White bean, kale and potato soup

Now here’s a versatile soup that can be made utilizing a few basic ingredients;

Kale, onions, potatoes, white beans, veg./chicken stock, corn kernels, salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil.

It can be made vegan or not. No white beans? Substitute navy beans.

No kale? Substitute spinach.

No potatoes? No worries.

No fresh corn kernels (who does in winter?) – use frozen.

Choose between vegetable stock or chicken stock (or bone broth).

Add sauteed mushrooms or not.

It’s truly a ‘use what you have’ soup!

Jennifer Wurst - Potato, kale, white bean soup

Half of one small onion – chopped.

One or two heads of garlic – chopped.

One good handful of kale – chopped.

5-6 peeled and chopped potatoes (depends on size of potato)

I.5 cups of white beans (or one can – rinsed)

4 cups of stock – veg./chicken.

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernals.

Juice of one lemon.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Olive oil.

First take out your heavy bottom soup pot. Drizzle in some olive oil.

Add the chopped onion and saute until slightly browned. Add garlic. Saute a bit more…

Add in kale and maybe a little more olive oil – if needed.

Saute together until the kale softens. Add in potatoes. Give it all a good stir…and then add in the stock.

Add a few good pinches of salt. Freshly cracked pepper. Stir again.

Bring to a slow simmer, then continue simmering until potatoes are cooked through. About 20 minutes – give or take a few minutes …

Add in corn and lemon juice.

Taste for and add more salt/pepper if need be.

You can also add in dried oregano, basil or parsley. If you like to cook with wine – white wine would be nice to add in after the onions are sauteed. Give a little splash before adding garlic…

Serve with warm rolls/bread/pita – whatever you have…

Add a salad and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal!

Enjoy.

(:

 

herbed wild rice & quinoa stuffing

So, while I’m not vegan, I am vegetarian and have been for nearly 34 years – this was a choice. My yeast free, dairy free, gluten free needs (more recently) – not so much…so, as a result of liking to eat and liking to eat well, I cook.

A lot.

Here’s a delicious gluten, dairy and yeast free recipe for ‘stuffing’. I finished it with mushroom gravy and served it alongside mashed potatoes and vegan pot pie. So good.

Let me know what you think!

wild-ricequinoa-stuffing

Herbed Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing

Ingredients;

2 tablespoons olive oil + a bit more for greasing the baking dish and drizzling…

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 medium Granny smith apple – peeled and diced

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste (I used about 3 good pinches)

1/2 cup dryish white wine – use one you’d like to enjoy while cooking…(:  Sauv blanc or chard works well. Or if you can’d do the wine – the juice of one lemon + a little more…

4 cups low salt vegetable stock

2 cups wild rice blend

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well

1 cup cranberries – chopped

1 cup raw pecans, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley + 1/4 cup more for garnish.

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, minced

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat bottom – saute onion until slightly browned, add celery and stir occasionally until soft – about 5 minutes or so. Add the apples, garlic, thyme and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for one more minute. Stir in the wine, then add the broth. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the wild rice blend and reduce heat to a medium low and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 34-40 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and stir in quinoa and cover again. Cook until quinoa is tender, about 15 more minutes – or until water is absorbed.

Stir in the cranberries, pecans, 1/2 cup parsley and sage. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Remove from heat. Blend well, drizzle with olive oil and finish with chopped parsley and serve – unless grains need a bit more cooking…

*The next step can be omitted if grains are already fully cooked. If not, see below;  If you want to make ahead stop here and reheat using the following step.

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub a large (9″ X 13″ ) casserole dish with a little olive oil. Lightly scoop the rice mixture into the casserole dish, lightly mounding instead of mashing it down.

Bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and finish with chopped parsley. Serve.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Enjoy!

It’s salsa time!

Homegrown tomatoes are amazing! They are juicy, plump, packed with vitamins and actually taste like a tomato. What a difference the sun makes!

And this summer we’ve had nothing but sun, so my garden is brimming with ripe, red, juicy tomatoes screaming to be eaten…so what to do with all those lovelies? Make salsa fresco!

tomatoes

It’s super simple and takes about 15-20 minutes.

Here’s what you’ll need;

Use the freshest of tomatoes for this recipe. I like the heirloom varieties best, though they are on the pricy side if your not growing you own, so if they are out of your price range, then try to find the tomatoes that are heavy in weight, firm to hold, yet soft to the touch – hopefully that makes sense! Whatever your preference with tomatoes, go for the best and this will make all the difference between an amazingly refreshing salsa and a ho-hum one…

So, here you go;

1.5 cups tomatoes (about 2-3 medium) – seeded and finely diced. With very fresh tomatoes, the seeds practically fall out while cutting into slices. I cut tomatoes into slices (then seed), then chop.

1 good handful of chopped cilantro +/- depending on taste

1/4 of a small white onion finely chopped +/- depending on taste

1/2 of a fresh jalepeno or serrano chili (with seeds), finely chopped – or use more for a more spicy salsa…

fresh squeezed lime juice from about 2 limes. (again, use more if you like)

1-2 good pinches of kosher salt

Mix all together in a bowl and readjust seasonings to your liking.

salsa

Eat immediately or let rest for a few hours before serving. This salsa will keep for a few days refrigerated, but best to enjoy within a day or two.

Enjoy!!

coconut curry with tofu

Curry. I like it a lot.

It can be hot or not so hot. It can be red, green or yellow. It can be a paste or a powder. You can serve it with meat (or not), veggies, tofu, nuts, chickpeas or a mixture of any of the above – it’s truly a versatile dish – and a simple one.

This recipe (if you can call it that) is always a little different for me, I just use whatever I have on hand…mix it with coconut milk, vegetable broth, some fresh herbs (typically cilantro) and finish with freshly squeezed lime juice and a delicious dinner is served!

Most curry dishes (in my opinion) are pretty much the curry base mixed with the ingredients of choice plus coconut milk and stock. Oh, and lime juice. Must have the lime juice.

So if your wondering what to have for dinner, why not try a simple curry?

You can find pre-made curry pastes or curry powders in just about any grocery store, for this recipe I used a red curry paste – I prefer the paste for a dish like this. Think you have nothing on hand to eat? Think again. Not a lot is needed for curries, just a bit of creativity and a little time…

I didn’t have much on hand,

veggies

(I’m so excited to be in my garden again, this post was written before my garden was in full force) – so I utilized what I did have;  one red pepper, broccoli, carrots, cashews, tofu, onions, fresh parsley and limes. Basically a few staples.

Here’s a few more ideas for curried dishes – sweet potato, spinach, kale, fresh ginger, garlic…try using frozen veggies too if fresh aren’t available. No limes? Use lemons. No cilantro? Use parsley. Fish also tastes divine curried…as do a variety of meats. So, go crazy. Get out your knife, your stock, your coconut milk and whatever you have in your fridge and get currying. (:

While you are preparing the curried veggies don’t forget to start cooking your rice or rice noodles so it is  ready when your curry is ready…

First, dice

cubed tofu

sauteed tofu

and sauté your tofu (or meat of choice), until golden and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

sauteed veggies

In same pan sauté onions in a bit of olive oil (or butter), until golden, add carrots (or any ‘hard’ veggie), until slightly softened, then add your ‘softer’ veggies like peppers, broccoli or greens – sauté for a few more minutes.

add coconut milk

Then I push the veggies to the sides of the pan, add the curry paste (amount depends upon how spicy you want it) and coconut milk (1 can) and mix well until all is blended – all the while simmering over a low heat…then add about 1 – 1.5 cups of veggie stock and mix well. Add cashews and the sauteed tofu and simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Salt to taste, add fresh herbs (parsley or cilantro) and finished with freshly squeezed lime juice.

IMG_4251_2

Portion out a bit of rice (or rice noodles), then top with the curried veggies (or whatever it was you curried) and enjoy.

top view - served

Salt and lime to taste.

Easy. Delicious. Healthy. Versatile. Inexpensive.

served 1

What’s not to love?

Enjoy.

grown up grilled cheese

Every now and again I’m in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich… not just cheese, melted on bread, no, I like mine with veggies, herbs and cheese or any combination thereof. Grown-up style…

This wasn’t a ‘planned meal’ by any means, I just used what I had on hand – a bit of fresh parsley, broccoli, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Pesto would have been good too or fresh basil, the options are endless – use what you have – get creative, have fun with an old (and easy) favorite!

Cheese, bread and veggies – what could be better? Are you vegan? Well, then, use vegan cheese!

ingredients

Simply saute veggies in a bit of olive oil, add a pinch of two of salt and pepper.

saute

 

Butter one side of each slice of bread (whatever kind of bread you like).

Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, onto a skillet over medium heat.

Place sauteed veggies on bread first, then top with cheese…

melt cheese

cover with lid (for a short time to help cheese melt), then top with second slice of bread, and flip to brown the other side.

Remove from pan, let rest a few minutes and enjoy.

Grown-up grilled cheese, yum!

Need a summer inspired sandwich – go here!

What’s your favorite sandwich?

Enjoy.

mango lime pops

My oh my, how time flies by…

It’s tax season here in the good ‘old U.S. of A and I’ve been consumed with organizing and entering our business receipts, sales, costs of goods sold, and all that good stuff that accompanies tax preparation…hence, my absence here…

Now, if I’d had the time throughout the year (or chose to make the time) to enter all those facts and figures each month, well, I’d have been here sooner…but, I didn’t, so I had to dedicate many days (and a few nights) to that ‘tax stack’…thankfully though, that mission is complete, and now I can get on with more fun things, like popsicle making – homemade popsicles of course!

I can’t believe its taken me so long to make these luscious lovelies. Two mangos, a bit of sugar water, limes, kosher salt and voila, incredibly refreshing and tasty popsicles – seriously tasty! The most challenging part? Waiting for them to completely freeze…

Here’s how it happened;

I had come across a fabulous book a few years ago titled, ‘jam it, pickle it, cure it and other cooking projects’, by Karen Solomon. It has all the basic ‘stuff’ (think mustard, mayo, crackers, marshmallows…) and then some. Simple ingredients, easy to follow directions and beautiful photos, plus recipes for popsicles and homemade candy –  what’s not to love? I’ve tried a few of the recipes thus far, and look forward to trying many, many more, though popsicles were still on the, ‘to do soon’, list…so, when the opportunity presented itself, we made them!

Mangos happened to be on sale, there was a foot of snow on the ground, skies had been grey for days, more snow was coming … we needed something summer like – pronto – it was time to make the popsicles.

Mango lime popsicles.

popsicles

Here’s what you’ll need and what to do;

Mango and Lime Pops (click to print recipe!)

Ingredients

limes and mango

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. water

2 small ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cut into chunks

1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)

IMG_3600

1/2 – 1 tsp. cayenne pepper

pinch of kosher salt

What to do;

Make a simp syrup by combining the sugar and water in  small saucepan and warming over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely.

Combine the syrup, mangoes, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and salt in a blender or food processor.

in blender

Blend well, pour into molds (stainless if you got ’em), and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

in popsicle molds

These can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Either store in the molds or release and wrap well in waxed paper and then store in a marked sealable plastic bag.

Best part, they aren’t so terribly full of sugar that you couldn’t enjoy them for breakfast. (:

popsicles

Enjoy.

roasted almonds

I’m attempting to make hand made chocolate bars for Valentines day and was in need of roasted almonds…I had almonds, but not roasted almonds…after a quick (well, not so quick with my dial-up internet connection – I know, what?) search online, I realized these smokey beauties would be a cinch to make.

olive oil and salt covered almonds

All you need is a bit of kosher salt, some olive oil and a cookie sheet.

I placed a cup of raw almonds in a bowl, drizzled with a bit of olive oil (just enough to coat each nut), threw in a good pinch of kosher salt – tossed well and then placed nuts onto a baking sheet.

Baking sheet went into a pre-heated 400 degree F. oven and baked for 10 minutes.

roasted almonds 2

Voila – roasted almonds.

roasted almonds

Such a simple snack to make!

Roasted nuts will keep for weeks in an airtight container…

Do you have a favorite recipe for roasted nuts?

If so, please share below!

Enjoy.

roasted beets

Roasted beets

These sublime beauties are a cinch to prepare.

Really.

In years past I’ve grown and harvested many, many beets;

veggies

though last years erratic weather prevented an abundant crop, sadly, I had only a few…

beet in ground

so, off to the farmers market I go!

unwashed beets

Wash, scrub (if necessary) and remove green tops. (Steam or saute greens with a bit of olive oil, don’t just throw those beauties away…)

beets in sink

tops and bottoms removed

I usually cut off the tops and tails of each beet. These beets I felt I needed to cut off a bit more than usual…if they are freshly harvested, I cut a much smaller area…

close-up before packing

Dampen each beet slightly with a bit of water and then wrap in foil.

wrapping each

I prefer wrapping each beet individually, though you could also prepare a foil packet and roast a few together. The key to either preparation is to be sure the foil is sealed. You want to be sure to keep all those lovely juices in!

Length of time depends on the size and freshness of the beet. Smaller beets take less time, larger beets, more. Also, the fresher the beet, the less time is takes to roast…smaller beets can take up to 25 minutes, while larger ones, up to an hour.

peeled and cubed

A beet is roasted once it can be easily pierced with a fork or tip of a small knife.

Now, you ask, “At what temperature do you roast?” Well, this can also fluctuate…beets are flexible with temperature…so, feel free to roast your beets while the rest of dinner is baking away, or on their own…beets are happiest between between 325 degrees F. and 425 degrees F.

If it’s only beets your roasting, then place those lovelies in a 425 degree F pre-heated oven.

I usually roast them in my cast iron skillet, but any oven safe pan will do. The foil keeps all the steam in, thus, all the resulting juices too…making clean-up a snap!

Do be careful while opening each packet as juice may spill out…beautiful deep purple juice. Staining juice…

Once cooled enough to touch, peeling is so easy that the skins simply slip off. If you don’t mind having your hands stained a crimson red for awhile, then by all means, slide those skins off with your bare hands. If not,  you may prefer using gloved hands or you can also use a paring knife. Granted, using a paring knife will not prevent staining, it’s just another method…

sliced with salt

Regretfully, I do not have any photos depicting the ease of slipping off the skins…by the time each beet had cooled enough to hold, the sun had set. My natural light  had disappeared…

But, the following day, the sun shone bright and I enjoyed these lovelies sliced and sprinkled with a smidgen of kosher salt as well as in a salad of fresh spinach, goat cheese and walnuts.

beet and spinach salad

Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Why not roast a few today?

Enjoy!

cucumbers chili and lime

I first tried this refreshing and zingy snack while teaching in Mexico…years ago…

sliced cucumbers

My students (first and second graders) used to rave about it – actually, as soon as school was out they would run across the playground, throw open the gate and flee to the little shop right next door. Their specialty?  Fresh veggies (or fruit) with lime juice and chilies. The owner, a little old Mexican lady, would slice each fruit or vegetable to order, then press the juice from one or two limes into a plastic baggie, add the sliced veg, and a bit of red chili powder into it… then twist the bag closed and shake. Spicy and refreshing. Simple and nutritious. Cucumber slices marinating in lime and chiles – sounds good to me!

Here’s my take on this fun and snazzy snack;

Peel and slice one cucumber (watermelon and jicama are yummy too!).

Place in shallow bowl or on large plate.

Squeeze the juice from one or two limes (depending on the amount of veg./fruit).

Pour over sliced cucumbers, let rest (marinate) for a bit.

Add red chili powder – as much or as little as you like.

A bit of salt if you like too…

Enjoy!

Here’s the cucumber on the vine in my back garden…before being picked…(:

cucumber on vine

hand cut fries – at home…

Hand cut fries are something you can make at home. Seriously.

Want to know why making them at home is not only possible, but better than out?

1. If your like me and live 25 minutes from the nearest restaurant, well, it just makes sense to know how to make them. And if your a city/town dweller, well, what’s the harm in knowing how?

2. You can choose to go organic, plus your oil will be super fresh (unlike most restaurant deep fryers which cook up all sorts of foods, sometimes for days, with the same oil…).

3. They will cost you a fraction of the cost of going out.

4. They will be made with love.

…revel in the simplicity of homemade hand-cut fries…you’ll wonder why you don’t make them more often…

Here’s what you’ll need;

Print this recipe!

Russet potatoes (I actually used yukon golds and they worked just fine and were delicious!) – quantity depends on how many you’d like to make. I used about 12 smallish potatoes – russets are larger, so less would be needed.

1.potatoes

My suggestion, cut up 3 russets and see how much you end up with – if you need more, cut up another, if its enough, perfect. If it’s too much, store cut potatoes, covered with water, in the fridge for up to two days. Who says you can’t have fries (homemade) twice in one week?

Coarse salt or sea salt

High heat oil – I use sunflower oil. Peanut oil works well too.

A pot for frying. I use my wok or cast iron frying pan. Any heavy bottomed or deep heavy bottomed pot will do.

You’ll also need a slotted spoon, some brown paper (think paper bags), a tea towel (or two), a candy/frying thermometer (if you don’t have one, don’t fret), and (if making a few batches) a cooling rack (with baking sheet placed underneath) to store cooked fries on while keeping warm in the oven…

Here’s what you’ll need to do;

Fill a large glass or ceramic bowl, half-way, with cold water.

Slice potatoes into the thickness and length you like – here’s yet another added bonus – you choose how thick or thin to make them!

2.hand cut potatoes

As your chopping away, place the cut pieces into water, in bowl. This helps release their starch as well as prevent browning. Add more water as necessary…

Once all potatoes have been cut and covered with water, pour cut potatoes into a colander and drain cloudy water. Refill bowl with fresh cold water. Add potatoes again. Continue this until water is no longer cloudy. Two or three times should do…

Drain water again, though now, place cut potatoes onto a tea towel and thoroughly dry. Remember, water and oil do not mix. So, if you need to use a second tea towel to ensure their super dryness, do so.

While your drying the potatoes, get the oil heating up. You’ll want to use enough oil to cover the potatoes, yet not so much that the oil would bubble over once heated up with potatoes in…trouble for sure…

*be sure to leave enough space at the top of the pot for the bubbling hot oil and the potatoes – do not overfill your pot.

If you have a candy or frying thermometer, great, use it. The oil should be between 350 degrees F and 375 degrees F. If you don’t have such equipment – don’t fret. If you drop a 1″ cube of white bread into the oil and it browns in 60 seconds or less, your up to temperature. You can also try tossing a cut potato slice into the oil, if it starts to sizzle, a lot, well, it’s probably up to temperature… if it doesn’t, let it heat up some more…

The key is to not overcrowd the pan.

Too many and the oil will cool and the fries will absorb too much oil and become soggy. Too few and they fry up super fast – almost to the point of burning…so best to cook in smaller batches, leaving enough room around each piece to allow for proper cooking.

Once potatoes have been added to the hot oil, increase heat, slightly, to compensate for the heat absorption from the fries…Keep an eye on them as they cook. Stirring occasionally and regulating the heat as necessary.

4.sizzeling and crispin'

Once the fries look nice and browned, remove with slotted spoon and place on paper bags/paper. Salt generously.

Turn heat slightly down while removing. Once all fries have been removed, increase heat again to bring back up to temperature and repeat the process all over again…

I place the salted and cooked fries onto my cooling rack (seems to prevent them from getting soggy) which is also placed over a cookie tray (to catch the ones which fall through the ‘cracks’) and then tuck them into the warmed oven (200 degree F) until all fries have been cooked or all food is ready to be served…

5.fried and salted

This recipe can also be used with sweet potatoes – sweet potato fries – YUM!

What do you like your fries with?

I like mine with fried fish – fish ‘n chips – dipped in organic ketchup and malt vinegar. Super deliciousness – at home…

Enjoy!