Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Broccoli Spinach Soup

I saw this recipe in the Real Simple magazine while waiting for my car to be fixed. I looked it up online and read the reviews and saw it might need some adaptation to make it more flavorful. I made it tonight with a few changes and it was excellent. It's a keeper and it's pretty healthy. It primarily tastes like brocoli as the spinach flavor came out to be pretty subtle. I served it with these breadsticks.

1 med onion, chopped
4 T butter
1/2 t salt
few cracks of pepper

1 box chicken broth (about 4 cups)
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 large or 2 small heads of brocoli, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 bag of spinach leaves (about 5 oz)

Additional seasoned salt to taste and sour cream for serving.

Saute onion, butter, salt, and pepper over med high heat in a large stock pot until onions are tender (about 10 minutes). While sauteing onions chop the broccoli and potato.

Add chicken broth, water, and bouillon cubes to pot and bring to boil. Add broccoli, potato, and garlic and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Add spinach and stir until wilted.

Puree soup with immersion blender (I wish I had one) or in batches in a blender or food processor.

***If you are using a blender or food processor let it cool a little first or carefully do small batches as hot liquid can cause the lid of the blender to pop off and you might be burned (no experience here). This time I did small batches and held down a layer of towels over the blender lid to prevent any accidents.

Pour through strainer back into stock pot to get rid of any remaining chunks. Reheat if necessary and add any additional salt/pepper or your favorite seasoned salt to taste.

Serve each bowl with a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How I Freeze Various Foods - bulk food and things I don't use frequently

Buying things in bulk can be a lot cheaper but obviously you need to freeze some of it. Also, somethings you don't use up all at once, like sliced cheese and deli meat, but it doesn't last forever. I freeze a lot of things and it saves tons of time and money and keeps things from going bad. Besides ziplock freezer bags, old cottage cheese/sour cream containers work great for freezing. I just bought some cheap sticky labels to put on them so that I know what they are. Also, if you have space get a deep freezer. It saves a lot of money. We found a great one on Craig's List for around 50 bucks. If you start looking you don't have to pay a fortune.

Here is a list of some things I freeze and how to freeze them.

I wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap or fold over bags and then put those pieces in a large freezer ziplock bag which you can reuse. That way I don't waste expensive freezer bags and each piece can be pulled out and thawed separately. I put a few slices of deli meat in back in its original package if it is resealable.

I put shredded cheese in fold over bags and then put those in a large freezer bag. For presliced cheese I put wax paper between slices so that I can just take one piece out at a time. I put those back into the original bag if it is resealable.

I freeze homemade salsa, salad dressing, etc. in yogurt containers. Then I pop them out and wrap in saran wrap and then put those in a freezer ziplock. Then you can just pull out small amounts when you need it. Or I will freeze large amounts in a recycled sour cream container.

Curry Paste and Canned Chipotle
I puree or chop my canned chipotles before freezing. Measure out tablespoons of curry paste or chipotles onto a big piece of plastic wrap set on a cutting board. Cover them with another piece of plastic wrap and lay it all in the freezer. Cut each tablespoon out and put them into a ziplock bag. Then you can just pull out what you need.

Peppers and Onions
Just chop and freeze in small amounts in fold over bags, and put the fold over bags into a bigger ziplock bag. That way you don't have to burn your cuticles or cry every time you need peppers or onions. They freeze very well. See previous post about this topic.

Green Onions
You usually only need a few green onions in a recipe but when you buy them you gets tons. I chop up the white part and chop up some chives and freeze in yogurt containers or small plastic containers that I got from Aldi. They are a little bigger than an ice cube. I found that an ice cube tray was too small. Put the green onions in your container with just a little bit of water (they will float) and freeze. Then top with more water to completely cover and freeze again. Wrap each frozen aliquot in plastic wrap and store those in a bigger ziplock. Green onions will be a little wilted once thawed but are just fine when put into recipes.

I have frozen leftover whipping cream in a recycled cottage cheese or sour cream container. I just thawed it in the fridge and it whipped up just like it was fresh. 

When raspberries or blackberries are on sale I buy a ton but I have to freeze them. Wash berries and lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze and then put into ziplock bags. This way the berries won't stick together and you can easily pull out a few.

Homemade Baby Food
Puree your food and put it into clean recycled glass baby food jars. That way you can just pop out a jar when you need it and pop it in the fridge or microwave to thaw and serve straight from the jar. Texture from thawing won't matter because it will be pureed anyway.