I usually cook by guess and by golly, loosely following a recipe I heard somewhere. No technique, no measuring, just playing with what’s on hand. My mom says if you put good stuff together, then it will probably be good all together.

Butternut Squash Curry Soup

*2 medium butternut squash
*1 cup onion, diced
*semi-hot pepper (like poblano), diced very small (1/4″)
*handful fresh basil (I stack the leaves and cut them with kitchen scissors)
*1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
*1/2 teaspoon curry powder (a little goes a long way)
*2-3 cans of chicken stock
*1 can coconut milk
*salt and pepper to taste

1. Halve the squash (good luck with that, Mrs. Cleaver!), remove the guts, and place cut side down in baking pan with about 1/4″ water. Bake for one hour at 375. It should be tender enough at that point to spoon out the squash like an avocado.
2. Saute onions, pepper, ginger, curry, half of the basil in a little olive oil in a pot or Dutch oven until onions are translucent.
3. Add coconut milk and and squash (kind of squash mush, but don’t worry).
4. Add stock one can at a time while it all cooks over medium heat. stir and mash up the squash until you get the consistency you want.
5. Add the rest of the basil near the end.
**I think I’d like to add some well-done bacon before the liquids next time.

September 12, 2010
Veggie Thai Basil Soup

*2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
*1 can of coconut milk
*1 cup chopped onion
*1 poblano pepper, in strips (deveined and unseeded)
*3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
*1 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
*1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
*1 cup mushroom pieces
*2 zucchini squash
*fresh basil (if it’s not fresh, don’t bother with this recipe)
*juice from 1/2 lime

If I make it again, I will use lemongrass instead of the lime and maybe add bean sprouts, bamboo slices or carrots. I was winging it, as usual, but it tasted surprisingly like something I’ve had at a Thai restaurant!

1. Saute onion and pepper in oil until onion is soft and translucent.
2. Add chicken stock, ginger, red pepper, some chopped basil–bring to boil.
3. Add zucchini and mushrooms–simmer for 10ish minutes.
4. Add coconut milk and a little more basil just before serving.

Italian sausage soup

*2-3 cans chicken broth
*onion, diced small (1/2″)
*handful fresh thyme (any combo of herbs, really)
*celery, diced small (1/2″)
*one can beans, rinsed and drained–I think I used pinto beans, but whatever you have–pinto, white, black, chickpeas, black-eyed peas…
*fresh roma tomatoes, diced medium (3/4″)
*handful fresh spinach
*1 pound cooked ground Italian sausage, in large-ish crumbles or (I just thought of this) make little meatballs!

1. Saute onions, garlic, celery and most of the herbs in a little olive oil until onions and celery are translucent. This will make it smell like something good is happening in the kitchen.
2. Alternate ingredients like so: stock, beans, stock, tomatoes, stock, sausage, spinach and rest of the herbs at the very end.

September 8, 2010
Scratch Pizza Crust

*yeast packet–pizza version
*1 1/2 cup white flour (plus more for flouring hands and surfaces)
*1/2 cup wheat flour
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*2 teaspoons sugar
*1 teaspoon salt

I’m scared of yeast–actually all living things that I’m not sure whether they are plants or animals. Don’t ever give me friendship bread. At the very least, I will throw it away the first chance I get. At the worst, I will never speak to you again. (Ok, that’s never happened.) (Because my friends know better!)

I will on rare occasions use it. This is one. It’s just more fun than ready made ones, and in this case less expensive and healthier.

1. Heat a cup of water in microwave about one minute. I fill a regular mug, then pour it in a measuring cup after heating. If you want to check the temp, use a thermometer (candy or meat, whatever is handy)–it should be 90-110 degrees F. (Does anyone use C? No, I didn’t think so. Not in America anyway.)
2. Mix the sugar in the water in a medium size bowl until dissolved. I heard of someone using honey instead of sugar–I’ll try that sometime. Then add the yeast packet and stir. Leave it alone for about 10 minutes. It will kind of bubble up and start to smell like a distillery.
3. Meantime, mix the dry ingredients.
4. Stir the yeast concoction. Add the olive oil and half of the flour mixture. Whisk until all wet. Add the other half of the flour and such. Whisk as much as possible.
5. At this point, it’s probably really sticky, but you’ve got to get your hands in it to knead it, so add flour small handfuls at a time so you can pick it up and twist it, fold it, knead it for about 2 minutes. Leave it in a ball in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Honestly, I used a Kroger sack just tucked around the bottom of the bowl. That’s recycling, right?
6. Put it in a warm dry place for 20 minutes. On top of the warm dryer works good or a barely-on oven. 80-90 degrees. Outside will work, if it’s not muggy–so, not in Nashville.
7. It will puff up during that time (proof, as they say). So punch it down to get the air out and give it a couple more twists. Wrap it back up for another 20 minutes.
8. Now roll it out on a floured surface. You can use a rolling pin if you want to shape it into a circle, but I found it easier to use my hands for this part too. Just kind of pat it out and pinch up the edges a little. Make sure no part of it is really thin or really thick.
9. Now load it down with sauce, cheese, veggies, pre-cooked meat and a little more cheese for good measure.
10. Bake in a 475 degree over for about 15 minutes. Oh, I like the pans with the small holes, so air circulates and they crisp up on the bottom, but use whatever you have, even rectangle cookie sheets!

February 27, 2010
Vegetarian Gyoza

*1 cup shitake mushrooms, finely diced. I bought the dry ones at the Asian market and soaked them for 20-30 minutes in hot water.
*1/4 cup thin rice noodles, cooked.
*1/2 pound Napa cabbage (I also used some baby bok choy)
3 TBsp sesame oil
2 TBsp soy sauce
1/8 ts ground ginger
1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 ts minced garlic
gyoza wrappers (in the frozen section of the Asian market)

Dipping Sauce: 3 TBsp soy sauce, 1 ts sesame oil, 1 ts dark vinegar (Chinese black vinegar if you can find it–I used a rice wine balsamic)

Soak the mushrooms and cook the noodles, dice both finely. Blanch the cabbage in boiling water for about 30 seconds, barely tender. Drain on paper towels, then slice finely. Combine mushrooms, noodles, cabbage, oil, soy sauce and ginger. Chop the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor, add a tablespoon of oil to make sort of paste (you may need to add more oil a little at a time until it’s a good consistency). Instead of chickpeas, you could use shrimp or shredded pork or really anything you want.
Spoon some cabbage mix and chickpea paste in the gyoza wrapper and crimp-seal it with water. Double-wrapping is fine.
Now, the original recipe called for boiling for 2-3 minutes on a medium boil. This really didn’t work for me–maybe it was too high a boil. Anyway, I ended up pan-frying them in a little oil. It made them just barely crispy and nicely colored.
Serve with the easy dipping sauce.

Dump Cake–from Mary B., by way of Teresa T.
*1 can fruit pie filling–Cherry no sugar added was really good.
*1/2 to 3/4 box yellow cake mix
*1 stick butter or margarine, sliced.
I can’t believe that’s it! Use a square baking dish and layer the fruit, then the mix, then slices of butter to cover the top. Do NOT mix it. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes until browned on top.

February 22, 2010
Chicken Verde (or Green Pollo)
*6 chicken breasts (about 2 to 2.5 pounds)
*1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
*1 small can of corn
*1 jar (16 oz) of tomatillo salsa–the green one
*1 bag baby carrots
*handful of cilantro
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking pan (I just used a 8 x 12 cake pan) with aluminum foil for less clean up. Place carrots, beans, corn, cilantro, chicken and salsa in the pan, in that order. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour until chicken is done. I don’t trust my timing, so I end up cutting into the thickest piece to make sure it is no longer pink in the middle. Maybe you have a better method, say meat thermometer, whatever. The recipe I was improvising on called for the juices to be boiled and thickened with corn starch. I tried that, but it didn’t thicken up the way I wanted and it didn’t really need to thicker anyway. I just returned the sauce to the dish and was really happy with it.
I actually made two pans of this tonight for a large group and served it with Spanish rice. I was going to say I doubled the recipe, but not really since I just made two separate regular recipes.

Hazelnut Pastries
So easy and yummy you’ll want to have them for breakfast tomorrow.
*Pillsbury crescent rolls
*hazelnut spread like Nutella (next to the peanut butter in the store)
*toffee bits (with the chocolate chips on the baking aisle)
Spread a thin layer of nutella on the unfurled crescent, sprinkle toffee bits on it and roll it up. Bake about 5 minutes longer than package instructions or til they look done. I served these as an appetizer and they flew off the plate.

February 2, 2010
Spicy Applesauce

I know there are some apples for cooking and others for eating, but I don’t know which is which. I like to eat Golden Delicious ones myself, but that’s beside the point. I’ve made this with all kinds and I like it every time. I do usually pick bigger apples, though, so I don’t have to peel as many.
*5-6 large apples, cored and peeled
*1-1 ½ cups Splenda or sugar
*12 cloves
*1 cinnamon stick
–You can use a couple spoonfuls of Red Hots instead of the cloves and cinnamon. They dissolve (eventually) in the boiling and it turns the apples pink!
Barely cover the apple pieces in water and bring to a boil. Add Splenda and spices and boil some more, stirring often. It will take 30 minutes or so and you may need to add a little more water if it boils off before the apples are softened. They need to be soft enough to mash with a potato masher (or fork). I like mine a little lumpy so I don’t mash them all the way, but to each her own. I have an old-fashioned Tupperware masher that is perfect for the job, but I don’t know if they still make them. Be sure to remove the cloves and cinnamon stick before serving. The applesauce is delicious hot or cold, or room temperature, for that matter.

January 31, 2010
Cheesy Goodness

This is good because you can use different combinations and as long as it’s cheesy, it will be good. Hence, the name. It’s a variation on Mom’s unrecipe. The batch I made today would serve twelve to fifteen easy. I had ten people, some seconds plus leftovers.
*3 pounds ground meat (any beef, sausage, even turkey, but not bison–I just don’t like bison so if you try it with bison, don’t tell me.)
*4 sliced zucchini (or use whatever veggies you have–peppers, yellow squash, spinach, etc)
*6-8 cups shredded cheese–today I used a combination of cheddar, Parmesan, and Monterey Jack, but if you want it to really stick together, use Mozzarella.
*16 oz small shaped pasta–this is more than a box. Today it was tricolor wagon wheels and rotini.
*2 cans or jars pasta sauce (24-ish oz each)–Hunts traditional. I’ve made sauce from scratch before, but in a casserole, this is a-ok.
*fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
*3 Tbsp. butter and non-stick cooking spray
Set a big pot of water to boil with 1 Tbsp butter and some salt. Preheat the oven to about 425. Brown the meat with salt and pepper then drain. Saute sliced zucchini half at a time in a tablespoon butter each time, add salt, pepper and fennel while cooking til not crunchy anymore, but not wilty. The only way I know how to tell when it’s done is to taste a slice. Cook pasta al dente and drain. Spray your casserole dishes with Pam or the like and layer sauce, meat, zucchini, pasta, cheese until you end up with a sauce and cheese layer to end on top. Bake until melted, about 20-30 minutes.

January 18, 2010
Chicken Chicken Noodle Soup
I think chicken noodle soup never has enough chicken in it so I like to put too much chicken in when I make it. Use your biggest pot–I first put this in a 4-quart pot, but it would’ve done better in a 6 or 8 quart pot.
rotisserie chicken precooked from supermarket
6-8 cups chicken stock (bought broth or bouillon cubes with water is fine)
small onion, chopped finely
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
4 tbsp butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
egg noodles
bay leaf
fresh rosemary (that’s what I had on hand)
Saute onions in butter until clear, then add carrots and celery until you can smell them (aromatics!). Add half of the broth and herbs and bring to a boil. Add about half the package of egg noodles–more or less if you like–and enough broth to cover the noodles properly. When the noodles are ready, add the cream of chicken soup and the rest of the broth and bring back to boil. Add large bite-size pieces of chicken up to 30 minutes before eating. Take the skin off the chicken and tear it all off the bone–I like light and dark meat in there. You probably will need to add water as it simmers. Don’t eat the bay leaf.

January 14, 2010
I’m pretty sure you can put anything in a crescent roll and it will be good. I will be testing this theory–alone and with others. Stay tuned.

January 2010
Coconut Rice
I use instant white rice, cream of coconut, cinnamon and water. Boil coconut and 2 cans of water on stovetop. Add 2 cans of rice and reduce heat to simmer for 15-25 minutes. Stir at frequent intervals and continue adding water when the liquid is cooked in. Add a sprinkling of cinnamon while simmering–just enough to tint the rice slightly. You’ll have to taste to tell when the consistency is right–the rice should be mushy, but still hold it’s shape. It will thicken up some as it cools, so make sure it is plenty moist.
Serve hot or chilled, alone or with fruit and whipped cream.

Tex-Mex Chicken Chowder
2 pounds chicken
1 onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can mexicorn
2 cups milk
1-2 Monterey Jack cheese
handful of baby spinach
handful of cilantro
Stir fry bite-size chicken pieces in a little oil, onions, salt and pepper. Add chicken, onions, soups, tomatoes, corn and 2-3 cans of water (fill soup cans with hot water and swish it around to get all the soup out). Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes to one hour. Stir at frequent intervals and add more water if necessary. 10 minutes before serving, add milk and cheese. When it is heated through, stir in spinach and cilantro.
Spice it up with a small can of diced green chilies. Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips.

Seasoned Potato Wedges
4 potatoes (think 1 per serving)
Cajun seasoning
Olive oil
course salt
Slice the potatoes into wedges, 6 to 8 per potato. Dry with paper towel and spread them out on a baking sheet, single layer. I always cover the sheet with aluminum foil, but you do what you like. Sprinkle generously with Cajun seasoning. When you think you have enough, put a little more on. Swish around the olive oil and toss the potatoes to cover them and the baking surface. Sprinkle salt on now or midway through baking (when they are sizzling). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until light golden brown. Toss once or twice during the baking. I realized toward the end of my baking this time that the pan didn’t quite fit in the oven the way I had it turned and the oven door was slightly ajar. So it might not have taken that long if the door had been completely shut.


One Response to “Recipes”

  1. […] With one friend observing a vegan Lenten fast, it was a good time to try out a new recipe for vegetarian gyoza–Japanese […]

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