thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

Meatball Soup

I loooove new recipe night!  Since it’s getting colder out, it was only fitting to have a hot soup.  The recipe calls for frozen meatballs – saves a lot of time in cooking – but I prefer the homemade kind.  I took a photo…sorry it’s of my leftovers, but it was so good I ate two bowls before I could get the camera out.  It was even *better* when I added a sprinkle of blue cheese over the top.  This is so easy to make.

 

Italian Meatball Soup

2 Medium carrots (I used the already shredded in a bag, cause it’s what I had on hand)
2 stalks celery (sliced and diced pretty fine)
1 small onion
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
1.5 cups water
Meatballs (I used a one pound pack)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice and dice the celery pretty thinly – I usually cut my stalks into three long strips before slicing, makes more bite-sized pieces that are easier to eat.  Put the diced onion, carrots, and celery in a stock pot with a little oil, and turn up the heat, stirring occasionally.

When the veggies are translucent, push them over to the side and add the tomato paste, cook for a couple minutes.  Add in the pressed garlic and seasoning mix (I don’t have an Italian mix, but I had poultry seasoning…close enough 🙂 ).  Stir in the tomatoes.  I only had one can of crushed, so I added a can of whole tomatoes.  Seemed to taste just fine to me!!  Add in the broth, a little water, and simmer.

For the meatballs – you can either used frozen ones (thawed and sliced in half), or you can make some – super easy.  Mix 1# of ground beef with some breadcrumbs (panko) and an egg.  Roll into small walnut-sized balls and place into a mini muffin tin (I’ve always wanted to try baking them like this!).  I baked at 350 for 10 minutes.  If they’re not quite cooked all the way through, don’t worry – they will finish cooking in the simmering soup.

Add meatballs to the soup when it’s simmering, cook about 10 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I only added a pinch of each).  I sprinkled some blue cheese over the top of the soup – and it was so hot I couldn’t stop eating it.  But the blue cheese definitely added some great flavor!!  You can also use some bread to dip into the soup, or bake the bread into croutons to place in the bowl.  So many options – good thing it made a lot!!

 

20131023_204026Do not be dissuaded by my tupperware – the soup was delicious!!

 

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I think I got this recipe from Southern Living, but I don’t remember.  I get 5 or 6 food magazines in the mail (plus whatever strikes my fancy at the grocery store check-out) and rip out the ones I like.  Then all of my recipes are organized into 3-ring binders by category (chicken, other meats (subdivided into beef, pork, and lamb), desserts, appetizers, vegetables) and tucked into plastic protective sheets.  That way when I want to make a meal all of my recipes are nice and organized, and if I spill food on them (which is all but a guarantee) it’s easy clean-up and nothing gets ruined.

Winter time for me is a great time for all the comfort foods, hot soups, casseroles, and crock-pot meals.  The big heavy foods with the thick sauces – just says ‘cozy up by the fire and enjoy me!’  With the recent weather we’ve been having it looks like my winter-time foods are going to be put away until the next season.  But that’s ok, because summer brings such fresh vegetables and more creative ideas!!

Anyway, back to the post…
This was a recipe I thought I’d try, but didn’t have high hopes for.  And I was pleasantly surprised, because it was actually pretty tasty.  And it’s got wild rice in it, so very filling as well.

I only used half the recipe, but I’m posting the whole one –

Ingredients
2 packages of long grain wild rice and flavor mix  (1)
10 cups of chicken broth, divided
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup half and half (or whole milk, or heavy cream – whatever is handy)
2 Tbsp dry white wine
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast

Directions
*Bring rice, 4 cups of broth, and 1 packet of seasoning mix to a boil in a pan.  Cover, reduce by simmering until rice is tender.

*Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a skillet.  Add mushrooms, onion, and celery and cook 10-12 minutes until tender.

*Melt 1/3 cup butter in a big pot, whisk in flour continually until mixed and bubbling.   Gradually whisk in remaining 6 cups of chicken broth, stirring slightly until thickened.  Whisk in half-and-half and the white wine.  Stir in veggie mixture, chicken, and rice.   Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until heated through (do not boil).

A very easy meal for a cold night!!

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Italian Wedding Soup and Kale Chips

The Mr. had to work today, and I didn’t go to the store – so tonight’s dinner is compliments of whatever-is-in-my-pantry!  Originally it was going to be chicken and rice – but that sounded just so…bland.  I’m sure I could have done something to perk it up, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  Thankfully, I had just read through my Food Network Magazine (I *seriously* love it – I highly recommend subscribing to it!!).  I had saved their Wedding Soup recipe – and I happened to have all the ingredients (minus pork, so I subbed in the chicken).

Cut up an onion and some carrots (I had shredded on hand, so much easier 🙂 ) and cook in a little bit of oil in your pot till tender.  Add in some minced garlic, and a splash of  worcestershire, then 3 cups of chicken broth.  *I keep bullion cubes on hand, a lot cheaper than using can after can of broth.  Bring this to a boil, then simmer a few minutes.

While this is simmering, make the meatballs.  The recipe calls for ground pork, but I only had chicken – you’re supposed to use it raw to make the meatballs, but I cooked it a little in the pan (probably would have been better raw); it was definitely undercooked when I removed from the pan, but that’s ok, it will finish cooking in the soup.

Since I don’t have a meat grinder, I used a food processor to chop up the chicken into tiny pieces.  Then mixed with breadcrumbs (panko), parmesan cheese, another clove of minced garlic, another splash of worcestershire, and then I added an egg yolk to help hold the meat together.   Form into meatball-shapes.

Add the Orzo (rice-like pasta) and cook for a few minutes.   Then add the meatballs.  They are cooked through when they float to the to of your pot (given there’s enough broth).  A couple minutes before it’s done, throw in some fresh spinach to wilt.

The other dish I made is a favorite of ours, and I make it a ton in the summer time.  I just had some leftover from a soup I made earlier in the week (will try to make it again and post, since – ha ha, who’s surprised – I forgot to take pics).

Kale chips are super easy, and really good for you.  Rinse off the fresh kale (you can get the fresh clump, or buy it in a bag), and tear into smaller pieces if necessary (but not too small).  Drizzle with oil, sprinkle on some salt, and bake at 400 for ~10 minutes.  The chips come out super crispy and delicious!!

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Comfort Food

In keeping with trying to clear things out of the pantry, and the fact that it’s December and really cold outside, today was a comfort-food kind of night.  I had most of the ingredients on hand, so this was pretty easy to throw together.

On the menu tonight was an Irish Stew (another one-dish dinner!!) – but instead of beef, I used deer meat (fresh, too, since I shot it in November :-)).  Brown the meat (typically beef or lamb) in some oil in a pot, then throw the whole thing into a bowl to save for later.

Saute’ some onions in another little bit of oil, then add in some minced garlic and tomato paste.   Side Note:  tomato paste is one of those absolutely-necessary kitchen staples, but you never need a whole can.  So I do one of two things: 1) get a large can of tomato paste, then load it into a sil-pat ice cube tray and freeze it.  After it freezes, overnight, I pop them out into a ziploc bag and then I have lots of 1-tbsp-sized tomato pastes for future cooking;

or 2) buy this tube to keep in the fridge.  Both are super easy.  After the tomato paste is added, throw in 1/4 C flour to coat,

then deglaze with a stout.  You only need 1/4 C (or a little more) – it will cook long enough to get rid of the strong flavor.

Then add in one can each chicken and beef broth.  I might not have added enough, it calls for 2 C each, but this is pretty darn close, and I wanted a thicker stew.

Add back in the meat,  all the juice it’s been sitting in, and a few sprigs of thyme.  Bring to a boil then simmer for ~1 hour (I think I did it for about 45 min).  While that is cooking, chop up the carrots, potatoes, and some cabbage – you won’t need a whole head of cabbage (stay tuned for cabbage soup tomorrow!!) so I stick the rest in a ziploc and throw it back into the fridge.

After simmering, add in the carrots and potatoes, and cook until soft-ish (~12 min), then throw in the frozen peas (about 1/2 a box) and the cabbage.  Cook 5 minutes.  Serve with your favorite bread!!

This was such a good dinner for a cold winter’s night.  And we had plenty left for lunch tomorrow.  I am not a fan of winter and cold weather, but I will admit that this is the perfect time of year for comfort food, and I plan to take full advantage of it 🙂

 

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