Cauliflower and Aged Cheddar Soup

This soup is amazing. I’ve made it twice, and this last time is perfection; I’ll never make it another way.  Rosemary instead of the original recipe’s thyme is just the best.  Use a good cheddar, but this soup is really good even without it (and without, it’s vegan!)

Adapted from Closet Cooking.

  • small head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 T. oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 t. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 16oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 C.  chicken stock (I like Better than Bouillon)
  • 1 1/2 C. aged white cheddar, shredded

First, roast the cauliflower and garlic:
Rub garlic cloves with a bit of the oil and seal up in a small foil packet. Toss florets with oil then sprinkle with salt and spread in single layer on baking sheet.  Put the foil packet of garlic on the sheet along with the cauliflower. Roast for about 35 min around 375*-400*, tossing florets a couple of times, until cauliflower is turning golden brown with some darker brown spots.

Saute the chopped onions in a soup pot over medium heat until translucent – about 5-7 minutes.  Add rosemary.  When cauliflower and garlic are done, squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the onion mix and mash with the back of a spoon. Stir to incorporate garlic.  Add in the beans, the cauliflower, and the stock.  Add salt (1/2 t. or so.) Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.

With an immersion blender, puree soup to a smooth consistency, then stir in shredded cheese.

 

 

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Pantry Salsa

I love this salsa.  It uses canned tomatoes, so it’s not going to win any foodie awards, but it tastes better and fresher than most jarred versions.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman.

1  10oz can of Rotel (tomatoes w green chiles), mild, drained
1  14oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 C onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 fresh jalapeno, (seeds and membranes removed for mild)
1/2 C. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
juice of 1 lime

Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.

Makes about 3 cups. Refrigerator for an hour before serving.

 

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

After making these about 6 times in the past couple of months, I think I can declare these our official household muffins.

Adapted from food.com.

  • 1 cup AP flour (128 g.)
  • 1 cup 100% whole wheat flour (128 g.)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats (100 g.)
  • 1 cup cane sugar (210 g. turbinado)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 med.-lg. bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to  375 degrees (I use 360ish because I have a dark muffin pan.)
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (first 9 ingredients), in a medium bowl mash the bananas and add the remaining wet ingredients, mix well.
Add wet to dry, mix just until combined.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle with large grain turbinado sugar.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs clinging.
Makes 16 muffins.  (They freeze well!)

Sloppy Turkeys

 

This has become a household standard. It freezes really well, so I always make a double batch (which is what the recipe below will give you.)

Modified from Rachael Ray.

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2.5 lbs. ground turkey (my store sells those 1.3 lb pkgs , so I just grab 2 of those usually.)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 T. (scant) Montreal Steak seasoning (spice blend)
  • 2 sm. – med. onions, chopped
  • 2 sm. or 1 lg. red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 – 13 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 4 T. tomato paste

In a large, high-sided pan, add the olive oil and begin to brown the ground turkey over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and steak seasoning.  When turkey has browned (you get more flavor if you really let the meat brown and start to build up some fond on the bottom of the pan), add the peppers, onion, vinegar and worcestershire sauce, deglazing the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes. (Original recipe calls for about half that cooking time, but I like to let the peppers and onions get a little softer.) Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste, and lower heat to a brisk simmer, and cook for another 5-15 minutes.  (You really just need to heat through, but I usually like to reduce the sauce a little.)

Serve on toasted buns.
Note:
Play with the proportion of brown sugar to steak seasoning to  taste.  The above will give you a fairly sweet mixture with a good kick of flavor from the steak seasoning.  Reduce the sugar and up the steak seasoning for a more savory and peppery version.

Toddler-friendly Baked Meatballs

One of the only ways we used to get Natalie to eat meat at home (she’d eat anything at daycare, of course) was with these homemade meatballs.  Now that she’s more adventurous, they are still a great protein option to have in the freezer for quick meals or when we’re having something she’s not likely to eat. I’ve been tweaking the mix each time and the last time I think I finally nailed it.

  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey (I use 90/10 beef, as that is what my grocery offers in an all natural version.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 – 1 C. (approx) fresh veg, whizzed up into tiny pieces in the mini chop or food processor.  I use:
    • fresh parsley (about 1/4 of a grocery store bunch. The parsley I think might be the secret ingredient. The meatballs with parsley added were amazing.)
    • baby spinach ( 1 big handful)
    • onion (1/2 of a medium)
    • carrot (~3 sm-med)
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 C. whole wheat bread crumbs (I just take a couple of slices of WW bread and whiz them up in the mini chop before doing the veg.)

Preheat oven to 400*

Combine everything but the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with your hands.  Add breadcrumbs ( you may need a little more or less than 1 C. depending on the moisture of your mixture.)

Roll into golf ball size balls — I use a 1 1/2 T. scoop to keep the size uniform — and place onto a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.  I’ve baked these meatballs on a cookie sheet before, but as they bake, the meat oozes some fat and juice and it makes a really unattractive collar of goo around the meatballs if there is no place for it to drain.  The roasting pan has, by far, been the best way to bake these.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are deep brown and cooked through.  I get about 46 meatballs from a 2 lb mix.  (I used to make these a little smaller when Natalie was younger — cook time was more like 20 minutes.)  We have a vacuum sealer, so I usually freeze the whole batch of meatballs loose in a big ziploc bag first, then vacuum seal them in batches of 10 or so.

 

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

I’m ready to declare this my favorite pumpkin bread.  Especially after defrosting a 2.5 year old loaf from the deep freeze and finding it to be as delicious as if I had pulled it out of the oven that day.

Recipe from the delightful Joy the Baker.

Makes 2 loaves.

  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
  • 2 C. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. allspice
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree, or just under two cups
  • 1 C.  vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C. maple syrup
  • 1/3 C. water
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 2 loaf pans (8″x4″)

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients listed, through the cloves. In medium bowl, mix wet ingredients.   Add wet to dry, fold with spatula until combined.  Mix in walnuts, reserving some to sprinkle on the tops of the loaves.   Pour into two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 60-75 minutes, testing for doneness with a skewer.  Let cool in pans for 20 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

Notes:

  • My frozen loaf was noted “nearly vegan”  but I have no idea what modification I made.  Maybe I used part butter, part oil?
  • To freeze, I wrapped in saran wrap and then foil, and then stored in a freezer ziploc bag.
  • The flavor and texture of this loaf are awesome.  Moist, dense, leans gingerbread-ish with the listed amount of spices.
  • I’m usually inclined to try reducing the sugar, but don’t know if I did that before or not.  2 1/3 cups + maple syrup is a lot of sugar, even for 2 loaves.  The one-third cup of white sugar seems especially extraneous.
  • Next time: review comments on Joy’s site — people have tried various methods of reducing both oil and sugar.