thesoupfairy: (Default)
Meatball Noodle Soup

Kinda not the right time of year for this one, but my family is thrilled because it's a favorite.

A friend of mine told me today that I "cheat" because I occasionally use things like frozen meatballs and bouillon cubes. LOL Hey, I love cooking with 100% fresh and pure ingredients... but it's not always going to happen. I live in the real world where what I eat is important but not the most important thing. I'm a full-time student, a full-time wife, and a full-time mother.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cups carrots, chopped (however you like; I dice mine)

  • 2 cups celery, chopped

  • 2 cups onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

  • 12 cups beef stock (or 12 beef bouillon cubes in 12 cups of water)

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 package frozen homestyle egg noodles

  • 2 lb package frozen meatballs

  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes


Directions

Sauté veggies in oil until they begin to soften.

Add beef stock and seasonings. Bring to a boil and keep at a low boil for 10 minutes or so.

Add noodles and return to a boil. Boil 20 minutes or until noodles are done.

Add meatballs and tomatoes. Return to a boil and simmer until meatballs are heated through.
thesoupfairy: (Default)
Well, folks, something's got to give for me! Between being in school full-time and taking care of my family full-time and trying to maintain my physical and emotional health, I need to find ways to cut myself some slack.

So I'm doing an "investment cooking" thing. I'm going to start off with cooking three meals tomorrow, and then four meals the day after that. You might choose to cook it all in one day, or you might choose to just cook any of these recipes for dinner one night, freezing half for another day. However you do it, the idea here is to minimize your efforts and maximize your output. It doesn't take twice as much effort to make a double-batch of something, which you can then freeze all or half of for another meal.

When serving these pre-cooked frozen meals, try adding a crisp salad, crusty bread, and a simple dessert like ice cream or fresh fruit... depending on what the meal is, of course. It just takes moments to add such a simple touch, but it will make a world of difference.

Investment Cooking: Plan Day 1


(Sensational Cheese Steak Sandwiches, Turkey Chili, and Chicken Milano)
  • Chop & Prepare:
    • Slice 2 pounds of sirloin steak into thin strips (if you didn't have it sliced at the store).
    • Slice 1 pound of fresh mushrooms thinly.
    • Seed 2 bell peppers and cut into strips.
    • Seed and dice 2 bell peppers.
    • Slice 2 medium onions.
    • Dice 2 medium onions.
    • Coarsely chop 14 cloves garlic.
    • Dice 4 medium carrots.
    • Dice 4 Anaheim chile peppers.
    • Dice 4 jalapeño peppers.
    • Chop one cup of sun-dried tomatoes.
    • Chop 4 tablespoons fresh basil.
  • Start the Sensational Cheese Steak Sandwiches
    • Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the sirloin strips and cook until browned. Add the mushrooms, the bell pepper strips, the sliced onions, and 4 cloves of the garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables start to become tender, about 5 minutes.
    • In a slow-cooker, combine 4 cups of beef broth with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup dry red wine.
    • Transfer the beef and vegetables to the slow cooker and stir to blend. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until beef is extremely tender.
    • Clean and dry skillet for later.
  • Start the Turkey Chili
    • While beef and vegetables are cooking in the slow-cooker, get out your big heavy-bottomed soup pot.
    • Heat 4 tablespoons oil in soup pot over medium heat. Begin to brown 2 pounds of ground turkey in the oil. Add the diced onions, carrots, bell peppers, 6 cloves of garlic, and the chile peppers. Continue to cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened (about 7 minutes).
    • Add 1/4 cup chili powder, 2 tablespoons cumin powder, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 4 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder. Stir for 30 seconds, but be sure not to let the spices scorch.
    • Stir in 4 cans pinto beans, a 29-ounce can tomato sauce, a 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, 2 cups beef broth, and 3 cups frozen corn.
    • Bring to a high simmer. Lower heat and simmer, partially covered, until thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • Start the Chicken Milano
    • While chili is cooking, in a large saucepan over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; add 4 cloves garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes and 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add 2 cups heavy cream and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    • While sauce is simmering, sprinkle 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 4 tablespoons oil and sauté chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a cutting board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.
    • In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil; stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
    • Clean saucepan for later.
  • Returning to the Turkey Chili
    • Remove bay leaves, divide into separate freezer containers, and let cool. When cool enough, freeze. (If you are serving Turkey Chili for tonight's dinner, keep one of the containers refrigerated for dinnertime.)
    • Clean soup pot for later.
  • Returning to the Chicken Milano
    • Divide chicken and sauce between two freezer containers, and let cool. When cool enough, freeze. (If you are serving Chicken Milano for tonight's dinner, keep one of the containers refrigerated for dinnertime.)
  • Returning to the Sensational Cheese Steak Sandwich
    • Remove the beef and vegetables from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Divide the beef and vegetables between two separate freezer containers; divide broth between the two containers. Let cool, then freeze. (If you are serving Sensational Cheese Steak Sandwiches for tonight's dinner, keep one of the containers refrigerated for dinnertime.)
  • What are you serving for tonight's dinner?
    • If you're serving Sensational Cheese Steak Sandwiches for dinner:
      • If you're starting from frozen, remove from freezer to defrost about 24 hours beforehand. Follow food safety rules for safe defrosting!
      • An hour and a half before you want to serve dinner:
        • Preheat oven to 400°F.
        • Wash and scrub 4 medium baking potatoes with cold water; prick deeply with a fork several times and bake until tender, about 45 minutes.
        • Increase oven temperature to 450°F.
        • Return beef, vegetables, and broth to a saucepan. Warm over medium until heated through.
        • While heating, slice a loaf of French bread lengthwise like a sub sandwich. Combine the 1/2 cup prepared horseradish and 1/2 cup brown mustard; spread onto the inside of the loaf. Overlap five slices of provolone on either side of the loaf.
        • Remove beef and vegetables from broth with a slotted spoon. Fill the loaf with the beef and vegetables.
        • Cool for 15 minutes before cutting in half lengthwise and then into wedges.
        • Brush potato wedges with olive oil and place skin-side down on a baking sheet. Set aside.
        • In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Sprinkle over potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
        • Bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Keep hot.
        • Close the loaf. For a sandwich with soft bread, wrap with aluminum foil; for a crustier bread, don't wrap. Bake for 10-15 minutes alongside the potatoes. Slice into servings and serve with the broth for dipping with your Saloon Fries on the side.
    • If you're serving Turkey Chili for dinner:
      • If you're starting from frozen, remove from freezer to defrost about 24 hours beforehand. Follow food safety rules for safe defrosting!
      • Heat in slow cooker or soup pot until hot enough to serve.
      • Serve with cornbread; or over noodles for "Cincinnati Style" chili; or with tortilla or corn chips, sour cream, grated cheese, etc. for "Frito Pie" chili.
    • If you're serving Chicken Milano for dinner:
      • If you're starting from frozen, remove from freezer to defrost about 24 hours beforehand. Follow food safety rules for safe defrosting!
      • Reheat chicken and sauce in covered skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often to avoid scorching. Add milk if sauce is too thick.
      • While chicken is reheating, prepare an 8-ounce package of dried fettuccine according to package directions.
      • Serve chicken and sauce over noodles, topped with freshly grated Parmesan.
thesoupfairy: (steak)
Steak!

This basic marinade can be altered by changing the spices and herbs. This is how I made it today. Chuck eye is similar to ribeye, almost as tender and slightly less expensive. Choose bright red meat with nice white marbling. Choose a steak less than 1-1/4 inches thick, especially if broiling, because thicker steaks will not get warm in the middle before the outside is done.

Tamari is real soy sauce - most cheap soy sauce is a sad wheat-based imitation. Go for the real deal if you can.

Prep: 5 minutes
Marinate: 4+ hours
Cook: 6-14 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
  • 4 chuck-eye steaks

  • 1-2 teaspoons steak seasoning blend (today I used Spicy Montreal Steak blend)

  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced


Directions

Combine all ingredients but the steaks, stir well, pour over steaks in a shallow dish. Let stand to marinate in the fridge for at least four hours.

Bring steaks to room temperature in marinade (about half an hour on the countertop should do it). This is very important because it gives the inside of the steak a better chance to cook before the outside gets done.

If you've got a grill, by all means fire it up! If you're working with an oven broiler like I am, preheat the broiler.

A broiler pan will let the fat that renders off your steaks have someplace to go - fat is good, for sure, but if your steak sits in it, it will cause the steak to burn. If you don't have a broiler pan, you can use a shallow baking dish or cookie sheet, but you may want to move the steak to a different spot with less fat as you cook it.

So you start off with your steaks on the grill or on a broiler pan about 4 inches from the heat. Cook on first side, turning once the top starts to look done. After turning, you'll cook for about the same length of time as the first side. You can watch the edges of the meat to see how done it's getting: when the edges go from red to pink, the inside is probably moving from rare to medium-rare; when the edges go from pink to brown, the inside is probably moving to medium. Another good way to tell is to test the "fleshiness" of the steak - pinch the muscle between your index finger and thumb. That's what a steak cooked to medium feels like. If you like your steaks rare or medium-rare, you want to stop cooking the steak when it's softer than that. Don't cut into the steak to test doneness unless you absolutely have to - this lets valuable juices escape.

When you think it's done enough, remove the broiler pan from the oven and test for doneness again. When it's done to your liking, it is totally not time to eat it! Let the steak rest for about 5 minutes - until it stops steaming and the juices stop running off - before serving.





Twice-Baked Potatoes

Everybody's favorite. Cook and chop a couple of slices of bacon to add if you like.

Cook: 60-90 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
  • 4 baking potatoes

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)

  • 1/4 cup milk, half & half, or heavy cream

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Directions

Scrub potatoes. Bake for 60-75 minutes in a 375°F oven - check for doneness by squeezing gently. The potato flesh should have a bit of give to it when it's done.

Cut top one-third off potatoes. Scrape potato flesh from cut-off tops into a bowl. Scoop potato flesh out of skins carefully, leaving a 1/4" thick wall so skins stay intact. Heat butter and milk/cream until butter is melted. (This is ALWAYS the key to great mashed potatoes!) Mash potato with remaining ingredients, reserving a bit of cheese to top. Fill potato skins with mashed potatoes and top with reserved cheddar.

Return to oven until browned on top - turn on the broiler if you like to better brown the top.




Tonight's Spinach Salad


Prep: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

  • 4 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves, stems removed if necessary

  • 1/4 of a small red onion, sliced thinly

  • 6 fresh mushrooms, sliced thinly

  • 1/4 cup tamari

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider, white, balsamic, rice, whatever you like)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced thinly


Directions

Rub entire inner surface of serving bowl with cut side of garlic clove. Toss spinach, onion, and mushrooms in bowl. (Thinly sliced red bell pepper is also lovely in this salad, but my local grocery store didn't have any while I was there this week.)

Place tamari, vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a jar, cover, and shake well. Toss with salad and top with egg slices.
thesoupfairy: (garlic)
This was my contribution to my family potluck tonight.

Maka's Perfect Pot Roast

This feeds a crowd. If you don't have a crowd to feed, you can dice the leftovers, add a bit of water, and simmer it into hash.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 9 hours
Servings: 10

Ingredients
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled but left whole

  • 4-6 potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into chunks

  • 4 carrots, peeled or scrubbed and cut into chunks

  • 4 celery stalks, cut into chunks

  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (4 pounds), cut into quarters

  • 2 cup espresso or very strong coffee

  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

  • 1/4 cup cold water


Directions

Place the vegetables in the bottom of crockpot, tossing to mix. Arrange roast pieces on top of vegetables. Combine coffee and tamari, pour over roast.

Cover and cook on low heat for 9 hours.

Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter with a slotted spoon.

Strain solids from cooking liquid and pour into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Whisk into boiling liquid, and keep at a high simmer while whisking until thickened.
thesoupfairy: (chopping)
Well, I took a few days off from cooking dinner. Sometimes I am just too overwhelmed to manage anything at all - those are pizza call-in nights or nights I send my husband to the store for "junk food night". And sometimes we end up going to someone's house or going out to dinner or something like that.

Tonight's dinner is one of the very easiest things I make. It's been a while, and my son has been driving me crazy asking for it. Really, truly, I promise to take more pictures soon!

Shepherd's Pie

Make this when you don't have a lot of time or energy for standing in the kitchen.

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • homemade mashed potatoes or 3 pouches of instant roasted garlic mashed potatoes, prepared according to package directions

  • 1 pound ground beef, turkey, or lamb

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1-1/2 cups frozen "seasoning blend" vegetables or equivalent amount of diced onion, celery, and bell pepper

  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes

  • 1 beef bouillon cube

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese


Directions

Start potatoes and garlic cooking if you're making homemade mashed potatoes for the top.

Brown meat (in a little oil if it needs it - depends on how lean it is) in large heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic and seasoning blend and continue cooking a few minutes. Add remaining frozen vegetables, tomatoes, bouillon cube, Worcestershire, and seasonings. Allow to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F and finish making your mashed potatoes. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef and vegetable mixture to casserole dish. Heat the remaining liquid to a high simmer again. Stir cornstarch into a couple of tablespoons of cold water until smooth. Whisk into simmering liquid and continue cooking, whisking, until thickened. Add a small amount of this sauce to the casserole dish - too much liquid will run over the sides while it's baking. Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the beef mixture, smoothing top. Sprinkle with cheese. I recommend putting your casserole dish on a baking sheet to catch any runover. Bake 30 minutes.

Let stand 10-15 minutes after removing from oven before serving.
thesoupfairy: (garlic)
Oops, I forgot the pictures again! Hope you guys can be patient with my process here! We went to our son's mother's house this evening to celebrate her birthday with her, and I almost forgot to post anything at all.

This is a favorite - it makes everybody happy when I make it.

Maka's Mealoaf

I use this same mixture for my meatballs, too! It's delicious. (Decrease the baking time if you're making meatballs - the length will depend on the size of the meatballs; just check them often.)

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5-10 minutes
Bake: 60 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced

  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound ground round

  • 1 pound ground lamb or pork

  • 1-1/2 cups oats

  • 1/3 cup catsup

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 4-1/2 tablespoons milk

  • 1/2 cup catsup


Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat oil in large skillet. Sauté celery, onion, and garlic in hot oil.

Combine all ingredients except last 1/2 cup catsup. If the mixture isn't quite thick and sticky enough, add some more oats or some fine breadcrumbs. Shape into a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf in a 13-inch by 9-inch pan.

Bake for 45 minutes. Spread last 1/2 cup catsup on top of loaf and return to oven for 15 minutes more.

Remove to platter, let stand 10 minutes before slicing.




Maka's Mashed Potatoes

These are my basic mashed potatoes. I make them often.

Prep: 15 minutes (or more, depending on how fast you peel potatoes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 4 pounds potatoes, preferably the golden ones

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled but left whole

  • 1 stick butter

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream, half and half, or milk

  • salt and pepper to taste



  • Optional:

  • sour cream

  • chives

  • cooked crumbled bacon

  • grated cheese




Directions


Peel the potatoes or just scrub them, as your family prefers. Dice and drop into a bowl of cold water as you go. Peel garlic cloves but leave them whole.

Bring a large pot filled three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil. Drain cold water from potatoes and add them carefully to the pot with a slotted spoon. Don't burn yourself!! Add the garlic cloves.

Stir occasionally until boiling hard again, then reduce heat to medium and boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Be sure to stir now and then. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Heat butter and cream in empty pot until butter is melted and cream is hot - but do not let it boil or the cream will curdle.

Mash potatoes, adding seasonings, optional additions, and cream mixture, a little at a time, until smooth and fluffy.
thesoupfairy: (spices)
This is one of my family's favorite meals. I totally forgot to take pictures of the whole process!

Smothered Steak

Tender, juicy beef cooked slowly in a thick gravy. Serve with rice, noodles, or potatoes for a satisfying meal. Our favorite combination is this served over hot buttered egg noodles with steamed broccoli on the side.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2-3 hours
Servings: 6

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds steak, cut into strips (or 2 lbs stew meat)

  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 6 ounces dark beer

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup

  • 1 soup can of water

  • 1 package brown gravy mix


Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine flour and pepper and coat steak strips with the mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe Dutch oven and brown the floured steak in the oil. Remove steak to plate and scrape the bottom of the pan, deglazing with the beer.

Combine remaining ingredients, mixing well. Stir in the steak strips.

Bring to a boil. Cover and place in oven. Bake for 2-3 hours, stirring often.

This was one of the times I opened up the oven to stir tonight:

Smothered Steak
thesoupfairy: (Default)
The Soup Fairy

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