Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fresh From the Garden: Hearty vegetable soup

I’m going to wrap up this year's Fresh from the Garden series with a recipe using those extra veggies you may have frozen or canned over the summer. You can’t beat a hearty, homemade vegetable soup when you start to feel that chill in the air! I had some okra and celery (received from the co-op) that I’d chopped and frozen just for this cause. Canned tomatoes? Frozen corn or butter beans? Green beans? Whatever you’ve got—toss it in. There’s a host of options and a lot of leeway to get creative. Think stew beef, barley, chicken or rice as additional options. My favorite way to cook it is in the crock pot because then I can say I’m cooking dinner while I’m at work! Plus the slow simmer blends the flavors that make you just want to cuddle up at home. What could be easier for busy families? Plus it's a dish that all can enjoy. Mix up a batch of cornbread to go with it…now we’re talking comfort food!

This is really very much of a no-recipe recipe, but here’s a base to get you going:

  • 1 pound meat
  • 6 medium potatoes, cubed (swap these out for soup made with barley or rice)
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 cups okra, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 4 carrots (2 cups), chopped
  • 2 cups frozen, cut green beans
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 32 ounces low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 44 ounces (3 cans) diced or whole tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Stove recipe:
Lightly brown meat in an 8-quart pot. Drain off fat. Add all other ingredients, stir to combine, cover and simmer for at least one hour, or until vegetables are tender.

If you’re cooking it in the crockpot, brown your meat first on the stove. Add all ingredients to the crockpot and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

Makes approximately 28 cups (just 100 calories each!).

So that’s it for the summer harvest, but it doesn’t mean the healthy recipes end here. Subscribe to be a GoodFoodie and don’t miss a thing!

Are you interested in seeing how these recipes are used in a weekly meal plan? Need help with weight loss? Visit my website for more information about my services, including pre-designed meal plans, coming soon!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fresh from the garden: Roasted tomato tapenade

Served atop torn focaccia: also a delicious option
This tapenade is perfect for the cooling weather that’s ending our summer harvest. The roasting brings out the flavor in the tomatoes, so you can use your possibly less-than-desirable late-bloomers. I drew inspiration for this recipe from the August 2011 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. It’s surprisingly versatile—I would serve it at a special occasion, dinner party or casual Friday night at home. Dish it up as a perfect transition from cool, crisp summer dishes to warm and comforting fall ones.

Roasted Tomato Tapenade
  • 2 pounds (6 cups) red and yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half if large
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata and pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4-6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6-8 basil leaves, chiffonade (or 1 teaspoon dried)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange tomatoes in a single layer and drizzle with about ½ tablespoon olive oil. Roast on upper rack of oven for 10 minutes. Add olives, capers and garlic to baking sheet. Sprinkle with half the salt, half the black pepper and red pepper. Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes or until tomatoes start to crack (or burst when lightly pressed). Meanwhile, whisk remaining olive oil, vinegar, remaining salt and pepper, and basil in a serving bowl. Remove tomato mixture from the oven and pour into bowl. Gently fold to coat with olive oil mixture (don’t worry if the tomatoes start to burst—it’s better this way!).

Serve warm aside toasted focaccia (I first tried this with rosemary focaccia—delish!!) or crusty French bread. Use leftovers on top of baked tilapia.

If you like olives or traditional tapenade, this deeply flavorful dish will soon become one of your winter faves! And don’t forget the wine J

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fresh From the Garden: Linguini with Summer Squash

I’m still harvesting my last squash from the vines (and beginning to get sad that my plants are starting to fade) and was lucky enough to get a few zucchini from my friend’s garden to make this simple and fresh pasta dish. Perfect for summer and an easy, two-pot meal that makes for easy clean up too!

The beginning of a colorful meal!
You'll need:
½ box whole wheat linguini
3-4 small chicken breasts, optional
2 yellow squash
2 zucchini
½ small red onion, optional
8-10 small mushrooms, optional
4-8 cloves fresh garlic (or 1 tsp. garlic powder)
8 basil leaves (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
2 pinches of Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, add the pasta. While the water is heating and the pasta is cooking, prepare your ingredients by following the next two steps. When pasta is al dente (just barely soft), drain in colander and leave at the side. Save the pot for use later.

If you choose to include chicken, cut it into bite-sized pieces and season with a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. If you'd rather not prepare it on the stove, you can throw it on the grill and add it later.

Roughly slice squash and zucchini (cut of both ends, then cut in half lengthwise, then slice to create slices that are half-moon shaped). Slice onion, and mushrooms if desired. Remove garlic from peel by pressing with the side of the knife blade and peeling.  Press again once peeled, then dice. Heat a large skillet on medium, drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil lightly across the bottom and swirl to spread. Add chicken bites to the pan. Turn once the sides begin to turn opaque (white). When all sides are opaque, add zucchini, squash, onion, mushrooms and half the garlic. Turn occasionally. When squash begins to soften and lightly brown, add salt, pepper and half the basil. Turn off heat.

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium saucepan (that was used for the pasta) on medium heat. Add remaining garlic, salt, pepper and basil. Heat, while stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes. Add pasta and mix gently until coated. Add squash mixture and fold gently.  Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  Enjoy along side a vegetable salad.

Serves 3-4.