Jan 152013
 

My family made a double batch of this soup over Christmas, to freeze for busy days (and nights) ahead.  Yes, we’re still working through the bushel of squash from October.  (There’s just one squash left.)

The recipe is lightly adapted from Skinnytaste’s Butternut Squash Soup, but we just used basic black pepper for seasoning and added a touch of applesauce.  It was a good chance to test out the new immersion blender that my Dad got for Christmas.  It’s a fun gadget, and makes the soup so smooth.  The soup is really simple, but has a rich flavor.  I treat the containers in my freezer like gold.

 

 

Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 c. vegetable broth
1 t minced garlic
Black Pepper
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce

Place squash, onion, carrots, broth, and garlic in a large pot.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.  Puree with an immersion blender.  Season with black pepper.  Stir in applesauce, and more water if the soup is too thick.  Cook just until heated through.

-Adapted from Skinnytaste

Sep 192012
 

I always feel good when I have a big pot of soup simmering on the stove.  And this recipe truly makes a big pot of soup, so be prepared!  The recipe is inspired by this  Spinach Tortellini Soup from Budget Bytes.  I added white beans and zucchini, and renamed it because the soup reminded me so much of minestrone.

I like that the soup is packed with vegetables and really filling, and the tortellini bites are such a treat!  The recipe offers a great way to stretch an ingredient that is both more expensive and more calorie dense.  If you’d like just a little more cheese, sprinkle some freshly grated Parmesan on top, because that’s what I did right after I took this photo.  This is really a delicious soup, so gather your family and friends, or get out some Tupperware, and make your own big pot.

 

 

Tortellini Minestrone

1 T olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped
2 t minced garlic
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
28 oz. water
1 t Italian seasoning
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach
1 (8 oz.) package frozen zucchini
1 (12-13 oz.) bag frozen cheese tortellini

Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Saute onion and garlic on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until softened.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, and beans, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add spinach, zucchini, and tortellini, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables and tortellini are tender.

-Adapted from Budget Bytes

Sep 082011
 

There’s a very simple reason why I haven’t blogged about Eggplant Parmesan.  I am too lazy to make it!  Luckily for me, my Mom isn’t too lazy, and she let me try to document the process.  We started with at least 3 large eggplants.

First, you peel each eggplant and cut it into thin slices.  Then, you sprinkle the slices with salt and layer them in a strainer.

 

Many years ago, people would place the slices in a wooden basket and weigh them down with bricks.  Our updated method involves a plastic strainer and a ceramic plate, weighted down with a large can of tomatoes.  You can place this directly in the sink, or over a large bowl.   The eggplant slices should drain for at least two hours.

Now you need to rinse the salt off the eggplant slices, and dry them well with paper towels.  Don’t be afraid to squeeze the slices between the paper towels.

Prepare a mixture of 3 eggs, 1/4 c. water, and 1/4 t black pepper, and whisk with a fork.  You may need multiple batches, but you can make more as you go along.  Heat about 1/4″ of oil in a frying pan, until a small drop of egg mixture sizzles when added to the pan.

Dip each eggplant slice in the egg mixture, allow the excess to drip off, and place in the frying pan.  Cook until browned, turn, and cook on the other side.

 Now you can drain the cooked eggplant on more paper towels, to absorb some of the excess oil.

Finally, we’re ready to assemble a dish of eggplant.  You can use jarred sauce, or make your own meat sauce or tomato sauce.  It’s more important that you use real grated Parmesan cheese.  Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to the bottom of the dish, and then layer the eggplant, followed by more sauce, and Parmesan cheese.

 

Keep going until you’ve reached the limit of your pan.  We made one large dish for dinner that evening, and two smaller dishes.  Cover each pan tightly with foil, and heat in a 200F oven for 20-30 minutes just prior to serving.

 

There are many variations of Eggplant Parmesan, and everyone probably thinks that their way is best.  This version contains no skin, and yields thin slices with no breading.  I am biased of course, but I do think this is the best!

 

Aug 222011
 

My second nephew came into the world last week, and my sister asked if we could help stock her freezer so she would have plenty of healthy meals for the inevitable hectic days ahead.  Earlier this month, we selected the recipes and made a master grocery list.  My Mom was able to pick up many of the non-perishable items on sale, and it was really helpful to have all of the ingredients on hand when we started to cook.  Here are the five dishes we made for the freezer: 

1. Jamie Oliver’s Vegetable Tomato Sauce & Ziti Casserole

We started by making a huge batch of Jamie Oliver’s Vegetable Tomato Sauce.  It’s a tasty sauce with onions, peppers, carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, and tomatoes of course.  We added yet another 28 oz. can of tomatoes, to make sure the sauce had a deep red color.  Then we used a portion of the sauce and a pound of pasta to assemble two ziti casseroles with ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.  In the end, this recipe yielded two ziti casseroles, two containers of sauce which can be used for pasta or pizza, and lunch for the cooks.

 

 

2. Turkey Chili

My sister’s favorite chili is based on this Weight Watcher’s Turkey Chili recipe, which includes plenty of vegetables like peppers, zucchini, and corn.  I only took a small taste from the pot before it was packaged into containers, but it was good.

3. Spinach Mini Quiches

I adapted my favorite crustless quiche recipe a bit to make these mini quiches.  I mixed 3 eggs, 1 cup of reduced fat cottage cheese, 1/2 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar, a 10 oz. package of spinach, and a dash of salt and pepper.  This filled about 10 regular sized muffin cups, which were baked, cooled, and then put into the freezer for busy mornings.

4. Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes

We were starting to get a little tired by this point, and took a well deserved shortcut by using frozen chopped vegetables for these macaroni and cheese cupcakes.  We also skipped the beans in this recipe, since two of the recipes already had beans.  The cupcakes looked a little dry in the freezer, and might need a fresh sprinkle of cheese when reheated.  But they’re still so cute! 

5. Bean Burritos

The final recipe was brand new.  We made these bean burritos which contain brown rice, a bean mixture, and cheddar cheese.  The burritos are assembled, and then wrapped individually and frozen.  When you take a burrito out of the freezer, you can cook it in either the microwave or oven.  One of the tortillas ripped (oops!) so my Mom and I split a burrito for lunch and it was tasty.  Even though this is a new recipe, I think it’s going to be a winner.