Monday, October 24, 2016

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup

Colorful as well as flavorful, this soup recipe combines sweet potatoes and kale with chicken and . . . maple breakfast sausage? Yes. Just try it. It's yummy!

a bowl of chicken, sweet potato and kale soup with an egg salad sandwich on the side

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When the weather cools off I'm ready to make up a pot of soup. Seeing folks' soups simmering on Instagram compels me to head into the kitchen and make some soup for my family. Usually I open the fridge and see what farm share produce needs to be used up. I think all great soups started out that way--with whatever was on hand--and it remains my go-to method for soup making.  Using flavorful ingredients (stock instead of water, sausage instead of unseasoned meat) are a couple of shortcuts to a warming, filling, and enjoyable soup experience.

close up of a bowl of chicken, sweet potato and kale soup with an egg salad sandwich alongside

In the past I've shared several soup recipes. My Spicy Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder remains perennially popular on Pinterest. (No charge for alliteration). The Six Ingredient Spicy Mustard Greens and Chorizo Soup was my first time using sausage for double duty--as both a seasoning and a protein--a short cut I now use often while cooking for my family. When we're feeling under the weather, my Thai Turkey Cold-Busting Hot & Sour Soup is just the ticket. And underpinning all of these soups--stock. Doesn't matter if it's chicken stock or vegetable stock, using the scraps left from the farm share and turning them into soup stock is just plain Frugal, Eco, Farm Fresh Feasting. Or so I coined it 4 years ago.

part of the process of making chicken, sweet potato and kale soup

I keep a bag in the freezer and each time I chop carrots, onions, or celery--the tops, tips, peels and or skins go into the bag. Mushroom stems if I'm making beef or vegetable stock. Then I add some bones (for beef, turkey, chicken or ham stock) and I've got the beginnings of a great soup.  In fact, I picked up chicken necks and backs at the farmer's market recently and my next 'day off project' will be to simmer a big ol' pot of chicken stock.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Apple Cranberry Margarita Slushie

This refreshing drink recipe combines fresh cranberries and apple cider for a frozen margarita that evokes Fall flavors no matter the temperature outside.

close up image of a glass of apple cranberry margarita slushie

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It's Fall, and while the rest of the world has switched to pumpkin spice lattes, I'm still drinking my DIY Iced Chai Tea Lattes. I may fall asleep snuggled under the weight of my comforter and I'm grateful for the brisk morning air and the chance to break out my hoodie, but my plans for a hot hearty dinner are often thwarted by the warm sunny Fall afternoons where I'm feeling more salad than soup.

That's the kind of afternoon when I'm interested in this margarita slushie. It's got the Fall flavors that I'm craving this time of year but still in a frozen margarita form which tends to suit the weather a bit better. Those weeks where you just can't plan on it to be cold.  One year I hosted a party in early November. My ulterior motive was needing an excuse to clean the house before my spouse's return from a deployment. I planned to serve warm gluhwein from a crock pot. It was 60 degrees (F) out and no one wanted warm drinks! We sat around drinking wine instead, and the house got clean, so it was a win-win in my book.

a fish taco accompanied by a glass of apple cranberry margarita slushie

The key ingredients of this recipe, fresh cranberries and apple cider, can be found in abundance this time of year. They both can be frozen, if you'd like to have these flavors in the middle of summer. If you're a seasonal eater like me and are craving more summer berry flavors than Fall cranberry flavors, by all means check out my Cheater Margarita Smoothie. This recipe is a riff off of that.

As always, you can make this a non-alcoholic drink by using lime juice concentrate or a margarita mix without the alcohol. One of these days I'll play around with the lime juice and simple syrup to make an entirely DIY version, but today is not that day. Today is the day to raise your glass and enjoy a refreshing COLD drink.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Roasted Beet Appetizer with Gorgonzola and Pickled Red Onions

A vibrant vegetarian way to start a meal, this recipe combines tender roasted beet cubes with tangy pickled onions and gorgonzola cheese. Add a bit of pistachio for crunch and your meal is off to a memorable start!

Easy to assemble from previously prepared ingredients, this vegetarian starter is cool and colorful.

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I'm trying a new tactic to encourage my family to eat the beets from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share--small plates. I'm sure it's old hat to many folks, but it's a new idea for me. I mixed up a batch of this roasted beet appetizer and, instead of having folks help themselves like I usually do, I put a couple of tablespoons each into a few of my Polish pottery ramekins. These are the perfect size for a snack of trail mix of cheez its [though if you're having the Extra Toasty kind those things are like CRACK and you'll actually burn some calories jumping up off the couch to refill your little dish every few minutes].  If you've got little dishes that hold about 4 ounces (half a cup), and less adventurous eaters--give this method a try.

A close up image of roasted beets with pickled red onions and gorgonzola cheese.

When I get beets in the farm share, I quickly perform Vegetable Triage on them. I cut off the greens first, if they are present. I constantly crave Sautéed Beet Greens and make that for breakfast/brunch whenever I have access to beet greens. Once the greens are removed, the beets can hang out in the crisper drawer for at least a week. This is a Good Thing when you're overwhelmed with life and aren't really prioritizing using up the fresh produce. If you've got space, you can even freeze roasted beets for several months. They come out very soft, so freeze them whole and handle gently if you'd like them to retain a cube shape. If you do plan to mash them, say, to make Cocoa Beet Chocolate Chip Muffins, then you'll be just fine with freezing/thawing roasted beets.
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