rice:

1 tbsp. olive oil

5 tbsp. butter

1 large onion, minced

2 c. long grain rice

2 tsp. salt

3 c. chicken stock (you could always use water)

In a medium size saucepan over medium heat the oil and butter, add the onions.  Sauté until they are translucent then add the rice.  Let the rice cook, stirring to get every grain coated with the oil/butter.  I did mine for about 3 minutes.  Add the salt and stir in.  Cover with the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and cover.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  The liquid will be absorbed, but the rice will not be dry.  Fluff it up a bit.

Now let the beans and rice meet in a bowl and enjoy!!!

 

 

 

I’ve Got the Power….Tools That Is

Today was a first for me.  I went to my local home and garden store to pick up some bird food and white paint, but like most of my shopping trips I had to peruse and see what else they had that I might like.  The hardware store I shop is this cute family owned gem where they all greet you with smiles and warm hellos.  And their customer service?  Let’s just say I have never found a place with better.

As I was strolling, and I truly was strolling rather than doing my normal marathon sprint that is customary when shopping with the twinadoes since they were not with me, I remembered I needed a miter box.  So there I am looking at all the neat tools on that aisle when one of the helpful employees asks if I’m finding everything I need.  So I tell her I’m looking for a miter box to which she asks “what will you be using it for”.  Now I’m thinking, lady if you don’t know what I’m using it for you might want to be in a different department.  Quickly it becomes clear that she’s not asking what you do with a miter box, rather what will I be using it for.  I give her my little list of diy projects I would like to do and she gets this little grin on her face and tells me to follow her.  She brings me to a saw that looks a lot like the one The Furniture Whisperer let me borrow when I was making the bathroom mirror frame.  At first I’m thinking “no freaking way you batshit crazy lunatic”, but then she starts talking it up and saying how women really need to get more into power tools, which I totally agree.  Then I see the blade guard and I point out that the one I used didn’t have that.  She actually looked mortified and said that would make it incredibly dangerous.  So fast forward another 20 minutes and I’m almost sold on this hand amputater.  All I can think is how many projects I could do.  So after ogling it one more time I decide I need this.

dewalt box

Now I don’t have to just think about the projects….I can do them.  No, I better do them!!!  The clerk started chuckling and said she had never seen anyone get so excited over a miter saw, then she said she had never sold one to a woman in the 20 years she had been working in tool sales.  That really did surprise me, what’s wrong with us women?  We need power tools!!!

Before using The Furniture Whisperer’s saw I would never in a million years thought to use one and certainly not purchase one of my own.  But I did and I’m really excited.  Bring it on HGtv because I’m ready!!!

Gifts For Your Spouse?

Maybe it’s just me, and it probably is, but I find it so strange when I hear my friends/random people in the stores say “I hope my husband gets this for me for Christmas”.  My husband and I do not buy gifts for each other, the children, yes (probably too many actually).  I do get the whole putting effort into hunting down something your spouse/partner will absolutely love so they feel all warm and fuzzy, really I do.  However, for myself, I don’t need any extra stress of “what should I get him that will really say I care”.  I’m here when he gets home from work and haven’t run off with some rich old man = I care.  I try to make nice food that he will like = I care.  I think you get what I’m saying.

Do I need a gift from him to make me feel loved and cared for?  Hell no.  I know I am just by the way I’m treated every day.  If I want something, I buy it.  If he wants something he buys it.  When I buy bigger ticket items he will laugh and say “happy birthday” or “merry Christmas”, which I find funny.  It should be stated however, that my hubs does surprise me with random things throughout the year, sometimes as goofy as some Japanese green tea KitKats that he found on a business trip or some salt and vinegar chips that I mentioned I had been craving.  To me, that means more than a gift on my birthday or Christmas.

If I want to stress him out I can do much better than putting an expectation of the perfect gift.  So what are you all getting your spouses/partners?  hahaha