Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hearty Minestrone

Soups are hard to write recipes for becaus, as I have said before, my goal is usually to use up what I have on hand rather than follow recipes to a tee.  So if you have sweet potatoes instead of carrots or green beans instead of zucchini-- then by all means, use THEM!  Don't ever be boxed in to recipes, ESPECIALLY soups.  That said- here is this particular days' variation.

1 pound mild Italian Sausage
2 med. onions, diced
2 med. green peppers, diced
1 T. minced garlic
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, cut into pieces

(Brown the meat with the tiniest bit of oil.  Add everything else and saute until the onions are translucent.

Then add:

14 oz. water
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 can stewed (or crushed) tomatoes
4 T. sugar
1 jar spaghetti sauce  (I used a homecanned quart jar so I don't know if that is more or less than storebought, but they look about the same.)
1 T. italian seasoning
1 t. salt
A few turns of the peppermill
1 bay leaf

This you let simmer for a while and then, 20-30 minutes before serving add

2 cups of water
1 cup of pasta

When the pasta is cooked through, discard the bay leaf and serve!

PS.  Before adding the last water and pasta, if you have a smaller family you can divide this large portion of soup into smaller portions to freeze for later. Then simply thaw and some pasta and water and ta-da-  DINNER FAST!

PPS.  Soups always taste SO much better if given time to meld.  So if you can manage to make the soup in the morning and put it in the fridge, that is how soups love to be treated.  Even still, it is a great soup. 

Lemony Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

I really love zucchini muffins. You know the ones I mean~ the brown and heavily spiced kind sometimes dotted with walnuts. The banana muffins' brother. But sometimes, you just want something....different.

Well, THESE zucchini muffins certainly are that.  They are barely distant cousins to the zucchini muffins we know and love.  The zucchini makes them moist but it is the lemon and blueberries that really stand out for flavor.  They have only subtle sweetness, so if you prefer a very sweet muffin- use a bit more sugar.

These will be great for winter muffins, using frozen shredded zucchini from the summer and the frozen berries I put up in July.  Plus-they are just so sunny looking.

Here is what you do:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ( to one cup, depending on preference) white sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 (8 ounce) container yogurt (I used plain because that is what I had on hand.  Lemon would be awesome.)
  • 6 T butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  •  2 T. lemon juice 
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries   
  • Here is what you do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. 
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Mix zucchini, yogurt, butter, egg, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest in a separate bowl; pour yogurt mixture into well. Gently stir yogurt, slowly incorporating the flour mixture until just blended. Batter may be slightly lumpy. Add berries.  Pour batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.(I usually plop one or two berries on top of each cup of batter to make for prettier muffins too.  You don't have to-but can.)
  • Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer Squash Boats


The problem with my cooking is this:  I believe in the waste not, want not theory.  So I throw a little bit of this in, throw a little bit of that into recipes in order to clean my fridge.  This is how I make sure we use things up without being wasteful and also how I have taught myself to cook (learning what works and what emphatically DOESN'T!).

This method is great for our palates, not-so-great for writing recipes.

So here is the how-to for making zucchini boats, with the superfluous stuff in italics.

You'll need:

  • 2-3 zucchini or summer squash
  • 1 pound meat of some sort (I used a jar of homecanned ground beef in tomato sauce but sausage would be good!  Or chicken!  Or beef cubes!  Kielbasa works great too!)
  •  1 large onion, diced
  •  1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, depending upon your tastes (I used two)
  • any other veggies you might like or have to use up:  I used some leftover roasted delicata squash, zucchini and potatoes from the other night and two carrots that we pulled up for Sketch Tuesday that I promised we would eat for supper (our first pulled up garden carrots create quite the excitement around here!) 
  • spaghetti sauce, about a 1 cup. (Mine was canned with the beef and I also added five fresh small tomatoes.
  • Cheese of some sort, shredded (any would be good.  I used mozzerella because that is what I had.)
  • Seasonings:  a few pinches each of salt, pepper and italian seasoning
Here's what you do:

Cut in half 2-3 zucchini lengthwise and hollow out seeds with a spoon or scoop, leaving the bottom intact.  Place on a cookie sheet or baking pan and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, brown meat (and discard some fat if necessary) (OR use canned beef, like me!) then saute onion, green pepper, carrots, garlic in mixture until onions and peppers are nearly ready.  (This is when I added my roasted leftover veggies) Add sauce and a few fresh tomato hunks (if you want) and simmer for a few minutes some of the water is cooked off.

Fill up your squash boats with your beef mixture and top with mozzerella and put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the meat mixture is nicely browned and the zucchini is cooked.